With the exception of high-profile “events,” the mini-series format in comics is becoming rarer and rarer. Retailer Brian Hibbs penned a column wherein he detailed the problems related to mini-series’ from a retailer’s standpoint (although many of them would seemingly extend to publishers as well). It’s an excellent article that you really ought to read; however, for those who don’t, I’ll summarize his points. Since comics are (mostly) non-returnable, retailers are forced to be conservative in their estimates, and because the limited number of issues means that the series has no long-term potential, which gives the retailer little incentive to “push” the series the way that they would for an ongoing.
Further, the “back-issue” sales for mini-series tend to be almost non-existent once the series ends. Hibbs also (elsewhere, I remember reading it, but can’t find the link, apologies) writes that the readers generally aren’t enthusiastic about this format, because the stories are often seen as being “not important.”
In spite of these issues, Valiant has been one of the few publishers who hasn’t been shy about publishing mini-series’—next month, 4 of the 9 solicited issues are part of mini-series. For his part, Hibbs does identify the exceptions: the aforementioned “event” or work by the “rarely seen superstar” (i.e. Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore). While Valiant titles like Armor Hunters, Harbinger Wars, The Delinquents and the upcoming The Valiant are representative of the former, none of which could be considered as part of the latter (there is an argument to be made for Q2: The Return of Quantum and Woody; though Bright and Priest are not in the “superstar”-category, they brought a very distinctive voice to the title, and their return after nearly 20 years is certainly a big deal). Yet, Valiant also published Shadowman: End Times, Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel, and The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage, whose characters I’m particularly interested in for this column.
There seems to be a couple of reasons why Valiant is able to defy industry logic and continue publishing these types of mini-series. One is brand loyalty. Look, I’ve bought every trade paperback published by Valiant to date, and, based on what I’ve read on forums and heard on podcasts, many other Valiant fans also buy every title. This probably means that every Valiant book will sell a certain number of copies regardless (something that would please retailers). Also, in case of Eternal Warrior and Shadowman, they’re not so much mini-series as extensions of the discontinued series (End Times is even collected as Shadowman vol. 5).
From a retailers’ standpoint, I’d imagine that this would likewise make ordering easier, as the title’s sales are likely similar to those of the ongoing series. Thus, from a purely financial standpoint, these mini-series appear to be viable. In the second part I’ll be discussing why I believe that it’s best for future Dr. Mirage, Shadowman, and Eternal Warrior stories from Valiant to continue to be published in the mini-series format.
Originally from ValiantCentral.com