outsider wrote:What is the reluctance on DC's and Marvel's part to push ongoing series in lieu of mini-series and maxi-series?
Time was, miniseries were used to test the waters for a full series. They would give a character or a setting or a team a trial run in a 4- or 6-part story. If it sold well, they would then get an ongoing series started.
This didn't always work, because a lot of times they would change the creative team from the mini to the full series -- for example, Hawk and Dove, the mini, did really well in 1988 with Rob Leifeld, who was a new artist at the time and generated a lot of interest, as the penciler. When the mini did well, they kept the writers (Barb and Karl Kesel), but by the Leifeld had moved over to Marvel, so DC had no choice but to use competent, but less-than-awe-inspiring Greg Guler (Gulers pencils were fine, but generic and not remotely stylized, and the stylized stuff was "in" back then). The series then didn't do as well, because people didn't like the artwork as much.
So, it's not a guarantee even if the mini does well that the ongoing will. But at least DC tried to test the waters back then (as did Marvel) rather than just shooting the moon with an "ongoing" that they have no earthly idea will work or not.
The other thing they used to do in the past was have an ongoing series with a main story from a rock-solid character, like Superman or The Thing, who they knew would sell, but then have back-up stories, sometimes that went on for several parts, which would test the waters. For example, Supergirl had a backup feature in Action Comics for years, before she was given headliner status in Adventure Comics. Only after a decade of data showed that she could hold her own was she made a headliner. Lots of other characters started out with "test the waters" back up features first (the LSH comes to mind) before being given their own title.
I don't know that it would work these days, because anthology books are not "in" anymore -- Action Comics is just a regular Superman title now, rather than being a title that Superman headlined to get the readers in the door but then showcased other characters by less experienced talent in the backup features. It's rare to see these types of titles anymore.
So the problem for DC and Marvel is that they don't seem to have a mechanism anymore to test the waters. They just shoot the moon with an ongoing and like actually shooting the moon in a game of Hearts, the strategy pays off only rarely -- more often than not, you end up just taking a hit on a bunch of points and losing the rubber.