Funnybook Babylon

May 23, 2007

Thoughts on Anthologies

Filed under: Articles — Pedro Tejeda @ 11:47 am

Immonen Hell Kitty

Up on Stuart Immonen’s blog are images from a story, his wife, and regular accomplice Von G are working on for Marvel Comics Present. They’re pretty good, however its troubling to hear they are bringing back MCP.

They pretty much confirmed that we’ll be seeing a MCP series for awhile, and considering that it’s always mentioned in regards to 52, it may be weekly or bi-weekly, very similar to the format the original MCP was in.

I really dig anthologies but I’m not a fan of the MCP format. The idea of a comic with 4 unrelated stories, each divided into 7 pages parts doesn’t work for me. I prefer the way Tangled Web or the Escapists have been set up, different creators telling single or multiple issue stories straight through. I love the idea of mini arcs, one shots and backups where creators can get to tell the kind of story that just doesn’t have a place in a continuity focused super hero universe to do so. Sometimes a story like that needs or can only last a few pages or a two issues.

My biggest issue with the MCP format is when creators get on a MCP book and proceed to write a great run of stories. The problem is when the other three stories are terrible shit. I picked up my issues of MCP in back bins and always either hated one character or one story. It would kill me reading it as it drag across 16 issues along side the story that I had really bought the issue for. I could only imagine how pissed I would be if I was strung along week after week and paying full price.

Even with pseudo-anthology 52, nearly every plot line was intertwined with the other. If you only liked one storyline, you could not have released it as several different story arcs. It wasn’t as easily compartmentalized as MCP was.

The problem with trying to make MCP into a Tangled Web like Anthology is that it’ll focus on multiple characters. Even if an issue is well written, people will pass over it if they don’t like the character or they are too obscure. Some fans may try it for the creative team, but they’ll miss out if someone they don’t know is on the book. It ends up being too much of a gamble for the reader to know if this issue will deliver the type of story they want when the factors change so rapidly. This usually makes sales erratic and if quality drops too quickly, you lose readers who may not come back .

Tangled Web started strong with great stories by creators like Rucka, Cooke, and Milligan but a terrible story arc by Daniel Way in issue 16 put the series off track and it never found it’s way back. This even sucked more because my favorite 2 issues in the series came out barely before the craptacular Way arc.

Marvel could lean towards a Bizarro Comics/Flight Anthology format, a collected trade of stories by different creators. This type of anthology would be the place where you could print a Hulk vs. The Rain or a Peter Bagge Spider-man story or whatever Marvel story a creator has in them that doesn’t fit anywhere else. It’ll end up being a sampler for different creators and the kind of book where there is usually enough different stuff in there no one will walk away without something to like. I always love reading books like this for that reason. I also find this type of book beneficial for Marvel, it’ll be the kind of book that would sell well in bookstore. The energy of non-superhero creators on Marvel characters would be evident in these stories.

In the end they’ll do it in the original MCP format because it’s one of the easiest ways to gauge whether a new property will be viable to release as a Mini or an Ongoing. Printing the book in sections of 7 issues will make it easier for artists to knock out chunks of it to keep the book from shipping late. It just makes stronger business sense to do it this way. I just think there are better stories to tell in other formats.

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