Monday, August 22, 2022

Dear Publishers: Stop putting "#1" in your one-shots

Has this ever happened to you? You’re standing in your local comic shop and a new title catches your eye. You pick it up, take it home, give it a read, and very much enjoy it. A month later, the second issue isn’t in stock. You ask the owner and check online and discover the dark truth: there is no #2. The issue you read is the first and only issue in the so-called series. You go home, stare silently into the mirror, and ask yourself: "What the hell?"

I’m not here to talk about big publishers relaunching flagship series at #1 every year or two. That’s a different issue and one I might get to some day. But today, I am here to talk about publishers releasing one-shots with that fabled “#1“ numbering while fully intending to never continue the “series.“

When I was in 6th grade my English teacher taught me something that I will forever live by: you cannot have a #1 without a #2.

Putting a #1 in your comic title sets a precedent that there will be a #2 and, as with most comics, at least a #4 and if things go well maybe even a #24. When you intentionally release a #1 without any plans for a follow-up you create confusion in the common comic book shopper. Or worse: their parents. And that’s the last person in a comic shop you want to risk confusing. A confused comic shopper becomes an alienated comic shopper.

When Marvel launched Marvel Rising, their attempt at a new franchise for young girls, they released a 5-part comic series. But instead of numbering them #1, #2, and so on to #5, they gave each issue a unique title and numbered them all #1. Imagine a kid waiting for the second chapter in the story and instead seeing what look like other series popping up. Or shopping for your daughter and not wanting to invest in a new series when the other one hasn’t panned out yet. Marvel: WHY DID YOU DO THAT?

Another big issue I saw was with Shattered Grid, the Power Rangers 25th Anniversary event. It ran in two different books and ended with a separate one-shot that was, you guessed it, #1. How on earth was it a good idea to end a big event with a #1? I’ve seen people say they read that issue first and were super confused. Of course they were, it was the last issue. BOOM! Studios: WHY DID YOU DO THAT?

Mrs. Metro would be ashamed of all of you. If you release a #1 you better put out a #2 or you’re getting detention.