Part One

Welcome to the 32nd episode of “Can Marv Write More Than Two Columns Before Screaming His Way Out Of The Room,” otherwise known as “What Th--?” I guess the answer is I’ve been faking it real good for more than half a year. Someone will catch on pretty soon now.

It seems like it was several years ago, but it was only a few months back, in What Th--? #6, that I first proposed the idea of a survey to see who actually reads comics. Every dealer I’ve spoken to says kids don’t enter the stores, yet so many of the comics, especially the super-hero comics, are still being written for kids, or at best teens. Sales are down, so maybe it would be a good idea to see who reads comics and, until the companies can find a way to get comics into the hands of non-comic readers, at least write stories for the audience who is reading them so maybe they won’t go away, too.

I recognize that any survey is skewered by many criteria, least among them is that they had to be readers of my Silver Bullets weekly column. This of course means they are educated and have great taste. Ahem! It also means they are probably older. But since any survey that reaches a large audience has more validity than no survey at all, I accept the answers we got and even if the conclusions aren’t perfect, they are what they are. For those who don’t remember the survey questions (and shame on you if you don’t) here they are again:

Focus Group Questions.

1. A description of who you are.
A: Age.
B: Race.
C: Gender.
D: National Origin.
2. How long have you been reading comics?
3. How many comics do you buy each month (stop counting them, an approximate number is acceptable).
4. Without listing titles, what kinds (genres) of comics did you buy when you were younger?
5. Without listing titles, what kinds (genres) of comics do you buy now?
6. What percentage of the comics you buy each month do you read each month?
7. What percentage of the comics you buy do you actually look forward to reading each month?
8. What are your reasons for buying comics? Pick all the reasons that are really important to you.
A: The story.
B: The art.
C: The character.
D: The continuity.
E: The overall comics world it resides in.
F: Other (please explain)_______________________
9. If there are comics you buy that you either don’t read or no longer enjoy, list the reasons you still buy them:
A: Habit.
B: Keeping up the collection.
C: The book might get good again someday.
D: Resale value.
E: To discuss with friends.
F: Other (please explain)_______________________
10. Why do you read comics and what do you get out of reading comics that you don’t get from other media? (Please explain 100 words or less)We got over 400 responses, but I got bollixed up trying to tabulate them. I kept trying to figure the best way to tabulate this mess, but I failed. Miserably. But that’s why I have other people figure out tips at dinner: math is not my strong suit. It’s not even my weak suit. Math is me naked. I even lost some of the emails as I tried, so the survey results waited. And waited. And that was when Mike Robinson of England offered to help me out. Mike does this sort of thing professionally and he very carefully organized the answers and tabulated the results. If it weren’t for Mike I don’t think this ever could have been done. So I thank him very much.

First, some basics:

Average age of the respondents: 31 (min = 14; max=55)
Average race: 90% White; 2% Asian; 3% Black; 2% Hispanic; 2% Mixed. Also there was 1 bloke who claims to be Human (but I have my doubts) & 5 who refused to give details.
Average Gender: 92% Male; 8% Female. People classifying themselves as "Male (gay)" have been included as male!
Average Nationality: Australia 4%; Canada 9%; UK 8% & USA 71%. 1% for Belgium ; Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Puerto Rico & just one vote each for Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Latin America(!), Mexico, New Zealand &Sweden.
I wanted to know how long people have been reading comics: Average length of reading comics: 21.5 years (min = 0.5; max = 50)
No. of comics per month: 25 (min= 0; max = 150(!!!))
No. of Trades a month (added this as so many people were mentioning it): 4 (average of those who mentioned trades/GNs)
I asked what genres you bought when you were young vs. what you buy now. Here are the results:

Genres (%): Younger Now
Everything 1 7
Action/Adventure 5 6
Adult - 1
Crime/Mystery/Noir 2 28
Factual/Biography - 2
Fantasy 6 21
Funny Animal 6 2
Historical 0 3
Horror/Ghost 9 12
Humour 10 13
Manga 0 4
Religious - 0
Romance 1 1
SF 12 22
Sport 0 -
Slice of life - 15
Superhero 93 85
TV-Tie in 6 1
Underground 0 1
Vertigo/Mature - 17
War 6 2
Western 3 2

NB: "-" means no responses at all; "0" means less than 0.5%! Also I know that manga isn't a genre but a significant number of people just put that with no clarification!
I asked how many comics of the ones you bought you actually read, and how many of those did you look forward to:
Average % of comics read: 96% (min = 0; max = 100)
Average % of comics looked forward to: 78% (min = 0; max = 100)
NB: one bloke had 0%, 0% for these two columns!!!
Why do you buy the comics you read: Story 94%; Character 74%; Art 66%; Continuity = 31%; Comics world = 22% - Other: Creators & escapism mainly.

I asked why you bought comics you don’t read.

Why do you buy comics you don't read: Might get good again 30%; Collecting 28%; Habit 23%; To Discuss 4%; Resale 1% - Other: Finish storyline

In general I asked why do you buy comics.

Why do you read comics (352 responses): shortest was 1 word ("nostalgia"; "comfort"); longest was 2246 words (!!!)


Those are the results. I thought about commenting on them this week, but decided to wait until What Th--? #33 before giving my thoughts on what we’re seeing. I’d like everyone who reads this column to think about it and draw your own conclusions – many of which will probably be identical to my own – and post them on the “What The Hey!” Forum. I think this is the beginning of what could be a great discussion. And I’ll be back next week with my own thoughts, suggestions, and hopes.

Before I sign off, don’t forget to take a look at my website at www.marvwolfman.com and see all the pages I’ve added. Also, please come onto my message board and post there as well.

See you all in seven.

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