Trades vs Monthlies

Am slightly stricken by the fact that there’s an actual discussion about trade paperbacks replacing monthlies. What’s even more disturbing is that some people think that the trades actually are a better way to go. Been visiting www.pulpsecret.com a lot lately, coz their live reviews and the fact that it always takes about five minutes to make a point is always amusing.

Pete LePage is a leader of men.

But anyway.

The argument is that trades would be better because it will increase the chances of only good stories coming out, as opposed to monthlies, which are a primarily deadline-driven medium. I admit that’s a fair point, but it sucks coz it decreases the chances of new creators getting the attention they need to grow. Someone even asked, if I remember correctly, “Do you think DC would have let the team that started this new volume of Blue Beetle get straight into TPBs?” Of course not.

One thing I feel was overlooked is the role of the 30-day waiting period that comes with comic book fandom. The cliffhanger syndrome. Anyone will tell you that half the fun (if you can call it that) is reading an awesome last page and wanting the next issue so bad. An only-trades market would totally destroy that, because everything will be done in one. An admittedly LONG done in one, but you know what I mean.
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I’m not working as fast as I want to on these Nextwave pages that I mentioned I’d do as samples… mainly due to obligations on other sites… and there’s work, of course; but I already am piping down to page 3. I’d say I’m rolling along nicely. Not as nicely as I’d initially hoped speed-wise, but I’m definitely happy with the look of the pages so far.
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The gang doesn’t get to hang in the usual pub Sunday. The place apparently ran fresh out of potatoes the day before, and a brew session with the boys just doesn’t work without our mojos. Okay, that didn’t sound right. I sign copies of Wonderlost 2 for a couple of friends. My signature is an indecisive rooster’s tap dance after he’s stepped in a bottle of India ink.

Speaking of ink, I got some new pens and crap for my day job today. Decided to break them in with a return to inking. I quite literally have not inked a piece in years, since I’ve made a conscious decision to focus on my pencils and try to bring it to a certain level I’ll be happy with. Videos of Jim Lee’s gelatometti Iron Chef challenges replay in my head as I think about what he said about inks being the best quick sketch tools. Ironic, I know. But it tends to lend a look of… I don’t know… completeness… I’m tempted to say “weight”…to a five-minute piece.

These were obviously touched up a bit with Photoshop. Heh.

But yeah… I’m definitely a pencils guy.

12 thoughts on “Trades vs Monthlies”

  1. Well, you know what I think about trades vs monthlies. Also, these inked pieces look pretty good. I suggest doing these for quick sketches, just to give them weight and a sense of “completeness”.

    They actually look pretty good.

  2. I have to agree with the cliffhanger syndrome; part of what I love about comic books is the wait period. At the same time, some comics work really well as single issue series (Warren Ellis’ Fell). It’s a struggle explaining to some people what “writing for trade” means. I know one particular colleague who really hated one particular issue of a comic book (Ultimate Human) so much he deemed the entire series, which he had enjoyed before issue 3, to be bad. When you look at Ultimate Human on the whole, as a trade, you have 3/4 action, and 1/4 flashback, which works quite well. Action-Action-Flashback-Action; good methods.

  3. I agree. Though the fact remains that I, and I’m sure you do too, enjoy Ultimate Human a lot precisely because of that anticipation period wherein I need to think about what’ll happen next. The whole Writing-for-Trade trend is all good, but I shouldn’t dictate how a story is developed and told. It should enhance it.

  4. I don’t think it does dictate how a story is developed. Perhaps I have the definition wrong, but I thought it was like writing with a particular mindset. If you go read golden-age comics, the idea of “story arcs,” is almost nonexistent. However, more and more recently, longer stories have gained prominence in comic books (this seems to have been introduced during the Lee era; more work must be done on this subject by the person that is me!). Writing for trades is merely writing a longer, better story in a way that may not necessarily look good in monthly form.

    Am I right? Am I wrong? I don’t know.

  5. Way I see it, writing for the trade is all about decompression. Which is all well and good, especially when it serves characterization. But when it’s done just to stall and boost sales, and with no fan-gratifying reason, I’d rather go for them one-shots.

  6. Mm, of course. I don’t get why so many people hate decompression. While I enjoy my Fell and my Nextwave, comics with decompression can lead to some really awesome results. The sequence where Spider buys Air Jesus shoes in Transmetropolitan comes to mind–six pages of that stuff, if I remember right.

  7. I don’t mind trades (or larger volumes) when it’s stand-alone stories like miniseries, or a graphic novel. But for regular stories; even if they are arcs of six or three issues; monthly is the way to go. It’s like scrapping TV altogether and just release shows on DVD without airing them epioside by episode.

    And decompression is good, when done well (Powers, volume one), but not when done for decompression’s sake (the first arc of the new JLA book).

  8. That’s exactly what I mean. It’s almost… I dunno… forced(?) decompression?

    Trades would be fine if, like TV shows, they encapsulate whole “seasons” per se, with a real sense of resolution. Those are usually the types of trades I enjoy picking up.

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