I recently had occasion to re-read some Fantastic Four comics originally published in 1981. Clunky dialogue and crude printing aside, they really were some beautifully drawn and very entertaining stories, but the thing that really struck me this time around was the writer’s approach to the comics as individual, self-contained stories. Each issue was a complete story with a conclusion (barring the odd two-part story), but at some point there would be a little one or two page scene setting up next issue’s tale. This accomplished two important things very well: readers would (hopefully) be intrigued enough to buy the next issue of the series, yet the book would provide a satisfying, complete story for first time or irregular readers.
Currently, the comic book market is almost entirely driven by the trade paperback. Usually a collected volume reprinting groups of single issues (or “floppies,” as they are starting to be called), trade paperbacks emerged in the mid-1980s as a way to get popular comics material into the coveted book store market, as well as make out of print material available to new readers. Read the rest of this entry »