Making The Case For TV-Like Seasons in Comics and Fewer Ongoing Promises

Modern American comic books are born and bred on the idea of their releases being ongoing series, continuing a long line of history with no end in sight — unless sales fall. This open-ended promise has turned into a legacy that’s hard for publishers to live up to, with low sales forcing cancellations to what fans thought would be an endless ride. Likewise, publishers have seen a monotonous march towards higher and higher numbers to be at odds with the tendency for fans and retailers to pay more attention to new #1s, leading publishers to frequently relaunch series with new #1s, sometimes purely for marketing reasons while keeping the same creative team and story direction in the book. And in terms of creators being able to consistently deliver quality work on a monthly basis, it’s become a rarity for comic artists to be able to do it month-in and month-out.

That’s where doing seasons in comics, a la television, could be a revolutionary concept in comics.

And although I throw the word ‘revolutionary’ out there, it’s not like it hasn’t been done before. Mike Mignola’s nearly patented the idea of doing a series of short-form miniseries that keeps interest high, keeps #1s flowing, and succinctly realizes that the comics market, thanks to collections, has turned into a format of readers wanting clearly collectable story-arcs. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips took this idea even further in the early 2000s when they had their DC/Wildstorm series Sleeper published as a series of 12-issue miniseries, delivering 12 months of uninterrupted Brubaker/Phillips superhero crime noir then allowing for a break to re-charge and work in advance to deliver another 12 months down the road. It’s a formula they took when they left for Marvel, delivering bursts of Criminal and Incognito as a series of miniseries rather than an un-ending ongoing built up for delays or artistic substitutions.

But unfortunately, this way of thinking hasn’t been able to permeate into the larger comics industry. For the Big Two it’s hard not to deliver comics month-in, month-out (especially when you actively employ a rotating menagerie of artists on a single book), but it creates a disjointed reading experience for those reading the single issues. Is it a deal-breaker for readers? Obviously not, but it has severely diminished the artistic continuity of books and minimized the importance of a single continuous artistic vision for comics. Instead we get three issues of Artist A, four issues of Artist B, and then a juicy one-off by Artist X. They’re all great in their own right, but imagine if the scheduling were there to allow Artist A, Artist B and Artist X their own space to deliver a larger vision.

This could even play out well on the independent creator-owned front. How many ongoing creator-owned series are announced that actually make it past the twelve issue mark, and do it without severe delays? I’d challenge you to name five in the past two years that did it without sacrificing schedule or creative shifts. What if instead of ongoings being the status quo and the expected format, for more creator-owned series being a series of miniseries. It gives a more rational, reasonable and realistic expectation for the reader, and also some clear beginnings and endings for the writer, artist and the rest of the creative team. Plus, if it goes well and you do go back for a sequel, there’s always a new juicy #1 waiting for without any cancellation/relaunch shenanigans.

Comments

  1. Ilash Ilash says:

    Not much to say except that I couldn’t agree more. Giving creators the chance to tell stories with a proper planned beginning, middle and end would improve superhero comics immeasurably and this would be the perfect way to implement this.

  2. I say thee nay!

    I jest, I have heard this idea mentioned by creators a couple times in interviews as somewhere comics may go in the future.

    But that said, honestly, twelve 20 page issues in a year is not that much. So for one thing, for that to be a season it wouldn’t feel like enough bulk. Heh, a “season” in Buffy comics is 40 issues.

    That said sure, I can dig mini-series and this kind of format works for some comics, say Bomb Queen for example. But like any article suggesting a sweeping change for the future, I don’t really see why. The monthly format works well. Hell, in Japan it’s weekly.

    • Als, at the end of the day you can call it “Season 2 issue 5″ or “issue 17″, it’s not going to make a difference to comic fans in the long run. It won’t be much different than volumes and how they relaunch #1s as is. While for an indie book you may only get say 10 issues a year often, this is fine by me. I don’t think this style where they need to take a break to form these seasons would suite everyone all that well.

      As is, they get the comics out and do the best job they can. Marvel or DC switching artists and creative teams like musical chairs is kind of a separate issue.

  3. bub64882 bub64882 says:

    I dunno….I kinda like the idea of seeing Thor or Spidey every month. It’s a format that works for some books (Hellboy, like you mentioned), but isn’t necessarily right for all books. The rotating artist thing that Marvel is using is definately working for me. Wolverine and the X-Men or Daredevil are great examples…very high caliber artists rotating and still giving a consistent “tone”. I think you just need to be very judicious in your selection of artists. Bachalo and Bradshaw don’t look a thing alike, but they have delivered a consistent tone to the book, while still maintaining their individualized styles.

    As for the shrinking market problem…I think if they dropped the price to $.99 for digital at least, they would capture more readers. 20 pages for 3 or 4 bucks…or I can get 3 apps that offer me 20-30 HOURS of entertainment, easy…Well, your not going to get a bunch of readers at that price point. Charge the same as an itunes song or an app, and I think you’ll get more folks interested. My 2 cents anyway (heheh).

  4. Grandturk says:

    I agree and posted about this many many times in the past. I go even further however and demand that the “monthly floppy” format be abandoned all together. Give me 100-150-200 page trades every 6-9 months and I will be much much happier. I want to buy a complete story. waiting 6 months for something to work itself out is a remnant of the print age from 60 years ago. Could you imagine if they still published novels as serials? no no no no no

    • Zeppo Zeppo says:

      The novel comparison is a good one. I can’t imagine getting a chapter of a novel a month.

    • Shingen Shingen says:

      Just because novels are not serialized doesn’t mean serialization isn’t a good technique. People watch television shows, which are serialized stories, and get good stories.

    • Grandturk says:

      And yet we see the watching of TV in serialized format on the decline as more and more people DVD-wait or Netflix series so they don’t have to wait 7 days for the next installment.

  5. Zeppo Zeppo says:

    I like direction we seem to be moving in. We’re a new creator is given a no. 1 to signal the start of their run. I know I can pick up Rememder’s Uncanny X-Force and get a complete story. Then the next writer comes in and is given a new no. 1. That makes most sense to me.

    Like if for example Jason Aaron had an idea for a 20 issue run of spider-man stories give him his own Amazing series to tell his story, then back to no.1 for the next guy.

    If the next guy wants to build on an idea from the previous writers run, they could, if not they can tell there own thing. Keep the broad strokes of continuity, like Uncle Ben’s death, and being bitten by a spider, but leave less important issues (like how many times Spider-man’s fought Bullseye) up to the writer. Encourage fans to make their own continuity, if you like one writers take but not another don’t count it.

    I don’t know if ‘seasons’ would work, but I do think putting the focus on the creator and their story over issue numbers should be the future.

    • Grandturk says:

      Whether its “season” or “series” or “run” – what ever you call it. The important thing – I think – is that the creative team construct a story without the boundary of the monthly sale. They can sign on for a 100 or 200 page story and tell it – then the next team moves in and tells their story. RIght now it seems more like happenstance when you get a good run with the same creative team.

      What if Fraction and Larocca had signed on for a 60 issue run of Iron Man in which they got to tell their story with a beginning middle and end instead of an Iron Man ongoing – that could be cancelled at any time and that had to be dragged into a yearly event. You cannot convince me that we wouldn’t have gotten a stronger run if they got to tell their story.

  6. theWAC1 theWAC1 says:

    Very good idea. Makes me think of Casanova, which I have loved. I dropped Marvel because of the artistic inconsistencies, and am willing to wait. I don’t mind artists doing arcs, but the bouncing around is frustrating. This would be great for new readers to jump on. Certain titles would be better than others, but it wouldn’t really change the way we read too much, and I think the product would be much better. Let’s see it happen.

  7. Sounds great on paper.

  8. This type of season format works really well with a book like ATOMIC ROBO, where with every 5 issues the current story ends and in the next 5 there’s a new story. However, I don’t see it working with every DC or Marvel book being put out with that kind of schedule. It would only create a mess.

  9. robsavino robsavino says:

    I’d go one step further. I love Comics and used to be a monthly reader. However I just can’t keep up with monthly releases. To time consuming. To expensive. Nothing compares to reading a good story in TPB format where I can start and stop as needed or read the whole thing through in one sitting if desired.

    I would suggest going to an exclusively TPB format with staggered releases of different titles throughout the year. This is going to be an extremely unpopular opinion and not great for retailers but from a reader and creator perspective as well as long term industry outlook I feel like this makes the most sense.

  10. Buffy still breaks down to seasons, and Morning Glories is going to be different seasons, I just don’t think it would work for superhero comics, The rest, I think it would work very good.

    • Sure, but Buffy season 8 was 40 issues and a couple one shots. I dig it personally, but since it’s nearly four years, I don’t think it’s the kind of season this article means.

  11. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    I’m all for it when it comes to independent and creator-owned. Maintaining creative consistency is more essential in that arena.

    But I want my capes and tights monthly.

    • rafterman rafterman says:

      You could still get them monthly. They would just reset the numbers every fall. They’d get the boost of a new #1, new readers would have easy entry points, and you’d just get a new story arc starting.

  12. jmv jmv says:

    I’ve given up on comics ever going back to the traditional numbering system. It’s not practical in a business sense when you see number one issues always selling ridiculously well regardless of what incarnation of the series it is. The season suggestions sounds feasible but the question you have to ask is “Does Marvel or DC want to do it?” I don’t think they care that fans are annoyed by the constant multiple number one issues of a title. All they see is sales are in the 100,000 when they relaunch a series so why bother with the season concept.

  13. I’m surprised we haven’t seen this yet in any of the mainstream comics. It would make more sense with the current prices in comics. I don’t bitch about prices but if ongoings turned into ‘seasons’ then it would justify the price increases.

  14. rafterman rafterman says:

    I think comics should do seasons every fall. There’s no reason to continue numbers forever. They already reboot all the time. why not do it in a way that normal people understand? They get the concept of a DVD box set season. We need Uncanny Avengers 2011-2013 / Season 1. Honestly, the only numbers that matter are the ones that tell me the order of the story. Harry Potter hit with a lot of people because it’s 7 books. You know the order. It’s easy to get into. For regular people, comics look too hard to learn. Spider-Man 690? Is that a good place to start?

  15. db105 says:

    This doesn’t address the underlying problem: the dominance of corporation-owned franchises, with endless and necessarily repetitive stories that can have a beginning but not an end. The future of the industry is very difficult. People who are already fans want it that way, and those are the books that sell: Batman, X-men, Spiderman… Ultimately, any resolution is impossible in those books, because the franchises need to go on, and therefore a more or less immutable status-quo must be maintained. Since under those conditions it’s very difficult to maintain the readers’ interest, corporations need to resort to constant stunts to keep people coming back: crossover events, relaunching series… The impossibility of any resolution is bad enough, but those stunts decrease even more the creative quality of the stories produced.

    People who are already fans want it that way, though. They keep buying the same old franchises, with stories endlessly regurgitated and no resolution or real change, while ignoring creator-owned series that can actually tell a proper story, with a beginning, middle and end. However, it’s very difficult to explain to potential new readers that they need to spend a lot of money to keep up with the franchises, under those circumstances.

    The context is already difficult, with increasing competition for the entertainment budget. While the best part of the talent and energy of the comic industry is directed to the creative dead end of superhero franchises it will be even more difficult to compete with other forms of entertainment. But the situation is unlikely to change, since the existing fan base, shrinking as it is, keeps voting with their wallets for it to continue as it is.

    • I can understand the corporate mentality of an on-going….and with the titles you mentioned, it makes sense. I would think that with great selling titles or titles with one author for several years (Green Lantern for example), it would make sense to keep an on-going numbering.

      However, with lesser selling titles/characters…..”Seasons” or “Mini’s” may be the way to go. Marvel has already kind of done this with Punisher, since an on-going just can’t seem to hold numbers (regardless of the Creative Team). I think of how much better characters like Green Arrow, Hawkman, Deathstroke, etc. would be in DC’s New-52 if they were done in 6-issue Mini’s rather than on-goings with filler issues and “stretched” story arcs that put you to sleep.

      I would suggest keeping it a numbers game…..if a title sells over a certain number, keep it on-going…..if it dips below or never reaches the “number” than keep it to 10-12 issues and start again after with a new Creative Team.

  16. harwellpkg harwellpkg says:

    How about these ideas as well?
    - No double shipping a title in a month.
    - No variant covers (or extremely limited).
    - More 2.99 books and fewer 3.99 books.
    - One good book for each team/character, not seven of them!

    I know I have not said anything new but to me they seem so obvious.

  17. JesseCuster says:

    I’ve made this argument before as well.

    As much as we long-term comic readers enjoy our ‘serials’, the fact remains that the industry is in a struggle to gain new readers. So they end up pulling this crap like the New 52, or cancelling titles only to bring them back a couple months later in a new configuration…. because they are trying to open up jumping points.

    I also hate annuals because an annual is supposed to be either an epilogue or summary of the year past. The annual’s original intent was to be a jumping point… and now its nothing more than a one-shot story.

    I say, 12 – 13 issues story arcs, followed by an Annual that is one part cliff-notes, one-part Who’s Who and one-part bonus tale, then the next volume starts a whole new story with a whole new creative team. You can have continuity, but when your content starts to rely on it, you lose readers. Its what happened to Star Trek before they rebooted w/ JJ Abrams. It got to the point where the only people interested in ST were people who watched everything ST previously.

  18. glennsim says:

    Of course, one thing this would do is further take away the specialness of the #1 issue, thus resulting in fewer comic book sales, not necessarily more.

  19. As a completest, I would be in favor of mini-series, or “Seasons”. If I drop an on-going title for content or financial reasons, I’m far less likely to ever collect it again unless it starts up at #1 or the character stars in a “mini/maxi” series.

    I would be happy to jump on board a title with a character I enjoy if I know it’s a complete story without filler issues and long, extended story arcs just for the sake of being an on-going, Creative Team changes, or waiting for some “Event”.

    I think some characters are just built more for the mini- or “Seasons” with breaks for Creative Teams to prepare the next arcs, or come up with great stories for the characters to star in. A whole list of titles from DC & Marvel that can’t break the 30k-per month barrier come to mind. A character like Green Arrow (just one of many examples) would be far better off with mini-series or a 10-12 issue “Season”, rather than the horrid filler issues, bad story arcs, and shifting Creative Teams that are sending GA into the toilet, and shedding readers by the thousands every month.

    The Big 2 are like our Government, holding to outdated modes of operation, stubbornly resisting change….and ultimately hurting their futures. Leave the Big Sellers to sell big, and make changes with the so-so sellers to help them be bigger.

  20. KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

    As I see it, the underlying issue here is attracting new readers. And as much as I’m into Chris’ idea of some kind of “season” type of approach, I think the biggest thing that long-time readers can do to help attract new readers is to show some more flex.

    We know that it has been and remains a tough market for comic books out there, and we know that generally speaking, comic books are not as accessible to the Elusive New Reader as they probably could be. We know these things.

    So when a company like Marvel or DC makes a move with the *stated goal* of attracting new readers, I feel like we ought to give them the benefit of the doubt, and tone down the all-too-common cynicism about any change in the industry.

    I don’t know about you, but if I’m the Elusive New Reader and saw Joe Quesada on Jimmy Kimmel and googled my way to a comic book site because I was interested in Marvel Now, but all I found was a cascade of “meh,” “sucks,” and “why does Marvel hate fans” comments, I don’t think I’d take the next steps and buy a comic book.

    And that’s something we readers can fix. I’m not saying we need to positive about everything, but just to have a little larger perspective and hold off on passing judgment until there’s actually a product to judge. Seems reasonable to me.

    Sometimes I think that in trying to appease us long-time fans, Marvel and DC are missing opportunities to capitalize on the success of these properties in other media.

    If periodic continuity reboots or semi-regular renumbering is what it takes to get more people to fall in love with the concepts and characters we’ve loved for a long time and increase the financial health of the industry, I say it’s a fair trade.

    • glennsim says:

      (Like)

    • Common sense…I like the Ben Franklin approach here. Nicely said.

    • If we’re not passing any judgement on previews and news, then how are we discussing them at all? If people don’t get a positive vibe, that’s what they post. And what entertainment doesn’t have both positive and negative comments on the net?

      And hey, if you think negativity is steering new readers away from Marvel Now, perhaps that’s more money to be spent on Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and Dynamite books, etc?

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      I’m not saying don’t discuss and react to news and previews. I’m just saying that when discussing and reacting to those things, we should try to have a bit of perspective regarding what we’re reacting to. If you buy a book and want to rage against how awful it was? Hey, you paid for it, knock yourself out. You read an announcement for a book that won’t be out for three months and you want to rage about how awful you “just know” it will eventually be? That seems a bit silly.

      Here’s an example of how bad a lack of perspective can be. Recently, many people have been completely losing their shit over the announcement of Superior Spider-man. And I’m seeing all the typical, hyperbolic reactions — “thanks for ruining Spider-man”, “looks like I’m dropping all my Marvel books”, and the completely inexcusable threats of violence against Dan Slott.

      Let me put that last one in other words, because it’s easy overlook how reprehensible it is: Some comic book fans (mostly on Twitter) are so offended and incensed by the announcement of impending change to a FICTIONAL character they really like, that they will threaten BODILY HARM up to and including the MURDER of ACTUAL PERSON.

      Of course I know 99% of that is just venting, but I think that’s a very pale excuse for that kind of behavior.

      And not a single one of these people — from the merely annoyed to the threatening crazies — have read the work in question.

      I am all for discussing, picking apart and speculating about announcements. It’s fun to try and predict where things are headed. But I think we can do a better job tempering the level of reaction to the amount of information we have.

    • Sure, agreed that behavior of making threats and whatnot is bad, though there are posters like that in every facet of the net not just comics. I just disagree that positive speculation and reaction to previews and announcements is any more valid than negative. I get the argument, and I’ve heard people on ifanboy are sometimes tired of negativity, personally I think both have their place. And I think Marvel could use the criticism, personally.

    • KenOchalek KenOchalek says:

      You’re right that positive and negative reactions totally have their place, all I’m saying is that it seems like a lot of people misplace the negative commentary or at least frame their negative commentary at a level of intensity that is asymmetrical with the thing being discussed (hah, maybe like I’m doing right now).

      The same thing can happen for positive reactions — the “OMG. BEST. BOOK. EVARRRR!!!!!” kind of comments are pretty boring too — but I feel like that kind of thing is far less common, at least around here.

      And while publishers could perhaps use some criticism, a great deal of the critical comments I see leveled at publishers come off like someone merely holding a grudge.

  21. idviceroy says:

    Dark Horse did this with almost of all it’s very Star Wars titles. I didn’t like it at first. I couldn’t understand why Rogue Squadron:Insert Title Here had 4 issue arc’s that re-started with issue #1 for every arc. But after a while it made sense. As an adult with a dwindling disposable income, I tend to read mini-series and collect trades more than the monthlies. Running comics like TV seasons just makes sense.

    • Lets say a comic season takes the summer off like TV, we’re still talking what, 9 issues? 8 maybe? Is a few less issues a year really something that’d make ongoing comics that much more accessible? For me, I’d just be wondering why we aren’t getting any comics those months. And I guess the main penciller would just do a few fill-ins on other books then, instead of having a steady job?

  22. First, this is a great piece, and it proposes a very relevant question. As a creator (I write Image’s Hoax Hunters with Steve Seeley), this is an idea I’ve kicked around a number of times. In fact, it again popped into my head as we’ve been putting the first trade together—the volume has six issues, and three artists. Now, part of this was circumstantial. The original artist, JM Ringuet, had to leave the book after completing work on issue #0, so he had to be replaced. Then we hired Axel Medellin, and he had to be spelled on issue #5 for the sake of catching up with his work. Rather than suffer a delay of a month, possibly more, we brought in a fill-in. It’s a judgment call we made. I took a Twitter poll once, asking readers what they’d rather see as Hoax Hunters moved forward, the occasional fill-in artist (and thus no delays) or keeping the creative team intact. The feedback was literally right down the middle. Half said “no delays!” the other, “maintain consistency!” Given such data, there is literally no way to win, unless you can find that rare artist who can work on an ongoing creator-owned book indefinitely, and that only happens, generally, for juggernaut titles (Morning Glories, post-Moore Walking Dead) where the artist isn’t compelled to leave for greener, more lucrative pastures.

    So, essentially, seasons or not, series of minis or not, these artists shifts would’ve occurred. I saw someone above commented on how putting out 20 pages a month isn’t that much—I’d venture to guess said commentator hasn’t done it before, because it’s incredibly hard, especially in creator owned where your responsible for so much of the book—prepping for print, proofing, marketing, etc. I’m not begrudging the process, but it’s a massive task.

    But, getting back on track, Chris makes an excellent point regarding the economy of a creator owned ongoing. There’s basically two avenues in which finances work: Either the writer and artist split royalties, or the writer pays a page rate. If you aren’t making sales, then, in option one, the artist isn’t making enough to stick around; in option two, the writer is about to lose the roof over his/her head. The idea of minis is certainly appealing because the allure of #1s is so strong with retailers and fans. Every single series launched in modern comics has one thing in common: issue 1 sells more than 2. No matter how well received, how great of a book, that’s the reality (and this potentially opens a whole new can of worms with the direct market problems and preorder system, but let’s table that). So, the opportunity to release a shiny new #1 every year or so is great—it allows readers a place to jump on and puts a little more change in your pocket. But if everyone is launching new #1s every month, what happens then? Eventually, retailers will adjust accordingly, as will readers. There’s that potential, as Chris notes, to become a cheap marketing ploy. There’s already a deep problem of #1 inundation in the market—let’s face it, creators are constantly killing each other’s books. Readers hopscotch from one #1 to the next because soooooo many new titles are launched every single week. Everyone wants the new thing—imagine if a TV network launched a new show as often as publishers launch new comics. Hardly any would survive; viewers would constantly be pulled to a new pilot every single night, and last week’s pilot would be lost and forgotten by its fifth episode.

    Anyway, point being: I find the idea fascinating, and it’s something that Steve and I are seriously considering with Hoax Hunters. But I think, for us, if we do it we have to ensure the narrative warrants the demarcation of “season one.” As in, whatever we call season one must be a complete story that functions as its one unit. The same way great TV has seasons whose stories fit into the larger narration. Mad Men, The Shield, Breaking Bad, etc. They’re not just a bunch of episodes, lacking cohesion, that are dubbed “season X.” The same should go for issues.

    • When I said it “wasn’t that much”, I didn’t mean it isn’t much work. I know pencillers work long long hours to make those monthly books happen, I read their tweets and whatnot. Including some of your co-workers. So I’m with you, I know it takes a lot of work to make those 20 page books.

      What I meant was literally bulk, it’s not that much material, especially compared to a TV season. I like comics even better than TV to a large degree, I’m just saying it takes a lot of pages to get that all covered. I think there’s a reason why Buffy season 8 was 40 issues, essentially.

    • More specifically, like the shows you mentioned say Breaking Bad, I think it would take 2 or 3 issues to fully cover everything in one of those episodes in depth. I’d say the 20 page comic canvas is maybe equivalent to a half-hour show, as opposed to the hour shows mentioned. Just in the space to work with.

    • I love the idea of “Seasons” or “Mini/Maxi-series” when it comes to the Inde/Small Publisher Titles. As an avid collector of several titles from the aforementioned, I have greatly enjoyed the ease of “jumping on” to the Godzilla and Planet of the Apes franchises (because of their revolving mini’s- and often restarted on-goings).

      I’m a big fan of Starkings’ Elephantmen & Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo series, but often find people shying away when I tell them how far along the series are, and all the backstory they would have to collect. I’m not a “salesman” by any stretch, but those titles (who have very loyal followers) might increase in sales if they followed a BPRD/S.King’s Tower format of on-going mini’s (giving new readers a chance to jump on). Chew was a book I was interested in, but by the time I had interest it was already too far along for me to start collecting…..Your Hoax Hunters is fine right now, but what if potential new readers shy away in the future when your issues are numbering in the thirties? Of course, The Walking Dead is the anomaly in this discussion….seemingly adding readers regardless of how issues are numbered.

      Several of the titles from DC/Marvel that I’ve collected over the years have been re-launched/re-booted/etc. several times, and it’s never bothered me at all…..so I don’t think “Seasons” or on-going “Mini-Maxi” series will ever lose readers (looking at sales numbers over the last several years)…only add….so I only see this as a positive thing.

  23. robguillory robguillory says:

    Yeah, I think a lot of creator-owned books are gonna go this way. Mostly because so many creator-owned books have small creative teams, which leads to longer production times.I seem to recall reading about SAGA and Jupiter’s Children both having 5-6 week production schedules.

    With CHEW, because we’re a two-man creative team, our production schedule for each issue is 5 weeks. Which tends to fall awkwardly with the monthly Diamond solicitations. We’ve flirted with the idea of “seasons”, with a few months between each arc. Will we do it? We’ll see.

    From my experience, Publishers tend to be a little scared of not soliciting books for months at a time, for fear of the readers forgetting about the book. Instead, they often choose to solicit, fully knowing books will be a few weeks late, to maintain visibility and presence in the market.

    • What’s a Jupiter’s Childern? ; )

    • robguillory robguillory says:

      Jupiter’s Children is a new creator-owned book from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.

    • I know, totally kidding. It was supposed to be out a few months ago–kinda fell off the radar. Friendly tardiness ribbing.

    • robguillory robguillory says:

      Niiiiice.

    • Loyal followers will still have their LCS ordering their copy….and potential new readers will read about the new launches on the internet. New readers to comics won’t know/care about Publisher worries, only seeing the #1 on the shelf and saying, “Hey, how about I try this….it’s just started”. I’ve gone shopping with a few new readers (some of them women….sorry to break the stereotype), and all of them were generally unwilling to buy anything that didn’t have a #1 on it. The couple that did buy “older” numbered titles (by “older” I mean #3 or #4) did so because they could pick up the previous issues which were readily available (due to re-orders).

      It’s great to say “I have #1 thru #100 of So&So!”……but it’s the same to say, “I have all 100 issues of So&So!”…..and in the end, what’s the difference? 20 mini-series or 100 on-going issues…..sales history would suggest (on average) that the 20 mini’s would have higher numbers from the 20 #1′s. Good for the publisher, Good for the creative teams, Good for the new reader wanting to jump on….

  24. stevetwo stevetwo says:

    You’re always going to have to have it both ways. I can sort of compare it to daytime soap operas. From the time they started in the 50s, these daily stores had a HUGE audience (of people who like that type of entertainment – sound familiar?). Today, there are what – two or three – daytime series left. What happened? So many other forms of TV entertainment (and of course primetime soap-type shows with stories less directed at the housewife and more toward a general audience – sound familiar again?) killed the original audience. My wife and her friends are still addicted to General Hospital, and they’ll take what they can get. They’re used to it. They expect it. They get frustrated if they miss an episode.

    As for me, I grew up following Batman etc. on a monthly basis and love that format. Granted, because I was raised on that schedule, I expect it. When the first mini-series came out, I and my traditionalist comic reading background had a problem with them. I mean, who wants to read a comic that ENDS?! But as I’ve read more minis which have evolved from hero minis to more adult-themed and longer-running (sleeper and Y: The Last Man as examples), i’ve come to love them. Would I want to see Spiderman with a definite ending and pick up again? No. There’s absolutely no reason for it, not even because a writer/artist changes.

    Last thought – when you talk about new readers coming into a decades-long book, think of it this way: When books were done in one, ANYONE could walk into the store, buy Batman or Superman and be satisfied with the overall story experience. You didn’t have to have a humungous amount of backstory knowledge to understand that issue. The way books are written now, I don’t blame people for not wanting to “enter” a Batman or Fantastic Four in the middle of a multi-issue arc, or wondering where a book is because a writer or artist couldn’t finish on time. A trade version of Criminal or Hellboy – a much better experience for those looking for something they know has a definitive beginning and ending.

  25. I have been saying this for years! I really wish somebody wOuld try this concept out. It seems like such a great oncept, I don’t know why nobody has tried I yet.

  26. Rob3E Rob3E says:

    It would have its plusses and minusses. And it would probably work better for some types of stories than for others. And while doing a series in some type of “season” might give someone a good jumping on point, it would also give you a good jumping off point. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have stuck with a series longer than makes sense out habit or stubbornness. If someone had given me an easy way out in the form of a break, I would have taken it.
    Plus, while I like the mini-series idea when it’s appropriate, I have to consult a reference source when reading through Mignola’s works if I want to read them in order. At least with Spider-Man, I know that the next issue is very likely one higher than the current issue.
    But if an indy publication could use that idea to keep to a schedule, I’m all for it. Lately I don’t even buy anything until a whole story arc is available, but one of the last titles I was reading before becoming a trade-waiter was a creator-owned title that I just never knew when to pick up the next issue. Finally decided it was cheaper and easier to wait until a whole arc was out. Now, thanks to digital, nothing ever sells out, so I can wait for an arc and a sale. Truth is that it’s hard to imagine going back to reading a piece of a story a month at a time, but I’m sure there are people who would do that more willingly if they had confidence that their titles would come out on schedule.

    • If you look at sales numbers from month-to-month, you’ll notice that readers “jump off” every month. I believe part of the reason that; excluding The Walking Dead, comic book sales don’t reflect the commercial success of movies is because the Comic Book Industry doesn’t take advantage of movie-goers interest.

      While TWDead has seen it’s sales numbers booming from interest in the TV series….The Avengers, Spiderman, Batman, Superman, etc. have/did not see great increases, if any at all. Arrow; the new series from The CW, has had success in it’s first couple episodes and is extended for an entire season, but will DC try and capitalize on it’s success? Probably not. They would do well to immediately re-launch GREEN ARROW at #1, and/or rename it just ARROW….do a mini or two, etc….Change the concept around the character (just a tweak or two), and it might sell well. Will they? Remains to be seen.

      Publishers like IDW, Boom! etc. have no shame or worries when relaunching titles, starting mini’s, etc. to coincide with movie/tv releases…..G.I. Joe, Transformers, Planet of the Apes, Popeye, Godzilla, Judge Dredd, etc…..and those publishers survive and do well with the concept of “revolving” launches and mini’s. Are the “Big 2″ too arrogant to try, or are “longtime” readers too stubborn to allow for this with the iconic characters? Advertise it in the theatres before the movie starts…..”Like the movie? Read the NEW comic book starting ___” How hard is that? Common sense marketing to me.

  27. I recently got into B.P.R.D. and I love this format

    Even though each arc is pretty much self contained there is still a great sense of continuity to them – characters develop, new plot lines are set up, etc …

    You get a lot less filler issues with stand in talent as well. Much better in my opinion.

    Look at a book like Saga – even though it is not printed on the cover that the first 6 issues were ‘season 1′ or ‘chapter 1′ it follows this rule. The first 6 issues told one story – developed characters, introduced the setting and future plot lines. We are now prepared for the next ‘chapter’.
    If this was a Marvel book instead of taking time off to get ready for issue 7 in November we would have had a few issues in between drawn by and maybe even written by other talent and focusing on other parts of the book – maybe a side story on The Will or a flashback about Prince Robot or some other crap.

    I’d rather not waste my money on the overcooked tasteless veggies, just give me the meat. That metaphor sounded less gay in my head …

  28. kwanzer says:

    Zuda was doing seasonal content for DC five years ago.

  29. BeefTornado says:

    I read somewhere that Peter David suggested dropping a numbering system and going to naming it after the month. Example being something like New Avengers Oct. 2012. Then we make this idea of renumbering void. Creative teams can come and go with no effect to the way the title is released. More emphasis on the story. Less emphasis on all the other bullshit that fans and publishers choose to deem integral to the comic book experience. Sounds like a good idea to me.

  30. player1 player1 says:

    In a way, comics are already written for the trade, which makes the story structure akin to that of a movie.

    Ongoing monthlies are still sometimes allowed to have meandering filler issues, but generally, once a writer is established, that writer is working in subtitled “after the colon” arcs, each of which is usually part or all of a trade.

    Creator-owned books usually do well under the “subtitled” model, unless, like some of the Dark Horse material, they compete with themselves by having no meta-structure to the order that the arcs should be read in. Hellboy and Conan both come immediately to mind. Both titles offered so much material that I stopped buying them. I read Hellboy in trades, mind you. I just no longer buy them. Who could keep up?

    While the “season” idea overcomes this drawback, vis a vis reading order, it seems to assume that arcs would always be twelve issues, or that seasons would be broken up into arcs that would total twelve issues. While I agree that an ongoing is more like a TV show than a movie, I prefer to grab movie-sized chunks than commit to a whole “season”.

    Also, the time is not equivalent. Reading the average 20-page comic book, as if it were a movie takes about twenty minutes – reading every line of dialogue as if that character spoke it, sounding out all the sound FX in your head, accounting for pauses, long sound effects and lingering shots – so five or six comic books or one trade accounts for about the same time as a movie. A TV season is a lot longer than twice that long.

    Rule of thumb is still about a minute a page. Sure I can blast through a comic book in four minutes. But if I read five of them in an hour and forty minutes and they come to a nice solid conclusion, I feel almost as if I just watched a movie. It’s about the same sized chunk of fiction.

    • Since the article mentions giving them a break, I’d assume this season idea is for less than 12 issues a year. And if it is 12 issues a year, it’s exactly the same as now only with different numbers and “season” written on the cover. Which is not a notable change.

    • That said, I do agree with you on how much a 20 page comic can cover, which is one of many reasons why comparing it to TV seasons doesn’t seem fruitful.

    • player1 player1 says:

      If one wanted to compare it to TV seasons, one would do well to produce a 20 page twice-a-week comic over 13 weeks, wait 13 weeks and do it again. Or even a 40-pager once a week.

      That would be an equivalent chunk of fiction. Around 40 minutes a week for thirteen weeks. With summer rerun season off. Starting again in the fall.

      Of course that’s 52 issues in a year. Or 26 forty-pagers.

      That would be a lot of issues of one comic book to read.

    • I would suggest that a “Season” be simply the completion of an arc, not by months of the year, but by issues. One season may be 12 issues, the next season of that title may be 20, etc. Like a mini-series that may be 3, 4, 5, 6 issues…base it on the story arc rather than a publisher timeline.

      TV Seasons run between two years, and are anywhere from 10, 13, 20, 24 episodes etc. The point is to have a definite beginning and ending, eliminate the “filler” issue, play off the timetable of movie/tv releases, & give “jumping on” points for potential new readers. Keep some continuity, but not so much as to confuse.

      We; the avid comic book reader/collector, have become so “trained” to see the world of comics in such a narrow mindset that we are helping to destroy it. Time to evolve to see things like the younger generations….”right now” is what it’s all about, 10 or 20 years ago means “nothing”.

    • Paikman2000 says:

      I realize Marvel and DC would look at it as losing money but how about having 1 writer and 1artist do a 6-7 issue season and then after a couple month hiatus, do another season? The key thing would be to have no fill-in writers or artists thus allowing artists to pace themselves.