Friday, March 06, 2009

Why Not More Weekly Miniseries?

As Marc-Oliver Frisch points out, when the first two issues of a series appear in the same calendar month (like "Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom" or "Black Lightning: Year One"), the drop off in order numbers between issue #1 and issue #2 is much less.

Retailers order far more copies of the second issue, proportionally, than they do if there's merely a one month gap between issues.

If that's true, and it seems to be, then why do Marvel and DC even bother with monthly (or, worse, bi-monthly) miniseries? Why not just wait an extra few months until the whole series is in the can and release all 4-6 issue miniseries as weeklies? The sales boost across the line would be pretty significant.

And I don't think it's just a matter of tricking retailers into ordering more. I think readers would tend to stick with even a mediocre comic for more issues if it came out on a weekly basis. See "Trinity" for more information.

Not that I'm promoting mediocrity, but I'm just wondering why publishers wouldn't take advantage of the retailer/buyer patterns.


Kris Krause said...

I don't know, Tim. First you wanted your mediocre Watchmen sequel/prequel (or in the best of all your possible worlds both), and now you want mediocre mini-series on a weekly basis. Sounds to me like you want your mediocre and you want it now!

Timothy Callahan said...

I am taking a pro-mediocrity stand this week, apparently.

Shecky Shabazz said...

I think this would work for a while. And then when, after perhaps one and a half - two years, people get used to it, we'd see retailers get even more cautious than they are with monthlies. By the way, was it Lying in the Gutters that had rumours about a new giant-sized DC weekly series (Wednesday Comics?)? Has that rumour been confirmed (well) anywhere else? A weekly showcase-type series with rotating creators and shorter stories seems like a good idea. I mean, I can't really see anyone jumping on Trinity now. Whereas a weekly done-in-one/anthology-ish thing could be picked up whenever (or is that "whenevs"?).

Dave said...

I have to agree. Black Lightning is a great example of this. I picked up the 1st issue and really enjoyed it. I only buy three series in single issues and usually pick up first issues to see if I'd like the series to possibly grab the series in trade. I decided to wait for trade until the second issue came out two weeks later and the story was still fresh in my mind. I'm glad I picked it up too Black Lightning has been and entertaining read.

james said...

As a retailer I really hate the first 2 issue solicitation in a month thing. I'm ordering three issues of a series before I even get to look at #1 myself or evaluate sales. I think Shecky is on target and it would continue to push the trade activity even higher.

Chad Nevett said...

I loved that Punisher: War Zone was weekly (almost). I think instead of doing these big year-long weekly books, why not do a bunch of weekly minis (one at a time)?

It actually relates to my theory about music that one of the problems is the long wait time between albums. The longer you have to wait, the harsher your criticism will be and the more likely you'll stop caring. If you KNOW the next issue is coming out in a week or two, or the next album will be out in six months, expectations are lower, things are more fresh. That's the way I see it.

Nick Marino said...

really good point. i know with American Dream, an MC2 mini from last year, my excitement and interest in the book remained higher due to the fast release schedule. same with Terra. interestingly, with Vixen, a mini a truly enjoyed, i've been reading it much slower because it came out on a monthly schedule. in fact, i have the last issue in my backpack but i've been sleeping on it for a few weeks now just because it doesn't feel like i have to read it NOW.

Lou said...

I'm glad someone has brought up this subject. First, were these series scheduled biweekly in order to fill printing schedule holes caused by cancelled books, before new titles get put on schedule? I've always wondered about that.

The next point I have thought about is that I feel companies can use a weekly schedule in order to promote a new, untested title: why not have a book start out weekly from issue one for the first month, biweekly the second, and then monthly after that? Unless a title has a very strong hook from the beginning, a new monthly book takes a long time to build an audience (if at all) before it loses readers and gets cancelled. If a publisher can get anywhere from 4-7 issues out in just over a 2+ month span, I believe that a book may have a better chance of surviving (or even thriving) in this market. I'd love to hear the thoughts of Dan Didio and Joe Quesada on this idea.

chrishaley said...

I think this is a great idea.
I also think Lou's idea is great.
I wish I could articulate my support of these ideas a little more intelligently.