Now That We Have Choices Make the Format Serve the Comic
Submitted by Xaviar Xerexes on May 13, 2008 - 11:33
One of the things that's obvious that's changed is how comics are published and sold. For a long time we had daily serialization in newspapers and monthly serialization in comic books sold in stores. Separate, fixed -- this was it if you wanted to make comics. That probably not only impacted the type of stories told but the type of creator attracted to making comics.
Now we've had the big growth of graphic novels over a decade-plus long period and the emergence of the web (and we'll lump other digital screens in here as well). Graphic novels showcase complete stories really well -- especially stories without the sort of episodic nature that lends itself to serialization. The web definitely does daily and probably weekly serialization well -- it's not clear that folks like to read longer work on the web although it's hard to say there's something inherently wrong with presenting longer and/or non-serialized work on a digital screen.
I think this is going to lead to more informed choices by a greater range of creators in terms of crafting comics. It's also having a very disruptive effect on the still quite dominant monthly comic book and daily comic strip. This post was prompted by Tom Spurgeon taking a long look at the monthly comic book -- mainly in terms of its pricing structure but I think also touching obliquely on the point that a lot of monthly comic books are a good fit for serialization (or at least their authors aren't doing a great job with the format).