The Comics Industry is Dying (or, They're an Art Form, Dammit!)

I’m starting this thread so as not to hijack another, and besides, this topic deserves it’s own thread dammit! You can find the beginnings of this debate here. All bolded quotes are original by New & Improved Scott, everything else is me. I’ve cut back in the parts of my post that he didn’t include in his response for clarity’s sake. The basic thrust of my argument is that the comics industry is dying and something needs to be done, Scott disagrees. All you non-comics fans please don’t run away, you might learn something.

Well you have a wonderful reading ability because I never said that that was a description of all comic readers, only some. But that some is a higher proportion than what you’ll find in the average population, and it’s enough to help give people a view of comics as being a geek interest.

I suspect that for whatever reason, comics draws more easily those members of society who are more introverted and have more trouble fitting in than most other artistic mediums. This group of people stands out as being introverts (or as I undiplomatically put it “unlikely to get a date”). I’ve shopped in a number of stores up and down the east coast over the years, and I’ve seen my fair share of people who fit this description. Furthermore I’m only commenting on appearance so my description of them could be completely wrong in terms of what goes on behind their bedroom doors (some of them probably have a better sex life than I do) but you can’t deny their appearance and the assumptions that puts in people’s heads about comics readers. I think you think that I’m judging these people when I’m not, I’m only commenting on the judgments of them that other people make. Maybe I’m guilty of a lack of tact with regards to my get-a-date comment, but I was certainly not generalizing about comics readers.

Numerous other posters have already disproven your claim that very few other comics do well and before 1938 there were no super-heroes. If you want to get technical comics got their modern start in the late 1800’s with the publishing of collections of comic strips from newspapers and original material in comic book format followed shortly thereafter; what do you think people were reading in comics for the forty years before Superman hit the scene?

You also are entirely missing my point: the market is super-heroes. That’s a problem. Super-heroes are regarded as the reading material of dorks by most people, hence, most people won’t read comics.

I’m not sure how golf fits in with your analogy, seeing as how it’s a more of a sport than an artistic medium, but collector’s plates are a niche artistic market, or to put it another way a subgenre of prints or paintings; most people like their paintings on canvas, some like them on plates, and that’s why your second analogy falls apart. Comics is a medium in and of itself and separate from all others. Comics are not literature (even though you’ll occasionally see people refer to them as such including, when I’m being sloppy, myself), they are not movies (the closest medium to comics) and they are not single image drawings or paintings. Comics rely on a serious of static images placed next to each other in a deliberate sequential order, something that no other medium does.*

If comics is a medium in and of itself then there is no reason why it should have to be dominated by super-heroes. However since it is dominated by super-heroes, that is leading to the death of the industry (not the form).

**You’ve apparently misunderstood my comment about graphic novels and story length, and simultaneously reminded me about another problem in the comics industry.

The current page length of 22 pages per comic at $2 or more a pop dissuades people from picking up comics due to their perceived expense. I’m not blaming Marvel, DC or any other publisher for that, there’s not much they can do about paper prices. However the way graphic novels would help solve that problem is more bang for your buck: you can pick up a hundred page graphic novel for $15 or so and that seems to be more of a deal than picking up single issues (and forget about buying single issue comics for speculation value, ‘cause that market’s largely dead).

As for what I was saying in my last post regarding graphic novels and how they’d help draw in new readers is that graphic novels as the industry standard should appeal to comics’ newcomers and veterans. They allow for a higher page count which gives newcomers the ability to pick up a comic and get a larger chunk of the story then they’d get with a single issue, thus reducing confusion because they have more time to pick up what’s going on and the nuances of the characters. For comics veterans there would need to be little to no change because they can still hold onto continuity (that could be expounded upon more easily with the increased page count, or included in the beginning of the book as a synopsis for newcomers) and the longer stories that have to take multiple single issues now. Graphic novels could still follow a sequential issues format as they do now as to allow an ongoing story, but as long as they are clearly numbered in terms of order this should be a small obstacle to new readers.

Comics do not have to appeal to a niche market, they have not always and they do not now. Go and pick up a newspaper and look in the comics section, what do you see? Comics. And they follow the same rules as the bound comic books with super-heroes in them do: the pictures are not stand alone, but are placed in a specific order to be viewed. Most people don’t make this connection but it is there and they are the same medium, and that’s a medium that millions of people are reading, but not enough of them are reading actual comic books.

If you want a clearer example look at Japan. In Japan everyone reads comics and they are not looked down upon. There is also an incredible diversity in the content of comics offered in Japan: a few years ago the number one selling comic in Japan was about a business executive, unthinkable in the west for a comic book. Japan admittedly has a different culture than our own, but I don’t see why our culture can’t develop a similar view to comics that Japan holds.

You could also go back to WWII when it was not at all unusual to wander through a G.I. encampment and find a slew of soldiers reading comics (during those years comics selling a million issues was commonplace, now if a title’s just pushing six figures it’s doing well). Comics as a niche market in America is a relatively recent development.

If most people are willing to read stories in picture format in their newspapers then why should they be so averse to reading stories told in picture format in books as people in Japan do or as people did in WWII? Because reading stories told in pictures in books has been indelibly linked with super-heroes, and reading pictures told about super-heroes in books has developed a geek connotation in our society that has bled over to all comic stories that are contained in books (with the notable exception of collected newspaper strips).

If the comics industry can break out of the Masked Marvel’s Last Toehold into material that is more palatable for the mainstream, comics have a chance of pushing into a larger audience, and at least reversing the trend of declining readership.


You must’ve missed the part of my post where I said that super-heroes are perceived as being for geeks unless they’re on a TV or Movie screen; super-heroes are cool to watch, not cool to read. Marvel’s stock has gone up due to better business practices than those they practiced before they went into bankruptcy, as well as the string of successful movies they’ve had.

The movies have admittedly stirred up sales for the titles they are based on and some of that has bled onto other titles, but in the long term those sales will disappear. Batman’s sales went through the roof when his movie first came out but they have since fallen back down to lower levels, and I imagine that once the fad of super-hero movies fades away sales for the industry will be the lowest they’ve ever been. Such fads come and go and comics sales will go with them, but every time they get a bit worse and eventually Marvel and DC will simply be companies that hold the rights to characters once published in comics but will then only be found in other media.


You should take another look at them. Comics readership has declined by ninety percent in the last sixty years (I’m basing this on sales of top sellers) and the decline is slowly getting worse.

Consider again my statement that comics sales have declined and the readership has gotten older. That means that the same people who were reading comics in their teen and pre-teen years twenty years ago have gotten older and new readers have not come in to take their place. That means the industry is dying out. It won’t die today or tomorrow or ten years from now, but in a few short decades it will die in America unless there are some substantial changes made now.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love super-heroes. Over ninety percent of my large collection consists of super-hero or fantasy comics. But I don’t kid myself that that genre can sustain the entire industry indefinitely.

*If you want to know more about this I heartily suggest you pick up Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics. That book changed my view of comics forever. Also of potential interest is Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art.

Yow. Awesome OP.

I used to buy and read comic books. I had several titles that I would read regularly and I would try others occasionally. I didn’t go for the traditional superhero stuff–I favored the Vertigo type stories. Dark fantasy, horror, supernatural stuff.

One of the main reasons I quit was because it was too expensive. Just a few titles a month at $2 or $3 (or $4 or $5) a book really adds up: I was spending over $40 a month, more than $500 a year. That ain’t chicken feed.

The graphic novel solution you propose might help, if their prices are kept down. But would that mean that a certain title would only be published two or three times a year? Part of the fun of reading comics was getting the story piece by piece and having to wait a month to find out what would happen next.

Another reason I quit reading comics is that where I live now I have to drive about 30 minutes to get to the nearest comic book store. Not incredibly far, but not very convenient. If there were a store within 10 minutes of where I live or work, I would probably still buy comic books. I live in a very populous area, so the lack of a nearby comic book store is probably another symptom of the dying industry.

While the major publishers are charging more and more to chase after a dwindling number of readers, there is a flip side to this: There are more really good comic books being published now than at any other time in the medium’s history.

While it’s hard to quantify “really good,” look at the variety of non-superhero books out there now:
Love and Rockets
Drawn and Quarterly
Black Hole
Magic Whistle
various one-shots by Crumb, Spiegelman, Mazzucchelli and the Twisted Sisters bunch

The variety and quality of the current scene rival the peak of the “underground” movement of the 60s and 70s (and retain most of the better practitioners of that earlier era; guys like Frank Stack and Spain Rodriguez are doing their best work ever).

Tangent, yeah I suppose that a shift to having to wait every few months would be disappointing to most comics readers. However I think that the current method of only getting a single issue a month and rushing to the store to get it has helped contribute to the perception of comics being for geeks, because not only do most of us know the minutiae about a variety of super-heroes, but we also run to the store to get the latest installment of their adventures. Some people not only find this geekish, but childish as well (completely ignoring their own rush to store for the latest Pearl Jam album), and that doesn’t help matters either.

I suspect that most comic book readers would get over their initial disappointment of having to wait months for the next part of the story after a short period of time. Using myself as an example several years ago I stopped going to the comics shop on a weekly basis and started going every 2-3 months. This meant that I started getting multiple issues of a single title and I found it more enjoyable to read a large chunk of the story than bits and pieces (this was serendipitous mind you, because I was also tired of making 30 minute trips, and part of my original goal was to cut down on impulse buys, and less frequent visits meant less frequent impulse buys). Besides I’m sure there would still be comics published every week, even in graphic novel format, so there would always be something to rush to the store for.

That’s a good point, Krokodil. But the problem is most of those are comics dealing with complex issues of self or society and not topics likely to appeal to the mainstream. This is typical of underground comics and why they will always remain underground: they’re too serious for most people. I suspect that’s why underground-type comics never went mainstream in the sixties and why they won’t go mainstream now (thus not helping the industry much, if at all).

But even if you divorce those deep introspective comics from the other underground comics that would have a chance of appealing to the mainstream, they are never marketed that way. Movies such as X-Men, or Spider-Man scream their comics’ origin in advertisements and although this might cause a few non-comics readers to pick their titles up, the gain is never permanent. Meanwhile movies such as Ghost World, From Hell or Road to Perdition run from the fact that they are based on comic books. This is especially a shame because movies like those usually garner critical acclaim and Ghost World even got an Oscar nod for best adapted screenplay; attention like that would surely draw at least a handful of new readers into comics, and not into the super-hero subgenre. It would also likely cause the Big Two to publish more diverse comics because they follow the money trail.

Here’s my two cents:

Comics are a niche market, like it or not. The vast majority fall squarely into heroic fantasy, be that superheroes, swords and sorcery, or something similar. The ones people like to pull out when talking about how artistic comics are tend to be insufferable navel-gazing semiautobiographical stuff we’ve all seen a million times. Which is not to say that some of it isn’t good - Alex Robinson’s ‘Box Office Poison’ is right up that alley, and is quite enjoyable.

What’s missing is what the OP mentions. Where are the romantic comedy comics? Yes, there are some now, and that’s good. We’re also starting to get back to straight up crime comics and dramas. Comics are finally taking the hint and really solidly hitting the genres that will appeal to the mainstream. This is a good thing.

But it’s not good enough to counter 60 years of comics being “superheroes for kids”. It’s all about perception, folks. You may know that there’s far more out there than superheroes - hell, most of the books I buy aren’t traditional superheroes. But that doesn’t change the fact that Joe Public thinks they are. Talking about how mainstream and varied comics are in Japan doesn’t help when the only imports that find their way into bookstores are “Look Out For Panty Girl!” and “Punch Punch Robots” and “Cherry Blossom Force”. I’m a comics fan and I don’t even bother with Manga - you want non-fans to?

The way I see it, the industry has two options. The first option is to do whatever it can to shed its niche market image. To that end, I would suggest that DC and Marvel form an imprint together called ‘Dogma Comics’ or something and only publish self-contained stories by top creators that are distributed to bookstores in nice bindings. Invite in writers from outside of comics. Will they lose money on this? Undoubtedly. But it could have some very positive consequences. However, both companies are so myopic that they’d never let it last long enough to find out. After three months of losing money, they’d cancel it and instead publish “Batman vs. Wolverine.”

The second option is to screw the mainstream, embrace what they do, and try to do it well and hope that the mainstream catches up with them. This would mean dumping about half of their titles. We don’t need any more superheroes. We don’t need any more dark superheroes who are more grim and gritty and ‘realistic’ as a reaction against superheroes. We don’t need any more bold heroic heroes who are more idealistic as a reaction against dark superheroes who are more grim and gritty. Your unique twist on the superhero concept probably isn’t, and your self-referential superhero schtick that recognizes and sends up all the usual cliches is itself a usual cliche. However, it should be noted that, as trite as superheroes are, comics are the main place to get them.

For this second plan, you would also have to get in new readers, and the OP is right. Expensive books that are part 5 of a 14 part story will not bring in readers. Here’s what you need: cheap books, printed on cheap paper with self-contained stories featuring popular characters. The comic I loved the most as a kid was called “DC’S Super Stars of Space” which was a collection of 5 or 6 sci-fi stories from the 50s with Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Space Cabby, and such. If someone wants a Superman or Captain America fix, there it is. For a buck. Now, of course, the companies, since these books are only a buck, will not put their top creators on them, so they’ll undoubtedly be crap (because, as we have noted above, the industry is incredibly myopic).

Either way, we need to return to the anthology comic. I would love to be able to buy a big thick, TPB-sized book featuring all kinds of different self-contained stories in it. Superheroes, romance, crime, western, sc-fi, horror, slice-of-life, whatever. If comics are so frickin’ diverse, let’s see it. Flaunt it. Don’t show me the two non-superhero comics in your lineup and then expect a reward for diversity.

The problem the industry faces is twofold - first, the public perceives them as juvenile heroic fantasy for kids and immature adults. Second, they pretty much ARE juvenile heroic fantasy for kids and immature adults. It pains me every month when I go through Diamond Previews and wade through all the utter CRAP that’s in there. How many bad-girl tit comics does this industry need? Why do the words “mature readers” solely mean nudity and dick jokes? Why is it that when people praise a comic for ‘pushing the envelope’ what they really mean is that a guy in it has sex with a chicken? Don’t chide the public for their perception of comics and its fans - a quick look through a comics catalog completely justifies their view.

You want the world to take you seriously, comics industry? Then act like you want to be taken seriously.

There are other comic book types, are there were even before the recent boom of “Graphic Novels”. I’m thinking in particular of Classics Illustrated, which I loved as a kid. I got more information on the French Revolution from the CI special issue on it than I ever learned in high school. Ditto on WWII.

Unfortunately, I think that CI was perceived as “Cliff Notes for the illiterate”, a label it doesn’t deserve. Despite many attempts to revive or copy it (Marvel Illustrated Classics, the New Classics Illustrated, even a small-format reprinting of the original CIs), Classics Illustrated seems to have died as a market. I don’t know why. How are kids today going to be introduced to literature? How are they going to learn about the French Revolution? In high school?
Another line of comics I loved as a kid was Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact. It was a Catholic kid’s comic, distributed through our parochial school (although, late in its life, I did see it on newsstands). It was surpriusingly well done, with educational sections, kid’s adventure stories, etc. The didactic content was kept low. A good all-purpose, non-super-hero comic. It died in the early 1970s, but we could use something like it now.

To every major comic book publisher:

I don’t like continued stories that seem to go on forever. I don’t like story lines spread out over multiple titles so that I have to buy a dozen or so comics every month to keep up with what’s going on.

I want each issue to have a self-contained story or at most no more than a two-parter. If you really have to tell a story that takes three or four hundred pages, publish a graphic novel, don’t spread it out over 7 issues and across 5 or 6 different titles. That’s a rip-off, and everybody but the geekiest fan boy knows it.

The vast majority of potential new readers simply are not inclined to spend $20 to $60 a month on comics and never will be. It requires too much money and too much time for a new reader to get up to speed on most if not all of your titles. Fandom has its place, but if you depend on fandom to keep you in business, sooner or later you’ll be out of business. You are better off selling two or three comics a month to a million readers than selling seven or eight comics a month to a hundred thousand fan boys. If the music, TV and movie industries can’t survive on hard core fans alone, neither can you.

And for cryin’ out loud, at least experiment with titles that don’t tie in to your superhero universes. I’m gonna let you in on a little secret-- * most folks don’t care very much about superheros! * Even as late as the late 70’s and early 80’s comics had a lot more variety than they have now. There were science fiction titles, horror titles, romance titles, war titles. What have we got today? Testosterone overdose cases in longjohns, and Archie.

I have a collection of almost 600 comics, and * not one * of 'em is a superhero comic. They’re mostly EC reprints and undergrounds, together with some miscellaneous horror and science fiction titles. I’d buy a good horror or science fiction title. I’d buy a good humor title. I’d buy a slice-of-life title. But they simply don’t exist.

And I’m sure there are a lot more readers like me. We really like the comics format, but we just aren’t interested in the long underwear characters. When are you going to realize we’re a market worth exploiting and go after us?

Make more of an effort to go after young readers. The average 10-year-old doesn’t have $50 to spend on comics every month. If he doesn’t get in the habit of reading comics when’s he’s a kid or a teenager, he’s not likely to get the habit when he’s twenty or thirty. Produce more titles aimed at kids, and take a loss on these titles if you have to. * Make comics accessible to kids! *

In the 30’s and 40’s there were hundreds of popular fiction magazines. By the late 50’s they had virtually disappeared from the nation’s newstands and magazine racks. The same could happen to comics, and just as quickly. I’d hate to see it.

The Japanese comics industry has proven that the comics format can appeal to a general audience. You can do it, too.

The comic book industry is dying, and I don’t think it can be saved.

The problems:

  1. Poor distribution. The comic book industry will never be more than a niche market with it’s current distribution system. When I was a kid, you could get comic books at a wide range of outlets: the drug store, the grocery store, the convenience store, the discount department store, book stores, etc., etc. Comic books were often impulse buys when you were shopping for something else. Nowadays, I only see them at comic book shops and some bookstores. Unless you live in a city, you aren’t likely to have a comic book shop nearby, and even if you do live in a city, a comic book shop may not be conveniently located. So comic books are not being marketed well.

  2. Overpricing. $2.00 is more than most folks (and certainly more than most children) are willing to pay for a comic book. Use cheaper paper, or accept a lower profit-margin-per-comic in exchange for increased circulation.

  3. Video games and cable TV. This may be the insurmountable problem. Kids have too many other entertainment options. When I was a youngster, if you got bored there might not be much else to do but read a comic book. Now, you can flip through 200 channels on TV, or play video games, or rent a movie. Comics are a much smaller piece of the entertainment pie.

  4. No young readers. This is a function of 1-3 above. The comics industry has lost its way when it does not bring in young readers. Let’s face it: super hero comics are juvenile power fantasies, originally designed to appeal to children. Instead of solely concentrating on adult comics and high-priced graphic novels, and hoping that they find an adult market, you have to hook the consumers while they’re young. Get kids buying comics again (lower prices, wider distribution, simpler self-contained story lines), and then they may graduate to adult-oriented comics. Leave kids out of the equation, and comic books are doomed. If a generation grows up without reading comics, pretty soon the only readers will be geezers, and comics will be written by and for geezers. (The Adventures of Icontinent Man! Specially discounted for AARP members!)

I’m curious. You mentioned the Japanese way of comics in the OP as a possibile style our industry could adopt to try and change the demographic towards a broader reach. Well beginning last year there’s been a growing section in local bookstores here with translated versions of many Japanese series. Mostly ones we’ve seen on TV but also many that haven’t. Everything from Hamtaro to Cowboy Bebop to Love Hina and the Tenchi series. I have to assume that this is also the case at mainland bookstores. What impact do you see this having on the industry?

My actions considering drawn series are like so.
I haven’t bought an American comic since they destroyed Mike Grell’s really cool Green Arrow which was one of those “for mature audiences only” comics of the early 90s. It went from a serious yet humerous look at a guy in a Robin Hood costume dealing with the dregs of society with no trace of super human powers anywhere to a just another bad superhero strip. Grrr, they did the same thing to The Warlord. A real shame because the beginning of the series was so amazing. Anyway the only comic I’ve bought in the last 8 years (except for The Far Side, Calvin & Hobbes and Dilbert books) has been the Dragonball series. I haven’t yet been moved to start buying a series not based on a show I’ve seen (like Cowboy Bebop or the Tenchi series) but I imagine it’s only a matter of time as their catalog grows till I see one I decide to buy, and then another. Thus bringing me back to the media.

spoke beat me to it, but I’ll say it again because I think it’s important. Comic books are not very accessible for the everyday joe. When I was younger, the carry-out down the road had a whole rack of them and I’d frequently buy one just on impulse. Nowadays, you’re lucky to see them anywhere except in comics shops, so where are the new readers coming from? If you haven’t ever read a comic, and don’t really know what they might have to offer you, why would you go out of your way to go to some specialty store that may or may not even exist in your city? Get them back into mini marts. Put them on the shelves in grocery stores. Line them up next to newspapers and tabloids. Remind people that they exist!

Trust me, this is essentially impossible. However, the increased prevelence of comics sold as books in bookstores (combined with the fact that the majority of comics are now written for an adult audience that might be interested in buying these books) is assuaging this problem somewhat.


Hey, I thought of another example – and this one is on magazine shelves, and is bought by “ordinary Joes” – Mad. Mad started as a regular comic, but switched to a magazine format. Nevertheless, the amount of illustrationless text has always been virtually nonexistent – Mad has always been effectively a comic book/whathaveyou.

Why is that? I’m not trying to be flippant, I’m genuinely curious. I kind of miss my semi-monthly splurges on a comic or two (my favorites were the EC horrorbooks), but I’m not dedicated enough to go out of my way to get one.

Baloney. (And I mean that in the nicest possible way.) If the Star and the Inquirer find a spot next to the checkout counter (prime impulse-buy territory), there’s no reason comics couldn’t be there, too.

I’m sure this could turn into an if/then argument, but very few comics in their heyday sold as many issues per month as the Enquirer or the Star.

Claremont/Lee’s X-Men #1 is still the standard bearer if I’m not mistaken (it could be McFarlane’s Spiderman)

The Enquirer has a WEEKLY circulation of 2.76 million. That’s like 11 mil per month!

NO way that a comic is going to take up that shelf space!

It usually comes down to any theory that COULD get comics in prime real estate comes from a position where the shop/supermarket owner would want to help the industry. Their principal purpose is to maximize revenue, not help a dying medium.

I meant to include that sales figures for X-Men #1. I think that issue was around 7 million or so worldwide (multiple covers). The subsequent issues, obviously dropped considerably.

I think the best selling monthly (non-special event or issue #1) sold at around 1 mil per month.

Nowadays, the top comic sells around 100k per month (plus whatever sells in non-direct markets).

Comics are relatively low margin compared to magazines, they are restocked weekly, and unlike magazines comics purchasers turn their noses up at even the tiniest crease or imperfection. Maintaining a spinner rack is a hugh hassle that most grocery stores and newsstands aren’t interested in. Indeed, comics are available through the regular distribution channels that most magazine retailers use, but nobody buys them (in quantity). It’s not that DC and Marvel are withholding comics from newsstands, it’s that newsstands are by and large not interested.

This has been getting somewhat better in the last couple years (many Borders now have a modified spinner rack with limited selection) but comics are in general not an attractive product for businesses who don’t sell comics.


touching on the “a bigger story released every few months for less money” idea, I just came back from a store today and realized that Ultimate Spiderman is doing just that.

If you’re a fan, you can buy:

1 - the current issue.
2 - a collection of the past three issues, describing the beginning of the Venom storyline, for less money than they cost individually
3 - the paperback “volumes” that collect even more issues together, and are pretty widely available
4 - the hardcover, which I assume is a collection of the paperback volumes.
5 - dotcomics. I don’t know how far it went, or how frequently it was updated, but it allowed you to read the story from the start online, all for free.

So you can come in at any point in the story, and read as much as you want. The more patient you are, the more bang you can get for your buck, but at the same time there’s no requirement to be patient. You can be impulsive too and get it issue by issue.

Seems to be working. Then again, it’s an established character taking advantage of established storylines, but it draws a lot more attention to itself than the other Spidey books seem to.

I’m also a big fan of Treasure Chest! I even wrote a big article about it for The Comics Journal about five years ago. Lots of artists from better-known comics were regular contributors, incl. Joe Sinnott, Frank Borth, Reed Crandall and Graham Ingels. Plus, Sock Jones ruled! This title is one of the great underrated gems of comics.

I don’t think X-Men #1 sold 7 million (I think it was closer to 2 million). Remember, the 40s versions of Captain Marvel and Daredevil sold several million a month back in the day. Nowadays, the two ways to sell a million copies are: (1) Trick the regular buyers into buying multiple copies, (2) Put something out that appeals to pople who usually don’t buy comics (KISS comics, Death of Superman).