Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

January 6, 2005

Frank Miller and Jim Lee: All-Stars

Mainstream comics superstar Frank Miller, whose career took off in the 1980s with the popularity of the mini-series The Dark Knight Returns, has been signed to write six issues of Batman comic book stories as part of DC's recently-announced All-Star comics line. Miller's stories will be illustrated by the incredibly popular Jim Lee, and should sell a healthy 300 billion copies, although DC will likely still somehow manage to underestimate its audience and thus have to do multiple printings of every issue.

In addition to being mainstream comic book publishing news of note, the signing is also interesting as the latest move by the big companies to make publishing events of its big-name characters by moving well-regarded talent onto them for limited runs, sometimes as stand-alone stories drawing on the character's entire history rather than as a story that fits within ongoing comic book runs.

It remains to be seen if the event strategy grows the overall market or merely locks existing retailer and fan money place into a few hyped purchases. Recent direct market growth has not kept pace with the success of similar individual offerings, and some analysis indicates continued softness in books not at the absolute top of the charts. It also may be true that winning top slots and having a runaway hit is more important than general growth to these kinds of companies right now. To be continued.

posted 8:32 am PST | Permalink

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