The rumors abound that Marvel Comics as we know it may be reaching its end, but all that is speculation. Even if the “House of Ideas” is brought to a close, Marvel will live on as a brand.
It seems like we’re living out an issue of What If: “What if…Disney stops publishing Marvel Comics?” When Disney bought Marvel in 2009, that seemed like an impossibility. Now the rumor mill has churned the waters and stirred up the entire community with the idea that this could be on the horizon.
Bleeding Cool News can be thanked for getting this started, and it began with an anticipated March 8 panel at Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest festival. Marvel heads C.B. Cebulski and Joe Quesada will be hosting an hour-long panel titled “Marvel: From Comics to Screens.”
Bleeding Cool theorized that Cebulski and Quesada are hosting this panel as a means to justify Marvel Comics’ survival. “(P)erhaps that’s why Quesada and Cebulski plan to make the case that none of those things would be possible without the comics,” the post’s author, Jude Terror, wrote. “Therefore, comics must continue to be published even if they add little value to the budget on their own simply because they provide the genetic material to make actual profits elsewhere.”
Until Disney makes something official or offers a public statement, there’s no reason to assume the worst. However, comics industry insiders have prophesied this for years. The Kingdom Insider published an article in 2017 asking just that question in “Will Disney Stop Publishing Marvel Comics?” Kingdom theorized that since the comic industry is not profitable for publishers, Disney will eventually shut down Marvel Comics, and it will become a brand.
Many in the collector community are putting together their own theories. One is that Marvel won’t necessarily cease to exist but the titles will be farmed out to smaller companies, such as IDW and Dynamite. It’s old news that Disney handed over publishing duties for their Star Wars comics line to IDW. Another theory is that Marvel Comics will gradually scale back on print publications and lean more heavily on digital comics, eventually phasing out the paper copies of their titles altogether.
What makes Bleeding Cool’s theory plausible, aside from the state of the industry, is DC’s recent announcement that it will be scaling back its volume of monthly titles. When one of the two biggest comics publishers in the world has to cut its number of books, that gives cause to panic.
Are we on the threshold of a sweeping change in the comics industry? Yes, and that’s nothing industry insiders haven’t been preaching for years now. Comics will never completely die, but that doesn’t rule out Bleeding Cool’s suggestion. Going all digital or farming out publishing duties at least leaves us with Marvel Comics. Then again, would they still be Marvel Comics in the hands of another publisher? That would relegate Marvel to nothing more than a label that can be slapped on any comic.
What’s going to happen? Only the Disney and Marvel executives can say for sure, and they haven’t made any statements on the topic. In any case, changes are not on the way – they’re already here.