The movie "2012" is now playing in theaters. Its basic premise is that the Mayan empire calendar ends in the year 2012, and that if you squint hard enough, you could read special meaning into the year 2012 for other books and cultures too. The result is two-fold: Firstly, the usual crowd of doom-sayers run around claiming that 2012 could be the year that ends it all. Secondly, the usual crowd of movie-goers run into a film that turns out to be nothing more than the usual special-effects driven waste of celluloid.
But wait! Perhaps there is something behind all this? For as we all know, the Mayans were the only native Americans to evolve a written system, and also the only ones to develop a sophisticated mathematics.
And what form did their writing take? Pictographs! Picture-writing! Bound into Codexes. Which are, effectively... comics!
Surely the message is clear. In the year 2012, comics will come to an end. And I have proof! Here are my three signs of the impending doom of the comic-book industry.
Variant Cover Overload: Every new title (and there's a constant stream of those) must come with at least three and preferably six variant covers. For example, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 offers us - (1) #1 regular cover, (2) #1 Villain Variant, (3) #1 Chrome Cover, (4) Black & White, (5) Black & White Pittsburgh Comicon, (6) 2nd Printing. Want a complete collection... that's gonna cost you $60-100 depending on how carefully you shop.
Six variant covers? That's approaching the extreme excesses of the 1990's. Remember Spider-Man #1 with its eight different covers. I recently reviewed The Marvel Vault, a history of Marvel. In that book the writers looked back at the silliness of the 90s and poked particular fun at the craziness of all those variant covers of that Spider-Man (1990) #1. Well, now it's happening every month and nobody even blinks.
CGC Grading of Worthless Books: I just stumbled across a CGC 9.6 graded and sealed copy of the Marvel Reading Chronology 2009 with a "BuyItNow" for $25. For those who didn't grab a copy, this is essentially a freebie advertising promo from Marvel, listing their currently available TPB and Hardback reprint offerings. This is a marketing pamphlet, guys, most likely printed in the hundreds of thousands. Is this really what CGC was created for... or is it possible that we are losing perspective a little here?
Mile High Comics Overpriced by 5000%: Every now and again I have a dig at Mile High Comics for their hilarious pricing policies. Once upon a time they used to double the price, and then offer a 40% discount. Then they began to triple and quadruple the price so they could offer 60% and 70% discounts. But today I found an even more ludicrous example of a comic worth maybe $1 or $2 priced at $50.
I was looking to pick up a copy of Darkhawk #50. Hardly a glowing classic. MHC didn't have a copy, but their system informed me that when they did get a copy, Near Mint would cost me $50. FIFTY DOLLARS! By extreme contrast on eBay I found a BuyItNow for Dawkhawk #1-50 plus annuals, plus Dawkhawk Limited Series plus guest apps - a total of 78 Dawkhawk comics, all in VF/NM. Asking price is $45.
Anybody here old enough to remember the comic crash of the nineties? Anybody here smart enough to read the signs? You do the math. The Mayans already did...