I thought Douglas Wolk’s PWCW piece on the impact of popular comics with tie-ins to other media was really interesting reading. I’ve wondered about that topic a lot, whether or not people who go into a comic shop to buy Buffy or Stephen King cover bands actually buy anything else. (But then I wonder if the people buying Naruto because they like the cartoon buy other manga as well.)
Anecdotally, the answer seems to be “yes,” but it’s barely possible to quantify actual comic sales, near as I can tell, much less the impact of a given property on sales of other books. Still, all of the retailers interviewed indicated that there were at least some subsidiary sales as a result of these kinds of comics. And while it goes against my preferences as a consumer, I can’t help but see the logic in making patrons walk past a bunch of other comics to get to Buffy.
The only way to get a less anecdotal sense of what the impact is would be to put some kind of survey mechanism in place, I guess. And how many casual readers, the kind who came just for Laurell K. Hamilton, would take the time to respond? And would the publishers be willing to expend the kind of money and energy to put the survey out there?
On a nitpicky front, I’m so turned off by describing people who don’t regularly read comics as “civilians.” There’s just something kind of sad and yay-rah desperate about it.