…in doing some research on the b & w boom / bust, we dug up a great piece by Dave Olbrich, the founding publisher of Malibu Comics. In it, Dave details the gold rush in the wake of the early TMNT issues (mind you, this was a few years before Turtles went mainstream huge with the animated series):
“From the time that Turtles debuted in mid-1984, it took several months for everyone to realize what had happened and then it took a few more months for the publishers to gear up. It took a few additional months for new publishers to get themselves organized. We all watched. We all waited…surely this couldn’t continue. There was no way that retailers could continue to order and sell these comics at these insane levels.
The feeding frenzy was amazing (there was even a Publisher named Amazing). It cost a lot less to print a black-and-white comic book than it did a color book The profitability on the enormous distributor orders from the direct market (sometimes reaching six figures) was like printing money. Title content meant almost nothing … a catchy title was all you needed.”
And then explains the life cycle and relatively quick bust…
“The breakthrough title (TMNT) was launched in May 1984. The opportunity became clear in 1985. The frenzy took hold in 1986 and everyone was talking about the excesses that were obvious at that point. Retail sales started to head south in mid-1986. Early in 1987 the writing was on the wall and by summer 1987 the black-and-white ‘bust’ was putting the careless and over-enthusiastic retailers out of business. Good and worthwhile titles suffered side-by-side with the opportunistic knock-offs.”
Make sure you check out the piece in its entirety here…required reading!