I like hard covers. I like them a lot. Now that I can afford them, I like buying them.
At the same time, I like the concept of moving towards a more graphic novel-esque storytelling form. Frank Miller so far has been the only big name creator to try something like this in recent memory with the SIN CITY: FAMILY VALUES book. It could have easily been a mini-series, but instead was a ten-dollar graphic novel. It was a big risk in this day and age when everyone complains about spending too much money on comics. I liked it.
DC has been putting out a lot of hardcovers lately. THE FLASH had Iris Allen's autobiography done as a hardcover. There's been a GREEN LANTERN original hardcover, and just this past week a Howard Chaykin-penned, J.H. Williams-drawn SUPERMAN book. It looks nice. I like both creators' previous works. But even with my budgetless comics spending habit, I couldn't buy it. I couldn't justify $25 on a book I don't know if I'd like or not. Chaykin and Williams do good work, but I'm not putting them in my Top Ten list, which would be necessary for me to spend $25 for.
So this would argue for a mini-series first, hardcover collection later, right? This way I could try an issue or two out before deciding if I wanted to splurge on the cover. Well, no. Then I buy the series twice. I fall back to spending too much money for a questionable item. I could buy just the first issue and then wait a year for the collection, but that eliminates the freshness and the strength of the original tome. Plus, if the story is already there at three additional low monthly payments of $3, why wait a year to pay $10 for it, for example?
Besides which, I don't like whining about the prices of comics. I think it's overdone to a certain extent. Kids pay $4 for a pack of comics and then their parents balk at a $2 cover price for SPIDER-MAN? C'mon!
I think a nice softcover edition of the book would have been preferable. I would have bought that with reckless abandon. It would have been half the price, it could have been printed on the same stock of paper, had a nice squarebound format, and still look OK on the bookshelves at the local super bookstore.
Yes, it's nice to have these hardcovers. For a book like BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN or SUPERMAN: MAN FOR ALL SEASONS I think it was the right decision. Those were just classy stories that deserved the format and worked out, cost-wise, in the hardcover format. People complained, but they were still saving money on a hard cover over buying the original issues of the series. After all the positive buzz, it seemed like a safe bet.
For an original story, though, I think it limits its audience.
So is this the case of the comic book market following the "mainstream" publication route? Will we see more and more stories printed in hard cover form to be followed by a paperback edition somewhere down the line? The problem as I see it is that low hardcover sales would most likely lessen the chances of a softcover sales, and in comics that trend needs to be reversed. People don't reject the book for its story in these cases; more often than not they reject it because of the cost and the format.
Something else I keep forgetting to mention: Take a look at the last month's PREVIEWS. Page 269. COMICS SCENE magazine is coming back! The funny thing is that the cover pictured next to the solicitation looks an awful lot like one they ran a few years ago. The cover is devoted to Marvel movies in production, including Dr. Strange, Blade, Ghost Rider, Luke Cage, and Nick Fury. Funny, haven't they all been in continuous development for the past ten years? BLADE and NICK FURY did get made into relatively good movies. The rest are perennial options for the movie companies. Sheesh
Anyway, COMICS SCENE was the first comics-related magazine I ever bought regularly. They did a whole lot of interesting interviews and articles with a good cross-section of the industry. The format is a little larger in paper size, but thinner than WIZARD. The price is comparable, though. It's 96 pages and full glossy color.
Now if only we could bring back COMICS INTERVIEW and AMAZING HEROES. =)
REVIEWS GALORE (PART TWO)
DANGER GIRL #6 finally came out, nearly 6 months after the fifth. (This review is only slightly less late than the issue itself.) There's a capsule summary of the first five issues on the inside front cover, which does a neat job in reminding me of what the story is. This is an especially nice thing since I didn't pick up on the story arc when I read the stories the first time. But they do actually string together to form one big story. Go figure! It doesn't matter; I get this book for the staging of action sequences artist J. Scott Campbell slaps together. There are a couple of those moments in this issue, and I'm hoping the next issue is one big action sequence. It's set up to be so. At the current rate, I should be able to see that conclusion 'round about March.
WILDCATS #6 tries to be more like DANGER GIRL, attempting to stage one long action sequence/car chase/fight scene. Heck, maybe it's better described as an attempt to ignite memories of TRUE LIES or SPEED. Either way, it ultimately fails. I just don't care about the characters anymore, and the artwork and storytelling isn't enough to carry it. (Travis Charest's first 8 pages are nice to look at, though.) This issue is a product of Scott Lobdell, Joe Casey, Travis Charest, Scott Benefiel, and Trevor Scott. All first names are done by memory. WildStorm doesn't see the need to include first names in any listings of the credits in this book.