Of Single Issues and Collected Editions (Graphic Novels)
About a week ago, The Taylor Network (one of the blogs I follow here on WordPress) had a post looking at the comparative sells of graphic novels/ collected editions from various publishers. When I read the post, I was struck by the fact that the percentages were reversed from other comics sells charts. Why do DC and Marvel dominate comics sells while Image dominates the graphic novel/ collected edition market?
First, I don’t know if all comics sells includes graphic novels/ collected editions or just sales of single issues. If it is all together, I wonder how the numbers would then be changed if graphic novels/ collected editions are taken out. And, let us remember the volume of individual series that Marvel and DC put out. So with that bit of uncertainty out of the way, let’s get on with exploring the reasons for the reversal.
The obvious answer to the question is that the vast majority of comics fans consume the Big Two’s various comics properties. And they tend to buy single issues. Remember, collected individual issues in trade is a relatively new phenomenon. Most comics readers, rather new or old, still prefer picking up their favorite series as individual issues, if they are able.
So, what about Image?
Well, I suspect it is far easier to pick up collected editions of various series than trying to track them down at various comics shops.Example: for a while, I was interested in picking up Danger Club. Now, there are three comics shops in Waco. One is a specialty order shop (you have to request that they carry a series). The local Hastings carried the series, but not in very large numbers. And, the local dedicated comics shop hadn’t even heard of the series! So, picking up that particular series would have been a pain. Hell, is it just a miniseries?
But, the collected editions would not be so difficult. Dedicated comics shops, book stores of all kinds, and online retailers all would carry them.
And of course, there is a small matter of The Walking Dead which likely pumps up the numbers for Image.
What about myself, how do I come down on the single issue/ collected edition divide?
Well, I sort of prefer single issues. But I recognize that it might not be feasible to pick up every issue of every title one wants. That has certainly happened to me on numerous occasions. Hell, I’m lucky that I’ve managed to score every issue of Earth 2. I know for a fact that I’ll likely have to collect several series I’m into in trades, and it does annoy me.
I love the serial nature of comics. I like waiting on bated breath for the continuation of the story. And that promotes, at least for me, frequent rereading. Reading those series as trades don’t really provide the same effects.
It is interesting that Marvel and DC rely on single issues while Image is (reasonably) more tied into the trades market. But, I wonder if “waiting for the trade” really makes as much sense as it seems. I mean, how would Image know to continue a series if the single issue sales are anemic? Wait for the trades to make the final decision?
I know I’ve been away from the blog for a few days. I had a few issues come up. One, I didn’t have anything I wanted to post about. And two, I developed an annoying obsession over the past few weeks that I’m hoping is on its way out. Compound that with the fact that I’m developing an urge to write a slice of life/ mimetic comic. Damn it!