DC Studios CEO James Gunn recently admitted that if he was writing comic books today he’d be unhappy because there are so few people reading them.
Speaking with Michael Rosenbaum as part of his show Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, Rosenbaum asked, “To be the head of DC was this going to hinder [you] from continuing [your] filmmaking and having all that passion into one focus as opposed to now [you’re] gonna direct a movie, but [you] also have to worry about running a studio? How do we do that? Is that because Peter [Safran] kind of helps that out?”
Gunn answered, “Peter helps that out. I think that it’s always been, you know, I only have so much time in my day. I only have so much I can do. And I think it was always a question about how much am I going to spend on writing, how much am I going to spend on directing, how much am I going to spend ushering other writers, how much am I going to spend ushering other directors, how much am I going to spend mapping out the sort of story that other writers can follow? I only have so much I can do. I’m aware of that.”
He continued, “And so yeah, it did. And I love directing so it’s I didn’t want to lose that either. But in my heart I’m a storyteller, in my heart I am not the same as other filmmakers, I don’t think. Some other filmmakers for sure, but in my heart I consider myself a storyteller. I don’t consider myself a director over being a storyteller. I’m a storyteller first.”
“And that means whatever way I’m willing to tell that story, I’m okay,” he explained.
Gunn went on, “I have this conversation with Dave Yarovesky, the director of Brightburn, he’s one of my best friends. Because he wants to direct movies. He’s mostly interested in directing movies. That’s what he wants to do. I’m like if I can tell a great TV story that is… doing Peacemaker was absolutely great for me, doing a movie is absolutely great.”
“Like if I’m proud of what I’m putting out I’m really happy, it doesn’t really matter to me what that story is,” he said.
Gunn then commented on the state of comic books, “I started out I wanted to write comic books when I was younger. If I was writing comic books today I’d probably be — I’d probably be unhappy because so few people are reading comic books.”
“But I would probably be really happy with what my job was. I’d enjoy that storytelling process,” he said. “So that’s what’s important to me. I just happen to be good at directing because direcing takes a lot of different weird talents that I do many of those things, but not all well.”
“Being any director there’s always things that you do great and things you do okay. And it’s a complicated job. It’s a very complicated job,” he concluded.
Gunn is not the only one to comment on the lack of people reading comic books. Marvel Comics writer Steve Orlando recently confirmed that comic book sales are struggling.
In a recent tweet responding to a question about the sales of his Scarlet Witch series, Orlando wrote, “Sales are struggling, alongside the whole industry. Right now, we’ll hopefully get to ten.”
He added, “To get even 15 issues, sales will need to continue to climb.”
Not only did Orlando admit that sales were struggling across the industry, but Scarlet Witch has been one of the top selling series according to ICv2’s ComicHub system that tracks point-of-sale data at over 125 stories selling American comics around the world.
Scarlet Witch #4 was the 8th most sold series by units in April 2023 only being outsold by Amazing Spider-#23, Batman #134, Spider-Man #7, Guardians of the Galaxy #1, Amazing Spider-Man #24, Venom #18, and X-Men #21.
The book’s debut issue in January was the third most sold book by units only being bested by Amazing Spider-Man #17 and Batman #131.
What do you make of James Gunn confirming that few people are reading comic books?