First, a belated thanks to the guys at doomkopf for inviting me to their round table discussion of Final Crisis 7. I laughed when they called me a celebrity guest blogger. So now both of my original fans can talk about how they read my work before I sold out and went all main stream.
With the recent downturn of the American economy, a lot of people are wondering if the comic industry will survive. I could talk about DC & Marvel needing to utilize the internet more, learning from the best webcomics, making their websites less headache inducing, and so on, but really there is only one idea the companies need to adopt:
Make comics cheaper.
Wait! This is NOT just another post complaining about 3.99 comics. $4 for an issue is still pretty cheap compared to a lot of entertainment options. So what do I mean about make them cheaper?
Compare a great crossover: Sinestro Corp War [SCW], with a bad one: Final Crisis [FC].
SCW took place in two comic book titles with the occasional one shot. At $3 a piece with the 1 shots at $4, that means you spent a grand total of $10 a month on SCW. That’s cheaper than a lot of movie tickets with spectical just as mind blowing as movies themselves (plus you can watch them over and over again). All total the entire story took 16 issues.
FC had its up and down months. The worst was 6 issues, the best had only 2 relevant issues, at 3.99 an issue. Still, if you collected the whole thing, we’re looking at 24 issues.
Marvel’s secret invasion, civil war and more were hardly any better.
The lesson? Make comics cheaper by lowering the number of issues needed to enjoy a story.
There’s also been a lot of complaints about titles that are getting canceled. Should either of them keep publishing issues that are failing? Of course not. However, there is a compromise we can learn from DC’s experiment 52. Summed up here in 5 panels.
What’s even more awesome about 52 was that it featured only 2nd tier and lower DC characters. After the commercial and critical success of 52 why did DC then make a weekly comic about the big 3? (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) Did they think nobody was getting enough of them? Once upon a time, both companies published variety titles and every superhero we know and love today got their start from them. Can you find this today?
Instead of trying to give various lower tier characters their own books, DC & Marvel should bring back the variety issues. Here (especially if they both do a weekly schedule) they can showcase various members of their vast and expansive universes. 52 proved that you can do rotating storylines in an ongoing book so the writers and artists won’t get over stressed (the books had about 4+ stories going on at once, so during a month, we’d see story A, then B the next week, then story C, and so on). It would also open up avenues to introduce new villains and heroes without having to risk whole miniseries or taking over existing titles.
Finally, the companies should simplify and agree upon a standard labeling of books (not like video game ratings). The comic buying public consist of parents looking for something their kids can enjoy, and adults who appreciate comics as literature. Sometimes the two groups overlap but often they have different tastes. Imagine the unfortunate parent who wants to get some Batman for their kid to read and picks up All–Star Batman & Robin.
Time and the approaching “Blackest Night” storyline will determine if DC & Marvel learn anything or will screw up their way into oblivion.