It's an interesting dilemma. One of the reasons people enjoy comics is for the escapism, but without addressing the world we're escaping from, there's a chance we might not be able to continue our brief escapes to Dogpatch or Metropolis or Nova Venezia. So, I'm going to see if I can't join Tom to help get the ball rolling with some frank and earnest discussions about the current economy.
Let me start with a few personal facts about where I'm coming from.
- My B.S. is in graphic design, but I got an M.B.A. a few years ago. While my concentration was in marketing, there was still lots of economic theory there. I can navigate a balance sheet pretty well.
- My day job is with the financing arm of one of the world's largest corporations. We provide the financial backing behind things like your Walmart credit card. The company has maintained its AAA credit rating throughout this whole economic mess.
- My own finances are tight these days, due largely to additional costs brought on with my divorce from earlier this year. I've essentially got half the income to continue paying for the house and all the utilities, plus payments on a loan I had to take out to pay my ex-wife for her half of the house's equity. It's not an untenable situation, but I had to make some hard cutbacks shortly before the economy went south. On the plus side, I have zero credit card debt, my car (a fuel-efficient Civic Hybrid -- the smartest purchase I've ever made) is paid for, and I make sure everything I buy these days is paid for with cash (well, debit card, technically).
- My girlfriend has an express interest in personal finances. She maintains her own financial blog, and has a solid understanding (or as solid as anyone can have these days) of the financial pressures rippling through the economy.
So what does the financial crisis mean to me?
Well, let's look at some data. Here's the estimated sales numbers (courtesy of The Comic Chronicles) from the past several months of Marvel's and DC's top-selling, event-driven titles.
|Secret Invasion||Final Crisis|
Of course, this is something of a lagging indicator since we don't have any data yet beyond September -- when the economy as a whole tanked. And we're also looking at the most popular books, which are probably the least volatile. Looking down to the lower end of things, how about we take a look at (the arbitrarily selected) Witchblade from Image Comics and Lone Ranger from Dynamic...
Here's another indicator that comics aren't in much trouble. Marvel's stock price...You can see that the lowest their stock price has dipped recently ($29) is still higher than all but the highest peaks of 2007 (the highest being only $30.91).
Time Warner, the folks who own DC, don't look quite so hot...But as you can see, they took their big hit between 2000 and 2002. They did dip below $10 a couple times in October, but that was from only from hovering around $15 for most of this year. A hit, certainly, but not a devastating one. Furthermore, Time Warner does own a few other things besides a comic book publisher, so their data isn't going to be 100% applicable to a comics discussion anyway.
So far, this seems to suggest evidence of the notion that comics are recession-proof. Of course, anecdotal evidence suggests exactly the opposite, as I'll look at in my next post.
To be continued...