Gail Burt of Metropolis Comics in Downey, California saw Steve Bennett's comments on comic formats ('Steve Bennett of Dark Star Books on Comic Formats') and John Robinson's response ('John Robinson of Graham Crackers Comics on Comic Formats') and agrees with Robinson:
As I was reading John Robinson's (of Graham Crackers) response to the so-called 'death of the pamphlet' idea, I was struck by how seriously he hit the nail on the head.
I believe that as long as they're well written and produced with an eye to good quality, pamphlet-style comics will last a very long time. Although the graphic novel and trade paperback formats are gaining in strength, and I believe will help comics survive in the long run, the pamphlet book has legs, too. As John so rightly points out, it isn't the format that spurs sales - it's the content. While it was once the superstar artist who drove sales, thankfully, now the interest seems centered on the writer to a greater extent.
The truth is - whether the art wonks want to admit it or not (and I used to be one, so I'm not insulting anyone more than myself) - most of us who have been into the comics hobby for any length of time have seen it all, art wise. Eye candy may help sell a book, but as we all know, you can't always judge a book by its cover. Without a great story, a comic book is just a series of pictures - nice to look at, but not much interest after one or two scans through. So even the best artwork will not make a great comic if the story isn't there. But a great story - even marginal artwork cannot destroy that. Check out Y - The Last Man for confirmation here. The artwork is adequate - it isn't bad, it isn't great, it's just adequate to tell the story. It's the story that makes that book so much fun - the writer is deft and skilled, and the twists, turns and surprises make the book one of the most popular in my shop.
John also shows good insight when he remarks that DC is a bit more on the mark than Marvel when it comes to choosing stories or titles to collect into the trade paperback format. Unfortunately, Marvel seems to feel that everything it puts out is worthy of collection. What they fail to realize is that a collection should be something that shows ongoing interest - such as DC's new Teen Titans book. You don't see DC going out and collecting just any random storyline or title. But if it was one that people are continuing to seek out, talk about, etc., they seem to be on the ball in doing it. Meanwhile, Marvel just collects whatever they put out as a pamphlet, assuming that someone will want it. Unfortunately, the price mark is so much higher on a collected storyline than on a single issue of the pamphlet that many readers will not risk that much money on them. With Marvel trades, I solve that problem by stocking only those trades that I know to be of interest to general readers, and special-order the rest. The sad truth is that on many of those marginal Marvel books, I can simply go to my back stock or overstock bins and pull the entire run as single issues out for the customer, which I then discount for them. It's a win-win situation - the customer gets the entire run at a discount, and I cut my losses on the issues that didn't sell on the rack when they came out. By contrast, the DC trades that we sell are often eagerly awaited due to the fact that those initial runs sold out before everyone who wanted one could grab one. It's just an observation.
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.