I appreciate publishers trying to launch new ongoing series through things like the various waves of the New 52 and Marvel Now, but we all know most of these titles wont last, if not all of them. Marvel and DC Comics need to adopt the OGN model and go for the bookstores.
I know why publishers constantly are trying to make properties like Moon Knight, Defenders, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Hawkman work. There's a chance that the right creator might have the right take, and it becomes a title that a new major seller. It happened with the X-Men decades ago, and most recently with Green Lantern and Deadpool. Something can be made a top tier book if things go right.
But nobody has found that winning formula yet. There's no Best Practices for launching a title and making it succeed where it always eventually failed before. So editors settle for winning some market share and trying out new talent. But once upon a time, publishers would use a miniseries or backup to test the market. The market really doesn't sustain that approach currently; maybe readers don't want to support something that might be cancelled, or have valuable pages taken away from their favorite character. How to get people involved and reading is the real problem.
So lower the barrier to entry by going the Original Graphic Novel route. Here's how you do it;
1) Original Stories
Tell new stories, free of shackles of current continuity. They don't have to be origin stories, just tales free of “To find out what happens, see issue #X!” Not tying into a million potential stories is less daunting for casual readers, and it becomes that elusive New Reader Jumping On Point they love but can't always accomplish. And a franchise like Hawkman, Deathstroke or Defenders presumably won't have to worry about things happening in other titles, such as a character's solo title, team book, or event. The book can have consequences and let the characters grow, avoiding the problem with something like Avengers: Endless Wartime.
2) Get All Your Sales Evergreen Style
Typically sales of the first issue of a title are the highest. Then they slide down the scale month after month. This is typical for any book that isn't Batman, Walking Dead, or a few others. People try out the first few issues, then the fans stick around until the cancellation happens. So give everybody the whole story at once; it gives the readers the courtesy of a full story. This does mean you're charging upwards of $10-$20 for at most 6 issues' worth of story, so admittedly sales may be lower than the typical #1 bonanza. The catch is that you can keep selling this OGN over and over. There's no second issue to make shelf space for immediately, so you can leave it out and sell it steadily. Plus, the OGN format means you can get beyond the comic stores and go straight into the bookstores. That means more readers; B&N loved their Ultimate Spider- Man hardcovers. That's a market that should be sought after! The first Walking Dead Compendium has been on the New York Times Best Seller chart for 104 weeks. Image has sold the first 50 issues
3) Get Your Top Talent On It
DC relaunched Green Lantern with Geoff Johns and Carlos Pacheco. That's top talent, but Pacheco had to drop off eventually. Marvel brought back Guardians of the Galaxy with Brian Michael Bendis and Oliver Coipel, but Coipel can't hack a monthly grind at his usual stellar quality. Don't put so much pressure on these guys; take pitches from the top talent at your company and have them work on their stories in their free time. Then when everything's completed, send it to the printers and put it out. You'll have a nice evergreen comic with names on the cover that sell books.
4) Why Stop There?
The good thing is that if this approach works and the initial OGN is a hit, more can be released. And more after that, even. A nice omnibus or box set of six Hawkman graphic novels would make a lot of people happy. That's multiple new products in new markets.
So there's my pitch. Cut out the attempts at ongoing series that end up as minis, and go straight for the bookshelves with Original Graphic Novels. Publishers can sell to new markets, there'll be fewer canceled series out there, and maybe everyone can get to enjoy new characters. Let's see this happen, Marvel/DC. Marvel just started up their OGN line, and DC's no stranger to putting out graphic novels and trades that stay on the shelves forever. It'll work if you work it.