Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The future of the Marvel series...

Last week, Marvel released The Emerald City of Oz #1. As the series was announced, Oz fans noticed that it said it was "1 of 5."

When the Marvel Oz comic series launched in 2008, the first series, adapting The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was eight issues, allowing plenty of space for all of Baum's book to be shown visually, deftly adapted by Eric Shanower and drawn in a humorous manner by artist Skottie Young.

Over the next three series, adapting The Marvelous Land of Oz, Ozma of Oz and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, the eight-issue format continued.

That changed with The Road to Oz, which only had six issues. Most Oz fans didn't worry. The Road to Oz wasn't a complicated story, so it didn't suffer from being tightened a bit.

Several people at this year's Winkie Convention asked Eric Shanower about the cut to five issues for The Emerald City of Oz. What follows is a paraphrase of what I recall him saying with my own commentary. If there is any error in my memory, I apologize.

Sales of the Oz series has been dwindling. Since I had been able to find issues of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and The Road to Oz at a local shop that sells comics alongside other items, I had been under the quite false impression that sales were okay enough to keep going. However, I was unable to find the first issue of Emerald City there, and so I've had to order it, and will be getting my copy next week. (It'll be coming with the next issue of The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West, so I'll be getting two Oz comics I enjoy at once.)

However, I can't be too surprised. More and more often, I find people saying that they just wait for the hardcover collection to be released instead of buying the individual issues. Of course, what they don't quite understand is that selling the series through monthly issues then trade collections is how Marvel manages to recoup the cost of paying the people working on the series. It wouldn't be likely for Marvel to drop monthly issues and then continue the series as a series of graphic novels instead.

Of course, at this time, just about every business tries to cut extra costs, so when one branch of business isn't so successful, they either cut it or trim it. This is what Marvel is doing.

As such, Eric warned us, we shouldn't get our hopes too high up to see Skottie's take on The Patchwork Girl of Oz. That story would suffer quite a bit from being compressed to five issues as it contains many, many episodes.

That said, Eric has assured us that as long as his current agreement with Marvel is active, he will be on board with their Oz series however long it continues. If they want to renegotiate it (meaning pay him less), then he'd likely bow out. Eric loves Oz like the rest of us, but this is actual work and if he's not getting paid enough to make it worth his time, then he needs to free up that time so he can get work that will be worth it.

Fans have also thrown out the suggestion that since Disney now owns Marvel and has had a hit with Oz the Great and Powerful, perhaps they'd like to focus their Oz output. While this isn't so far-fetched, I rather find it unlikely since Marvel's been running the series under Disney's control for awhile and there is no chance of confusion of the comic series and the new film.

Whatever happens, I'd urge fans to support the Marvel series if they'd like to see it continue. If not, well, The Emerald City of Oz does make a nice stopping place.


John Troutman said...

This will actually be the first time I've followed the Oz comics without waiting for the trade. I've got a Comixology subscription for the digital version, so hopefully that'll help Marvel's bottom line. I know the industry is paying very careful attention to digital sales these days.

Sam A M said...

I've also noticed over time how (a) Skottie's artwork/drawing has gradually been simpler and less sketchy, less squiggly and (b) there seem to be an annoying bunch of ads in the comics (that and "Road" didn't have "the" on any of the issues or hardcover collection titles - also how the special bonus features get less and less each tradeback).

If they are able to continue Baum's Oz beyond "Emerald City", it would REALLY interesting to see how stories like "Tik-Tok", "Rinkitink", "Scarecrow" will be adapted.

saintfighteraqua said...

This was the first time I subscribed and I have to say I am very unhappy with the way Marvel ships their comics. I just received issue 4 of EC today and as usual it arrived bent.
At least I can always enjoy the hardback collection when it releases.
I understand why they might stop and as you said, this is a nice stopping point...but I will be sincerely saddened if they do.
I can promise if they will continue the Oz stories I will subscribe every year! I want to see Tik-Tok, Patchwork Girl, Glinda, Lost Princes and Tin Woodman so bad!!