Saturday, November 2, 2013

Trade Paperback Numbering

I have a rant in me about comic book numbering that will come up very soon, but another thing I'd like to pick at is numbering on trade paperback spines.

Now more than ever, fans refer to trades to stay caught up with their favorite series. Paperback collections of The Walking Dead do HUGE numbers, meaning that comics written by Robert Kirkman 10 years ago STILL bring in money.

But you'll notice something with the Walking Dead trades, or series like Sandman that have stayed evergreen in collection form: They're sequentially numbered. 1 is before 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.. It is possible to "collect them all."

I don't think there is any rhyme or reason to Marvel's TPB program, although maybe it has changed since Marvel Now! happened. Even a comic like Ultimate Spider-Man that was collected in some sort of order went off the rails after the first or second relaunch. Even the Marvel Masterworks hardcovers -- even worse than their often-changing jacket art -- the "retro" volume numbers on the side might mean Fantastic Four is Vol. 1, Spider-Man Vol. 2, and FF doesn't come around again until 8. That's kind of confusing!

I do think it's cool that Marvel is finally releasing some lesser-known runs, but again, wouldn't it fit better as part of a sequential series? What if you could get all of Avengers Vol. 1 in, say, 43 volumes of ten issues? (I say "43" because Annuals have to fit in there too).

Volume 110. Really?!?!
Because the book trade is so lucrative, too, what if they did come out on a regular schedule, as well, almost like a monthly periodical? Again, they're evergreen until they go out of print, though if they do go out of print, that could create more collectability much like back issues used to.

I just find it sad if someone asks "where do I get started on X-Men," I'd have no idea where to tell them to go. If it was all in some order... maybe I could.

It does look like DC is appropriately numbering their New 52 trades, so good on them for that, though the hardcover vs. softcover thing seems a little inconsistent.

Still, I think it's great that a new reader can know EXACTLY where to go with The Walking Dead. I just wish I could tell them where to start with other favorites.

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