A post from my old Marvel blog concerning how long fans will continue to buy a title that they no longer like.
There’s a new blogging crew over at Newsarama, and yesterday one of them, Russ Burlingame, posted a topic that I thought was worth throwing out to the readership here as well (since we always seem to get a good response to audience participation around these parts). And since I don’t simply want to copy what Russ asked, I’m going to add my own follow-up query.
Russ’s question was: if there’s a series you’re buying that you really like, and then something changes to make it not so good anymore (new writer or artist, status quo change, whatever), what is the amount of time you give it to get back on form before you drop it? In other words, how long will the momentum of purchasing a series carry you forwards after you’ve stopped really loving the book?
And my follow-up: once you’ve dropped a once-beloved title, what does it take to get you to pick up an issue again?
I can remember, back in the day when I was buying the books off the stands, this was a little bit easier to navigate. I used to have a paper route, and that left me financially solvent enough to where I could buy pretty much everything (and did.) But that was during a period when the cover price was fifty cents, which made it a whole world easier. As a result, I would buy books that I really wasn’t all that crazy about because, hey, they were comics and they were cheap and they were there—why not
But in the early 1980s, my family moved, and the paper route went away—and without that source of steady income (atop the fact that the direct sales market was just beginning to expand, with all kinds of new books originating from new independent publishers), I reached a point where I couldn’t afford everything I was buying. But the interesting thing to me was, once I’d made that mental decision to trim my buy-list, once I’d flipped that mental switch, tons of titles just fell off completely, cold turkey. In fact, I’m not sure that even a single Marvel title survived this purge. Even FANTASTIC FOUR, most beloved of Marvel titles, failed to make the cut (though I returned about a year later after seeing the closing page of FF #267 in which Sue Richards miscarries her second child.) And eventually, I came back to at least all of the perennials, and filled in the blanks after the fact (in many cases from the cast-off books that littered the shelves in Bob Budiansky’s office, which he would allow his intern to pick over at the end of the year.)
So, there’s the topic of the day: how long will you hold out, and what will make you come back?