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Mini-series before Ongoing

The_Mystery

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I've been thinking about this and I'm wondering why Marvel and comic book companies in general commit to untested ongoings? Why don't they just put out a 4 or 6 issue mini-series with the character(s) to "test the waters." If the title sells well enough then extend the run by another 6 or 4 issues. If sales maintain or increase then they commit to making it an ongoing.

Thoughts anyone?
 
The_Mystery said:
I've been thinking about this and I'm wondering why Marvel and comic book companies in general commit to untested ongoings? Why don't they just put out a 4 or 6 issue mini-series with the character(s) to "test the waters." If the title sells well enough then extend the run by another 6 or 4 issues. If sales maintain or increase then they commit to making it an ongoing.

Thoughts anyone?
Actually, this happens rather frequently in modern years. Actually, about 3-4 years ago, the number of mini's wasn't as large as it is now. The problem, at least at Marvel, was that a number of their new titles would lose sales steadily for various reasons and then end up being canned before issue #13...or even #7. Quite a few times Marvel would launch some series and solict it as an ongoing, only to backpeddle and call it a "mini" once the sales tanked by about issue #3 or #4. A good example of this is JUBILEE. Also, sometimes a book is so bogged down by lateness that it is also retroactively called a mini-series, like NYX.

So to save themselves embarassment, Marvel started doing what you suggested; launching many strings of mini's with that, "it'll become an ongoing if it sells" bit. The only problem is that, like any new comic, Marvel needs to advertise it in a way that sets it apart from other Marvel comics or other comics period, otherwise it will get lost in the shuffle of 200+ comics a month. By and large, Marvel fails to do this; they save their ad engine for comics that draw in the big bucks anyway, and leave the smaller fish to sink or swim alone (yes, they get the typical "internet interview teaser" and preview, but EVERY COMIC IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE gets that nowadays, and they all gell). While an ongoing can sometimes be relaunched if it gets good reviews depite dismal sales, a mini is pre-destined to end eventually anyway, and so thus readers who already are ignorant of the title or apathatic will either not bother jumping onto a ship with a limited voyage, or "wait for the trade", a pattern that Marvel gleefully encourages by giving fans a list of reasons NOT to buy monthly aside for tradition and impatience (trades are cheaper in the long run, have zero ads, take up less room, and offer a complete story).

This story applies to all new Marvel books; not even the X-line has been overly successful in keeping new titles on the racks for longer than 2 years, even if such titles feature "popular" X-Men like GAMBIT or ROGUE. Mini's seem to come and go and sink into the abyss and become forgotten at a steady rate. Will anyone care about SABLE & FORTUNE in a few years? No. And if they do, they'll just buy the trade. Marvel has a lot of great ideas, but often doesn't see the need to plan for these ideas extending to their natural conclusions, or anticipating how the current market works in any sort of realistic, honest fashion. Instead, Marvel's bigs bemoan the market, rather than find a way to work it. Still, they outsell DC, probably because they have youth on their side.
 
Well, what I would do about the "wait for the trade mentality" is the extend the time it takes for a trade to come out.
 
DC's got the right idea in that respect. Marvel's trades come out like 3 minutes after the last issue of their biggest minis and arcs. DC's waiting a whole year to even start releasing the trades of 52 and a couple of months for Infinite Crisis, I think.
 
People all jump on #1's to ongoings when they first come out. They could care less about a #1 if it's a mini (in general). If people read it and it rocks, then they will get hooked.

That's what I think anyway...
 

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