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Tilting v3 #25 is up
Posted by: Brian Hibbs on May 14, 2010
Tags: Brian, Digital Comics, Tilting
More on Digital comics, yay!
Read it at Comic Book Resources!
As always…..thoroughly enjoyed the article
That was very interesting stuff. I totally agreed with all of it. Then I read Tom Spurgeon and I totally agreed with him. That’s not a criticism. I am a total poltroon on this aspect of comics. I think it is rather a testament to the clarity of thought you both brought to the issue.
If I had to play Nostradamus (yeah, I know I don’t but…) I’d say comics will come out the other end okay (but changed)as will bricks’n'mortar stores. But the process will be as arduous and messy as the Publishers can possibly make it. Not out of malice, just because that’s how they roll. Judging on past experience, anyway. Interesting times ahead. Buckle up!
Brian, a belated question for you:
“While $9.95 paperbacks have helped bring attention to some Vertigo titles, I firmly believe that is the largest reason that Vertigo periodical sales are as low as they are – the consumer has been trained to not only expect the collection, but that the collection will be substantially cheaper than the serialization. What is the incentive to buy the serialization?”
Maybe it’s just me… but it seems to me that Vertigo’s whole strategy in recent years has been to sacrifice the short term for the long term. More and more comics readers I know tend to regard single issues as kind of a pain in the ass. I know a bunch of comics readers who aren’t buying as much as they used to; don’t really follow the big superhero “Events” so don’t feel the need to be on top of “what’s new;” tend to buy things that “read better in trade” anyway; and find that the trades are more versatile anyway — easier to store, to loan to friends, and ultimately to dispose of at less than a total loss (it’s easier to sell them online or trade them to a local used bookstore). By and large, the creators generally intend their Vertigo series to operate as long term novel-like storytelling, just like many cable dramas.
To some readers, there may not seem to be much point to get invested in the serialization until it’s clear that it’s going somewhere — that it’s going to run through “Season One,” at least. Vertigo seems to be the equivalent of TV shows like the reimagined BATTLESTAR that got continued support from the network because mediocre ratings while the DVD box sets kept selling. (That’s also why FAMILY GUY came back from the dead — it didn’t make sense to keep airing the show based on its ratings, but the cult following gobbled up DVD box sets and made the show profitable.)
With the long-term successes of things like SANDMAN, THE PREACHER, THE INVISIBLES, Y, etc. which have stayed in print as books for years, it seems like Vertigo is consistently shooting for the long term.
And it also seems like Vertigo has been useful to Warner Bros. as a development lab. With adaptations of things like STARDUST, HELLBLAZER aka CONSTANTINE, the Diggle-ized LOSERS, the Lansdale/Palmiotti-ized JONAH HEX, the Milliganized HUMAN TARGET as a TV series, and the always-in-development properties like Death, Sandman, Preacher, Y, etc…. to WB honchos, Vertigo may look pretty good as the cinematic “creative hothouse” that operations like Virgin, Tekno Comix and CrossGen were always trying to create. The comics can break even or operate at a loss if the real value is how they generate or “develop” creative properties for films, TV and games.
Anyway, the short version of this is: is it possible that Vertigo is an imprint that’s already working in a world where serialization is just seen as a loss leader to garnish interest for longer term goals?
My short answer would be that it doesn’t really seem to be working, if that’s the “plan” — book stores don’t appear interest that doesn’t succeed in the DM; the DM roughly orders TPs in proportion to periodical sales; more and more Vertigo series don’t seem be able to hit that critical-enough mass to prevent “early” cancellation.
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