What Happens When..?

By | Friday, December 09, 2022 1 comment
We've seen some impressive anniversaries in comics publishing in recent years. DC, Marvel, and Archie have all shot past their 75th anniversaries and are working their ways towards 100. Whether they actually make to 100 remains to be seen, of course, but they seem to have weathered some harsh storms already. While I wouldn't suggest any of them can count on smooth sailing, they have shown they can adapt to changing conditions.

Interestingly the average life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company in 1955 was right around 75 years. I don't think any comics publishers would have qualified as Fortune 500 back then, but it's interesting that they have the longevity of them. More interestingly, though, is that the average lifespan of a Fortune 500 company today is less than 15 years! Of those 1955-era companies, only 61 still show up on the Fortune 500 today. That's 12%. 88% of companies that were expected to have a 75 year lifespan didn't last 50 years.

All companies fail at some point. Just as all people die. Eventually, we'll get to a point where DC, Marvel, and Archie don't exist. Just like Fawcett, Charlton, Quality, and countless other publishers don't exist today. But, when one of those companies folds, what happens to the comics you bought from them?


You bought the comic. It's yours. You keep it as long as you like. It doesn't matter what happens to the publisher as far as that specific comic you purchased is concerned. That's why, as I'm sitting here typing, I can literally see books in my collection from First Comics, Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics, NOW Comics, Atomeka Press, and Gold Key amid the books from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.

So my question today is: what happens when comiXology goes under? I don't wish them to, of course, but sooner or later, they will. They've already been bought out by Amazon, and they can decide to just switch them off at any point when they think it's more costly to maintain than what they earn from it. What happens to all the comics you purchased from them?

Just something to think about.
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Ted Dawson said...

Some good points. It’s also a concern for creators. What happens when you sign over your rights and later the company goes bust? The rights don’t necessarily revert back to you. And then there’s the condition of being sold to another company, like Amazon, as you mentioned. The rights you entrusted to a smaller company now belong to a huge corporation that’s more likely to abuse them, and one harder to renegotiate with. There are plenty of properties, like those that belonged to Harvey, that have moved through a dozen companies. Comics syndicates get sold and consolidated within larger corporations and holding companies. Things with Comixology aren’t going to end well, for readers or for creators.