So I was thinking about what we call comic books. How we refer to franchises and properties, and whether there’s a right move or not. The name is key of course, it’s essentially the brand that everything is built around.
Of the top 100 comics published in February, 91 are named after the character or team they feature (Batman, the X Men etc). The 9 exceptions are Detective Comics, Action Comics, The Walking Dead, Saga, The Dark Knight 3, Paper Girls, I Hate Fairyland, Outcast and Contest of Champions.
Millar has a mix of titles, some character focused (Kick Ass, Superior, Nemesis, Huck, Empress), but a greater number not (Starlight, Chrononauts, Wanted, MPG, Supercrooks, Jupiters Legacy and Circle, American Jesus). Kingsman went from Secret Service to Kingsman, making the transition from one type of title to the other.
This strikes me as a particularly comics occurrence. If you look at the top TV shows, relatively few are named after the title character (non comic examples being Hannibal, Archer, Sherlock, Dexter and so on). Instead we have things like Game of Thrones, Mad Men, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black. What’s interesting is that from a marketing perspective the characters can still be known, and it’s not a limitation on developing the brand. What’s more interesting is the generic title doesn’t tie the property into one character, it can adapt and change and feature a new crew, and I wonder if they somehow more facilitate stories where characters change and develop.
Would Breaking Bad have been a stronger property if it had been called Walter? In turn would House have been stronger if had been called Baker Street Hospital or something?
It’s an interesting subject to me as the branding is the cornerstone of any franchise, and quite often it’s just applied quickly without much thought. Are comics limiting their success by focusing so much on character titles? Should Superman become Metropolis, should Spiderman become Amazing Fantasy? Or do comics benefit from being so character focused in their branding?