- Posted by Johanna on October 8, 2011 at 9:18 am
- Category: Comic News
Infinite Vacation is a comic miniseries written by Nick Spencer with art by Christian Ward, published by Image Comics.
It began in January of this year and is intended to run five issues. It had an immediately grabbable concept, postulating a world where you can visit different, alternate-reality versions of your life. Our protagonist, Mark, finds that other versions of himself are dying and has to figure out what’s going on, while chasing a girl he’s interested in who hates the idea of visiting across realities. It got very good reviews, too, and was covered in USA Today online.
Unfortunately, only two issues have come out. The book was solicited to be monthly, as you might guess, promised to end last May. The second issue, due February, shipped in April. There have been no issues since then. (Although, due to sales, the first issue had three printings, each with a variant cover, and the second issue has had two.) The writer has stated that issue #3 is due out October 26.
Now, I bring this up not to speculate on why a relatively successful series stumbled so badly — although I do note that Spencer also writes Morning Glories, which comes out every month or two on a more regular schedule, but he’s been doing more work for Marvel, which may take priority, and I have no idea about the artist’s other commitments — but to react as a reader. I liked this series. I’d like to know what happens in it. But when/if it ever concludes, I won’t even remember what I’ve read so far.
(I also want to snicker at the headlines from fall 2010, when promotion for the series was gearing up, that say things like “Nick Spencer to Take an Infinite Vacation”. Yeah, that was a bad idea, wasn’t it? Kind of prophetic.)
Why, being burned with such examples, should I as a customer support future indy comic miniseries? Why shouldn’t I wait for the eventual collection, a (presumably) complete story I can buy without delays and read in one sitting? I know, I know, “if you don’t support it now, there may not be a collection”. To be blunt, that’s not my problem, is it? There are plenty of comics I can buy now, and plenty of people who want to tell me about the latest thing. I am fine with other people being the early adopters — those reviews and comments will tell me whether I should buy the eventual book without me risking my money.
There is no good reason for me to buy an independent comic issue any more unless it is a complete story in itself.
Serialization works for big companies with brands to maintain with recurring visibility. It no longer works for small publishers or customers. I know that indy creators like the idea of it costing less to publish an issue than a book, and I know that smaller chunks are better for aspiring creators learning as they go, but those reasons don’t benefit me as a customer or reader. It used to be the case that releasing a series would build a name, but with so much material now available, very few people are willing to speculate on the work of new creators, and no one’s got the patience to allow a success to build long-term. (AKA There will never be another Bone.) Retailers no longer buy a copy for the shelves of a project that looks intriguing, so customers who don’t already know to seek out the work can’t try it.
It’s now more likely that a serialized story will disappear without ending than that it will conclude satisfactorily. Either Diamond will stop carrying it when sales get too low to make it worth their effort, or the creators will stop working on it when they need to take other work for income, or the publisher will release a book version with material never serialized, meaning I’ll have to rebuy it anyway.
Young creators should be instead looking toward online release of their work, to build an audience. There is plenty to be said for working in smaller chunks instead of going straight to graphic novel. It allows feedback, so artists know if their work and message are being received as intended, and it’s less of a commitment of money and time. Sure, it doesn’t *make* you money (until you’ve built enough of a following to bring in ad revenue or start selling products), but it doesn’t lose you as much as print publication does either.