That’s the latest rumor to excite the non-stop drama of the comics industry:
A new rumor indicates that Disney might be shutting down Marvel Comics sooner rather than later.
The rumor comes from Jude Terror at Bleeding Cool who cites a press release from Marvel Comics indicating that Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Joe Quesada are heading down to Austin, Texas to discuss the importance of comics to Disney’s business based off the Marvel intellectual properties.
In fact, Terror speculates that Cebulski and Quesada are heading to Austin, Texas to save Marvel Comics because “comics must continue to be published even if they add little value to the budget on their own simply because they provide the genetic material to make actual profits elsewhere.”
Terror even questions, “If less people are buying comics and the direct market is on the verge of collapse, then why should a megacorp like Disney continue to bother publishing them at all, especially when they can make far more money mining the intellectual properties for other mediums?”
Terror’s speculation isn’t anything new. Thom Pratt at The Kingdom Insider speculated about Disney cutting out Marvel Comics back in 2017.
Pratt notes that Disney’s entire profit on an entire year of Marvel Comics amounts to what they make “off one single Marvel Studios movie.” He bluntly writes, “Comic book sales look absolutely pathetic compared to an MCU release.”
Pratt who has his own sources at Disney even stated that “comic books have about as much value to Disney right now as a T-shirt.” In fact, he states it might even be less because “T-shirts have a higher profit margin.”
Pratt even addresses the idea that the comics are needed to mine for future stories in movies, video games, and other genres.
He quickly refutes this writing, “The MCU has taken characters and concepts in a totally different direction than the comic books, and Disney could easily hire away the best “idea guys” to work directly for Marvel Studios.”
Pratt predicts that Marvel Comics as a publisher will be done away with. He sees it existing in some form but being an “office full of brand managers overseeing licensed deals.” He even believes that Disney will license out the Marvel superheroes to other publishers similar to what they do with their Disney characters to IDW and Dark Horse.
Part of Pratt’s prediction has already come true as Disney has licensed their Marvel superheroes to IDW.
I’m a bit dubious about this, as the continuing decline in comics sales was not quite as bad as I expected in 2018, although the more profitable sales of graphics novels did collapse. According to Comichron, the top 300 graphic novel dollar sales declined 16.5 percent last year, to $73.6 million, but top 300 comic dollars increased $10.7 million despite a three percent decline in units as a result of the rise in the average comic price to $4.19.
The fact that the MCU cycle is coming to an end and Captain Marvel looks to be a complete bust suggests that if 2018 was bad, 2019 will be considerably worse. But Marvel isn’t suffering as much as its lesser competitors, as it actually increased its unit market share from 40.4 percent to 44 percent and is still bringing in revenue of well over $100 million, though it may not be doing so profitably.
It would be amusing if Disney offered Arkhaven the opportunity to license any of its characters, although I can’t imagine we’d be terribly interested in cultural icons such as Lesbian Meth Batgirl, Thorella, She-Wolverine, or Shade, Marvel’s First Superhero Drag Queen. In any event, Arkhaven’s support is continuing to grow steadily and we expect to have a series of exciting new announcements in the coming three months. In related news, the gold logo edition of AH#6 will be available from Castalia Direct next week.
Note: the new standard size introduced with the gold logo edition of Chuck Dixon’s Avalon #3 meant that we did not know exactly how the pricing would translate to the Castalia Direct store. Our first estimate worked out to a price of $3.14 in practice. However, we have since adjusted that, so the $2.99 retail price will return on April 1 and will be maintained across the Arkhaven line for standard size series comics.
This video by the Kingdom Insider, who is very familiar with Disney’s customary practices, is extremely informative. Key phrase: “To the Walt Disney company, the real Marvel universe to them is the Marvel universe they created. The movies. The movies have basically replaced the comic books.”
The January 2019 order form features 1106 solicited periodical comic books. Of those, only 454 of those SKUs are new items – the other 652 are variant covers. That means a staggering fifty-nine percent of all solicited comics are actually variants. That’s completely and entirely absurd! It is deluded, it is dangerous, and it actively works against the best interests of the market.