millarworld.tv Comics Creators

Should comics still be monthly?

Look! A thread to discuss comics! A rare site indeed.

So anyway, comics follow a monthly release model, issue after issue, year after year. It’s a model driven by the news stand mentality essentially. Gotta have the latest issue every 4 weeks. I’m wondering if that model doesn’t work any more.

If you look at what Millar has done, he creates books - 4-8 issues long and then he takes a break. It’s a classic book by book model that most publishing follows. Mark unfortunately has so many franchises that most don’t see sequels, but with some like Kick Ass and Jupiters we have a range of books based on the franchise, released in chunks over several years. It makes the books easier to follow, trades easier to navigate, allows for natural jumping on points, and it feels like something that works better for modern audiences.

Would it be wise for Marvel and DC to embrace the same thing. For example, we get a 10 issue arc about Spiderman. Then they take a break for a few months and release the next 10 issue arc - which could be a sequel, or could be an entirely different story.

Are the comics publisher getting it wrong with the ongoing model? Does it not work in the modern age, or do you think it’s still the best model?

5 Likes

I think there is room for a lot of options.

I think a lot of books, specifically most Image books and Mark’s books, that would be better suited to a trade/OGN model as long as the economics could be worked out. Some of the choices DC and Marvel made over the last couple decades effectively pushed them a bit closer to this but I don’t think it’s where they are at their best.

I think there is still room for the monthly comic model too even outside of it’s financial necessity to some publishers. It provides a better fit for done-in-one and more soap opera approach stories rather than the 6-issue story made for trade model.

Honestly, I would like to see Mark try his hand at an ongoing again. The thing that bums me out about a lot of his titles is that they’re made for a certain arch and just as I’m getting to know the characters, it’s over. That’s great for evergreen trades on the shelf but doesn’t do a lot to ingratiate the characters to readers.

5 Likes

I do wonder if the suggested 10 arch model suggested would be beneficial to sales for the big two.

As suggested Image and some of the smaller publishers certainly fit this idea well. I’m quite attracted to finite arcs especially those that image release at the moment. Does anyone know how many ongoing series Image has running at the moment?

I attempted to get back into Marvel recently with the “Hunt for Wolverine” storyline but the ridiculous way they spread the story across some many titles switched me off to it entirely.

2 Likes

Wasn’t the new Kick-Ass an ongoing?

1 Like

Kind of but he only handled the first arc.

1 Like

Ah, I’d forgotten that.

1 Like

This more or less where I sit. I stopped buying monthlies a long long time ago, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who prefers their comics in that format. A diverse variety of publishing formats is a good thing because it gives more readers more options to consume their stories in different ways.

I think it’s a shame the the anthology format always seems to struggle in the US. It could just be nostalgia for my childhood, but I always liked getting weekly updates to a half-dozen characters in Eagle or Battle, with the roster changing as one story arc would end and another would be swapped in.

5 Likes

I’m going to say…yes.

2 Likes

I like the approach TKO has taken - provide the comic in multiple formats (print single issues, a collected edition, digital) and let the reader choose.

I don’t know whether it makes economic sense, but it’s a way of serving all audiences.

4 Likes

Monthly comics are expensive and trades and hardcovers are much sturdier and better looking. The US style monthly comics have been struggling for over two decades I think and it’s not a big mystery why.

Manga and the European format, like Asterix etc. seem to do much better. I’m not sure about the sales numbers of Marvel and DC superhero trades though.

2 Likes

Nobody much does unless they work in those companies. We tend to focus on monthly sales figures because they are the only useful ones we get (and even they are incomplete).

Most trades are sold outside comic shops via multiple sources so it’s very hard to get much more than a high level estimate and digital is even worse, you just get the odd quote like ‘around 30% but it varies by title’.

Maybe for this thread it’s just best to go with what we’d prefer to buy and read rather than try and work out the economics of it all.

5 Likes

I think there’s something to be said to structuring a story based on the idea of seasons, rather than one long continuous arc. I think it would allow writers to structure their story better - giving us something like a season based TV drama rather than a soap opera ongoing narrative of various plots.

2 Likes

So do you mean something closer to 13+ issues for an “arc” instead of 6?

The 90’s indie scene was like that, you’d get “books” of anywhere between 4-20 issues, depending on publisher and creator, which would have a largely self-contained story.

When Image started up, that was the initial format most of the original creators planned, but most of them rapidly dropped it in favour of ongoings of some degree. I think Shadowhawk was the only one that stock to it in the end.

3 Likes

I remember during the peak craziness of Marvel’s renumbering that John Siuntres of Word Balloon was suggesting something similar to Jim. That they just do the comics as annual volumes (as magazines used to do years ago). So you’d get a 12 issue arc every year (scope for longer with some of the over shipping we see).

3 Likes

More or less. A season for example, 12 issues and then a break and then the next season. Basically a move away from issue 657 for example, and each arc covering the same building plot. I don’t want to complicate the idea too much, I’m basically wondering is the structure of the ongoing comic isn’t very good for how consumers buy today, isn’t very good for writers restricted to that model, and isn’t very satisfying to readers. You could still have a 60 issue comic, but it’d be written in chapters deliberately (like Sandman, Walking Dead and so on). Many indie titles are doing this naturally, but Marvel and DC much less so.

3 Likes

I could get behind that. It seems like Marvel has maybe tried something similar with their rebooting of most series almost yearly but it becomes very confusing what order things are meant to be read after the fact.

DC has to a lesser extent with the books named after their main heroes like Batman and Superman rebooting when a new writer takes over and leaving their long running books like Action Comics and Detective Comics with their long running numbers.

4 Likes

For me the neverending soap opera of some superhero titles is a hard sell. Most of the time I don’t like that type of storytelling. So I wouldn’t mind if companies switched to a model where they just did short runs, like 6 to 12 issues. Or just published those stories in complete form as graphic novels. Similar how there is a new Asterix book with a complete story every year or so.

However there are occasional gems that go on for longer, of course Sandman was brilliant for 75 issues.

2 Likes

The problem with a lot of those ‘reboots’ is they aren’t really. I was following Spider-Woman after good reviews and they relaunched with a new look and creative team and then relaunched the book with a new number one a few months later with just a continuation of the same thing. Which confused me even as a long term comics reader used to that nonsense.

The ‘volumes’ structure would also be very good for trade sales where Marvel struggle behind DC.

2 Likes

Ya. I guess I should have said the “season” breaks were very arbitrary.

1 Like