Jim Brocius of Cosmic Comics in Las Vegas, Nevada saw the news that Marvel comics will now be available in 6,000 7-11 stores (see 'Marvel Widens Distribution'), and is concerned about whether the content will fit the channel:
In the last 40 years I have bought hundreds of comic collections from hundreds of people. When I was a kid I knocked on every door of every house in my neighborhood to see if the occupants had any comics they were interested in trading for chores. I found comics and other assorted reading materials in every single house (and I mowed a lot of lawns and pulled a lot of weeds and swept a lot of driveways). All the periodicals I obtained had a commonality about them - there were no runs of anything. Indeed, finding three issues in a row of anything was a rarity in the extreme. There would be Worlds Finest #124, #128 and #133, along with the March, July and October Reader's Digest mixed in with the January, April and September Good Housekeeping. What this means is that most people (excluding the far and few between comic addicts such as myself), although readers, were casual readers. Evidence of this was borne out again and again.
The thing is you could be a casual reader of comics then. Absent the continued never-ending stories of today, you could plunk down your 12 cents and walk away with a satisfying reading experience. While you can still be a casual reader of Readers Digest or Good Housekeeping, there is no casual satisfying reading experience possible today with Worlds Finest (read: Superman/Batman).
The 7-11 market, indeed the entire market outside direct distribution (again, with the exception of a very small percentage of addicts) has not and will not embrace the concept of the continued stories. If that were not the case then we'd be seeing continued stories in all the other periodicals. We don't see them. The publishing world has experimented with the format and found it wanting.
Now, I believe comics to be a viable medium in the mass market, just not in the serial format which dominates the direct market. The mass market demands self-contained content. If Marvel (or DC, or anyone else) wants to be successful in the mass market they need to recognize the need to abandon the continued story structure in favor of the self-contained unit which the vast majority of the market prefers. Stand-alone stories are the key to success in the mass market. I hope Marvel is aware of this but I fear they are not. I wish them luck, because if they try pushing continued stories in 7-11 they're going to need it.
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