Is it Time to End Monthly Comics? SyFy Almost Gets it Right


Wouldn’t you know it, somebody writing for a leading news publication seems to agree with my view that the monthly pamphlet model the industry’s been going by for far too long needs to be altered. SyFy Wire has an article making the point something’s got to change given how expensive the monthly serial format’s become. But it’s also got its disappointments, as we’ll see along the way:


How I wish comics companies would look at the changes in TV and change the way they do business. Because just as broadcast television seems increasingly archaic with its 22-episode seasonal formula in the age of Netflix, comics seems trapped in the distant past with its monthly comics model. The monthly pull list is a dinosaur, a metaphorical meteorite away from extinction. That doesn’t mean there isn’t sales value in monthly comics; a look at recent sales charts show titles like the final issue of Doomsday Clock and the third issue of the new X-Men title selling 100,000+ copies. And when Saga comes back, I’m sure that will sell like gangbusters every month. But speaking for me personally, the few single issues I still purchase almost seem like I’m just maintaining a routine from an era that has passed us by.

I just don’t have the time, inclination, or money to keep up with the monthly grind.



And without a doubt, no matter what anybody thinks of adventure fiction and serial formats, they’re exhausted with it too, especially when a fully valid option lies before them at the bookstore. But he seems not to notice he’s let slip just how low monthly installments really are. Even if that were 200,000 copies, it’s still monumentally pathetic compared to film sales with their millions in tickets, and if most TV series with 22 episodes or so are often self-contained with just the occasional two-parter, that’s a pretty weak analogy. It gets worse when you see what writers this guy’s upholding:


I’ve primarily become a “wait for the trade” guy so I can read an entire story in a nice, compact single volume. My interest in the story doesn’t wane because I’m unable to get to the comics shop to pick up my books, or if there is a delay in shipping (I’m looking right at you, Doomsday Clock!). Trades allow me to binge-read limited series like Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III’s The Sandman: Overture, Dan Slott and Michael Allred’s Silver Surfer, Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle — or catch up on a series like Saga —and then place it on my bookshelf for the next time I want to re-read greatness. I know many other fans who, for similar reasons, have begun drifting away from monthly comics and sticking to trade paperbacks and hardcovers.


Oh, just brilliant. They just have to go along and whitewash some of the worst writers to litter modern comicdom like Slott, King and surely even Geoff Johns, whose Doomsday Clock evidently saw the kind of delays Kevin Smith caused for his Black Cat miniseries from the early 2000s, because his TV and film jobs – which he doesn’t deserve – apparently bear far more importance. Even J. Michael Straczynski may have caused delays for a few of his books for similar reasons, and that’s why it doesn’t pay to hire celebrities who won’t commit to one or the other. Later in the article, it asks:


…Wouldn’t it be nice to see Lee and Geoff Johns team up again for another epic 12-issue story that was free of any continuity restraints?


Absolutely NOT. As I’ve argued before, and will again, Johns is one the worst things to happen to mainstream, and even Jim Lee’s not innocent of huge mistakes, ever since he became a senior employee for DC. I wish these publications would stop lionizing such a pretentious man. And if a story he wrote were that long, it makes it all the more interminable.


As comics sales continue to erode, the industry has to change with the times. The law of diminishing returns practically demands it.


At least here, they’re correct something’s got to change for improvement.


But that’s not all. Company wide crossovers – one of the biggest problems kept afloat by the continued use of monthly formats – have to cease as well. And if you’re going to make alterations in continuity or anything character related, it must be done title-by-title, individually, without using the approach DC’s made alarming use of for a long time, and Marvel too later imitated in some way or other. And SyFy would do well to quit sugarcoating overrated writers whose works only appeal to niche audiences.


Story merit counts, as does avoiding cheap sensationalism, which some of the above writers are all too well known for.



Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1