Spell on Wheels, Avant Guards Move to Graphic Novels

Spell on Wheels

Are we seeing the end of the comic book miniseries (at least, outside of the corporate superhero)? Two enjoyable comic series have recently had issues cancelled with the plan of releasing paperback collections instead. It makes a lot of sense to me — who needs the slippery short comics to store, when it’s a much better experience to get the whole story at once? It’s better for the publisher, as well, to avoid having to manage four or five months of separate orders and inventory. Plus, books sell to libraries and bookstores where comic issues don’t have a market.

They’ll have to give up the idea of getting two bites at the same apple, though, without being able to sell the same story twice through the direct market. And financing may be an issue, as budgets are tighter than ever and more advance funding is needed to have the greater amount of material produced before publication.

The Avant-Guards

The Avant-Guards, by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes and published by Boom!, is about a women’s basketball team at an art college. There have been eight issues out, with the first collection (issues #1-4) available earlier this fall and the second book (issues #5-8) due next February. Issues #9 and 10 were cancelled by the publisher in favor of putting out a concluding graphic novel in September 2020. Said writer Carly Usdin:

“I’m so excited that Noah and I get to finish telling the story of our beloved Avant-Guards. The stakes couldn’t be higher — they’re fighting for the championship AND the future of the league. The final installment will include teamwork, romance, lots of surprises and a dunk or two!”

It’s important that publishers demonstrate a willingness to finish stories, or they poison the well for future releases. Readers want to be able to have faith that their investment will be rewarded by getting to see a conclusion.

Spell on Wheels

Spell on Wheels was collected last summer. It’s by Kate Leth and Megan Levens and published by Dark Horse. I enjoyed the story of three witches reclaiming their property from one of their exes. It was fun and spooky and amusing.

The followup miniseries, Just to Get to You, was supposed to start last month, but the publisher has cancelled the three issues solicited so far in favor of putting out a graphic novel sometime next year. (Amazon says June.) In a newsletter, Leth says it was “due to low pre-orders of issue one”. She continues to say:

When it’s time for shops (or you!) to pre-order the book, we’re going to release issue 1 online for free, both to retailers and prospective readers. I’m going to promote the hell out of it and probably do some tarot readings. And then… well, then, we might just get a third (and final) volume.

Here’s hoping! The characters were great to spend reading time with.

Spell on Wheels: Just to Get to You



7 comments

  • I think Archie’s also shifting to a “miniseries first, then collected as trade paperbacks” approach. They seem to have ditched all their ongoing monthly books in favor of various miniseries. Even the flagship Archie title is now just a series of miniseries (and marketed as such)?

  • If I recall correctly, Archie is trying to make its core title *look* like a series of miniseries, but the numbering continues, so it’s still all one series. One assumes that they want more jumping on points, but the first Archie and Sabrina-labeled issue was full of wrap-up scenes from previous issues, so they’re pretty bad at it so far. The other series seem to be hamstrung by creator delays, so it’s hard to tell.

  • I was one of the (apparently very few) people buying the single issues of Avant Guards. Like another similarly-cancelled-after-eight-issues title from Boom, Smooth Criminals, AG was solicited as a twelve-issue series. In both cases I opted not to wait-for-the-trade since I wanted to support the creators and these types of comics being published. But if Boom is going to bail on these series being published as single issues before the end, then I see little reason for me to buy in to any new series that they may publish in the future.

  • That’s always a risk on the publisher’s end. Single issues don’t make a lot of sense for the young adult market, though, and these kinds of stories are aimed more in that direction.

    Is there a problem with reading (in this case) issues #1-8 as issues and what would have been #9-12 as a book? Is it that important to have everything in the same format?

  • The only problem (besides my comic-collecting retentiveness…) is that is will be a year between when issue #8 was published and when the vol. 3 OGN will be released. Will I remember what was going on? Will I remember to pre-order it? (I’m getting old…)

    More philosophically, we hear from many creators that they want us to support their comics in individual issues and not wait for trades. But if the publisher is not going to honor their end of contract by ending the series early, that dis-incentivizes readers from not waiting.

    (further annoying me: I forgot to pre-order that turned out to me the final issue of Smooth Criminal, and when I went to several LCSes the days immediately following release, none of them had it, and it was unavailable to order from Diamond. Grrr… Yes I can buy and read it online, but that annoys the collector in me even more than going from floppies to trades!)

    IMO it’s better to just have these be OGNs from the outset. This is at least the third series from Boom! that they’ve done this switch over to OGNs (the other being Goldie Vance, which at least finished out its 12 issues before they switched). Or at least just start with a four-issue limited series, and then see if it warrants continuation in single issues.

    (I also note that DC recently changed Inferior Five from a twelve-issues series to a six-issue series. So Boom! isn’t the only company doing this sort of thing.)

    I do realize that on some level I’m just being a grumpy old comics reader here…! (I’m also the sort that prefers watching television episodes weekly and not waiting and bingeing them!)

    Thanks for giving me a forum to vent on this :)

  • I can’t remember comics month to month, much of the time, so long delays I just plan to reread the previous issue/ volume/ storyline. That’s happening more and more with manga, with 3 or 6 month release gaps.

    I’m with you on mixed digital/print being much more annoying, though. I’ve been arguing that GNs are the superior format since the Warren Ellis forum days, and I don’t want to think about how long ago that was. Serialization more and more seems to me to be a relic of poor upfront capitalization. It used to be possible to run a comic publisher very cheaply, but I prefer to see more mature economic models. (I’m thinking of a post on how weekly releases are superior tied to my experience watching Lucifer S4, actually.)

    Always glad to hear from you. :)

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