Treasure Island Treasury of Comics #0: (Unsolicited) Thoughts for Marvel and DC Comics as The Industry Gets Ready to Restart
Just like you, the BIG SHUT DOWN has left me with some extra time on my hands. Extra time to get caught up on some reading and organise a bit. And definitely time to think about comics…
NOT having new comics is a BUMMER, but I do think it was the BEST DECISION to STOP publishing for now. There are just way bigger things going on at the moment. But it is weird to not have them these past two weeks. A short circuit in the weekly routine. It’s strange not seeing everyone, talking comics and baseball.
We KNOW that comics WILL come back – there’s NO WAY this is the END. There are simply too many stories to tell, too many to read, too many modern myths and adventures to get lost in. As you know, comics are the BEST – there’s simply nothing like them. Direct from the hands and minds of the creators to the page – and then to us, in all their four-colour glory.
We KNOW that comics WILL be back – but they’ll probably be a little different when they return, and they probably should be.
If I can be so bold, I would humbly suggest the following changes to both MARVEL and DC:
1) Stop ALL bi-weekly publishing.
Return ALL comics to monthly schedules, PLEASE.
2) Consolidation in the character books.
Please consider moving secondary characters to back-ups stories in the main books or putting them together in a regular anthology book.
For example, keep BATMAN and DETECTIVE monthly. Add an 8 – 10-page backup story (or two?) for characters like Batgirl, the Outsiders, Nightwing (or any of the Robins), Catwoman, The Joker, Batman Beyond, etc. Keep it at $4.99/$5.99 cover price. Hopefully by keeping BATMAN and DETECTIVE focused like this, they can sell more units and the quality on the creative teams can be kept high. 5-star talent for 5-star books.
If not the backup story option, maybe bring back an 80-page (or 100-page) BATMAN FAMILY book, featuring all of the secondary players. Give it a $7.99 cover price, similar to the DC GIANTS we have currently.
Same thing with the X-MEN books: keep X-MEN, NEW MUTANTS, X-FORCE and WOLVERINE monthly. $4.99/$5.99 cover price.
Put backups for Cable and Deadpool into in X-FORCE; X-Factor and Excalibur into X-MEN; Marauders and Children of the Atom into NEW MUTANTS; Hellions into WOLVERINE, etc. I know this messes up the recent X-MEN RELAUNCH from Hickman, but man it would be hard to NOT read ALL the mutant books if there were just 4 or 5 killer books EVERY month.
And if the backups format thing doesn’t sound good, maybe an 80-page (or 100-page) anthology ASTONISHING X-MEN book?
(I would love to see what MARVEL, DC and the FANS think of this. Maybe I’m way off the mark here…?)
3) Consolidation of team books.
Put ALL of the AVENGERS stories into a monthly AVENGERS book. ALL of the JUSTICE LEAGUE stories into a monthly JUSTICE LEAGUE book, etc. Put a $4.99/$5.99 cover price on these. Same for SPIDER-MAN and THORand GREEN ARROW and GREEN LANTERN, too.
Put ALL of the HORROR stories into 80-pagers. Marvel and DC can lean on their libraries and bring back CHAMBER OF CHILLS, STRANGE TALES, TALES TO ASTONISH, HOUSE OF MYSTERY/HOUSE OF SECRETS, THE UNEXPECTED, THE WITCHING HOUR, etc.
Do the same with the WAR BOOKS, too.
Maybe bring back quarterly reprints of classic stories, and call them BRAVE AND THE BOLD or MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS and do away with the FACSIMILE EDITIONS and $1/TRUE BELIEVER comics?
4) Contraction in general.
There are just TOO MANY titles being published by the BIG TWO. Could you imagine MARVEL and DC limiting themselves to 20 – 25 monthly titles? How easy it would be to keep up with most of ALL of storylines each month?
And STOP all MINI-SERIES for the time being. Move those stories to one of the ANTHOLOGY books or reformat them to work as BACKUP STORIES.
Many independent publishers are re-focusing their publishing lines to just their best sellers only. I think this is a great idea that would work very well at MARVEL and DC, too. A more focused offerings strategy would benefit EVERYONE as the industry restarts.
Let’s make it an easy hobby to GET INTO and to GET BACK INTO.
5) Stop the ANNUAL and SEMI-ANNUAL EVENT book for the time being.
Just give it a rest for a year or two. I’m sure there are plenty of cool storylines that could feel a little event-ish and be told in the ‘regular’ run of a title or two. I’m looking at you: AVENGERS, BATMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE and SPIDER-MAN of the 1980s.
6) Reduce variant covers.
I know it’s HARD, if not IMPOSSIBLE to resist, especially for a NEW #1 issue of a BRAND-NEW TITLE… but let’s give this one a break, too. I UNDERSTAND putting out a bunch with the #1 issue, but we don’t need MULTIPLEcovers for EACH issue after that, do we?
Couldn’t we just have the BEST cover possible for EACH issue? Make the covers EPIC EVERY month?
7) I guess what I’m suggesting is that the industry take a small step backwards to resemble what it used to.
Offer FEWER TITLES with TOP CREATIVE TEAMS and FIVE-STAR content. LESS FLASH and MORE SUBSTANCE. The BEST cover on with the BEST back-ups for the BEST* comic.
Reduce VARIANT COVERS and save us from EVENT FATIGUE, drop ALL MINI-SERIES and CONSOLIDATE where it makes the most sense.
Add VALUE for the customer.
Give us a MORE connected/shared universe and embrace continuity again. It would be easier to keep track of things with fewer books and a more streamlined approach overall.
And give us MORE ANTHOLOGY books and/or BACK-UP stories so we don’t lose out on reading the adventures of some of the less well-known or popular characters. Keep it fresh, rotate them regularly and give everyone a chance to discover (or rediscover) something or someone new. Show us your history.
(*Could you imagine adding back-up stories to flagship titles to create more ‘bang for the buck? Seeing the BIG TWO compete over QUALITY and VALUE…? A boy can dream…)
These are just some (late night) thoughts on the current state of comics and a potential re-packaging of some old school ideas as we look to restart the industry and hobby in the near future. I LOVE comic books and want nothing but the best for THEM and ME and YOU.
Future installments of the TREASURY OF COMICS will focus on CURATED reading lists. I regularly receive lot of calls for RECOMMENDATIONS and think it might be best to simply collect them all in ONE PLACE for EVERYONE.
Thank you very much for reading. Please send comments and queries to email@example.com.
Alex (RFO, KOF, PMM)