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Monday, June 21, 2004
I come to bury Crossgen, not to praise it
So, Crossgen is apparently no longer a going concern, if the rumor mill is anything to judge by. I know it's been at least four weeks now since they released any new books, so hearing that they've filed for bankruptcy doesn't surprise me in the least. What has caught me somewhat off guard is the reactions I've seen on-line, which have mostly ranged from "about time" to "hooray, the evil witch is dead."
But here's the thing: Crossgen's books filled a niche in the market that no other publisher was really exploiting. The majority of their books were what I would call "adventure fiction." Similair in tone to super-hero comics, but different in execution and style. And at our store at least they sold well. In fact, they sold significantly better than a good portion of Marvel and Image titles. Because there's an audience for "adventure fiction." Mostly these are people who have out-grown super-hero comics, but aren't really interested in most indie books. This audience doesn't want art-comix, or alt-comix, they value art over writing and won't even consider buying something that isn't in color or on slick-paper. They want something that looks like what they think a comic should look like, but they don't want men in tights hitting each other. They want the comics equivalent of a Hollywood action/adventure moive. And that's largely what Crossgen gave them.
My major concern now is: what happens to those customers who want that type of book? Again, to use our store as an example, a good number of our Crossgen customers only bought or mostly bought Crossgen titles. Some of the titles produced by Wildstorm, Vertigo and Dark Horse could fill that gap, but my gut instinct is that most of those customers are going to slowly drop out of the comics buying habit. So I can't help but think that Crossgen going away is a "bad thing" for the comics industry over-all, as Crossgen did manage to bring in new readers and brought back readers who had left comics earlier. And I realize that our store isn't neccessarily typical in the first-place, what with us actually bothering to carry Crossgen titles in the first place, but if we lose customers over this I'd imagine that most comic-book stores would lose at least some customers over this as well.