While I have long considered Marvel and DC Comics to be one beast with two heads [Technically, Bi-Beast is strictly a Marvel thing. — Parish], DC manages to stand a little taller in my eyes. They treat their creators better with both credit and royalties, and perhaps because of that they are occasionally able to publish some truly stellar work. While Marvel doesn’t have a Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns it’s easy to imagine they could — while a more mature book like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman seems completely out of their grasp.
So I was sad to read from Comic Book Resources that DC Comics is cancelling its Minx line, a series of original trade paperback sized comics intended to attract a younger female audience. I had a chance to read some of these books earlier this year when I found some preview copies at a convention. It’s common in book publishing to send preliminary copies, called galley proofs, to retail stores as a means to promote a book. And I was stunned when I saw these galley proofs of the Minx line because I had never seen or heard of a comic company with this mission before. DC had a line of books that were actually appealing to girls — although still mostly produced by men — within a very earnest attempt to play by the book world’s rules. What happened?
[[image:mn_080926_defective_comics.jpg:cover detail from The New York Four and Janes in Love:center:0]]
Sadly, Minx is just the latest in a long tradition of DC imprints that have died before their time. Helix was styled after Vertigo with a sci-fi bent and became home to Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan. Milestone Media was founded by a group of African-American creators and is best known for the superhero book Static. Paradox Press published Road to Perdition which was adapted to a feature film and Pirahnna Press published Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn and the excellent Big Book of… anthologies. All of these lines produced good work and all were cancelled before their time. The shame is that many of these books will never be reprinted, or at least no time soon — just another drop in an overflowing bucket of disposable media.
It seems spiteful. The cynic in me thinks that all these imprints are just lip service, DC’s way of throwing a bone to the poor misanthropes who think comics are more than just a delivery vehicle for male power fantasies. And it seems disingenuous to reach all the way back to the early 1970’s when they cancelled Jack Kirby’s line of Fourth World books because while they were outselling most of DC’s other books they weren’t bringing in Fantastic Four numbers. But I think the truth lies somewhere in between — a genuine disdain for change coupled with astoundingly bad business decisions. How else could you explain why DC is too shortsighted to see the long tail?