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DC says plans for the Earth One original graphic novels ‘have not changed’ [Updated]

Superman: Earth One

Superman: Earth One

To OGN or not to OGN, that is the question that’s been raised by panel reports from San Diego that suggest DC may have changed their plans for their Earth One graphic novel series — something that DC said isn’t the case.

Back in December, DC announced a new series of Earth One original graphic novels featuring Superman and Batman set “on a new earth with an all-new continuity.” During the Superman: The Man of Tomorrow panel at Comic-Con International last month, someone asked J. Michael Straczynski about the future of these graphic novels. Straczynski is the writer of the first one being released this November, which features the story of a young Superman.

“The last question went to Straczynski,” CBR’s panel report by Kevin Mahadeo reads. “The fan asked whether the writer plans on continuing the ‘Earth One’ stories. The writer revealed that the hardcover release will be followed up with single issues, which will later be collected.”

Although panel reports on both Comic Book Resources and Newsarama were published during the show, it wasn’t until this past Sunday that people really started to take notice of that sentence — Kevin Huxford, Johanna Draper Carlson, Heidi MacDonald and Augie De Blieck Jr. have all posted about it this week.

I thought I’d go straight to the source, no pun intended (okay, maybe a little intended), so I emailed DC today to see what was up, and they sent me the following statement:

“Our plans regarding the EARTH ONE line of original graphic novels have not changed – they will serve as new, unique and compelling reinterpretations of our key characters in original graphic novel form, by some of the biggest names and brightest stars in the industry.”

— Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, DC Comics Co-Publishers

In all honesty, I’m still a little confused by the panel reports coming out of San Diego — I wasn’t sure if they were suggesting the books would be released as hardcovers first and then be reprinted in comics format down the road, or if the OGNs would be followed by the launch of monthly comic series in the Earth One universe, or what. In any event, it sounds like it’s all moot anyway, as DC says they are staying the course with their initial plans.

Update, Tuesday night: Straczynski contacted CBR to clarify what he said at the panel:

This was the actual exchange, as I remember it.

Someone asked me on the panel if Superman Earth One was only coming out as a hardcover or as issues at the same time or afterward. I said, as near as I can remember it, “This is coming out first in hardcover, unlike B&B, which is single issues collected into a hardcover” (which I slipped in to promote the book, which is coming out I think this week or next week). So it went in both directions, which prompted the fan to note, “I’m confused,” and I joked back, “So am I.”

That was the entirety of the exchange. Basically, the two different subjects got conflated in the hurry to transcribe what was being said, so they got lumped into one sentence.

Update, Wednesday: The audio for the panel is available as a podcast on DC’s site, and in our comments section comicsatemybrain provides a transcript:

Fan: With your Superman Earth One story, is that gonna be like an on-going graphic novel series or is this going to be one and done or do you have other plans for other Superman graphic novels if that’s not one and done? [the questioner stumbled over some of his words, but I’ve edited this to simplify… if you listen to the podcast, you’ll see that the intent of the fan’s question is as reported here]

JMS: What they’re gonna do as I understand it is [clears throat] first the graphic novel will come out in hardcover. Then it will come out in individual issues, and then more issues will follow to be gathered together in graphic novels.

Fan: So it’s going to be graphic novel hardcover first, then single issues re-collected, then single issues again?

JMS: As I understand it.

Fan: That’s extremely confusing. [laughs]

JMS: To both of us. So, yeah, we’ll work it out somehow…

As Albert Ching, who covered the panel for Newsarama, points out, “It seems, then, that the reason both Mahadeo and myself didn’t get the part about the Brave & The Bold was that it wasn’t there.”

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27 Comments

The official statement doesn’t necessarily contradict what JMS said at the panel.

But WHY do this at all?

Doesn’t it? They’ve never said they had plans to spin single issues or comics out of the OGNs, so I read the statement as saying they aren’t planning that now.

But of course, another way of reading it is that their plans haven’t changed, and they just haven’t told us what *all* their plans are.

So … time will tell? :)

In a first reading, I thought it didn’t necessarily contradict JMS, but reading it a second time, it does sound as if the original plan is sustained: “in original graphic novel form”. Quite clear at that. What is not clear is the same team will be following up on each book.

What JMS said at the panel doesn’t contradict the original announcement.

It’s coming out in OGN format. Then it’ll get serialized, for fans intent on getting it monthly, and then it’ll be collected again as a TPB.

Basically it’s getting exposure in all formats, across all channels.

“But WHY do this at all?”

Because only geeks buy monthly comics.

I assume they’re testing the waters for a shift to OGNs as the standard format. I assume, but this is DC, I’m probably wrong.

I’ve been saying this for YEARS, but the monthly comic grind is bad for the industry, it’s bad for the art of comics, even the art of a super hero comic, the periodical magazine format foments a mentality that comics are disposable, and now that they are too expensive to be disposable, it just creates this weird cognitive dissonance. They ugly advertising laden magazines, yet one issue costs half of what a paperback novel costs. You give me $8, I’m not sure I’m going to buy a comic or a novel with it. Probably a paperback novel, because it’s a better deal, it takes me in marathon mode 6-8 hours to read a novel (haven’t done it in a while) if I take my time it could be 2-3 times that, a comic, even savoring each panel can’t take more than a half hour to read. $4 for 1/2 hour, or $8 for 6-18 hours of entertainment.

Anyway, so you’ve got this clunker format, how do you move away from it, you create a new line and see what happens. If Earth One sells, they can continue to populate it, continue to roll it out while fazing out the magazines over a few years (probably with some huge story lines or major blow outs just for fun, imagine handing a good writer Superman and telling them “Put an end to this. Tell the end of Superman’s story. You have 12 issues.”), you get current fanbase to accept the new format, but the real ‘get’ is hopefully a larger Book based audience. $20 for a 128 page hardcover GN with full color art doesn’t sound bad to me. If done right they could look a bit odd on a bookshelf, if they keep the comic dimensions.

I’ve paid $20 for 250 page hardcovers before. No art, no color, just text. It happens. Why not $20 for 128 pages of art and story?

I don’t know, I’ve been ranting for this for years, I doubt I’ll ever see it, the core fanbase is too reactionary, and the publishers are set in their ways.

But imagine a world where you get 6 Superman GNs a year, 6 Batman GNs a year, 6 Teen Titans, 4 Robin, 4 Supergirl, etc. You get 4-5 GNs a month published by DC, that’s $100 for 640 pages of story and art a month. At $4 a pop you get 22-24 pages of story each month (600 pages @24 pages per isforsue), of the main title, who spends $4 for a backup?(and you could include short stories in the back of the GNs) you get more story for your money with the 128 graphic novels and you get a complete story, probably a more satisfying pay off in each one than you do the monthly installment plan.

And since the artists and writers can rotate out you can have them working well ahead of the publishing schedule allowing for more time to be spent on the product, more attention to detail, artists freed from the monthly deadline given a more realistic window to work in, they don’t have to do 12 issues a year, they do 1-2 GNs a year, and probably make as much as they did grinding for a monthly gig.

It just seems to me to be a more advantageous format, no one is ‘locked in’ for months to finish a story no one feels ripped off when they buy an issue and need to buy another to read the end of the story, and let’s not even get into the implications of the wastefulness of the magazine format. All that paper wasted on stories that will eventually go into more permanent formats.

And you still get your characters, you still get a serial storyline it’s just told in more complete chunks, with sub-stories having their own compact formats.

It all goes back to my simple premise: everyone is doing everything wrong and I should run the world.

Or not, y’know, I’m not asking for the job…

isforsue?

I don’t get it….my brain hurts….

If they’re serializing this at all…even AFTER the initial hardcover…then it is a change from the spirit of their announcement. These “OGNs” will have to be written with issue breaks in mind. That’s not how a full-length OGN is crafted. This is a series-of-minis-in-OGN’s-clothing. That might not be a big distinction for many, but it’s a noteworthy one for me…and counter to the way the project was initially announced.

I’m a bit surprised that DC’s answer didn’t address things more directly. This project wasn’t initially announced with post-OGN serialization that I recall (I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong). So why not make a definitive statement that addresses the issue? Trying to duck the whole thing with that non-answer accomplishes nothing positive.

J. Michael Straczynski

August 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Why is it, when someone says “JMS said” no one goes back to the source to get confirmation before the wild speculation begins?

This was the actual exchange, as I remember it.

Someone asked me on the panel if Superman Earth One was only coming out as a hardcover or as issues at the same time or afterward. I said, as near as I can remember it, “This is coming out first in hardcover, unlike B&B, which is single issues collected into a hardcover” (which I slipped in to promote the book, which is coming out I think this week or next week). So it went in both directions, which prompted the fan to note, “I’m confused,” and I joked back, “So am I.”

That was the entirety of the exchange. Basically, the two different subjects got conflated in the hurry to transcribe what was being said, so they got lumped into one sentence.

Next time, could someone actually ask me for details before starting an insurrection? I’m always happy to oblige.

jms

Oh look, Kevin Huxford was wrong to the point where DC came out and said “Uh, that’s not what’s happening. The transcription was wrong” so instead of just leaving well enough alone, he continues to try and spin it against them.

Stay classy.

Really, Tanner?

From the beginning, I left open the possibility that they were just serializing it after the OGN, just that it was an incredibly stupid idea. You’ll notice above that they didn’t refute the post-OGN serialization and JMS confirms that portion of what he said. The serialization after-the-fact indicates to me a lack of full commitment and introduces other concerns.

comicsatemybrain

August 11, 2010 at 7:39 am

Re: Tanner “Every single bit of this discussion was based on pure speculation from a misinterpreted quote from a Panel synopsis that are often ripe with errors.”

If you listen to the SDCC Superman Panel podcast (available on iTunes) at about 2:00 away from the end, you will hear the following exchange:

*********

Fan: With your Superman Earth One story, is that gonna be like an on-going graphic novel series or is this going to be one and done or do you have other plans for other Superman graphic novels if that’s not one and done? [the questioner stumbled over some of his words, but I’ve edited this to simplify… if you listen to the podcast, you’ll see that the intent of the fan’s question is as reported here]

JMS: What they’re gonna do as I understand it is [clears throat] first the graphic novel will come out in hardcover. Then it will come out in individual issues, and then more issues will follow to be gathered together in graphic novels.

Fan: So it’s going to be graphic novel hardcover first, then single issues re-collected, then single issues again?

JMS: As I understand it.

Fan: That’s extremely confusing. [laughs]

JMS: To both of us. So, yeah, we’ll work it out somehow… [proceeds to talk about Superman as a character, no more mention of the publication format]

**********

There really was no misinterpretation of what was said at the panel. The statements were pretty clear. Single issues were specifically mentioned, Brave & Bold (in this context, at least) was definitely *not*.

It boils down to the fact that JMS made an error (for whatever reason), and now he is trying to clean up that error.

Still doesn’t change the fact that DC has already come out and cleared up the matter saying that plans have not changed and JMS has publicly come out saying that the series will continue to be a line of OGNs and NOT single issues. Making this entire argument not only moot, but a complete waste of everyone’s time.

Can someone ban Tanner’s IP address and get on with it already? Christ Almighty, some folks are just children with a computer.

Some abusive comments have been unapproved … see our guidelines here:

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/about/

Very glad to hear that these aren’t changing. I really like the idea of one of the Big Two doing more OGNs for everyone to enjoy.

This may be the dumbest argument I’ve ever seen on a comics site.

And, obviously, that is saying something.

But the podcast makes no mention of B&B, and makes clear mention of single issues, which goes against what JMS himself said further up the line of comments. There is nothing to misinterpret. I wish I could back-pedal this well.

I don’t know, isn’t it possible that JMS meant to say Brave and the Bold, didn’t, but then thought he did? I mean, is this really such a big deal? Project announced, creator misspoke about it, people asked for clarification, creator says project hasn’t changed, and that he misspoke. Do we really need to do audio analysis of the tape? Or are we all auditionng for CSI:Comic Book Resources?

DC and JMS both clarified. Mystery solved. Move on.

That Guy, JMS’s clarification was to rewrite history. No one has actually clarified much.

Seriously? You’re still looking for a conspiracy on this one?

This has officially become the weirdest non-controversy I’ve ever been a part of. Thank you.

Conspiracy? No. Just looking for clarity and accuracy where there hasn’t been. Listen to the podcast JK linked to in the most recent update if you don’t trust the transcript posted there and in the comments. What JMS says happened on the panel? Didn’t happen.

I just checked, and this still isn’t a big deal.

That this is now seemingly being released as single issues now has me more concerned about this line of books. If it is being released as single issue after the graphic novel is released then that means that the way it originally is written has to take that into account. It won’t flow as a novel should. I agree this has to be a mini-series simply released first in collected form instead of being a true original graphic novel.

I had this pre-ordered but I’ve just canceled that. I’m not touching this until I see a review of it first to see what the structure of the story is like. Even then that they are prepared to release it as single issues shows they don’t have that much faith in it as a new format. They are just going to sabotage their own sales since people now know they just have to wait for the single issues to come out. If they were looking to see what would do better a collection or the single issues it’s pointless now. They’ve tainted the whole process and there will be no way to get an accurate result now. I knew it was to good to be true when I heard the Earth One line announced. I knew it was to good to be true that they’d put out a graphic novel only line of stories.

Oh my God.

You people do not disappoint. Seriously.

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