The GeeksverseWhy Does This Book Exist? Part 1

Why Does This Book Exist? Part 1
Published on Friday, March 11, 2011 by

Anytime I see a new ongoing or mini-series I have to ask myself “why does this book exist”? What purpose does this book serve in the overall story of the character, the universe or the team?

In today’s economy, and truthfully in any economy when it comes to things like comics and toys, people “live” off a budget and have a select amount of money to spend on comic books. So when a new ongoing or mini-series comes out, they have to make a judgement call on if it’s worth picking up and that usually means something else gets dropped.

So all new books inherently have a negative attached to them from the start. To get them, something else must give. With that in mind, the question must be asked of each new book “why does this book exist?”

There are different types of new books and each answers that question differently.

A) A brand new ongoing or mini-series (note, this is not a new X-Men book, new Batman, new Green Lantern, etc..): this is a book centered around a new character or a new team
B) A spin-off/new book based on an existing series (this is where the new X-Men, Batman, etc.. books fall)
C) A spotlight mini-series focusing on a character that doesn’t have his/her own book (this would be things like the recent Hawkeye mini-series)
D) A mini-series featuring a character that has his/her own book
E) An event series and it’s associated tie-in mini-series

Reasons a book should exist can be boiled down to a single statement:
What does this bring to the table?

Thanks to Bill Simmons, ESPN’s The Sports Guy, for that statement. He uses it in reference to trades in sports. What does this new person bring to the table that the guy traded does not? He says, and I agree, that the new guy should bring all the same stuff to the table, not remove anything, and add something to the team. This can be related to comics very easily.

Each type of new book needs to be look at and examined for “what it brings to the table”, the table in this case is the overall mythos/story of the character/team and universe. Once it’s known what the book brings, then we know if the book should exist or not.

First we need to look at why a book should not exist. If any of these are the reason that a book is getting published, it shouldn’t be. They don’t bring or add anything to the table and therefore automatically fail the test and have no reason for existence.

Reasons a book shouldn’t exist:
1) Just because Hot Creator A wants to do it
2) The new ongoing spins-off an event
3) Because it will sell like hot cakes

None of those add anything to the overall story of the character. Is it possible to using those as a base to launch from? Sure, of course. But it takes more then just Hot Creator A saying “I want to do a Spider-Man story”.

Why does this Spider-Man story need to happen? What does it add to Spider-Man? What does it take away? Does it even add anything at all? Does Spider-Man grow as a character? Does someone in his supporting cast? One of his villians? Is this a thread that can be picked up on later?

Why does this story need to be published? Is it worth publishing this and losing a sale somewhere else?

The end result of a comic book is to entertain and tell a story. But some stories don’t need to be told or make no sense in being told. The purpose of this series of columns is to take a look at different types of books and ask “why does this book exist”?

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