Monday, November 28, 2016

An open letter to Comic Book Companies

To the publishers of four color(or b+w, full color, etc.) adventures:

Look, I love graphic storytelling. It grants drama, tension, wonder, and more in a way that few things can really match. Movies can't do the textual depth, and books have a harder time with landscape and detailed backgrounds. You have more frame and presentation choices than either, and generally a love for your audiences.

But, I don't want to read five books, just for the ability to understand one. It's a part of why I don't get mainstream hero books these days. It's why I've avoided most Marvel properties for over a decade. I won't touch Superman or Bat-families for the same reason. And when it comes to my main point, smaller companies are bad at it, too.

Which actually brings me to the point. Crossovers. We love them when they're good, ignore them when they're bad, and hate having our books interrupted in the meantime for this four-five week(month in the case of Civil War II) monster that eats up a lot of titles. Honestly, I love the cool factor of seeing characters interact that aren't normally together. I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with your presentation.

Here's my idea, please consider it and give it a shot.

There are four or five fifth weeks in a year. These are generally dead weeks, where you ship something late, or fill with trades and one-shots. So, get your editorial butts in gear, because this will be work. Set up the books for a crossover to come to a point that puts them into the crossover, be it a story end, or a location or plot connection, and have all this happen in the issues(yes, all of them) before the fifth week. This is very important, because on the fifth week, you release it.

The entire crossover, in one trade. No issues to chase, no story interruption, no out of sequence reading. I don't even care how you tell the story that much. You can cut the page count a bit, because you don't need to reintroduce the characters each and every book. You advance the story so far, shift perspectives. Repeat. Figure out who has the best vantage on the plot twists and reveals.

Yes some folks might ignore it, but I think it'll be worth a shot. Sure there's a little less urgency. Unless of course everything step out of the trade affected by it immediately. Then your readers of EACH book need to read it to know wtf just happened. Use them to shake up the status quo of the books, but now you can be efficient about it, instead of  making readers angry because they can't read an issue or three of several books until the event is actually finished. You might even cross pollinate your readerships better.

This doesn't get rid of one shots that introduce us to new heroes, villains, etc. I'm just wanting you to go for a screwdriver when you've been using a hammer for ages. Event books are cool, collections of events are better, as we aren't trying to keep it all together in order. In fact ordered collections are likely the best presentation.

As part of your audience, I don't expect you to listen to me. I'm just a guy with a wallet, who likes to read. A lot. Check out the book review tab and comics tab if you don't believe me. The book reviews are just this year.

Alfred Genesson

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


  1. They won't do it because it misses the single most important thing (from a publisher's perspective) about crossovers: the cross marketing power. As a regular reader (subscriber, even) of a particular series, you now have a single issue of a long story line. If they've done their job right, that issue has you interested enough to pick up the rest of the crossover issues. That alone is a pretty decent new chunk of revenue for the comic company. But if you decide that you like a particular character, now maybe you're regular reader (subscriber, even) of that series as well. Bam, revenue increase. Potentially a pretty big and regular one.

    The thing is, the whole scheme ONLY works if the story is broken up among a dozen different regular series - the way they currently do it. Don't be fooled. Crossovers aren't storytelling devices - they're crass and brutally effective marketing devices.

    1. I've dropped books because of crossovers, so the reverse certainly applies as well. I'm not convinced the issue format gains them readers long term, and it definitely annoys me when one I've read has NO impact after the four plus weeks I've been chasing this thing.

      As to crossovers not being storytelling devices as well as marketing, tell that to the JLA.