15 Simple Publishing Rules for Superhero Comics

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Captain Marvel Bullet Ride

When I start a comic company — or better yet when I run one — I’ve got a few rules I want to see for my superhero books.

  1. Every hero wears a uniform. There are no “subtle” heroes who do good works wearing a t-shirt and jeans.
  2. Every hero ought to have an individualized symbol or insignia.
  3. Heroes try not to draw blood against other intelligent creatures. If they do, they feel bad about it.
  4. If a character’s origin and abilities haven’t been explained in the last six issues, they need to be recapped.
  5. Every primary character in a comic book should have at least one thought balloon each issue.
  6. The omniscient narrator is as welcome as the character-based narration.
  7. References to past stories should be footnoted. It’s OK to direct people to collected volumes rather than individual issues.
  8. Every issue should have one full-page “Marvel Universe”-style character profile that includes a description of  powers and history.
  9. Covers should reflect something that happens on the inside.
  10. Cover blurbs are preferred. Captain America Profile
  11. Characters with superpowers should be shown doing “real world” things with their abilities. Why? Cause it’s neat to see someone with super strength hammer a nail.
  12. Super-powered characters should mingle with “regular” folks at least once a story — whether it means saving someone from getting hit by a car or talking with the butler.
  13. Continuity is important to build long-time readers. New readers are nurtured with footnotes, character profiles and recaps.
  14. Editors have final say in the direction of a story.
  15. The  hero (and villain)  population should be diverse in terms of ethnicity, geographic location and religion.
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