Many years ago I sat and plotted out the first couple of years of a superhero universe. I never really did much with it, but I was always quite pleased with the publishing structure that I came up with. Given the current penchant for seemingly random reboots and relaunches, I thought I’d have a look at it again.
When I came up with it, I recognised that the ongoing series was a dying concept, with many of the new series that get launched struggling to get beyond twelve issues. I also recognised that the rise of event comics was slowly coming to dominate the superhero industry, and wasn’t handled as efficiently as it could be.
My first change from traditional publishing was to move towards a seasonal format, with series running for eight months a year. They could be made up of eight issues, or as many as sixteen, depending on popularity. They’d have the advantage of a new number 1 each season, as well as an easy way to drop and launch new titles each season.
That leaves four months each year, which I proposed to use solely for events. It gives plenty of time to run an a bi-weekly eight issue event with tie ins. The previous season can dovetail into it, and the new season would launch out of it. It would elegant and non-confusing, offering an annual jumping on point.
This would be the core of the universe. There’s space to publish limited series, one shots and annuals, and good length runs for collection purposes. It allows readers to see something other than the chaotic sprawl that we have at the moment with ongoing plots disrupted by events.
There are flaws, certainly. A poorly recieved event could tank four month’s worth of sales without the inertia of ongoing tie-ins, but there are risks with any event.
This a direction that I’d love to see the superhero industry take, one that recognises how much it has changed in the last decade or two. There’d be a new number one every year, without as much confusion as there is now. It would allow books to be retired for a season or two before being relaunched without seeming to be a failure.
Most importantly, it’d be friendly to both old and new readers. It’d be accessible but still rewarding to longterm fans. Which is surely what everyone wants.