I remember the summer of 1989. It was the year that Marvel Comics in their infinite wisdom made a bunch of their best selling titles go bi-weekly for the summer, something they repeated for a few years. Every two weeks you’d get a new Uncanny X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man, Excalibur, what-have-you. You can identify the issues, whose monthly designation moved from JULY to EARLY JULY and LATE JULY. And I suddenly had a lot less money to spend.
In the noughties, Marvel chose to stop publishing separate mini-series or annuals for certain comic books and instead up the number of issues published a year of the main series. Books like New X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man and more put on up to six issues a year, spread through the year.
And even now, Marvel have a propensity to launch a book with two issues in one month. It can really help with marketshare and last month having two Star Wars, two Darth Vaders and a Vader Down really bumped up Marvel’s November figures.
You might have noticed that DC Comics has been a little marketshare-deprived of late. We have already told you that Dan DiDio is getting very concerned and making big plans to change things. New creative teams, mixing it up, looking for the magic.
For certain titles that is. Bleeding Cool has been reliably informed by multiple sources that DC Comics is looking to make a number of comic books biweekly, publishing twice a month. The only issue is how many. The big books, Batman, Harley Quinn, Justice League, Batgirl, that’s a given. But others are falling into the fold, Superman, Green Lantern, Suicide Squad… its possible this may continue across many others.
What’s the effect of this? Well, marketshare will rise, it is impossible for it not to. And it may make a lot more sense financially to have a second Batman comic a month rather than a new Booster Gold series, say. But when Amazing Spider-Man went three times amount and cancelled Spectacular Spider-Man and Web Of Spider-Man, the average sales of each issue went up, but the highest audience being reached plummeted. Marvel sold more comics but to fewer people. That is likely to repeat with a comic like Batman. But with… let’s call them comics with a less committed audience, the danger is that being confronted with two issues rather than one issue, people will look at their wallet and drop out entirely.
DC Comics has had a recent history of publishing weekly books with Batman Eternal and now Batman & Robin Eternal, but with diminishing returns and burning through creatives like madmen. Not every creator can work with a doubled schedule on a book, especially if they have commitments elsewhere.
There is a solution of course. Bring in the professionals, those used to working weekly for decades, with strong form on the DC titles, and a guarantee of professionalism in their work.
Guys, it’s time to bring back John Wagner and Alan Grant.