|Brubaker's sublime Captain|
America run is prime example
of this new school of
While collected editions of serialized monthly comics did exist then, they didn't catch on to much popularity until the 90's were over and the early 00's rolled around. Starting in the early 2000s, "writing for the trade" came into vogue, both as a phrase and a writing style. Nowadays, most high-profile books are written this way. Each trade typically contains 5-7 issues (though an alarming trend is seeing a mere four issues collected without much decrease in cover price) that encompass a single story arc that is typically a self-contained story the gets from A to B and then sets up for the next journey. Typically, when you think of writers like Geoff Johns, Brian Bendis or just about any writer for the Big 2, they're going to be writing in this style.
|Hickman's Fantastic Four|
is another example of long-
form done right. (so far)
|A victim of excessive|
The other pitfall is when these long form stories are suddenly shortened or unexpectedly altered by editorial decree or the writer's own editing before he moves on to another project. Hickman's Secret Warriors is prime example of this. Originally planned for 60 issues, Hickman has since shortened the series to a mere 27 issues (30 if tie-ins are counted). That's HALF of the story gone. In interviews, Hickman revealed that he had to cut out several whole story arcs, merge important character beats into other arcs, and generally readjust his plot until it became a Frankenstein of what his former plot initially was. Unfortunately, it appears as though this series restructuring occurred after the book was well underway and the series has suffered from schizophrenic pacing. The first three (arguably four) arcs are engrossing slow boil reads that generally ramp up the scales of Fury's personal war against HYDRA, adding new players into the mix and creating fascinating conflicts and a unique geopolitical terrain for the series. However, once "Night" and the beginning of "Wheels Within Wheels" rolled around, the series suddenly shifted into high gear, skipping ahead six months and attempting to recap the tumultuous events of that time in a mere 18 pages. After that was done, Hickman's pacing improved and Night became a more reasonably paced arc. However, once "Wheels Within Wheels" started up, the stitches in Hickman's editing process began to rear their ugly heads again. He introduces an entire team, only to kill them off in one issue. As I stated in my review of last week's issue, there was easily a story arc's worth of content to explore there. Barring an "Untold Tales of the Secret Warriors"-type mini exploring this team, the reader is felt feeling frustrated at the seeming wasted story potential and page space
Now, most of the analysis and discussion here deals with trends emerging within the Big Two. It's all speculation at this point, but I feel, as the market changes and collected editions/digital comics slowly become more dominant sales drivers in the industry, the appeal of these massive collections will only increase (Notable fact: the Walking Dead Compendium had the third-highest revenue numbers of any graphic novel for 2010). As a result, writers are going to start tailoring their stories to fit consumers' appetites and I believe we will be seeing more and more of this type of storytelling become a dominant school of thought
Some of you probably just looked at the wall of text and went "Blablabla, too long; didn't read" For you readers, humbly present to you a scan of Thorcules kicking Hercuthor in the family jewels.
End of Part 1, come back next week for Part 2, where I examine how this phenomena is affecting the independent and creator-owned book!