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We’ve done it all: comic books characters, series and the creators themselves - now we turn our attention to the broader view. After the twin announcements of Disney buying Marvel and DC’s new executive regime in the fall of 2009, we thought it prudent to turn out attention to the big stories in 2010 that could help shape the future of the comic book industry.
Newsarama Note: We haven't forgotten you, gamers. Lucas will clue us in to the to Ten for '10 - GAMES on Monday!
What will Disney/Marvel mean exactly?
Finalized in the final days of 2009, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment and what – if anything – it means is still a huge question mark. Speculation has run wild, and the possibilities are endless. And while we can (and have) do a Top 10 list of just the questions the deal raises, the most important question we’ll be looking for answers for in 2010 is simply how heavy a hand Marvel’s new parent company will wield. Questions are out to everyone from Joe Quesada on up to Disney CEO & President Bob Iger, but no one’s talking. … yet.
The New Regime at DC – status quo or Brave New World?
Just days after the announced purchase of Marvel by Disney, news broke that DC Comics’ parent company Warner Bros. were restructuring the comics’ publishing company. Moving on was long-time publisher Paul Levitz, in was a new president, and a new umbrella name – DC Entertainment. Newly installed president Diane Nelson has yet to publicly announce any re-alignments, but with such big changes at the top of the totem, can further changes be far behind>.
Does DC Gets Its Movie Slate Together This Year?
Going hand-in-hand with the previous topic but deserving its own space, the 2009 announcement that DC was putting a freeze on all movies in production in order to take a more coordinated approach. Many saw this as a reaction to the success Marvel has been having in the movie business (with Iron Man in particular), and as they say – competition brings out the best in everyone. Behind the scenes movement show some thawing out of the freeze with the fast-track going for the Green Lantern movie, and industry eyes are watching to see how Jonah Hex and The Losers fares in the summer blockbuster season.
Digital Comics – by mobile device, by Internet, by… tablet?
Hardly a new story, but this one is constantly evolving and developing over time. This burgeoning format has the eventual potential for being the greatest sea change since the graphic novel revolution of the last two decades. The big two in traditional American comic publishers, DC and Marvel, have both been publishing original comics work that is later collected into a print edition, while bookstore publishers such as Tor are running their own comics on their websites. Individual- and group-run webcomics continue to gain traction online and in the eventual print collections, and the looming debut of the iTunes-for-comics model such as LongBox and current serves such as Comixology’s phone apps make it a question not of if, but when.
2010’s Comic Book Movies – Solidifying their hold or overstaying their welcome?
The Iron Man movie made Marvel’s in-house movie studio a legitimate contender in the movie world, and this year’s sequel could help cement their place in the Hollywood hierarchy. Can other comic book box office entries like Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim, The Losers and Jonah Hex help establish the sub-genre as here to stay, or can a few misfires lead to Tinseltown moving on and finding a new “It” category.
Con Wars (or The Long Con)
For a couple of decades now, San Diego Comic-Con has been nerd Mecca for all things comics and geek, with shows like the Chicago Comic-Con giving fans and exhibitors a small handful of major dates to plan for and around during the year. But Reed Exhibitions’ New York Comic Con and new Chicago venue C2E2, and Gareb Shamus’ aggressively expanding Wizard World slate of shows are helping to fill the calendar up with a lot of red circles. In 2010, the battle for the hearts and dollars of the industry gets kicked up a notch as Reed seeks to supplant Wizard’s Chicago-Con as the mid-west venue and Wizard responds by scheduling shows directly against Reed – Anaheim and C2E2 will play out the same weekend in April, and then the Big Apple Con and NYCC will face off in October, likely forcing exhibitors like the major comic book publishers to choose sides.
Comics’ New Frontier: Television?
With comic books established as a successful R&D breeding ground for big-screen blockbusters, it was only a matter of time before TV came calling. The art form has always been a TV staple, from the George Reeves Superman to “Smallville” to Saturday morning TV, but 2010 looks like it will be an especially fruitful year. Human Target is aimed for a January launch, and Fables, Powers and Walking Dead are pushing forward, with more likely to come.
The Dawning Of A New “Heroic Age” At Marvel?
While the Disney factor dominates the inside-baseball view of Marvel in 2010, Marvel Comics is promising a turn of the chapter in their flagship superhero titles, as they transition from Dark Reign through the 4-month Siege miniseries and into a promised “Heroic Age”. There’s a lot we don’t know about that, but Marvel is betting you’re going to stick around to find out.
Can Diamond Keep It’s Grip On Comic Distribution?
Diamond Distributors has been, and probably will be, the primary distributor for comic books in the English-speaking world. Their strength lies into their exclusive agreements with publishers that give them a chokehold on getting monthly serial comic books into the hands of comic book shops. But new options are beginning to emerge.
Graphic novel sales in large brick & mortar and online bookstores continue to give publishers another legitimate sales venue, and niche options within the “Direct Market” are presenting themselves, including Haven Distributors, which recently entered into a deal with BOOM! Studios to keep their reprints and variant covers available to comic book retailers.
Then there is the specter of digital comics. Will Diamond have to adjust to the changing market, or will the market continue to have to adjust to Diamond?
Kodansha Comes To America
After years of speculation that they’d be coming one day, the primary Japanese manga publisher Kodanasha finally stepped into America directly in October. Previously just licensing out their titles to North America publishers such as Dark Horse, Viz, Del Rey and TOKYOPOP , Kodanasha expanded their limited American presence in 2009 and began terminating those licenses in efforts to build their own American publishing slate. Their first two releases, Akira and Ghost In The Shell suggest a focus on classics from their catalog rather than newer – and potentially riskier – choices. Whether Kodansha USA can get a foothold in the American manga market is still a question that needs to be answered – but 2010 should go a long way towards doing just that.
There you go - some fact, hopefully no fiction, and a hint of speculation. Are we on the mark with our 10 Events to Watch in 2010 or are we looking the wrong way? Tell us what you think will be the big event of 2010. And don’t be brief – tell us why!