It looks like the DC relaunch of The 52 this fall will be more than just a renumbering and reorganizing of the DC Universe. The folks over at Robot 6 are reporting that during a meeting with retailers this past Friday DC execs explained that their writers will no longer be expected to write for the trade. For those scratching their heads right now, the modern era of comics has seen pretty much all of their stories told in five to six issue bursts so that they fit nicely into a trade paperback. Along with this will be a whole new trade dress that will call attention to the New 52 and provide more spine information to get fan’s attention.
This is a very big step for DC and hopefully this will force Marvel to look into this format as well. Forcing writers to either confine or expand their stories to fit nicely into a trade really stifles creation. I cant tell you how many series I have read that could have benefited from being an issue or two shorter. A prime example of this would be the Green Lantern Corps story Revolt of the Alph Lanterns that occurred right after Blackest Night. It was a really cool idea, but it didn’t have nearly enough steam to carry on for the five issues that it did.
People who only buy the trades may be a bit miffed by this change, but I dont think they have anything to worry about. Mike Mignola, who writes Hellboy, has always just written his stories as he sees fit. They can be a five or six issue epic or they could be a three page backup story. What Darkhorse does is to collect his longer arcs into one trade and then collect his one shots and shorter stories and one shots into a separate book. This system fits well with his continuity since it tends to alternate a plot trade with a collection trade.
I can’t wait to see what this new free form format can bring to the DC Universe. Quality shorter stories could raise some of their more obscure properties into the upper echelons if this is handled well. I know I would be more inclined to pick up an issue of a series I normally dont read if I knew I wasn’t committed to another five more to just see what it was all about. I’m pretty sure this the sentiment DC is banking on.