What makes a hit comic? In a thread over at Millarworld, Mark Millar tries to explain:
A book needs 2 of 3 things to sell in the direct market… a big writer, a big artist and a big character. 3 is better but to really do well you need at least 2. This is why the Millarworld books sell so well every month as they’re aimed at established readers. Trade sales are more mainstream and so the artist doesn’t need to have established himself at Marvel or DC.
It’s an interesting thread overall, if only for the glimpse inside Millar’s take on how to promote your books and your brand:
Like Marvel, I also embraced a multimedia approach and quickly got them going as movies, T-shirts, games, toys and had the success of those bring heat to the new projects… I’ve timed this carefully. Not just building a rep on company-owned, but I think the cycle at the moment is people wanting fresh concepts like they wanted them in 1992. There’s only so many times a villain can come back in the old books. The Millarworld books so far show the audience and multimedia potential is unlimited. A lot of people really hadn’t gotten what I’ve been doing here, but they’re starting to see it now. All going well we’ll have 2 or more movies a year coming out by 2013 and beyond.
Millar also promises that he will continue to be the center of his own brand:
I’ll never bring in other writers. That’s the huge mistake Image made when they expanded too fast in 93/94 and collapsed their model. People knew picking up an Image book meant they were getting one of their fave Marvel artists, but when other guys were writing and drawing those books they diluted their appeal. I’d rather write 3 volumes of Kick-Ass and have them permanently in print with movies, TV shows, games, etc, than have someone come in and dilute what makes it work.
Say what you like about Millar, he’s maintained a level of success from the Marvel work that made his name through to his own creator-owned work, so he’s clearly doing something right…