Creator Confessions: The Power Of The One-Shot

by Frank Martin

It seems miniseries have become the norm for comic books. The Big Two publishers routinely reelase either limited series of four-to-six issues or conduct their ongoing series in story arcs that are multiple issues long. One-shots — stories that take up a single issue — are either used as filler between story arcs or are becoming rare occurrences as a standalone title. This trend is spilling over into the world of indie comics as they try to emulate the mainstream publishers. But there is a certain power to one-shots I’ve utilized in my own comics that I believe more creators should take advantage of.

For writers and creators that have tons of stories swirling around in their head, the one-shot is a perfect opportunity to get them all out. Containing stories to a single issue and focusing on a single artist to work on them can allow creators to work on multiple books at once without waiting for one to be finished. Plus, it offers an opportunity to give an audience a complete story rather than an issue that ends on a cliffhanger. One more added benefit: a contained one-shot that is reasonable in length is not too much of a hassle production wise. A graphic novel can also be a self-contained story, but handling 100 or more pages can be extremely time-consuming compared to something that falls in the 20-to 30-page range.

Then again, not every creator is looking to tell dozens of stories. Sometimes writers and creators just have one singular story in their minds, an epic that they want to dedicate themselves to completely. In which case, a one-shot can certainly work against them, but there is a power to holding a single comic book in your hands and saying that this is the story. There is no “to be continued” or spinoff or sequel. Selling a single book and moving on to the next allows creators to build a backlog of many titles that can be both impressive and utilized for extra sales to different kinds of customers.

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