On Business: Release Schedules

By | Monday, October 19, 2015 Leave a Comment
Monstress #1
I try not to share much comic news/happenings with my wife. While she is incredibly supportive of my interest in comics, she doesn't have much interest herself. She's found a few things that she's enjoyed, but it's just not her medium of choice. And even though I do my best to not bludgeon her with all the stuff I hear about, she catches a fair amount nonetheless.

Last week, she heard about (entirely independent of me) Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda's new series from Image called Monstress. The first issue is due out in a couple weeks. It's not a series that caught my attention before now, honestly, but there's so many new titles that fly through my news feeds, it's usually not until a book is out and getting stellar reviews that I pay much attention to them. In any event, that's a book that caught her eye and if it's something that might interest her, I am all for it!

Here's the problem, though: the first issue hasn't landed yet. That's a problem because my wife is not a regular comics reader. One of the things she actively dislikes about many comics is their serial nature; she wants to read a story that has a conclusion and doesn't end with a "to be continued." Fortunately for her, a lot of creators these days "write for the trade" -- that is, each story that they write is broken up into six-chapter installments so that they can be neatly collected in a single trade paperback after the first six serialized issues are published.

The last series she read -- Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' Fatale -- she discovered first in TPB form about half-way through the book's run. When she got to the end of the third collection, she was jazzed enough about the story to try picking up the next couple individual pamphlet issues; she was eager to continue. But she found the 20-some page installments unsatisifying, and switched to waiting for the trades.

While many of us who grew up in an comics environment where collected editions were few and far between, people who are newer to the medium aren't as accustomed to the relatively small story block that you typically get in a monthly comic. Compounded by the fact that creators are developing their stories now around that format, with the monthlies being a secondary consideration, it's hard to believe that my wife is alone in her preference.

Which leads back to the problem. Not only has the first issue not been released yet, but the first trade collection will be at least six months out from that. I'm not super-familiar with Image's collection policies, but we're looking at late spring/early summer before a Monstress collection might be available. Will either my wife or I remember to keep an eye out for the book then?

When I told my wife when a collection might be available, her excitement at finding a new title waned visibly. Naturally, news of a title's launch needs to preceed it. If nothing else, it has to be listed in Previews so comic shops can order copies. But I wonder if the media push to outlets beyond comics sites (like, for instance, where my wife heard about it) it would benefit to wait until shortly before the TPB release instead of the pamphlet's release. If you're planning to target a demographic that is NOT in the local comic shop every week (which would be, largely, everyone not hitting dedicated comic sites) your media push might be more effective if you can time it to more closely coincide with when said demographic will have the book available to them. You know, through book stores.
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