This week’s topic on the Comic Culture was spurned from a Facebook discussion I recently had with a fellow comic reader. I don’t remember the specifics, but we somehow got on the topic of ongoings vs. minis. He made the claim that any mediocre ongoing is always better than a stellar mini-series, and I tend to disagree. Technically, I am not on one side of the fence, but did want to take a few minutes to examine why I think mini-series are great.
First off, mini-series can be a catch-22 because they are so short that it may turn some readers away who don’t want to get attached; in the end they are left wanting more and it may leave a bad taste in their mouths. With as little as three issues, and all the way up to twelve issues (technically a maxi-series), there are many variations of mini-series out there. With so many varieties to choose from, I look at it as an advantage rather than a disadvantage. There are so many ongoings these days that start off with a bang and then slowly get washed up into sheer mediocrity. Readers jump on and off the merry-go round every month with these books because of this fact. I am fully aware that not all arcs in an ongoing are going to be exciting nor mind-blowing, but that withstanding, mini-series have a definitive start and end. With a set number of issues a writer/artist can focus on putting out the best they can and stay on track, without having to insert any filler. They are also less of a financial commitment, and more often than not, top notch as previously stated.
Also, on a side note, mini-series give readers a more cost-effective option to test out a writer/artist that they may be interested in. If they like what they see, then they can check out an ongoing by those creators. I personally like mini-series because they allow me the chance to sample some of the other books/genres in the industry without making that ongoing/monthly commitment. There have even been some examples of mini-series selling so well that they become ongoings (example: Fatale and Batman Beyond). It’s almost as if mini-series (especially in the indie scene) have become testing grounds for a lot of series looking to become ongoings.
Another benefit to mini-series is the fact that there are almost never fill-in writers/artists. This is a huge win-win for me. I am not a big fan of fill-in writers/artists in general. If a writer/artist leaves a series and then a new creative team comes in for the next 10 issues (as an example), that’s one thing, but a fill-in for one of two issues just doesn’t work for me. I understand that creator’s lives are busy, as well as the business reasons and time constraints involved that can all contribute to reasons for switching creative teams out, but it still just seems short sighted to me. These days DC and Marvel seem to be fixated on this idea of getting out the books on time, and staying on schedule instead of overall quality. This is one thing mini-series don’t usually fall prey to.
In the end there are obviously both pros and cons to mini-series, but I feel that the pros far outweigh the cons. They are less of a financial and time commitment, and they are also good testing ground for new series for readers, as well as creators. So, do yourselves all a favor and go check out some mini-series. I think you’ll enjoy what you find. And, you can thank me later.