As I’ve stated before, reviews are not all the important to general audiences. That does not mean they can not effect the performance of certain projects in various mediums. Movies and television are two forms of art and entertainment where reviews could influence the popularity of a project. While that doesn’t mean they will-its more likely in those mediums than others. Comic books is a medium where reviews have a harder time making a dent. Here’s a few reasons why.
Over 300 comic books are released in a month and most of them will not be reviewed. In fact, there is almost an order to how reviews get posted. Event books and relaunches or new runs from mainstream companies are usually guaranteed. A new run on a license title from in an indy company-for example a new writer on a GI Joe book-may get overlooked. Reviewers then like to tackle top franchise books. Your Batmans and Spider-Mans always have to get checked in on. There are reviewers who constantly review their favorite titles. We follow that by books with top name or acclaimed creators, which does actually include non mainstream comics. However on a whole, indy comics will not get a lot of reviews. There will be some, no doubt, but if there are around 50-70 books released in a week the reviewers tend to stick to mainstream companies and a smattering of works from the more well known indys.
Of course indy books need reviews more because comic shops are months ordered into books. This means the new series or new run will have a fixed order estimate for a few issues. Negative, or positive, reviews on the first two or three books will not effect mainstream books-it may effect digital or even future trade collections but it will be harder to effect the in store sales. The big two expect a drop from the first issue because they know shops don’t really adjust to what their buyers want until a few issues. If sites who do reviews would swap out their mainstream comic reviews for more independent titles that could actually help. Shop owners obviously order so little of indy books that if they sell through or get asked about a title they may have not ordered, they will turn around and try to get more.
Reviews for movies, TV, and other mediums can come along on the same day-or even before-a work is released. You can get the Friday newspaper an have reviews of the movies released the same day. All the movies at that. Comic books are not like this. The reviews filter in as the day and week go by so a number of fans already have the comics in hand and read before a review may be available. While there are fans who wait for comic book reviews many comic fans have a ‘going to get them today’ attitude.
Lastly-where do you get reviews for comics? There are very few really good comic review sites. In fact, I’d say there are none. Oh, there are a number of sites that do news and reviews but I don’t think any of them are that good. As I was skimming around I used Hack/Slash #25, last issue of the series, to look at some of the sites I might have never seen before. Found out Comic Book Resources, one of the bigger comic sites, didn’t do a review for it. The end of a long running series where they even previewed the book and spoke with its creator. That makes little sense to me. Hack/Slash may have not been a big indy title but it had a strong cult fan base going for it. I did find Comic Book Round Up. An interesting site because it attempts to be Rotten Tomatoes for comics. Most the numbers being generated are only based on a handful of reviews. Still-its more reliable then actual comic book review sites I imagine.
Basically this is what comic book reviews need to do. Review less mainstream books, more alternative titles. Get reviews up quicker. Stop reviewing the same books over and over. You don’t have to review the big titles all the time.