MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Trades vs. Monthlies – An Unpopular Stance

Marc Alan Fishman

Marc Alan Fishman is a graphic designer, digital artist, writer, and most importantly a native born Chicagoan. When he's not making websites, drawing and writing for his indie company Unshaven Comics, or rooting for the Bears... he's a dedicated husband and father. When you're not enjoying his column here on ComicMix, feel free to catch his comic book reviews weekly at MichaelDavisWorld, and check out his books and cartoons at Unshaven Comics.

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4 Responses

  1. Kyle G. says:

    It’s a valid point and in fact Warren Ellis did this with his series Freak Angels. The book was available online for free every Friday and they sold collected trades for it. I’m not sure how successful it was but the trades are all still out there.

  2. Jonathan (the other one) says:

    That is, in fact, the standard model for webcomics – Order of the Stick, Schlock Mercenary, Goats, Scenes From a Multiverse, many others I didn’t name here (mostly because I’m not reading them right now), they will gather up a year or so worth of product, and sell it as a trade paperback. And the model seems to be working for them; Howard Tayler of Schlock Mercenary was able to quit his day job because of it. (Joel Watson of Hijinks Ensue apparently managed to make webcomics his day job a little while ago, too, on the same model.)

    I think the big guys could take inspiration from worse places…

  3. I’ll disagree with you in particular on Astro City. Most of that series was written to be read as single issues, and in fact the most recent epic has probably been the most criticized, both as monthlies and the trades. You’re right that most titles currently are written for the trades; I see that as the reason why most current series are largely forgettable. There are stories that work best in the trade format, to be sure, but the whole process of writing for monthlies is being systematically dismantled. Too few editors/publishers seem to want to make the self-contained monthly format work – it’s a self-defeating circle. Astro City always sells well at my LCS, or at least did until the Dark Ages storyline ground it to a halt.

  4. A lot of independents do this already. Or, in two different publishers’ cases I can think of, they technically only publish graphic novels but they release “chapters” digitally as they are completed in the year or two leading up to the publication of the book.

    They come out irregularly, at best, due to the particular teams’ speed and schedules so it can be hard to keep up with ’em but it’s not a bad way to get a little extra word of mouth and maybe a tiny bit of additional operating capital.