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

February 16, 2006

It’s Raining Formats

Is it just me, or are we being assaulted by a variety of periodical formats right now?

image1. The Ignatz -- An oversized color book without a spine, like Ganges and Chimera, somewhere between a comic book and a graphic novel, with the modest length being offset by the high production values and focus on high-quality artists.
2. The Louis Riel -- A smaller than usual comic book, kind of like the Black Eye comics right before they collapsed, with nice cover stock and a somewhat less nice paper stock (it's varied). I think the Yummy Fur reprints are in this format, and a couple of the AdHouse one-shots like Mort Grim probably go here, too.
3. The Fell -- A standard comic book priced at $1.99, with fewer pages offset by a focus on denser storytelling techniques and supplementary material. The current example is the Ellis/Templesmith comic book Fell, with at least one more (Casanova) on the way.
4. The Petit Livre -- a smaller than usual color book, almost mini-mangaish, with an emphasis on art, like D&Q's new Bacter-Area that looks like it may be supported in part by an arts grant, which I'm guessing would lead to a Canadian focus.

I like all of these formats, honestly, roughly in that order, and think they all have a use. Interestingly, these newer formats seem designed on some level to straddle what comics usually casts as two competing concepts. One the one hand, they embody an outreach principle in trying to find a way to package comics story in a way that's uniquely appealing and appropriate to the material -- making the comic easier to carry and hold, or making the object more beautiful. On the other, these not trade formats, so they would seem designed to be sold by a specialty retailer, whether a bookstore that takes the time to do this or a comics shop that doesn't complain when something isn't sized like the standard issue of Uncanny X-Men. What I hope is that each format continues long enough to become less of an aberration -- there aren't many comics artists past Chris Ware that have really rewarded readers with changing formats every issue of their serialized work -- and more of an alternative.

Anyway, Chris Arrant takes a longer look at the Fell format in a piece at Newsarama that's worth your reading energies.

I'd love to hear from someone else on the subject. Am I forgetting a format? Is this all a delayed reaction to manga? Do you think one has a greater chance to succeed than the others? Less of a chance? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
posted 2:29 am PST | Permalink

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