Collection as Blackmail?

Compleat Next Men cover
Compleat Next Men Volume 1
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John Byrne is interviewed in a short piece at Publishers Weekly to promote his Compleat Next Men compilations from IDW. The first one is 400+ pages in black and white, collecting twelve issues and a tie-in plus extras.

Byrne calls the project a “big test”, saying “If this collection generates encouraging sales, perhaps I will finally get those last 20 issues out on paper!” In other words, “buy my old unfinished series — and if enough of you do, maybe I’ll finish it.” More definite plans might be more likely to get readers to sign on.

Byrne has a history of attributing poor sales to conspiracy theories. When his Lab Rats crashed and burned, he blamed retailers with a grudge refusing to stock the book. (In my experience, whatever comic shop owners feel about someone, they don’t refuse to sell books that have demand behind them.) I wonder if his expectations for “encouraging sales” might be out of scope with the current market and an honest evaluation of his place in it.

Update: (7/25/10) It was just announced that IDW will publish new Next Men stories beginning in December 2010, 2 1/2 years after this mention.


3 Responses to “Collection as Blackmail?”

  1. Jer Says:

    Eh. I didn’t read it as “blackmail” but rather as a test for the demand for the series. If it does well, that would indicate that there’s someone out there who might want to read it and IDW (or someone else, I suppose) might be willing to commit to publishing it. OTOH, if the collection tanks it’ll pretty much be a nail in the coffin for the series and we can all stop wondering if he’ll ever end it.

    I’d be surprised if the collection does that well, actually. I enjoyed the book well enough back in the day, but I’m not sure that the market as it stands right now is really going to be all that interested in Byrne’s take on the “people with superpowers who aren’t really superheroes” genre. It was fairly “edgy” for its time, but now it seems almost quaint.

    (I just re-read my collection of issues last summer – I have the entire series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit when it first came out. Now I’m not sure if I care whether he finishes it or not – either it hasn’t held up well with age or my tastes have radically shifted.)

  2. Daynah Says:

    Comic book stores refusing to sell books? I haven’t felt that ways with the stores I work with, though, admittedly, it be a popular practice is packets. What is more likely (heck, I did it!) is that comic books employees are more likely to push the books that they like and not push the books that the don’t. I would happily fire someone who didn’t sell a Liefield out of protest of his art.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Jer, yeah, I went for the overly exaggerated catchy headline. But the problem with efforts like this is that the people who most want to see the series end are presumably the same people who already own the comics in at least one format. There are a lot of great historical collections coming out, but few of them do much marketing to new readers.

    And agreed on the edgy/quaint continuum.

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