This chapter explores the production of culture as represented by comics work. It explicitly recognizes the diverse inputs of the larger network which ultimately delivers comics work (i.e. graphic narratives in a variety of formats) into the hands of readers, the ultimate consumers of the work. This network of individuals and organizations fulfills a number of vital tasks that directly influence the finished work and its viability in the marketplace. Some of the contributions of that network are traditionally overlooked and are not fully recognized by consumers, or, indeed, even by scholars of comics work. One of these necessary but routinely disregarded roles is that of distribution. The role of distribution is often ignored or minimized because it is not customarily viewed as a creative activity, especially in the context of an industry which views itself as “artistic” or “creative.” Distribution is considered to be a mundane activity, and its profound impact on the success (or failure) of comics work is therefore easy to overlook. Comic book historians can better understand and interpret the full richness of the American comic book industry and its history by explicitly incorporating a more thorough investigation of distribution into their analyses. To explicitly make the role of distribution in the production of comic books as culture more visible, this chapter applies the notion of constraints on the production of culture developed by Richard A. Peterson (e.g. 1982, 1985) to an analysis of a number of pivotal events in the comic book industry. This analysis is augmented by also integrating concepts from strategic management, especially those of Michael Porter (1979, 1980).
- Strategic Management
- Distribution Channel
- Comic Book
- Direct Distribution
- Comic Code
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Anderson, Torben Juul. 2013. Short Introduction to Strategic Management. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Barney, Jay B., and William S. Hesterly. 2008. Strategic Management and Competitive Advantage: Concepts and Cases, 2nd edn. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Brienza, Casey. 2009. Books, Not Comics: Publishing Fields, Globalization, and Japanese Manga in the United States. Publishing Research Quarterly 25(2): 101–117.
———. 2010. Producing Comics Culture: A Sociological Approach to the Study of Comics. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics 1(2): 105–119.
Dallas, Keith. 2013. American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s. Raleigh, NC: TwoMorrows.
Daniels, Les. 1971. Comix: A History of Comic Books in America. New York: Bonanza.
Evanier, Mark E. (n.d.). An Incessantly-asked Question. Accessed March 25, 2015. http://www.newsfromme.com/iaq/iaq07/
Gabilliet, Jean-Paul. 2010. Of Comics and Men: A Cultural History of American Comic Books. Trans. Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Guigar, Brad, Dave Kellett, Scott Kurtz, and Kris Straub. 2011. How to Make Webcomics. Berkeley: Image Comics.
Hajdu, David. 2008. The 10-cent Plague: The Great Comic-book Scare and How it Changed America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Hirsch, Paul M. 1972. Processing Fads and Fashions: An Organization-set Analysis of Cultural Industry Systems. American Journal of Sociology 77(4): 639–659.
McCloud, Scott. 2000. Reinventing Comics. New York: HarperCollins.
Nyberg, Amy Kiste. 1998. Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
Palmer, David K. 2010. The Evolution of the American Comic Book Industry: Are We Entering the Third Wave? Advances in Business Research 1(1): 232–239.
Peterson, Richard A. 1982. Five Constraints on the Production of Culture: Law, Technology, Market, Organizational Structure and Occupational Careers. Journal of Popular Culture 16(2): 143–153.
———1985. Six Constraints on the Production of Literary Works. Poetics 14: 45–67.
Peterson, Richard A., and N. Anand. 2004. The Production of Culture Perspective. Annual Review of Sociology 30: 311–334.
Porter, Michael E. 1979. How Competitive Forces Shape Strategy. Harvard Business Review 57(March–April): 137–145.
———1980. Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors. New York: Free Press.
Sacks, Jason, and Keith Dallas. 2014. American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1970s. Raleigh: TwoMorrows.
Santoro, Marco. 2008. Culture as (and After) Production. Cultural Sociology 2(1): 7–31.
Schelly, Bill. 1999. The Golden Age of Comic Fandom. Seattle: Hamster Press.
———. 2013. American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1950s. Raleigh: TwoMorrows.
Schodt, Frederik L. 1986. Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comic Books. New York: Kodansha International.
2010. TV Basics: A Report on the Growth and Scope of Television (2012 update). New York: TVB. Accessed May 22, 2014. www.tvb.org/media/file/TV_Basics.pdf
Weist, Jerry. 2000. The Original Comic Art Price Guide, Including Prices for Science Fiction Art, Pulps, Monster Mags, Fanzines and Underground Comix, 2nd edn. Gloucester, MA: Arcturian Books.
Wertham, Fredric. 1954. Seduction of the Innocent. New York: Rinehart.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2016 The Author(s)
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Palmer, D.K. (2016). The Tail That Wags the Dog: The Impact of Distribution on the Development and Direction of the American Comic Book Industry. In: Brienza, C., Johnston, P. (eds) Cultures of Comics Work. Palgrave Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-55090-3_16
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, New York
Print ISBN: 978-1-137-55477-2
Online ISBN: 978-1-137-55090-3
eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media StudiesLiterature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)