Comix Asylum recently had the chance to chat with Kevin A. Boyd, owner of the Comic Book Lounge in downtown Toronto. Kevin dishes on everything from the year that was, the state of the industry and what to expect in the world of comics in 2015 and beyond.
CA: With 2014 in the rear view mirror do you have any thoughts on the past year in comics?
KB: I’d say the return of Amazing Spider-Man and the Death of Wolverine were two of the high points. DC Comics (Batman line aside) have gone into a freefall and no one seems to be acknowledging that there is a problem on the publishing level because their current priority is moving offices from the East to West coast. Marvel blew DC out of the water in terms of reader interest and sales, as did Image Comics. The rising number of discount booksellers in the downtown core ordering and selling graphic novels cheaply, undermining and eroding interest in book sales at comic shops, (forced) us to increase attention on novelty items to pay our rents and employees.
CA: Is there anything else that you’re excited about as a retailer or a fan?
KB: Image Comics is producing some of the best, original comic book content and they are selling up a storm. Trade collections of popular Image series dominate our book sales in the shop and at conventions.
CA: What was 2014 like for smaller publishers and independent creators?
KB: I think it’s getting to be a better market for smaller publishers and independent creators because they are finding workarounds for the problems associated with the Direct Market. In particular – crowd-funding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo) became the popular means to get comics out there, bypassing our archaic one distributor Direct Market and the comics retail level (unless we want to buy in with retailer packages). Unfortunately, we saw a decline in interest in smaller publishers in 2014 – except for Image, 2014 was a boom year for them, so much so I don’t consider them to be a small publisher.
CA: What are your thoughts on what Marvel and DC have planned for their characters in the world of cinema?
KB: I’m excited. Definitely we know Marvel can deliver movies that fans love, but fans are excited about the DC line-up and hope that they can also pull it off.
CA: Comic book and sci-fi/fantasy related programming is currently dominating the small screen. With a plethora of shows set to debut this year, what are your thoughts on the state of comic books and television?
KB: It’s kind of the reverse of the movies, as DC dominates on television with quality programs that are getting traction. Walking Dead is a cultural phenomenon, so I’m curious to see if they can replicate it with the spin-off and with Kirkman’s Outcast series. On top of that great genre shows like The Strain and Penny Dreadful are of great appeal to comics fans.
CA: How does the comic book industry look moving into 2015 and beyond?
KB: DC needs to get back into the game. Marvel’s Secret Wars plans have people excited and nervous. Image continues to line up great books by great creators. Other publishers struggle to fit in around the rack. So I see it as a mixed bag, overall positive but with lots of room for improvement.
CA: What can we look forward to from the Comic Book Lounge in 2015?
KB: Our third year of operations ends on February 7th and as we are on the verge of starting our fourth we are at a crossroads. Our lease expires at the end of April so I’m looking at locations and options. It was a fun experiment – for three years the Lounge has shared space with other similarly minded businesses such as Guerilla Printing, the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop, the Temple of Toys and Back Space Toronto. But the experiment works when everyone is doing well, and while the Lounge has proven to be reliable and the lynchpin for the site, the other businesses haven’t been so lucky, especially with some of the weather issues and other challenges facing the downtown core. So while I explore options, I have to make sure the Lounge is more autonomous in the process.