What Happens When Comics Are Cancelled?

Television Shows get cancelled all the time, and for those of us that are particularly television obsessed, our hearts break with every cancellation. We have talked during class at length at how comics and graphic novels relate to film, and how we can easily see them as movies and how the framing works the same as it would in a film. However, we have barely talked about how comics may parallel TV programs. Comics have issues just like TV shows have episodes. Comics and TV both thrive in the episodic format, and which is one of the greatest similarities between the two of them. Which poses an important question, what happens when a comic gets cancelled?

The biggest difference between cancellation of TV shows and comics, is what drives the network/publisher to cancel them. TV shows often get cancelled because the network sees that there are not high enough ratings, or now that twitter has been introduced audience interaction. Comics, on the other hand, their cancellation is almost completely dependent on sales. If sales are low, a comic is more likely to be cancelled. This makes sense, sales are similar to ratings for TV shows.

An even greater difference however, is the interaction of fans after a comic has been cancelled as opposed to a TV show. Generally when TV shows get cancelled, fans have uprisings. After Firefly was cancelled fans started a campaign to get their show another season that resulted in a movie. A few years after Veronica Mars was cancelled, a kickstarter was created that ended in the cancelled TV show getting its own movie. The reaction when a comic gets cancelled, while similar is not handle quite in the same way. In March Marvel announced that they would be cancelling thirty-three of their titles to coincide with their Secret Wars story arc. The announcement made it very clear that these were not complete or permanent cancellations, and that they would only be cancelled to coincide with the special event, so audience reaction was not high.

Copyright DC Comics 2015
Copyright DC Comics 2015

The reaction when DC cancelled Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman, Batman ’66, Green Lantern: The Lost Army, Justice League United, Gotham By Midnight. The Omega Man, Lobo, and Doomed, the reaction was completely different, not calm in any sense of the word. Looking at the comments section, commenters belonged to three different camps. The first, individuals who were upset about the cancellation; the second, individuals who did not seem

Comments from ComicsBeat.com
Comments from ComicsBeat.com

surprised and explained in the basic terms “of course they got cancelled, their sales were awful”; and the third camp, individuals who wanted focus more on the sexual harassment scandal centered around DC comics editors and writers. All three of this comments exist and interact within the same platform, and based off of the number of articles I read about cancelled comics, it is safe to say that this is a

Comments from ComicBeat.com
Comments from ComicBeat.com

common trend in reactions to cancellation. This is very different from reactions to TV show cancellations, so far as I can tell, no one is calling for the comics to be brought back, no one is starting a petition or a campaign of some sort to get the comic back.

Why does this fundamental difference exist? In theory the outrage should be the same on both ends for both medium. Comics and TV shows are both things that there a plethora of options for, and yet when TV shows get cancelled there is almost always outrage, and when comics are cancelled people are sad but it does not reach quite the same level of outrage. Is it because of the form? Or some other reason that we are unaware of?

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