Is it time to declare the monthly comic dead?
These days, it seems like many monthly titles are connected to “a big event,” something that can cross from book to book. Both Marvel and DC are successfully making this happen. For instance, Marvel has The Age of Ultron going on now. Each September, DC has a special month in which the comics follow a specific theme. This year, it’s supposed to be based on DCU villains.
And boy, do these books sell! Hey, even I buy a lot of them!
But every once in a while, I long for to read a tale that doesn’t take several books a month to keep up with what’s happening.
I understand, of course, that comics are a habitual form of entertainment. What that means is that each company wants to make sure you come back next time for more. In this way, comics are like television shows … you must be enticed enough to return again and again. Otherwise, it’s just background noise, something that used to be very popular not long ago.
Given that monthly books are standing on their own less and less, I wonder if these might not be replaced with “event” books instead. For example, no Batman comic. Instead, there would be, say, Batman: The Death of Robin or some such thing. That way, you get a whole lot of number ones, which always sell better than number 26’s do.
The tough part would be keeping your collection properly organized. You’d likely have to keep them divided up by miniseries and forget ever seeing any book get beyond 12 issues or so.
We’re in a transitional phase when it comes to comics, I believe. We’re not sure what they’ll be when they “grow up” in the next couple of years.
For a long time, digital was considered the next phase. But that seems to have cooled down since many people primarily use digital to fill the gaps in the books they read so they can keep up. Will digital still be the future? Maybe, but I’m not as sure about that any longer, especially given the “big event” phenomenon.
So, what do I think is next? Well, I’d like to see fewer “big events” and more compact stories in comics, honestly. One or two “big events” in a month from a comics company is plenty for me!
However, based on what I’m seeing happen now, I wouldn’t bank on it. What often happens in this industry is that something grows and grows until finally people get tired of it. A good example of this was the recent multiple covers trend. I remember X-Men #1 coming out with five different covers, the last one being a compilation of the previous four.
While there are still several publishers who still favor that kind of thing, it’s not as popular as it once was. Maybe, if we’re lucky, I’d prefer to get back to focusing much more on good stories and worry less about marketing “events.” But we’ll see!