Monday, December 03, 2007

Do I Buy The Floppies Or Wait For The Trade?

Case in point: Marvel Comics' Picture Of Dorian Gray.

I'm a big fan of the Oscar Wilde novel the comic is based on, and the art in the preview looks pretty solid.

But do I collect the individual issues, or wait for the trade paperback?

If I wait for the trade, then I will have a handsome volume for my bookshelf and in theory maybe save some cash.

But if I don't support the book now, will there ever be a trade for it?

Or if I buy the floppies now and then find out halfway through that a trade is being solicited, will I get annoyed?

This is the eternal question with my floppies, these days.

What do you think?


  1. The real debate is whether to buy the trade of wait for the Omnibus. Damn you Brubaker's Captain America!

  2. At least with Marvel, it's become pretty easy to identify what they definitely will collect, and what they might not collect if direct market sales don't support it.

    Basically, anything that looks more aimed at the mass market (the Marvel Illustrated, Halo, Dark Tower, Marvel Adventures, Dabel Bros) or their major books (New Avengers, ASM, X-Men, Ultimates, World War Hulk, etc) will invariably be collected. It's the mid-to-lower level books you can't always bet on (Spider-Girl, Cable/Deadpool, Exiles, etc).

  3. A tricky pickle. I am not the kind of critter that wants to own monthlies, honestly. I vote trade.

  4. I would guess with this title, you can bank on Marvel collecting it for trade so they can get it in libraries and such.

  5. I'm waiting for the trade on all these Marvel Classics Illustrated.....

  6. I don't have an answer, but I totally feel you. It's my take on the BLACK ADAM and BOOSTER GOLD stories, too. I'd like to read them... but... not as floppies. Trades are nice, too, because you so often forget what just happened.

    I have a related question: does it seem like the big 3 are doing fewer pure graphic novels now because of the wait-for-the-trade phenomenon? It seems like trades are all reprints, but I remember a day when certain stories were conceived as GNs from beginning to end.

    P.S. Your post about the price of floppies could be similarly applied to trades. You save a little money, but not much. Not as much as you should.

  7. Yeah, but by the time the trade comes out, there are enough reviews and a general consensus about the storyline that you can avoid it if it's bad.

  8. These are all good points.

    My biggest concern in waiting for the trade is, would low numbers on a series like Marvel Illustrated make the company lose faith in that particular publishing program as a whole? Does my support now while the series is in monthly form help encourage Marvel to keep making new Marvel Illustrateds?

    Or is the intention to make them into trades & scoop up the $ in the bookstore market built-in to a publishing program such as this?

    Case in point, sort of: I used to assistant edit on Acclaim's Classics Illustrated line. They were digest-size reprints of the old comic book series. They did dismally in the direct market, and that failure largely killed the plans to continue the line -- even though the eventual bookstore potential was there, and we had some awesome "new" adaptations planned.

    A line like Marvel Illustrated would seem to have more potential in the bookstores. I hope Marvel is taking that into account and only making decisions on the line's continued viability once the trade paperback sales are in.

    That said, I will probably buy #1 and take it from there.

  9. I dunno. Marvel must know that these sort of books don't appeal to the typical comic store customer, so I can't imagine they would have even started the line if they were dependent on that market. Maybe the economics at Acclaim were different? Maybe they didn't have as good a mass market deal as Marvel has negotiated? I dunno. I just think Marvel must know what they're doing (especially since they're not dipping their toe in... they're releasing a ton of these all at once).

  10. For what it's worth, I dug up some comments from the articles introducing the line:

    "On the collection point, Gabriel said, "These will all see hard cover treatments. Again, the publishing plan that works so well for our comics and collections now, will be mirrored with these editions."

    "NRAMA: Nicole, from Marvel’s viewpoint, do you think that these adaptations of classic literature under the Marvel Illustrated banner would be best targeted at trade readers and those who frequent libraries compared to the regular comic book readers? How would a serialization of these stories in the monthly, six- to eight-issue format appeal to those who get their fix from the weekly/monthly format?

    Nicole Boose: We absolutely want these adaptations to be appealing to trade readers and library patrons, and I think they will be. I also like to think that they’ll lead some people who don’t normally read comics to get a better appreciation of what the form can do. Ultimately, though, I don’t see why that would make these titles any less appealing to readers who are used to picking up monthly comic series. Two out of the three titles we’re adapting were serialized in their original form. For that reason, they—and many stories of the era, whether they were serialized or not--intentionally include lots of action and cliffhangers, just like their comic book cousins. They were the predecessors of comics. So if the serialized format appeals to you, you’ll be right at home with the Marvel Illustrated titles."

  11. I'd wait for the trade. If I wanted to encourage them to collect it with my dollar, I wouldn't buy the floppies; I'd preorder or order the other trades in the line.


  12. I don’t honestly know why Marvel would even do projects like these as floppies, since the self-contained nature of the source material lends itself to an OGN much more than breaking it into four-to-six issues. Personally, I’d wait for the trade.

    As for whether Marvel would discontinue this kind of thing if sales on the floppies were low, I kinda doubt it. I think, for these projects, they’re probably viewing them as “loss-leaders,” where the floppies don’t sell but they make up for it with trades that they can sell to schools or libraries or what have you. Maybe they do the floppies to get decent talent on the books for a decent wage…base salary for six monthly issues plus a chunk of the trade profits.

    Or I could just be talking out of my ass. :)

  13. They probably look at the project as a whole... if the trades cover the cost of the project, whatever revenue they make from the floppies (minus the printing costs) they can view in the end as profit. Meanwhile, they get a steady revenue stream instead of having to wait till the project is completed to see any money.

  14. Wait, Oscar Wilde? Dorian Gray?



    (spits out drink all over keyboard laughing)

  16. They already admitted the conspiracy:

    “We were sitting around one day talking about where Marvel can go next in terms of gay subtext,” Marvel’s Nicole Boose told Newsarama. “Then [Editor-in-Chief]Joe [Quesada] stood up and said, “I know where we can go next with gay subtext – the late 19th century! No, wait, wait – how ‘bout one of the last works of gothic horror fiction with a strong Faustian theme? I loves me some Faustian themes!"

  17. I'm lucky in that I prefer owning individual issues anyway. They're a pain to store, but comics are meant to be read as comics. So I don't have the wait-for-the-trade dilemma. However, the fact that so many people do is a serious problem that the industry will have to find a way of solving.