I was having a nice, leisurely Sunday morning when fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo sent me an article about Marvel Now! In it Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort talks about how their constant reboots are really there to serve the readers and to attract new readers. So basically, Joe ruined my leisurely Sunday morning. I think he did that on purpose.
Brevoort’s reasoning for all the regular reboots? The fans.
“I’m convinced – utterly convinced – that virtually every comic book reader cannot afford to buy all the comics they’d like to be buying and reading. There are too many good books out there, across all publishers. The average fan just can’t afford everything.”
Honestly, I don’t disagree with that. It’s true, fans can’t afford everything. That would be insanity. However, I don’t really see how that is ground-breaking news. It can’t be new information that readers can’t buy every issues of every book. What has really changed is how the books are presented to the reader. As stories became ongoing rather than in a single issue, fans looked for more excitement to keep reading. It used to be that reading the issues when they could afford them wasn’t going to work anymore. So fans, knowing they needed to save all their change to support their bi-monthly [insert random superhero here] habit, maybe didn’t go on a buying spree.
Then Brevoort said this. “You can have your great master plan where you slowly set your dominos and then in year two, you’re gonna wow everybody, but your book is gonna be dead in six issues, well before you get to that. People just don’t have the patience to wait a year and a half to get to the good stuff. You have to get to the good stuff immediately. And you have to all be good stuff. Every issue has to be giving readers what they want, or they start to move onto other stories.”
Ok, I’m not quoting Brevoort anymore. I promise. But it is the average fan’s fault they can’t buy everything and the average fan’s fault they can’t tell good stories. What is the publisher actually responsible for then?
This statement really irks me because a slow burn done right won’t necessarily lose readers. Admittedly it’s hard in comics right now. I won’t deny it. But there are books that are consistent best sellers. Instead of constantly rebooting and reminding your fans you aren’t consistent, maybe work on the stories more. Look at what’s working.
At this point, I’d prefer if they did limited runs on books. Let me know the start and end date. Let me know how many issues total. If fans are so torn on what comics to buy, give them an incentive by letting them know there will be a payoff for their money. Having a guaranteed end might do that. It doesn’t need to me a short run, despite that being the trend. Let it be fifteen or twenty issues! Get the creative team together, tell them they’ve got x amount of issues, and tell the best damn story they can.
Joe did mention a good point to me in our no-longer leisurely Sunday morning conversation that maybe they should start transitioning into more direct to graphic novel stories. Which I countered with that DC already does to an extent. (I’m a big fan of the Earth 2 line.) He is right. If you want to tell a slow burn story, maybe the graphic novels are the way to go.
Comics is always changing, that fact will not go away. Publishing costs have raised single issue prices through the roof and the digital age is nipping at their heels. But both DC and Marvel seem to have this pathological need to consistently reboot, despite the fact it hasn’t helped them. Rebooting isn’t the answer. Blaming the fans isn’t the answer. Taking a hard, long look inward at your practices might just do it.
But what do I know? I’m just an average fan.