Singling Out Books With Crossover Potential

The last two months have seen the release of a rash of what I like to call crossover comics, i.e. those books that bring new people into (or back into) comics in general and our shop in particular.

Over the long term, I suspect that the most important of these will be Dark Horse's new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. The wide-spread appeal of this comic is pretty amazing, so much so that, despite the fairly common knowledge that Buffy was a popular show and made for some truly devoted fans, retailers and Dark Horse pretty badly misjudged demand. Over at the Engine, Warren Ellis asked how this was possible and a series of individuals proceeded to toss their theories against the wall. One of the great things about Buffy is not only the number of new customers it's bringing in but the type of customer it's bringing in. Joss Whedon is so tied to fan's concept of Buffy (which makes sense since he wrote the movie and created the show) that it's easy to point out Fray, Serenity, Astonishing X-Men and Runaways. More on why we love Joss Whedon.

Next up, Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Really solid stuff from Marvel with top notch productions values and more importantly, it's own unique visual style thanks to Jae Lee and Richard Isanove. I've had more than one customer mention that it doesn't look like a comic book. Obviously I can't know what every new customer expects when they look at a comic but any time that one can broaden their opinion of what a comic can be and do, that's a win-win-win for the industry. While the Dark Tower series has about as devoted a following as Buffy, though, I've noticed more of a reluctance among Dark Tower devotees to branch out into other comics. Part of that is Whedon's obvious connection to comics versus a much more tenuous connection between King and the rest of the comic world, but it's far from impossible to find something similar that a reader might like. Still, there's more of a tendency among the new faces coming in for Dark Tower to grab the latest issue and head out rather than browse a bit.

The third crossover comic was the surprise, Captain America #25. Here we have, far and away MacGuffin's best selling single issue of any comic since we opened. In fact, it's been our best selling single issue each of the past three weeks and this is all with limited quantities available in the first week of release. Unfortunately, while this issue brought in the most new faces and would seem to be a solid gateway comic, it's also an ending rather than a beginning. With Buffy and Dark Tower, even if these new faces don't pick up anything else, they'll almost all be back for the subsequent issues of the series that brought them in. If a new reader likes Captain America #25, the best we can do is start working backwards. Sure the series will continue, likely with someone like the Winter Soldier as the new Cap, but that's not exactly what these new readers signed up for. As I've said, there's always places to point a new reader (in this case, towards Brubaker's other stuff is a great place to start), but there's quite a bit more work involved when Cap #25 is the starting point.

What's a little bit unusual about these three books, at least in the short term, is that they're all bringing in new readers to buy single issue comics. We're designed to introduce customers to new materials and I've found that a big part of that is finding a format that the new reader is comfortable with. Nine times out of ten, that means a trade, but as much as I like trades, if new readers can adjust to different formats quickly it allows for a much broader range of titles to choose from. And that's good for everyone.


Post a Comment

<< Home