Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Collapse of Comic Book Market ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Collapse of Comic Book Market
Category: Arts and Entertainment
Asked by: j_philipp-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 15 Oct 2006 05:15 PDT
Expires: 14 Nov 2006 04:15 PST
Question ID: 773625
I'd like to have some links to news stories, personal recollections or
encyclopaedic articles covering the alleged collapse of the
traditional American comic book market in the mid-1990s. Thanks!
Subject: Re: Collapse of Comic Book Market
Answered By: keystroke-ga on 15 Oct 2006 09:00 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello j_philipp,

Thank you for your interesting question.

Here are some sites I could find that give some different explanations
for the mid-'90s collapse of the comic book market.


Wikipedia Entry-- Direct Market

"The development of the Direct Market is commonly credited with
restoring the North American comic book publishing industry to
profitability after the 90's infamous crash."


Wikipedia entry-- Comic book collecting

"The comic book speculator market reached a saturation point in the
early 1990s and finally collapsed between 1993 and 1997. Two-thirds of
all comic book specialty stores closed in this time period, and
numerous publishers were driven out of business. Even industry giant
Marvel Comics was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1997, although they
were able to continue publishing. It is surmised that one of the main
factors in Marvel's downfall was the decision to switch to self
distribution. Up until then, many publishers went through secondary
distributors (such as the current and only mass distributor, Diamond
Comic Distributors) and Marvel felt it could preserve some of its cash
flow if it made the move to becoming one of the few publishers to also
distribute directly to the comic market. This backfired terribly when
the bottom fell out of the market, as they were stocked with multiple
printings of variant and "collectible" issues that were no longer in
high demand and they could not cover the costs of their distribution

The bust can also be linked back to some of the series that caused the
boom, a few years earlier. DC's decision to publish two blockbuster
stories depicting the loss of their two major Superheroes (Knightfall
- the breaking of the Batman - and The Death of Superman), and their
subsequent flooding of the press as to its supposed "Finality", is
considered by some collectors to have started a slow decay within the
non-regular buyer comic community which then led to drops in sales.
Many comic retailers believe that numerous comic speculators took the
death and crippling of two major characters to signify the end of the
Batman and Superman series. As many comic readers and retailers knew
full well, very little in comics actually changes with any finality.
Many aspects of the status quo returned after the story arcs were over
(i.e. Superman died, but was resurrected. Batman was crippled, but
eventually recovered).

Many comic speculators who were only in the market to see important
comics mature, then sell them for a tidy profit, didn't quite
understand how quick the turn around would be on the story recant, and
many rushed out to scoop up as many copies of whatever issues were to
be deemed significant. Comic shops received not only staggering sales
during the week that Superman died, but also had to try and meet the
demand. This led to the saturation of the market and the devaluing of
what was thought to be the end of an American icon. Some comic book
retailers and theorists deem DC's practices in the press forum and
their relationship with the non-specialized consumer to be grossly
negligent of the status of the market, and that their marketing
campaign, whereas most likely not malicious in intent, spelled doom
for the speculator market and comic sales in general. Others place the
blame for the comic market crash on Marvel (whose product line had
bloated to hundreds of separate titles by late 1993, including the
poorly received "Marvel UK" and "2099" lines) or creator-owned upstart
Image Comics (who fed the speculator feeding frenzy more than any
other comics publisher)."


The Monitor
" Comic books? revival nothing more than economics"


Comic Book Bin
"The ten most important comic books of the 1990s"
By Andy Smith
Jun 29, 2006

"As the story goes, the day Superman #75 hit the stands there were
lines outside comic shops across the country. The Death of Superman
was a major news story that was covered by the likes of CNN and Time
magazine. It was the death of an icon -- probably the most famous
character in all of comicdom. In hindsight, it was nothing more than a
publicity stunt by DC, but it worked spectacularly. Superman #75 had
one of the largest audiences in comics' history, and in turn, one of
the largest print runs. Suddenly everybody was collecting comics and
the hobby was flooded with speculators. Sports card dealers (who had
just suffered a huge crash in their own market) shifted their
attention to comics, creating a vast new audience. The entire industry
benefited, but at a great cost: Event books and gimmicks were all the
rage, and The Death of Superman was soon followed by major changes to
almost every character conceivable -- most memorably Batman, Green
Lantern and Daredevil. The flashy covers and excessive hype got old
quickly and much of the new audience moved onto the next hottest
craze, sending the industry into a low it's still struggling to
overcome. Eventually, Superman did return, but Superman #75 still
stands as a unique moment in the decade - when the eyes of the world
were focused on comic books, a feat not repeated until the opening
weekend of the first Spider-Man movie."

Comic Book Galaxy
Google cache--

"It would be a whole other article to explain the many factors that
went into the eventual comic market crash of the early/mid-90s, but
suffice to say, crash it did. The general public?s faddish interest in
comics moved on to other things; investors began to realize that the
comics they were investing in were printed in the hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, and would never ever be worth money ever,
and moved on to other collectables (Beanie Babies, anyone?); stores
and distributors went belly-up; blood ran in the streets, bodies
washed up on shore, and even today, the comic market is desparately
trying to claw its way back up from the depths to which it fell."


"Interview: Dan Panosian"
September 30, 2005

"There is a debate about the nature of the growth of comic book sales
in the early 90s and the subsequent recession. Would you qualify these
events as a boom followed by a crash, or an aberration followed by a
?back to normal? situation? Why? In the case of a boom followed by a
crash, do you feel that the small press was hurt during the same

The 90?s was all about flash. Flash costs money and it hurt a lot of
quality small press comic book publishers. Once the market crash
happened things began to slowly focus on good stories?both drawn and
written. In the end, quality sells and has a longer shelf life. Is
there any comic book that made a profound impact on the comic book
world within that time period that wasn?t ?sales? based? I doubt it."


Comic Book Resources Forums


Metafilter-- Comic book boom and bust


Bubble Generation-- Bubble of the Day

"The Death of Comics"



Rich Veitch keynote


"Mint condition"


"nterview: Eric Shanower"


Search terms:
comic book market collapse
90s crash comic book market
comic bubble 90s

I hope these sites help you with your research. If you need any
additional clarification of my answer, let me know and I'll be glad to
assist you.

j_philipp-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $2.00
Excellent. The quotations meant that I didn't need to visit all the
sites which made for a good read.

Subject: Re: Collapse of Comic Book Market
From: probonopublico-ga on 15 Oct 2006 09:23 PDT
Can this be the legendary j_philipp-ga whose name was once hyperlinked?

If so, Hi Again!

If not. sorry that I asked.

Subject: Re: Collapse of Comic Book Market
From: myoarin-ga on 15 Oct 2006 09:56 PDT
Hi Bryan,

When GARs deign to stoop and post their own question, they revert
briefly to being mere black-letter mortals.  Can't have the gods of
GAlaxy admitting too openly that they don't know everything.

Cheers, Myo
Subject: Re: Collapse of Comic Book Market
From: j_philipp-ga on 17 Oct 2006 05:56 PDT
Hi Probono! :)
Subject: Re: Collapse of Comic Book Market
From: keystroke-ga on 18 Oct 2006 10:21 PDT
Thank you for the five stars and the tip! :)

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy