Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Collection of Random Thoughts, Vol 13

For the 13th installment of A Collection of Random Thoughts, I shall be talking about various subjects related to comic book collections, the various imprints from Marvel, the cost of comics, writers who have worked on Daredevil, the current line up of Superman books and a new Reader Question. Hit the jump to find out more.


Disposability

One thing I think comics really lack nowadays is the feeling that you could simply throw them out if you needed to. That may sound weird, but, basically, what I mean is that comics are too expensive, even at $3 a piece. This applies to most trades as well, and, if something happened to them, you aren't that likely to replace them since they are so expensive. Simply put, 22 pgs. of content for $3 isn't really a good content to cost ratio and, while trades are usually cheaper than the singles, they are not that much cheaper in the grand scheme of things.

This was made obvious to me when I bought a copy of Yen Plus, a monthly manga anthology magazine which cost around $9 for about 450 pgs. of content. There were 12 stories that were being serialized and then a 13th short story. You could say that they have an unfair advantage since they are only reprinting material that they license, but 1) Marvel and DC add a $1 to all of their licesnsed stories and 2) Yen Plus was running two original series, at 32 pgs. of content each, and the short story was an original story at 29 pgs of content. All of the original content, if it was from Marvel or DC, would probably cost around $12, given the page counts.

Anyway, the point I'm getting at is that if my issue of Yen Plus, or any of the manga I own, actually, was lost or damaged, it wouldn't be that big of a deal because they are cheap enough to be disposable entertainment, but comics aren't because they cost too much for the amount of content they provide. Yeah, fans, myself included, might be willing to pay that price, and even then there are some that are not, but most casual fans aren't. Digital comics are an obvious way that can help to bring down the cost of comics and, hopefully, trades as well. Of course, the comics industry would actually have to show something more than a passing interest in the idea for that to happen.


Minis Should Be Trades

A common complaint with comics, particularly with Marvel and DC comics, is that many are just chapters for the eventual trade collections and not proper single issues. This is even more true for miniseries. My question is why not just make them OGNs to begin with? I know there is a cost factor involved, but I think it would work better for the stories since they can be written a little more organically and not have to conform to arbitrary page counts per issue.

That said, I think most indie miniseries actually work well as both single issues and parts of a larger story. From what I've seen, this is mostly a problem with Marvel and DC. Obviously, event miniseries would be exempt from this since the two ideas don't work well together.


Sometimes, People Just Don't Care


Usually, when a low selling book with a cult following, think the most recent volume of Blue Beetle or Captain Britain and MI:13, is cancelled, there are usually complaints that the book was one of the better books Marvel or DC was putting out, people asking why no one was reading it, etc., etc., etc. You know the drill.

Of course, the answer is obvious. It's because no one cares. Most comic readers would rather read, for example, a mediocre or, sometimes, even a bad Batman comic rather than a really good Blue Beetle comic. Sad? Maybe, but true. People are not necessarily looking for what is the "best", but typically what they enjoy, or think they'll enjoy, the most, which is not always the same thing and, with Marvel and DC, this is usually the big name characters like Batman over newer characters like Jaime Reyes.

There's also the whole cost factor I spoke about above. If a trade was $5-9, I think more would be inclinded to pick it up compared to the $15-20 range they currently sit at. Same for a $2.99-3.99 comic. Most agree they'll enjoy their favourite character regardless of how bad a story may end up being, but few are willing to take the same chance on a new title.


MAXimum Failure

If you took a look at Marvel's MAX Imprint these days, you would think it's entire purpose is to put out one Punisher book. Of course, there used a lot of potential for the MAX line. At one point, Punisher MAX, Supreme Power and Alias were all being published. That's a good foundation for a strong line, but Marvel moved two of books, Alias and Supreme Power, out of the imprint and didn't replace them with anything and wasted a lot of the potential the line had. In fact, as already mentioned, other than to publish a Punisher comic, I'm not really sure why Marvel still bothers with the whole thing. Of course, they could decide they actually want to do something with the imprint but that seems incredibly unlikely at this time.


Stolen Ideas

Continuing with the idea of failed imprints, one of the problems new imprints at Marvel or DC that makes them successful is often times applied to the main lines which only serves to undermine the smaller imprint. This is a problem that the Marvel Knights and Ultimate imprints both experienced.

Marvel took a lot of what made them work, like the writers and types of stories they told, and then used them in the regular Marvel books, which only served to weaken the imprints since there was less of a reason for people to get them over the regular books.

Another perfect example of this would be Civil War and, currently, Dark Reign. There were always political undertones with a lot of the stuff in the Ultimate Universe, but when that was co-opted by the main universe, it only served to weaken the Ultimate books since they became more like the regular books and therefore gave people less reason to buy them.

Readers will probably always buy books like Amazing Spider-Man or Uncanny X-Men, but they will not always buy books like Ultimate Spider-Man or Ultimate X-Men, so giving them a reason not to just seems stupid to me.


Daredevil - Marvel Proving Grounds?

If you look at some of the most recent writers for Daredevil, you will notice that they eventually went on to bigger and better things. Brian Bendis is currently the Marvel Universe's driving force, headlining many of their biggest titles, including New Avengers and Dark Avengers, and Ed Brubaker is writing Marvel's current summer event, Captain America: Reborn, as well as The Marvels Project, which could have some big ramifications for the Marvel Universe in the future. Will upcoming Daredevil writer, Andy Diggle, be destined for a similar future?


Collected Events

In the November solicits, Marvel solicited two oversized collections for some recent events that either collects the entire event (Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia) or nearly all of the event (War of Kings). If Marvel deems these successful I wonder if we will see more small and medium sized events, which are the perfect size for these types of collections/mini-omnibus which is about 15 to 20 issues. Personally, I like the idea since it allows people to get all of the event for a pretty reasonable price and in a nice package.


Are the current Superman titles the perfectly monthly comics?


I'm not saying that the books, in and of themselves, are perfect, but, rather, it seems to me that the current World of New Krypton books are perfectly designed to be read in single issues. A new issue come out every week, or there about, and slowly moves the overall plot forward. They are all interconnected yet independent of each other, so you can read as few or as many as you want. You can follow the World of New Krypton main title or just Action Comics or Superman or any combination of them all and get a satisfying story without the need to collect every book. Sad thing is, it seems like DC realizes this and they now have a line wide crossover in effect to fix that "mistake".


Reader Question

Are there any popular characters that you just can't like no matter what?


Related Posts


17 comments:

brandon said...

Answer:

Wonder Woman: I've never understood why she would bother with a) humans and b) other super heroes. I've given up trying to "get" her about 15 years ago.

Iron Man: Cool suit could have anyone in it and fill the same functions. Tony Stark was interesting because of the alcoholism but that was 25+ years ago. I find the man in suit to be boring outside of the suit and lifeless in it.

My apologies if these characters are some favorites of the readers ;)

Bill said...

As far as the minis go, I think... a few things. A company's not going to see a penny until they ship something, so releasing singles allows them to get some revenue after 22 finished pages instead of having to wait for 100-something. I don't know how the talent gets paid, but they might not see anything until the finished product either, so an artist might go broke trying to put out 100 pages before getting a paycheck. Also, I think the singles help to market the book. A new 6-issue Atomic Robo miniseries means it probably shows up on this website 10 times, give or take (between previews, reviews, and moments of the week). It might get its own post if it was an OGN, but it's probably more effective to have it mentioned repeatedly. And the same thing applies to non-website stuff. My friends have 6 chances to see me reading a Robo single and laughing my ass off for it to stick in their minds so when they see the trade somewhere they might want to pick it up.

Character I can't stand: Thor. I did like the Ultimate Thor for a while, but when it was revelead that he was officially the actual god of thunder and not a crazy person, I lost interest. 616 Thor, with the thees and the thous (and me wondering why there aren't millions of people converting to the Norse religion, since they've seen one of its gods in the flesh), I don't think I can ever stand the guy. I may still see the movie though, just to know what's going on for an Avengers movie I guess.

Eric Rupe said...

Bill - Yeah, I get that my idea isn't perfect but I think it could work for some Marvel and DC miniseries, particularly ones that end up being low selling minis.

angriest said...

I have never understood the appeal, or remotely liked, the Fantastic Four. They're just so completely dull.

Radlum said...

I could never like the secondary DC characters (Green Lantern, Flash, Booster Gold, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, etc; the new Blue Beetle is the exception though I wish I had started reading the comic while it was still being released monthly); maybe it's because I have always been interested in Marvel or maybe it's because Batman and Superman take the spotlight all the time. On the Marvel side, Fantastic Four and the Avengers weren't interesting for me, though recent events (Civil War, Dark Reign) have made me become interested in the Avengers, though I guess it depends on the lineup

Daniel Woburn said...

I'm with angriest - the Fantastic Four just bore the s*** out of me. when Millar and Hitch jumped on the title, I was there in a flash - I enjoy Millar whatever he does. and he did make them awesome. but the delays and waning enthusiasm you could see toward the end of their run on FF turned me off - if they're not excited about it anymore why should I be? and now i've dropped the book.

Flip The Page said...

i remind you that MAX managed to churn out a decent mini recently (kirkman's destroyer) though as you said in an earlier point as a mini it could just be in a trade from the off and flow better... so really the punishermax should be by itself... except it's awful. I've lost track of my point.

oh and in answer to who i hate? MARY JANE WATSON. she just seems like a stupid bitch. I almost cheered when Chameleon pointed out she's not Gwen and will never be her.

Reed Richards is another one, though I blame that more on his FUCKING UP EVERYTHING and Tony Stark getting blamed, and then him having the sheer cockyness to make a plan called 'solve everything'. Fucktard and no mistake.

.. Though he can be cool sometimes.

Kirk Warren said...

For those that dont 'get' Fantastic Four, you should try the essentials from the early years of the book. The book and characters really haven't been allowed to grow over the years and the family and science concept seems to be much harder to do when you arent allowed to change. The only other run I've really enjoyed and recommend on the book is Waid and Wieringo's run on the title. They did some great things together before Marvel decided to put an end to it.

The Sandwich Maker said...

I really, really hate Wolverine.
In the comics, in the movies, in the games, in the cartoons, everywhere.

Anonymous said...

I can't and never will read a book that features anthropomorphic mice as the main characters.

Kevin T. said...

Your first thing reminded me a lot of the comicbookmanifesto.com thingy. I think the both of you raise some very good points.

I actually have a lot of respect for the Fantastic Four, guys! I would never bother to pick up the title right now, but the one series that "did" it for me was Marvel Knights 4, by Roberto Aguirre-sacasa with Steve McNiven et al. It's so good at portraying them as real people you could walk up to and have lunch with. Also, with Sue, there was total girl power.

Anonymous said...

Emma frost, is such a horrible character, i like her more when she used to be bad. Daken is another pain to read every time he show up. Sentry but just because seems like a poorly traetened superman rip-off...

and from DC i cant stand wonder girl and damian...

Eric Rupe said...

Kevin - That's a interesting link. Thanks.

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