Is DC Comics bringing an end to writing for the trade?

by  in Comic News Comment
Is DC Comics bringing an end to writing for the trade?

One of the most frequently criticized hallmarks of modern mainstream comics may be a thing of the past at DC Comics.

During a nearly four-hour meeting Friday in New York City, part of a nationwide push by top DC executives to sell direct market shops on the September relaunch, retailers were reportedly told that writers will no longer be expected to “write for the trade.” That means they won’t have to construct stories in, say, six-issue arcs to more easily fit the collected format.

“Writers have been told to write the story they want to write and not worry about the trade collecting,” Mike Gendreau of Modern Myths in Northampton, Mass., writes in a meticulous report to Bleeding Cool. ‘If they can tell a well-paced story in 4 issues, they’ve been told not to pad it to make it 6 issues. Editorial can worry about how it’s going to be collected.  Going forward, books will be trade-collected depending on how the story fits. If a book has a 4-issue arc followed by a 3 issue arc, the trade will collect both. If it’s 2 4-issue arcs or 3 2-issue stories, those will get collected. As a side note, DC is looking into a new trade dress to represent the New 52 and a better spine design to call out information for fans.”

Frequently lumped in with decompression, the practice of “writing for the trade” has often been the target of comics fans who accuse writers of stretching out a story that could be told in two or three issues to five or six simply to fill the trade paperback. Even veteran writer Chris Claremont, whose classic X-Men storylines sometimes bled into each other, criticized the modern tendency, telling Graphic NYC, “One problem for me, as a reader, that I see in the modern presentation of comics, is the evolution of things to trades. What you have now are five issue bursts. Why? Because everything’s going to go into trade. I find that counter-productive; I want the flexibility and luxury of being able to expand a story by an issue if it’s working well, or cut it by an issue if it’s not. I don’t want to sit there and be locked into a defined format, which would make it awful for me to be a TV writer.”