Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Weekly Comics: Can They Work in America?

By now you’ve all heard about DC Comics’ upcoming series, 52, which will be published weekly and chronicle, in “real-time,” what happened during the soon-to-be-missing “year” of stories.

Does anyone seriously think this will work?

There are numerous issues to think about. For instance, lateness. I gather that they’re trying to use several writers and artists at the same time to coordinate this series, in order to keep it on schedule, but it’s bound to slip, mainly because *all* the big projects slip from their schedules these days.

Secondly, sales. The title guarantees 52 issues, but what if the sales are abysmal? Are they seriously going to keep publishing it? Sure, golden boys (and my archnemeses) Johns and Rucka and the gang will probably be writing it (and I bet Rags Morales will draw a couple of issues), but I wonder if interest will hold up that long, considering it’ll probably amount to “The Adventures of Blue Beetle III.”

Thirdly, price. I wonder how much they expect someone to pay for this per issue. Three bucks? No way will anyone be willing to drop an extra twelve dollars a month on this, unless they are a “DC Drone.” But how much of a financial hit is DC willing to take to get this out? Will it be a buck? Two? Two-fifty?

Fourthly, which isn’t that big of a deal, how are they going to collect it? A new trade every two months, or per season? Eh, who knows.

Alls I can say is, I probably won’t be buying this unless it’s written by Grant Morrison and Mark Waid and stars Elongated Man in every issue.

Then again, the UK has been putting out stuff like 2000AD for years, and they don’t seem to have much of a problem. Then again, their entire operation, creatively, financially, and everything else, is completely different from the American way of publishing comics.

So... thoughts?

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Blogger Brian Cronin said...

I think they can work, Bill, I think it just comes down to the quality.

When weekly comics have failed, they generally have not held up a level of quality (and I do not even mean what you or I would say was "quality," but what the normal consumer would be into, I mean, past weeklies haven't even kept up to the quality level of COUNTDOWN, for crissakes!).

7/27/2005 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

In addition, the fact that this is a finite series is quite helpful, as it is a lot easier to commit to a project like this when you KNOW it is a limited deal.

And I think Byrne will end up working on this project a lot, as he is quite fast.

7/27/2005 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger Ken Robinson said...

A few more things to note:

North American anthologies generally just don't do well these days. Remember Action Comics Weekly, which croaked after 40 some-odd weeks? MCP was more successful, but I suspect that was only because they milked the hot properties (Like Wolvie and Ghost Rider) at a time when those characters weren't quite over-exposed. In both these cases, the books tended to be inconsistent since there were always a variety of characters and creators involved, some good, some bad, some lame, some great. It may not be worth it for a person to buy an issue of 52 for only a few pages of Batman or Morrison or whatever they want to see if the rest of it doesn't interest them. The value for their money simply won't be there in a situation like that. To avoid this, quality control will be absolutely essential and, in fact, arguably more inportant here than in any other series. It may be the only way to get many fans to be interested in the whole thing, as opposed to just select parts. Or none at all.

I've also got to wonder about the actual gimmick: 52 issues taking place in real time. As Didio said, when it's winter outside, it'll be winter in the series! Holy crap! I've always wanted to read comics where the hereoes go through the same weather as I do at the same time! I can totally relate to them now! All sarcasm aside, this selling point is fairly silly. It's obviously riffing on 24's popularity, but does anyone really watch that show for the season-takes-place-in-a-day gimmick? Or is it because they find it to be an exciting action-thriller? I'm inclined to say the latter myself.

7/27/2005 05:49:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff R. said...

Well, they're essentially publishing a weekly "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" book right now (and a biweekly "Seven Soldiers" book on top of that.) Doesn't seem to be collapsing the market any time soon.

And don't knock the Gimmick factor in 24's success, either. The Gimmick lets it be one long story each season, and allows cliffhangers every week [without requiring the wonky pacing that Alias does when it does a stretch of cliffhangers every week.] No reason that 52 can't make that work.

7/27/2005 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Roeg said...

I'm optimistic that for those who are enjoying the Johns/Rucka/et. al.-driven DC soap opera right now (and I must confess, I'm lapping it up) 52* will be a blast. Sure, the "seasonal" realtime gimmick is mostly just marketing spin (I agree with Ken--who cares?), but the weekly concept as a whole actually seems justified by what I gather to be the overarching nature of the story (and aren't a bunch of books going on hiatus for that year anyway?). Put it this way: DC has not had its creative ducks in row like this for as far back as I can remember. If anyone can make this concept work, these guys can. (I know, I know: drone...)

7/27/2005 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Yeah, I think Jeff is spot on.

If this continues to be written by Johnuckanick, then the project will work.

It is when lesser known creators begin to work on the project that it will all fall apart.

If they avoid that, then it will be a success.

7/27/2005 07:13:00 PM  
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