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Author Topic: No more Comic Heroes  (Read 8444 times)

IndigoPrime

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #30 on: 16 July, 2014, 11:33:46 am »
I think the perceived value of journalism (by certain members of the public) is very low. I'm amazed at how many video game magazines manage to keep going seeing as many people seem only to be interested in a title, screenshots, and a percentage score - and they can get all that from IGN or a million other sites.
It's infuriating, not least because the scores are really the least important bit. You should learn what a writer likes and read what they have to say. But instead we get score inflation and Metacritic, and games companies fuming when they're given anything less than a 7, which readers now somehow consider 'average'. It's all bonkers.

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A magazine like Comic Heroes is always going to struggle against internet free sites.
And yet the depressing thing is, the vast, vast majority of free websites don't provide any kind of depth. It's mostly churn—essentially reprinting press releases with barely a moment's commentary.

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If you want to know about the history of the Avengers you can look on Wikipedia
Which is often inaccurate, entirely dry, and—ironically—culled from magazine articles. It's truly bizarre looking at some retro-game articles on Wikipedia, which are more or less straight clones of features I've written for Retro Gamer.

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It's a shame but I think it's the way things are going.
I worry about the end game. If people don't see value in media, fine, but the end result is no media, or—at best—populist garbage that will have to cater for all without really catering for anyone (or, alternatively, banging the sensationalism drum).

JamesC

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #31 on: 16 July, 2014, 12:08:33 pm »
It's always nice when you read an article in a magazine that you wouldn't think you'd be interested in but which draws you in. Part of the reason for this is probably that if you've paid for it you want to read it!

Years ago there was a great article in the Megazine about Modesty Blaise - a character I previously had no interest in but which prompted me to read all of the novels and the vast majority of newspaper strips.

The flip side of that is that I've lost whole afternoons to wikipedia, clicking from one linked article to the next. But it can't focus content in the way a magazine can.

Regarding game reviews, I actually prefer not to have a score at all. I don't think scores make sense for many games. I remember Spec ops: The Line having points deducted because the multiplayer wasn't very good. The multiplayer was added at the insistence of the publisher, was developed by a different team and was described as a 'cancerous growth on the disk' by one of the designers of the main game!

IndigoPrime

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #32 on: 16 July, 2014, 12:18:41 pm »
The other thing about magazines, of course, is they are curated content, based broadly around a topic that interests you. This may encourage you to explore more widely than you otherwise would have. With the more pick-and-mix nature of the web, people are more often drawn to what they already know they will like and/or content they can blaze through at speed. I hope the magazine survives in some form, but really it's a big ask, beyond the very niche (such as some comics, for example) or the very popular (although those publications are being hit hard by advertising revenue plummeting).

JamesC

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #33 on: 16 July, 2014, 12:49:49 pm »
The top 100 best selling magazines in the UK:

http://www.betterretailing.com/retailer-resources/top-100-magazines/page-2/

At the top of the list there's a massive bias towards TV Listings/Women's weekly magazines selling at a very low price point.
I'm quite surprised by how well Private Eye does.

IndigoPrime

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #34 on: 16 July, 2014, 02:35:04 pm »
TV listings mags are propped up by the elderly and will get a very rude awakening in a decade or so. Women's mags will survive, but are starting to feel the pinch through lower circulation and a decrease in advertising. Private Eye's higher than I'd have thought, but then it has a strong core audience and a relatively low price-point (which is also why comics are managing to battle on). But when you bear in mind even the likes of Crash and Zzap!64 (8-bit computer magazines, for those who aren't old) used to do 60k+ in the mid-1980s, it shows how much things have changed. Last I saw, even industry stalwart Edge was struggling to maintain its readership, and now has a combined ABC of just over 20k—down from 29k only four years ago. It says something that mag's no longer immune to staffing issues at Future (and its website is also for the chop soon, which is just baffling—it should have held the position Polygon now enjoys).

TordelBack

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #35 on: 16 July, 2014, 05:20:40 pm »
Very interesting discussion.  As my brain continues to ossify I find myself reading forums/blogs/websites that deal uniquely with some specific interest of my long-ago youth (-looks around and whistles innocently-). Seldom am I exposed to anything new, in the way I would have been in, say, the heydey of White Dwarf, where for every article that I bought if for there were five that showed my something I knew nothing about.  I don't agree 100% with Indigo, in that it is definitely possible to find in-depth and well-written material online that is superior to much in the printed realm (e.g. nowhere can you find more informative intelligent analysis of Dredd and 2000AD properties than in the blogs of Wolk, Smith, Wells and Goggans, to pick just a few examples), but there's no denying that you have to go pretty deep down the rabbit hole to find it, and when you do there isn't going to be much else around. 

Recrewt

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #36 on: 16 July, 2014, 05:59:49 pm »
Sad news about comic heroes but I must admit I have always been put off by the price of that title. 

It's clear that the Internet has had an impact on magazine sales - I personally buy less now than I used to.  Unfortunately magazines are getting squeezed at both ends - the costs to create are going up and yet consumers are only willing to pay so much.  I don't think you can blame consumers for this - magazines are disposable items that I would not expect to pay £10 for.

 

Tjm86

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #37 on: 16 July, 2014, 07:00:57 pm »
I have to be honest I've been contemplating cancelling my subscription for a while.  Whilst it improved from the early issues where it appeared to be largely a clone of SFX with an unhealthy obsession with the film versions, I felt that it never really achieved it's full potential.  As a monthly / quarterly / whatever title it could never focus on current / upcoming titles but considering the rich history of comics on both sides of the atlantic I felt that it quite often skimmed the surface.  A classic example was it's review of Starlord(UK) which ran to a scant two or three pages.  The meg has done a far better job over the years in it's profiles of titles, story lines and writers and artists.

Theblazeuk

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #38 on: 17 July, 2014, 10:14:01 am »
I didn't want to speak ill of the fallen but I agree with most of the sentiments on here.

IndigoPrime

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #39 on: 17 July, 2014, 11:00:09 am »
I don't agree 100% with Indigo, in that it is definitely possible to find in-depth and well-written material online that is superior to much in the printed realm […] but there's no denying that you have to go pretty deep down the rabbit hole to find it, and when you do there isn't going to be much else around.
There's also the issue that this is stuff people do for fun, in their spare time. There's no impetus besides a basic passion for a field, and although that's very important, it's often not enough. Hell, as a writer myself, I know how my own personal projects end up sitting there for months, dead, because I don't have the time and I have to earn a living. So even the good stuff online is often compromised in a way newsstand isn't, because it has no obvious schedule. And with so much of the rest being churn, it's a sad state to be in.

Unfortunately magazines are getting squeezed at both ends - the costs to create are going up and yet consumers are only willing to pay so much.  I don't think you can blame consumers for this - magazines are disposable items that I would not expect to pay £10 for.
I'd be more nuanced about this—I think you can blame consumers for this, but I also agree £10 is too high a price to aim for when it comes to a regular publication (versus the 'bookazine' one-offs that are increasingly everywhere and about to nosedive themselves). But people don't want to pay for stuff at all in the main any more, and that's the problem. A good example is Tap!, an iOS mag that I was games editor for. It was a fantastic mag and loved by its admittedly small readership. It got squeezed by Future cuts and ended up digital-only (PDF and app), which made it absurdly simple to pirate. When the axe fell, I saw a lot of shit about from people who were angry Tap! no longer existed, yet these people never bought an issue. The sense of entitlement was immense. Elsewhere, you look at people whinging that The Times sits behind a paywall and saying "well, I'll just read the Guardian then, because it's free"; that's great until the Guardian finally burns through its massive cash pile built up throughout its entire history (which it's been doing at the rate of more than £100,000 per day).

In short, the only way to secure the future of media in any way remotely resembling how it exists today (assuming that's what people want) is to support it somehow. People being paid for their work keeps them making that work; that's not to detract from the hobbyists at all, because they often do a very good job, but I'd hate the future of media to only be scattergun content from weekend writers/musicians and lowest-common-denominator garbage from those few big names that survive.

As for Comic Heroes, it was between a rock and hard place. It needed the newsstand to survive, but in order to maintain what it was people were buying, the price had to be high. Something had to give, and unfortunately in this case, it was as much being at the wrong publisher at the wrong time, brutally reacting to the very market conditions we've been discussing, as anything else.

TordelBack

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #40 on: 17 July, 2014, 11:33:13 am »
Indigo puts his finger on it right there - no-one wants to pay for anything anymore, including me.  The apotheosis of the internet came at a particularly bad time, when the recession had devastated incomes and disposable spending, and lo, here's all this free stuff to tide us over (even leaving aside illegal torrents).  It's a hard mind-set to break out of: In the space of five years I've gone from a monthly haul of a dozen comics, three magazines and a daily and a weekend newspaper to just one regular comic (guess) and all the rest of my info online, and even as I get my hands back on the financial reins, I don't see that changing, barring a possible return to buying the odd title that takes my fancy or maybe going digital with the Meg.

Once broken it's a difficult habit to resume.
« Last Edit: 17 July, 2014, 11:35:26 am by TordelBack »

IndigoPrime

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #41 on: 17 July, 2014, 11:45:10 am »
Now add to that a digitally literate generation who's grown up with the assumption everything should be free, because they can torrent every movie, find every piece of music they want to listen to on YouTube (you might laugh, but that's the main way of listening to music in the US for teens), download every comic for free, and access cracked games even for locked-down systems like iOS.

I've seen people positively fuming that a £2 smartphone game only lasts five hours, or that the free version of a game only gives you 20 of the 100 levels. It's truly insane entitlement, and I've no idea how this will be changed now.

Fungus

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #42 on: 17 July, 2014, 01:16:35 pm »
IP articulates this well, including the something-for-nothing mindset...

Also, this £10 hangup is misleading; the mag came out quarterly in the end (though this wasn't made very apparent) and took me at least a long time to read. That's not overpriced.

Also also, how often do you find in W H Smith that you have to barge past the guy who is obstructing the mag you want to buy? He's standing there for 30 mins, reading some content before putting the mag back and leaving.... God help journalists/writers.

JamesC

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #43 on: 17 July, 2014, 01:29:38 pm »
I think lots of people assume that digital content is supported by advertising revenue and so has already been paid for in a sense (not saying this is true but it's an attitude I've encountered).

Regarding music and film, I can understand why cinemas struggle as they're rarely an enjoyable experience being, on most occasions, badly staffed, over priced (in terms of sweets, drinks etc) and uncomfortable. I think Netflicks etc are probably where the future lies.
As for music, the tradition of writing a song which then becomes part of the culture and is essentially passed on for free pre-dates the record industry by thousands of years. I'm happy to pay to see a live performer but I think we've been getting ripped off in terms of record sales for ages.   

TordelBack

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Re: No more Comic Heroes
« Reply #44 on: 17 July, 2014, 01:36:11 pm »
Also also, how often do you find in W H Smith that you have to barge past the guy who is obstructing the mag you want to buy? He's standing there for 30 mins, reading some content before putting the mag back and leaving.... God help journalists/writers.

Fellow was reading the Prog in this manner yesterday.  I nearly, oh-so-nearly, brought the matter to his attention, but then I reflected on all the occasions during my Wilderness Years when I did the same, and exercised restraint.  All the stray lambs will be gathered in, in time.