Tonight, I conclude the thrashing of Jim's farcical logic behind liking floppie comic books...
Jim: Personally, I love getting the monthly books. The addiction to getting my books once a week goes back to my childhood when my Dad would drive down to the newsstand to pick up the Sunday newspapers on Saturday night and he would give me a dollar and I could buy 8 comics (they were 12 cents in the stone age). I still enjoy the weekly fix and certain books I want to read as soon as it is out (52 is a good example).
Also the inherent value of a good cliff hanger. I can’t tell you how many books I would be waiting for to see how the hero got out of a bad fix. One of my all time favorite Fantastic Four story arc was when they lost their power around issue 36/38 and every month I could not wait to see how it all worked out. The grand finale with the Thing versus Doctor Doom was probably a book I was reading on the way home from the newsstand or drug store.
One other small point in the monthly’s favor, readability. I’m close enough to work to come home and eat lunch and as I’m enjoying lunch I have a comic to the side and read as I’m eating. A comic stays open on the page I’m reading a trade does not.
Lee: To start, reading books at lunch? I don’t believe that’s a mustard stain on your copy of Witchblade and ever hear of a bookmark? Sheesh.
I agree with the weekly fix. I went to the store for years in just the same fashion. In fact, because I only had the local drug store, I went several times a week until I figured out the delivery schedule. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time these days.
Life is far to busy and has far too many things competing for my attention. Time to read is a luxury. I want to spend my quality reading time reading truly great and entertaining material. I don’t have time to slog through mounds of comic books anymore. I want nice complete packages that I can read in the time that I have.
While I agree that monthly cliffhangers are fun, is it any different from a chapter in a book. I grew up reading Burroughs John Carter of Mars books. These were just collections of old pulp chapters. Each chapter had great cliff hangers! I could read the next chapter or I could wait without any loss of enjoyment.
Finally, the best part about trades is that they allow the reader to follow story lines better. With a trade, you can catch small plot points the first time around. You notice more of what is happening and if you miss it… well all you have to do it flip back a couple of pages and locate the connections. As a collector, you read so many monthly books that the storylines and plot points start to smear in the months. I can’t believe that you remember any subtle foreshadowing from 6 issues ago. Great writers such as Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Neil Gaiman were notorious for this. Moments you thought were throw away suddenly have significance. Details like that are missed in floppies, whereas a trade allows you to see, enjoy, and appreciate the writers intent. There is no way that Planetary or Moore’s Supreme & WildCats read better in single issues.
Finally, a trade has no ads. Shall I remind you of your December posts ranting about Marvel books with 28 pgs of ads and 26 pgs of story????
Jim: Hard for me to argue the ad point, but how about the fact that the extras in the monthly books add to the feeling of the book. The letter pages (when they have them), the weekly column in DC comics, the goofy fun stuff that is in Goon’s letter pages are all gone from the trade.
Lee: There is definitely something to be said for letter pages, and as you state, Goon and Powers immediately come to mind. But the nicer trades are laden with… and I shudder to use the phrase… DVD style extras. There are concept sketches, original art, and even the original script. I would never be able to see these things if it weren’t for the trade. While I am always curious what little Bobby in Nebraska has to say about the latest issue of X-men, I am far more interested in the creative process.
Jim: I wonder if the monthlies are not a way to just underwrite the trade paper backs. We do not have true sales figures of trade as that is not all processed via Diamond. Also I wonder how the companies structure the deal for page rates. In the old days you were paid $X dollars per page for art or story and if the book was reprinted that payment was greatly reduced (way back when it was reduced to zero). If the trades garner much smaller payments to the creators it is in the companies’ financial interest to keep comic sales just enough to break even and push the trade sales as they would be more profitable. I don’t know if it is true, but economics seem to be pushing the trade format, but it seems that no one is going to publish a series as trades only. Finally what the trades have done is that when I discover a series I can easily catch up with what I missed. I came into 30 Days of Night late, but was able to get the early material in trades without breaking a sweat.
Lee: The truth of matter is that I buy some single issues and I buy compilations of current storylines that are typically well received. For example, in trades, I won’t be getting Civil War trades, but I will get Punisher Barracuda. BUT, I rarely buy original material tpb’s because the cost to enter is too high. I don’t know if the story is any good. For floppies, I try to support indies because Jim is correct, you don’t know if they will be collected. And, I try to buy indie trades, to support them. And, I have been burnt by both habits. I do think that trades allow for greater accessibility and readability for a collection. I hadn’t pulled my old Champions books in a very long time but the recent trade allowed me to revisit them quite easily.
It’s a vicious cycle in which trades can’t survive without floppies and industry can’t survive without trades.