Mark Waid on why digital is so important to the future of comics:
The problem with comics, and I’ve said this before, is that we have over the past 50 years very, very successfully taken what used to be a mass medium and successfully turned it into a niche market. Which is crazy, the idea that comics are a destination point now, that I can’t find them anywhere. If I’m in the middle of the country, I have to get in a phonebook and see if there’s a store within 100 miles of me that even carries comics. This is why you don’t see mass advertising for comics during movies, during the trailers. This is why you don’t see mass advertising for comics in, say, a “Got milk?” sort of ad campaign. There’s no “Got comics?” campaign. It’s not because we don’t want people to read comics. It’s not because that’s not an interesting way of advertising comics. But let’s say you’ve gone to see Avengers in a multiplex in the middle of Alabama. Let’s say Huntsville, Alabama. I’m pulling that out of the blue. And you leave that theater going, “Oh my God, now I’m stoked about the Avengers, and I saw this great trailer or commercial before the movie for Avengers comics. I gotta have an Avengers comic.” Well, where the hell are you going to go? [Laughs.] You know? You can’t go to the 7-Eleven. You can’t go to the mini-mart. You can’t go to the drugstore. You can’t go to the grocery store. If you’re lucky, there might be a comics store in the northern half of Alabama. I don’t know if there is. There may be one. It’s wasted advertising.You can do that with milk because everybody knows where to find milk. You can do that with beef, “That’s what’s for dinner.” If I see a commercial for beef, and I suddenly decide I want beef, I know where to find beef. [Laughs.] Comics is a different thing. The beauty of digital, the beauty of the iPad, the beauty of mobile devices is that that’s the new newsstand. That gives us the potential to reach out to people and give them comics on a platform that is as ubiquitous to them as convenience stores were to you and me when we were growing up. That doesn’t mean they’ll automatically find comics. It doesn’t mean that is an automatic fix. I’m not saying that because we sold a million iPads today means that there’s a million other people going to read comics next week. But at least there’s a fighting chance. There’s a much better chance to reach them through the iPad than through comics stores.
It’s from a great, somewhat scattered, interview at the AV Club (I wish there has been follow-up questions, personally) that is well-worth checking out. Waid is a great interview subject, a great writer, and someone with a very particular view on the industry through his many experiences. Go read.