Just some random thoughts on changes I’d make if I was in charge of a large comic book publisher like Marvel or DC. Not saying I have all the answers; these are just some personal preferences that I think would most likely serve the industry better.
- Every monthly comic should have a “Story Thus Far” recap page – there are editors and writers who feel that a synopsis paragraph is inelegant, and using one to convey information is somehow “cheating.” That the information on who the characters are and what has transpired should be conveyed seamlessly withing the issue’s story itself. I don’t buy that for a second. Maybe that was true in the days of mass consumption of comics off the newsstand, where even the lowest selling titles were moving hundreds of thousands of units, and every issue was “someone’s first.”
But those days are long gone.
Yes, back in the days before comic book shops with huge back issue collections, where a kid could randomly pick up a comic at the grocery store or the barber shop, it was important to give them the relevant lowdown in the issue, so they wouldn’t be lost. And more importantly, so they’d be able to enjoy the story and get hooked and come back the next month. But these days, there’s little to no sampling, everyone has the Internet at their mobile fingertips, and the TPB rules. Reading a story arc in one sitting in a collected edition, with the details of who’s who and what happened before repeated over and over every 20 pages makes for a terrible reading experience.
Put it all in a synopsis paragraph, once, then get out of the way of the story. You’ll give readers all the basic information they need before delving into the serialized story, and if they need more, they can bring up Wikipedia or a hundred other websites to fill in the details. Heck, these days even the most sophisticated of TV shows these days have “Previously…” recap intros. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It serves a clear purpose, and let’s your story unfold on its own.
- Don’t end story arcs on anniversary issues, start them there – this would seem like a no-brainer, but from what I can tell, most writers and editors treat “big” issues (i.e. issue #50, #100, #250, etc.) as the perfect place for a long-running story arc’s culmination. Why? Typically, these issues have a major sales increase over the book’s regular monthly sales figures. Sure, lots of those are from people just wanting to collect a “milestone” issue, probably for dubious “investment” practices.
But you’re still dealing with a lot of new readers, not to mention increased media coverage. Why on earth would you waste the opportunity by presenting everyone the final chapter of some long, convoluted story that they probably know nothing about? Why not use the opportunity instead to hook them on to your title by starting out a “new reader friendly” storyline?
- Stop it with the rape and sexual violence – Just because an asshat like Mark Millar made a successful career out of it, doesn’t mean it’s cool. Just stop it.