Blah Blah Blog – Three-Party System

An entry from my old Marvel.com blog, this one talking about how I wish there was a viable “third party” comic book publisher besides Marvel and DC in the marketplace. Image is about as close as things get these days.

Three-Party System

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

Thinking further about the standings we were talking about yesterday has made me lament the fact that we no longer have a true three-party system in the comic book market at the moment. And I think that’s a bad thing, detrimental to the long-term health of the industry and the long-term quality of the big two companies.

Now, everybody’s going to immediately jump on this statement and interpret it as a slam on Image, or Dark Horse, or Dynamite, or any of the other smaller publishers out there. And that’s not what I mean at all. I’m glad all of these publishing houses exist, and I wish there were more of them.

But over the last couple of years, there hasn’t been a third publisher of sufficient size and stature to give Marvel and DC a run for the money. And that’s unfortunate. The last real contender for this title was CrossGen, and before that you had Valiant/Acclaim and Image at various times, among others.

I’m a big believer in competition. I think that people most often rise to the occasion when they’re challenged. There’s not a lot of glory in coming out on top of a field of also-rans. There’s also less of an impetus to change the way business is done. You always need fresh blood, fresh ideas, fresh approaches. And sure, you can find that among the smaller publishers–and we do on a month by month basis. But a third publisher who’d really establish an aggressive position in the marketplace would be very much welcome, in terms of insuring a variety of product, give everybody a greater reason and impel to work for quality, and just keep everybody on their toes. Even among creators, there are only so many times you can hear about creator X going back across the street from one company to the other before all of the energy of the move is dissipated.

All that having been said, of course, it’s still incredibly difficult to start a comic book company, especially on the level we’re talking about. I certainly don’t have the resources to do it, so I can’t really fault anybody else for being in the same boat.

But I still wish that we were operating in a three-party system.

Tom B

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