Study: To teenagers, printed comics are ‘irrelevant’

Glenn Hauman

Glenn is VP of Production at ComicMix. He has written Star Trek and X-Men stories and worked for DC Comics, Simon & Schuster, Random House, arrogant/MGMS and Apple Comics. He's also what happens when a Young Turk of publishing gets old.

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13 Responses

  1. Marc Alan Fishman says:

    Great. This officially makes me a 27 year old old-man…. "You damned kids! In my day we bought printed comics and trades and we liked it! And we may have illegally used grokster, limewire, napster (when it was still cool!) and bearshare to download our music, but we STILL bought CDs from bands we liked!

  2. Kevin Makice says:

    I think it's wonderful that this MS intern was empowered to write the report and contribute to our understanding, but we should stop at considering this definitive research on the subject of teens consumption of media. I think print comics are safe, as is Twitter.

  3. Andrew Wheeler says:

    So a single European teenager is telling us what all American teens like and do and care about?May I now expostulate at great length about the internal lives of middle-aged Chinese men, based on my own personal knowledge?

    • Glenn Hauman says:

      I'd like to think that Morgan Stanley would not publish a piece of shoddy research, but we do know that large financial firms have published a few clunkers in their day. Still, one would expect that MS would know that this would be especially scrutinized, because of the age of the author.

  4. John Ostrander says:

    A study means nothing unless you know how it was prepared, who answered, what the questions were, and other statistical standards. Asking a 15 year old to ask all his friends produces, frankly, useless data.

    • Linda Gold says:

      Having been in market research for 35 years all I can say is you completely right. This is meaningless as presented.

  5. Russ Rogers says:

    I've heard that about 10% of music sales are now in ringtones! Personally, I'm a bit nauseated by that fact and I don't know why. I think people value what they pay for. If kids don't pay for music, then I think it will carry less emotional weight.Now, my daughters own iPods. They get iPods gift cards for Christmas and Birthdays. What they spend on singles is about the same as what I spent 35 years ago! But they treasure their music. They feel connected to it.I don't know if there is more crappy music today than when I was a kid. Is "Soulja Boy" any better or worse than "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got love in my tummy)"?OK, kids today aren't BUYING and OWNING music in the same way as when I was a kid. Having the LP jacket in my hands, studying the lyrics and linear notes gave me a sense of connection with the songs and artists. Now, kids have MySpace, and artists web sites where they can make comments directly to the band. They can interact with other fans in a myriad of new virtual ways never thought of before. Here's a twist. ComicMix is FREE. Sure, there are ads and I sometimes click through. But it's as free as Network TV. And yet, I have rarely had as deep of an emotional connection with comics. I think it's partly the fact the the stories dribble out at a drip, drip, drip pace. Slow and steady. It sucks you in. And it's partly that I can comment and sometimes interact with the creators. I feel a sense of ownership and pride in ComicMix. I felt a strange sense of personal achievement when ComicMix announced that they would publish some of their stories with IDW. It's like routing for the home team, I guess. I have no ownership in the Minnesota Vikings. But my season tickets and team sweatshirt give me a sense of ownership and connection with the team. They are MY team. ComicMix is my comics home team. Thank you.

  6. Tom Fitzpatrick says:

    Printed comics are not irrevelant, but WE are. ;-)

  7. Steve Smith says:

    If the results show that printed comics are relevant then no one would talk about the study.

  8. ed zarger says:

    I've got to agree that this study has to be labeled simply as anecdotal evidence, at best. Not that this "couldn't" all be true for teens, but we really don't see evidence of the methods used, questions, etc. It seems like a "what do you and your friends do?" And there could surely be regional bias. Bear in mind that Europe was going hogwild on texting years before it came into prominence in the US. Of course, European comics had broader allure than American ones for a time, and it might be the European ones that are mentioned here. (Which is still worth thinking about.)Okay, I babbled enough.For now.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I fear we may have brought this upon ourselves. When my eldest (now 27) was young there were comics in every food store, drug store and newsstand. When my youngest (now 17) was younger the stores carried only a few titles with no promise next month's title would be displayed. For any steady flow of comics one had to go to the few comics and related stores. In my case that was not my county but the counties on either side. That was a lot of gas burnt for the next issue of Supes or Bats.The elder child had a graduated path from Casper to Archie to Fantastic Four. The younger child got a few Superman comics at a later age. He found Naruto on the net and was not interested in "American" comics. The comic store has been fantastic in allowing various platforms from G to GP-13 to R if not X. Those stores birthed the graphic novel.There are only two problems I can see as an ex-visitor to those stores. Has consolidation of the product supply to specialty shops restricted the exposure of the medium in such a way to doom the medium outside of the web? Can I get a starter comic like Wendy the good witch at any store for my grandchild?I would be happy to read it to her if I could find it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you, I think the shift in marketing away from mom and pop grocery stores, news-stands, the death of these places as places to shop, replacing them with specialty stores and bookstores, and the bandwagon phenomenon with any new toy and gizmos, short changes the paper format and also limits impulse buying or just the surprise of discovering something new you knew nothing about. It's interesting to remember that comics once had a wider street and broader class circulation. A kid, rich, poor, used to go into a candy stores anywhere in the country to see these bright little booklets on the racks, he immediately wants to check them out, he gets to flip through them and decide, hey this seems fun, exciting, he wasn't necessarily directed to them by any form of advertising except the comics themselves-I remember saving lunch money to buy four or five comics for 15 cents, then a quarter, then the prices kept going up and up and that and my growing maturity made me give up on comics for a long time. Now the disposable income of a many people hasn't kept up with the cost of living so who buys paper entertainments anymore that are no longer cheaply printed and widely distributed? And internet narcissism however allows more choices and the buyer is in control of what he wants to look for, see and obsess about-I don't click on web banners or even look at junk email, I, like most people, go for what I want, what I'm searching for-I almost immediately delete them all–unless the mail is from a website that I've subscribed to. A kid today knows or discovers what he or she wants or what he or she has been brainwashed into wanting. I know brainwashed is a loaded term but commercial culture targets and influences tastes though never perfectly. All this easy access to everything and nothing produces a leveling effect that seems to offer great freedom, democracy and yet at the time I can't help but feel a general sense of a great trivializing of everything all the same. Coming from Morgan Stanley, it seems taken for granted that these must be middle class kids who can afford these tools and so this trend appears healthy, normal or taken for granted. Any study of this kind has to consider the class and income of the kids involved and also the pricing of paper comics versus the easy access to free and illegal downloads. Maybe if published paper mags were cheaper? But few will consider the aesthetic worth of such tools versus traditional paper. Kids who are online during their free time would of course not go out to the store to buy anything they can buy online so it follows that they'll shop their first. So who are these kids, where do they live? Why are they online so much etc. What percentage of the population do these teenagers represent in terms of their various family incomes and personal allowances? I'm not even sure the reading experience is the same when it comes to the internet, you can do and see and learn much over the net, but the loss of a more intimate reading experience created by traditional paper bound books and magazines are I think pleasures and experiences worth keep for their own sake. To promote or not to question the abandonment of paper because of the fashionable, the new tells us a lot about consumer culture, disposal culture, marketing etc. not that it isn't inevitable; by default of its success, the internet and its related devices, access and speed, does seems inevitable.

  10. abana says:

    ridiculus i am an 18 year old girl, and i love comics be it batman, superman, fables etc all my other friends girls and boys love it absolutly, they cant just build on what just an indiviual said.