Something I’ve been pondering for a while now.

§ June 29th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Something I’ve been pondering for a while now.

What if the characters/teams from Marvel and DC were allowed one starring title, and that’s it? Only one X-Men comic, only one Batman comic, only one Wolverine comic, only one Spider-Man comic — you know, like that.

Okay, there are some caveats that you’re probably wondering about. Yes, spin-offs would probably be allowed…as implied above, you could have an X-Men title and a spin-off with X-Men character Wolverine, but you couldn’t have a dozen X-Men titles and a half-dozen Wolverine titles. Just one each, please. And you couldn’t have both Action Comics starring Superman and Superman. Just one or the other.

And I’m going to be hardnosed and say “no mini-series or one-shots.” If you’ve got a four-part Flash story, it can be told one chapter per month over four months’ time in the Flash comic, and not in a concurrently-running Flash: Let’s Beat Feet mini-series. I’ll say okay to annuals, though, provided they are annual and not, say, every nine months.

Team books are still allowed…you can have a Justice League starring characters who have their own titles, for example. But not multiple Justice League comics. One’s plenty.

I haven’t been pondering these in excruciatingly exact and specific detail or anything. Just the process of articulating these ground rules is probably more effort than I’ve actually put into this thought experiment. Plus, I’m not addressing what the exact economic impact on the Big Two would be…I’m going to assume, for the purposes of this, that Marvel and DC can get by just fine on the profits from this more limited range of titles.

So what would it be like? I mean, other than looking like what the publishers were putting out in the industry’s earlier decades? For one, I think readership may be higher…fans no longer having to decide which X-Men title they’d want to follow, or how many they could afford, or if it was even worth the trouble trying to jump into the cavalcade of mutant books. The cost of entry would be much lower.

Events in the stories would have more impact. Something significant happening in a Superman comic, to be continued in next month’s issue of that series, wouldn’t be diluted by other events in other Super-titles in the interim.

Maybe a wider variety of books? Would no longer devoting funds to buying the multiple monthly Avengers comics mean a greater likelihood of trying out a new non-Avengers title? Not to mention the fact that not having multiple variations on the same theme…i.e. that half-dozen of Wolverine titles…means more room on the rack for other material.

Would there be a trending upward in quality, stemming from more competition for fewer open slots for certain books? Or would that creative energy, instead of competing for a slot in the monthly Batman comic, instead be driven to other concepts? Would almost have to be, I think.

Anyway, this is all getting a bit convoluted, considering what kicked this off was me looking at our comics rack and thinking “you know, if there were just one ongoing X-Men title, it’d probably sell enormously well. Hell, even I’d buy it.” Given the rules above, however, Marvel, being Marvel, could still get around the one-title limitation by spinning off every character into his or her book. “Coming from the House of Ideas this summer: Boom Boom #1!”

It’s possible that something like this may become a reality, if only because the standard monthly comic book format is increasing in price. At $2.99 to $3.99 a pop, people are still picking up all the different Wolverines, but should the periodical format eventually get up to, say, $6.99 an issue, I’d imagine the comic-reading public would be less inclined to follow a half-dozen different Wolverine series. I know everyone assumes we’ll move into some kind of trade paperback standard by that point (assuming the comics market will be able to adapt at all), but I have a hard time seeing the industry abandon the periodical market entirely. Years ago I mentioned the Amazing Heroes April Fool’s column reporting a $2.95 100-page format combining several related titles into one giant book (like having X-Men and New Mutants under the same cover), and joke or not, I think something like that may be what we’re heading toward. Well, it’d be a bit more than $2.95, of course, but you know what I mean.

So that’s a lot of meandering rambling and half-baked thinking on the topic from me. Like I said, this is just something I’ve been sorta thinking about as I see the new comics rack at the shop. I thought I’d brainstorm a little about it here on the site, and if you have anything to add, feel free.

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