John Robinson of Graham Crackers Comics saw the comment from Steve Bennett of Dark Star Books (see 'Steve Bennett of Dark Star Books on Comic Formats') on the death of the pamphlet format for comics, and strongly disagrees:
After reading Steve Bennett's comments on the death of pamphlet, I had to make some of my own comments.
To begin with, I couldn't disagree more. Steve's making the mistake of looking at these phenomenal sales from Shonen Jump and only viewing one aspect of that item as being the result of the sales (and the wrong aspect at that). 'Hey Shonen Jump sells 1/2 a million copies, it must be because of its format'. Wrong. Shonen Jump has Yu-Gi-Oh!, kids want Yu-Gi-Oh!, Moms don't know what the heck they're buying and simply say 'Does this have Yu-Gi-Oh!?' and snatch it up for their kids. Remember when Pokemon was being reported by VIZ as the #1 comic being sold? Was it because people loved the small pamphlet format four years ago and now suddenly shun it? Maybe it was because the stories were brilliant and the artwork just outshined everything else on the stands?
No, it was because kids wanted anything with the word Pokemon on it. Steve's just drawing the wrong conclusions here.
If anything over the last 21 years in business, the one constant I can always count on is that anthologies will suck wind in sales figures over a very short time. People don't want 64 pages or 100 page of comic material that only contains about 22 pages that they care about (or less). Can you name a successful long running anthology title that's worked in the U.S.? All long term successful titles tend to feature one main character, (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) thus most customers can expect to get what they're paying for month after month, unlike with the anthology format. Even fan favorite author Alan Moore couldn't get it to work with his Tomorrow Stories book as most customers complained they only enjoyed one or two characters, five or 10 pages of the book, and didn't feel they were getting their money's worth.
The pamphlet is what keeps the trade industry going. You can't have one without the other at this point. DC wisely picks out their most outstanding pamphlets and turns them into trade, whereas Marvel, sadly. Simply cranks it out in trade format for the sake of it existing, which if anything will only help to once again destroy the trade industry. The same thing occurred in the 80's when the graphic novel format was hot, Marvel and even DC to a lesser extent started to crank out anything that hit their desks in that format, whether it warranted it or not. Eventually destroying the format all together. I only hope Marvel wises up soon and backs off on this instant releases of trades that weren't particularly good reads the first time around to begin with.
And thank god Marvel is not jamming 1602 #5 in a serial format wedged between Spider-Girl #61 and Sentinel #13. The handful of fans that would enjoy the bonus books for the smaller price increase would be far outnumbered by the irate fans who felt they were spending more money for something they don't want to begin with. As it stands if a Neil Gaiman fan wants to read 1602 he can buy and read just that.
You can't look to formats to save your industry. It's the content that's causing the sales, or more specifically in this case the character (Yu-Gi-Oh!).
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.