THE place of comic books at the cultural supper table has never been more secure. Summertime films have come to mean superhero movies. Comics-related museum shows and gallery exhibitions are a regular part of the art world palette. And the market for original comic-book art continues to be strong. Just this May a bold, full-page drawing of Batman and Robin by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson — from the groundbreaking 1986 series “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” — sold at auction for an emphatic $448,125.
That broad cultural good news, though, is still tempered in an industry where dozens of titles used to sell hundreds of thousands of copies each month. These days only the top one or two best-selling books creep past the 100,000 mark — and in some months none at all.