BEST. COLUMN. EVER.
Sure, I’m pissed.
The longer I pay attention to the comic book industry, the more I see the effects of polarization. On. or off. Love or hate. Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. Geez, if there were more sideways comics, like the experimental issues of Cerebus or FF, or Jim Krueger’s Fly Boys, you’d eventually have a small cadre of comics fans facing off against each other about which is better: “up” versus “down.”
I mean, it’s so bad that The Simpsons has a character named “Comic Book Guy” who does nothing but expound in absolutes. Even the real world thinks that comic book fans, if they think about them at all, are a bunch of maladjusted folks who look at the world through black-and-white glasses.
But there really is one of those things that needs to be looked at in a “yes or no” sort of way, and that’s the viability of the monthly periodical format.
Now, the last few weeks, you’ve read from me a love letter to my missing cat, an ode to my mis-spent youth, and a tip of the cap to me dear old Dad. You might be wondering, “where is that loose cannon who wrote the first coupla columns.” Where’s that guy who’s bent out of shape with the mounting injustices of the comic book world? Who’s this guy who’s filled with the milk of human kindness?
Pardon me, while I roll up my sleeves.
Here’s the first thing the comic book industry can do to stop its downward slide into forgotten pop-culture oblivion; the place where California Dreamin’ starring Marc McClure and Barry Manilow’s Mandy reside:
Get rid of the monthly comic book.
I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, and you may very well be a bit unwilling, shall we say, to believe what I’m writing to you, but there you go…
Throw it out. Stop publishing ’em. Save the Brazilian rain forest. Trees are dying for your latest copy of Impulse.
There’s been an idea kicking around for a little while. I’m not exactly sure if he first came up with it, or not, but the first time I heard it expounded upon in a public place was by Rob Snell, of Gun Dog Comics, at a DC RRP meeting, way back when.
Coincidentally, and parenthetically, right this very second, the latest RRP meeting is taking place in Fort Worth, Texas. It stands for “Retailer’s Response Program” or somesuch; it’s an opportunity for DC Comics to connect with retailers on a personal level and respond to their concerns. Very cool things happen because of these meetings: I personally witnessed Jim Eide of Eide’s Entertainment give DC editorial the idea for The Kingdom fifth-week event, for example, and the Transmetropolitan overship of issues 12 and 13 was first bandied about, by the usual suspects, in a discussion group there…
At one RRP, I heard Rob Snell put forth the idea of what he called the “Super-man-ga.” Snell thought instead of doing four Superman comics every week for a month, that it’d be more feasible to take those stories and put all four into the same book, plus another 88 pages of “classic” Superman stories, and emulate the format (if not initially the commercial success) of the Japanese manga format.
Just think about it: four chapters of new Superman for the folks who were following it, plus four chapters of “classic” reprints for the audience to recognize the rich history of the character they were following. Eventually, the serial chapters could be collected into large books, and everyone makes money hand-over-fist.
Personally, I’m not sure why this hasn’t been enacted already.
You’d have new stories for the faithful at the same time you’d have classic adventures for the uninitiated….
…getting the newbies and the old salts at the same time.
It seems like that should be a publishing model for the ages.
I, myself, welcome the time when trade paperbacks are representative of the comics you can purchase…
…but that shouldn’t surprise you, at all.
For an earlier take on this situation, please feel free to hit: this link.
Check it out.
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Ho-kay, now that that can o’ worms is well and truly opened, tell us all, over at the Loose Cannon Message Board, which format you prefer. And no fair saying “both.”