For many, many years, I was an avid comic-book purchaser. But for a number of reasons, I gave it up cold turkey; I stopped buying comics in a weekly format about four or five years ago. (I still buy a number of graphic novels, but even then I've mostly been limiting myself to those that have ultra-snazzy "Absolute"-style oversized hardcovers, since I have so little free time
; I figure, if it's good enough to put in an oversized slipcase, it's probably worth my (meager) time and money.)
However, DC Comics, often an innovator, came up with an idea recently that is exciting enough that I actually wanted to buy an actual non-trade-paperback comic book again. The project is Wednesday Comics,
and . . . well, here's the pitch, from Newsarama
[Each issue of Wednesday Comics] is 14 inches wide by 20 inches tall, so it's big. That's the front page – so when you open it, it gets 28 inches wide, so it's an enormous page. So for 12 weeks, that “cover” will be an installment of the Brian Azzarello/Eduardo Risso Batman story. Page 2 will be Sgt. Rock, and so on. So essentially, it's 12 big-ass pages. Each story takes up one whole page, with no staples. It'll be just like the Sunday funnies you read as a kid.
Okay; so, it's a weekly huge-ass comic series, with big-name creators (Neil Gaiman, Mike Allred, Joe Kubert, Amanda Conner, Kyle Baker, Jimmy Palmiotti, etc.) each tackling DC heroes in a stand-alone serial format with one "story page" per issue per feature. In short, something like this has never been done before.
Now, the only problem I have is... how do I get it?
See, I don't want to start buying this series off the stand, only to have to miss an issue and get screwed half-way through.
Unfortunately, at least among the two comic shops I checked with for Free Comic Day
today, I'm not at all confident the comic industry wants my business.
The first comic shop would only start up a subscription service if I wanted a minimum of 10 books a month. When I called the second comic shop, the person I spoke with indicated that I might be able to stop in and pick up the issues in a file (although he seemed reluctant to start a file with one comic, and indicated that I'd need to stop in every other week or so or else risk the file being closed . . . despite the fact that the comic shop is about 30 minutes away). Alternatively, he indicated I could subscribe, which might involve prepayment, a minimum of $10 a month, etc. When I got to the store, though (about 30 minutes later), the clerk I spoke with didn't know what I was talking about. He gave me a sheet with a bunch of titles listed (one of which was Wednesday Comics
), asked me to check the titles I wanted (I checked the singular title), and then he wrote my name and phone number on the sheet. There was no request for payment information, no information about terms or my obligations or anything like that. "You want a new comic series? Scribble what you want on this piece of bark, and I'll hand it to this ostrich. Then come back in two months and hope for the best."
I am, suffice it to say, not filled with confidence.
Comic shops have no idea
how to handle a person wanting to come in and purchase one title, as often as it comes out, for as long as the customer wants it. They only know how to handle the weekly omnivores, who come in every seven days and pick up their stack from their files or shelves; or the browsers, who pick up random issues or trade paperbacks as the fancy strikes them.
Each issue of Wednesday Comics
is $3.99. This comic is not out yet; orders can still be placed and adjusted, so it is not "out of print." (In other words, I'm not trying to scam the system by trying to get a hot comic that's already sold out in preorders.) I am willing to spend full price. I am willing to prepay, by the month or for the entire series, if a store wanted. (I am not willing to go to a comic store every week for this one issue, since my time is worth more than that, and it just seems wasteful. Besides, at least one of the comic shops I checked didn't want
to start a file for me unless I added nine other titles.)
In other words, I am a guaranteed customer, worth $16 a month for three months -- or $48 all at once -- if someone would only take my money and guarantee my product.
Why is the comic industry in trouble? This is one reason. DC has created a new comic book of strong interest to non-comic buyers, and the brick-and-mortar industry has no idea how to deliver the product to those buyers.
In other words, my best bet is probably to concede that the pamphlet (a somewhat derogatory term for single-issue comics) is dead and hope for the "trade paperback."