Talking about monthly comics vs the graphic novel is not revolutionary by any stretch. At this point we have heard from damn near every creator about which is preferred: the monthly comic or the graphic novel.
What is revolutionary is when companies like DC go same date and day for physical and digital copies of books. Previously, there was a few days/weeks in between digital and physical copies availability. Now that has all been changed that Marvel is also going same day/date for digital and physical comics.
While there has been some bantering around about how this push to same date and date is taxing DC’s creative staff, what is perhaps more intriguing is how running comics, digital and physical, on the same day further warps our perspective on comics.This push has also been linked to the tremendous crash in art quality for DC comics.
But, even this downturn in quality is not the worst of it. What is possibly the worst result is that this push for monthly comics, both day/date for digital and physical comics, is that it creates an overall philosophy that companies can cut corners, quality can be rushed, and the product is all the more perishable for it.
We all know the monthly comic has been around since the dawn of comics, more or less, and will most likely stay around for the foreseeable future. The problem here and has always been, in particular, is comic books offer up a monthly segment of story by a creative team that understands if they cannot produce in time, they could be replaced. This is not a DC or Marvel, but a deadline issue, one stemming from the big Two’s need for dominance in the comics market.
Once again, we are witnessing spiraling implications to both artifact and culture growing out of the issue of monthly comics. Are deadline’s hurting the market? In a sense.
While any company needs revenue, comic books have always worked on more of a monthly revenue basis than an over all one. A market that has had great success (DC’s new 52) and it’s failures (Marvel going Bankrupt in the 90′s.) But what is not apparent is how this has changed our perspective on comics themselves.
Adaptation is perhaps our greatest strength as a species. While it is easy to boast about how humans can, seemingly, adapt to almost any condition we find ourselves in, it is an ability that works to our detriment too.
Maybe you work somewhere with construction going on. Almost instantly obnoxious, the jackhammer you hear sounds like it will never go away. But, slowly, after a few hours, you start to notice it less and less. What was once like the sound of a million kids all throwing fits, is now on par with the humming of the heater or fridge. We adapt to the environment so we can thus be ready for sudden changes.
This also means that things around us can loose a certain presence and power they once had. While most can still get excited over a new monthly issue of X-Men or Superman, for some there is a feeling of routine to it all. Some of us know, without even acknowledging it is Wednesday, that we just wake up and know it is new comics day.
But, this is not like Christmas and we wake up and walk down in our Green Lantern onesy, unsure of what, if anything will be there. No, this is on par with meeting your friends for lunch once a week. Something you can be excited about, but nothing necessarily new, per say.
This demonstrated, for the new and old readers, that comics will always come out. Hell, the Diamond catalog alone is the size of a Cerebus phone book graphic novel. That alone says there is no dearth of comics coming out.
Let me repeat that, there is no small amount of comics coming out every month. Yet, some of the reactions to the idea of getting rid of monthlies is like asking a mother to punt her child for a field goal.
So, what is happening that creates this incessant need for the comfort of the monthly comic. The comic buyer and the comic company both have a similar stake, vested interest if you will. Comic companies business model is built on re-occurring revenue found in the monthly comic. The reader, almost by default, is largely left with the serialized comic if they want to find out what happens next in the Superboy.
In order to do away with the monthly comic, it would take an overhaul to the business model of not just the Big Two, but also the other smaller comics companies as well. What this develops is a reliance, as if by necessity, to keep the monthly alive because, well, we have been doing it so long.
This develops an almost detached need in the comics culture for the monthly comic. It is almost a security blanket for us. We become to rely on it because it brings a certain stability to our lives, impacted and entrenched in routine.
While this is not bad in and of itself, there are larger issues that stem forth and bring trouble. Perhaps it is time that we as a culture re-evaluate how we are driving the medium and if it isn’t time to jump lanes.