Food or Comics | A roundup of money-related news

• According to The Media Is Dying, Viz Media laid off "multiple people" on Friday. No details were available.

• Advertising Age's Chicken Little-style report from New York Comic Con, which centered on the curious comments by DC's John Cunningham about the apparent dangers e-devices pose to the comics industry, has gained a little steam: Radar ("The end of comic books?") and The Christian Science Monitor ("Are comic books really at risk?" both have picked up on it.

"If 10% of the readers migrate to an e-device, that is gonna throw off the economics for 60% of the (comic) books that are published in this country," Cunningham, DC's vice president of marketing, said at a convention panel.

But John Jackson Miller calls shenanigans: "Fair enough, and possibly true. But it's incorrect for the reader to infer that online migration is a flat loss to the publisher, since the publisher does play a role in determining both the economics and the timing of the online migration. Ten percent leaving to read bootleg is not the same as 10% being otherwise monetized by the publisher ..."

• At ICv2.com, DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz considers a changing comics market in the face of a recession: "The core customer that we’ve had for many years who spends a thousand plus dollars a year, if he’s lost his or her job and it’s food or comics, I kinda hope they pick food, so they can last long enough to come back when they have a new job. We know some of them have gone through that and that we’ll take some hits from it. My hope is that the number of new customers that we’re attracting to the graphic novel side of the business where the typical customer to us seems like a three, four hundred dollar a year customer, a more sustainable kind of habit, will be growing at a fast enough pace to make up for the number of core people who have to put the hobby aside for a period of time or cut back radically in what they do."

• In his weekly "MySpace Cup O' Joe" column, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada discusses the thinking behind comics pricing: "Today, comic talents have many more places where they can earn a living, and sometimes a better one, than in comics. You take any artist who sits in his room for 10, 12, 14 hours a day to do one page and ask him, 'Hey, do you think those 22 pages, that month of your life, do you think $2.99 to $3.
99 is a fair price for your artwork?' They’d probably have to really think about it for a bit, especially when they know they could probably get more in other industries."

• In an annual rite, several online commentators respond to retailer Brian Hibbs' analysis of Nielsen BookScan figures for 2008:

Tom Spurgeon warns for us to "take all of the numbers with a huge grain of salt, take the analysis with a shaker's worth of the stuff, and the advocacy for a salt-lick sized deposit."

Heidi MacDonald cautions that the BookScan numbers "are significantly lower than what publishers’ numbers indicate, but it isn’t a consistent percentage differential as it is with Diamond’s charts." (There's a lot of discussion in the post's comments section, too.)

John Jackson Miller merges estimates from the book market with those from the direct market to come up with $680 million to $710 million comic/graphic novel market in North America.

Matt Blind compares the BookScan numbers with his own figures. (via Simon Jones)

Dirk Deppey takes exception to Hibbs' characterization of the performance of art comics, and suggests the retailer has ulterior motives.

• The Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette reports on the closing of local retailer Acme Comics because of the economic downturn. "I have people call and say, 'No, I can't pick up my books this month,'" says owner Kathy Hall. "Even people who stopped by all the time."

• Advertising Age attributes that 11-percent drop in magazine newsstand sales in 2008 to high gas prices and a worsening economy keeping shoppers away from stores.

• Ed Chavez looks at the declining sales of Japanese manga magazines.

• The Fresno (Calif.) Bee talks to Top Cow Publisher Filip Sablik, artist Dave Gibbons and a couple of retailers about the affects of the economy on the comics industry.

This New York Daily News article -- "Batman, Iron Man among comic book stars hit hard by recession" -- is weird in that, as the headline suggests, it focuses on how the economy is affecting fictional billionaires.

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