So your favorite comic title is being canceled? What should you as a reader do? Well there is not much that you can do by yourself. Though, it has been shown in the past that fan movements have saved titles from getting the editorial axe. Just look at Spider-girl and Manhunter. They both avoided the axe and even came back from dead a few times with the support of die-hard fans, but sadly these are exceptions. Most comic titles lined up to be axe will receive it. With that in mind I am going to tell you the five stages of grief you will go through when you learn your favorite series is getting axed and how to get through them all.
It should be noted that you can substitute “comic series” with any form of media, especially television, and the steps will be the same.
“What Agents of Atlas is getting canceled? This can’t be possible. Marvel has actively pushed this book. Sales are certainitly. I mean the Mighty Marvel Ad Machine is behind this thing. IT CAN’T FAIL!! IT CAN’T!!”
Denial is often the first thing you start to feel when you learn that your favorite series is getting canceled. It stems from the fact you can’t understand (or at least don’t want to) why the book you love so much isn’t selling. It might be a book with great writing and/or art so it’s safe to assume that the title is performing well. Because, you know, quality is what sells books. The unfortunate truth is far from that. More often than not unless it’s got a big name writer/artist, or a famous franchise behind it the book will perform mediocre at best. That is just how things go. Mainstream titles will always sell more than the random tangent ones. The sad fact is the vast majority of titles canceled every year are often the smaller titles that don’t feature any sort of big name anchor.
It is natural to feel denial over the cancelation. It’s the only way your mind can grasp the “tragedy” you are going through. The best way to get over your denial is to start to realize that other things are in control here. This will lead you to the next stage of grief:
“Agents of Atlas is getting canceled?! I quit! Every good title is always getting canceled! Screw you Marvel! Screw all of you idiots who didn’t buy the single greatest book in a decade! You ignorant fools! How dare you spend your money on crap titles like Uncanny X-men and Avengers! You have no taste. NONE OF YOU ALL! “
It’s only normal to feel anger against the forces that you feel can’t control. You feel that it’s everyone’s fault for the book not selling. You think the world is out to get you and more often than not you will be pessimistic about the state of the comic industry as a whole.
The good news about reaching this stage is you understand that sales are often the death nail of a comic book series. The bad news is you are blaming everything else for the sales being low and not the actual appeal of the book. Tell me what sounds more appealing to you: a book featuring all the major characters of the company (IE Avengers with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-man, etc) or a small team of c-squad characters (IE Agents of Atlas with Namora, Gorilla-man, Jimmy Woo, 3-D Man, etc.) Let’s be honest, Wolverine sounds far more enticing than 3-D Man, at least to the majority of the comic buying public.
So don’t be angry at everything else and look at the book itself. You might find the problem is with it rather than everything else. The sooner you begin to do this you will start entertaining the next stage:
“Okay, okay. You can cancel Agents of Atlas. All I want is a wrap up to the story line and a mini-series. Only then I will be okay with the cancelation. Conclusion and mini-series or no deal”
Once you stop being angry at everything you will start trying to make deals that really can’t be done. Stuff like allowing the cancelation only if the story can get a proper conclusion or a spin-off mini-series. Most see the mini-series as a great way for a franchise to build on an existing fan base in a low risk environment. This is so true that comic companies are all for it, as long as they can make some money on it. Many grieving fans feel if they can a mini-series the franchise can get a renewed lease on life because if the mini’s sale well enough they will either get more mini’s or even the coveted ongoing.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a mini-series after a cancelation it’s the way you ask for it. You cannot try to make a deal with a corporation over it. They are going to cancel the title anyway, unless you get a Spider-girl type save, and all this bargaining does is make you feel more optimistic about the impending cancelation.
Now bargaining can take a different direction. You could bond with fellow fans in the community and make a un-cancelation movement, which at heart, is a bargain. You are essentially saying we’ll increase the sale of the book if you save it. While this has worked for some books like Spider-girl, it most often fails or doesn’t last. The big problem with this type of bargain is that it’s a temporary fix at best. Unless you can sustain the increase sales, the book will get canceled once again.
You will reach a point when you finally come to the conclusion that bargaining doesn’t do anything to help your cause. This is a dark point as you are now entering the lowest of lows:
“I can’t believe it. This is the second to last issue of Agent of Atlas. There hasn’t been any word mini-series or conclusion. It’s truly over. I think I am done with comics now, guys. There is no reason for me to continue reading now.”
Depression is the lowest you’ll get, that is the good news. The bad news is that you might lose faith in the comic industry. It’s hard to go back to an industry that has been worked against something you loved. It really is. The system is cruel and can kill a title. There is only one way out of this state and that is looking back on your past experience of the book. Remember the enjoyment you’ve had reading the series and be sure to get any eventual hardcover/paperback collections. You might get lucky and sales in trade might encourage a future mini-series. Just take solace in that they can never take your enjoyment away.
You will eventually get past depression, but it might take some work. Maybe finding a new series that will capture your attention will help your depression. I do suggest go for a major title that cancelations rarely hit. Besides remember even X-men (Uncanny X-men) was canceled for a while. So who knows? Your series might experience a rebirth and catch fire to become a flagship.
“You know what? I am alright with Agents getting canceled. I’ve gotten several mini-series out of it and even a back-up feature. This may not be ideal but I can dig it.”
You have finally come to the end of your journey. You are now accepting the cancelation and you are fine with it. You see the positives from the axe and you are okay with the industry itself. You understand that it isn’t evil like you think. It’s a business trying to survive and poor selling book isn’t good for them. Also you now have more money to spend on trying to find a new series. This is a start of a new journey. The world is full of comics and they are all looking for new readers. Go out and experiment. Break out of your norms and find something you might enjoy.
Just hope the new series isn’t on the bubble.