(Scene: A DC Comics marketing department meeting room. Present are The Boss and Interchangeable Marketing and PR Executives #1-31 Larry, Gary, and J.D., three Marketing Executives who are wholly fleshed-out, multi-dimensional characters.)
The Boss: OK boys, our assignment this week oughta be a cakewalk. It seems the boys upstairs are working on a big storyline for Superman, and we’ve got to come up with a name for it.
J.D.: What’s the story about?
Boss: I don’t know. Superman, I guess. Why?
J.D.: Well, if we’ve got to come up with a title for the story–
Boss: Who told you we had to do that?
J.D.: You did.
Boss: I did? When?
J.D: Just now.
Boss: Don’t think so…
J.D.: You said we had to come up with a name for the big Superman storyline.
Boss: No! No, no, no, no. But I see where the confusion’s coming from. No, we don’t need a title. What we need is a term. For the, you know, the kind of story it is.
J.D.: A comic story?
Boss: This is bigger than a comic story. What the writers are doing, see, is working really closely with their editors, and telling a big, a huge story that’s spread out over all the Superman titles.
J.D.: Um. Isn’t that what they usually do?
Boss: Yes! But it’s never had a name before.
J.D.: Are you sure?
Boss: What do you mean?
J.D.: I mean, they’ve been doing basically the same thing for, like, 30 years, right?
Boss: No, you don’t understand. They’re using the books to tell a huge story. And they’re numbering them!
J.D.: Don’t we always number them?
Boss: No, I mean, Action Comics #900 is, like, #1, Supergirl #37 is #2, uh, the other Superman title…
Boss: No. Well, yeah, that too, but I’m thinking of the one that’s actually got Superman in it.
J.D.: World of New Krypton.
Boss: Yeah, that one. So #5 of that would be #3. And so on.
Larry: Awesome idea, boss.
Gary: Really cool.
J.D.: That won’t be a little confusing for new readers?
The Boss: New readers? You’re joking, right?
J.D.: No, I just thought, I mean–people might be confused by two numbering systems–
Gary: Nobody was confused by The Death of Superman.
J.D.: I kinda was. Why didn’t he just grab one of Doomsday’s tube things and fly off into space with him?
Boss: Anyway. The Death of Superman had a bunch of comics with two numbers on them, and it sold great, so we’re doing it again, but with a fresh, 21st century twist.
J.D.: What’s the twist?
Boss: This time we’re calling it something other than a comic story.
Gary: It’s an event!
Boss: Right, like that.
Larry: A Superman Storytelling Event! A superstory!
Gary: A superstory! I love it!
Boss: It’s a bit on the nose…
Gary: It is a bit on the nose. I don’t love it. It’s OK. It sucks. I hate it. Larry should die horribly in a cockfighting accident.
Boss: …But it’s a start. Come on, give me more. What kind of story is this?
Larry: It’s a Superstory.
J.D.: You said that already.
Larry: I didn’t capitalize it that time. Oo, oo, I’ve got it, I’ve got it: SuperStory.
Boss: Both S’s capitalized?
Boss: Two capital letters does make it seem more important, but I’m not sure SuperStory’s what we want.
Larry: It’s an ultrastory! A Wildstory!
Boss: Someone write that down. You never know when we’re going to want to do a big marketing push for Wildstorm.
Boss: Mph. Hm. Hmhehmhehheeheeheehehhh… OK. Seriously. A big Superman going story over multiple titles and it’s called…?
Larry: A hyperstory!
J.D.: Grant Morrison already used that.
Larry: A metastory!
J.D.: I think Morrison used that one, too.
Gary: A multistory!
Boss: Sounds like a building.
Larry: A superbuilding!
J.D.: You’ve started doing coke again, haven’t you?
Gary: Story’s a little… mundane for a, uh, a Superman, uh…
Gary: What’s another word for story?
Boss: Now we’re cooking with gasoline! Superprose! Perfect! I love it.
Len: But it’s a comic story, isn’t it?
Boss: Yeah, and…?
Len: Well, it’s just–prose is words, right? And comics have pictures, too.
Boss: Who the fuck are you?
Len: Uh, hi. I’m Len. The new intern?
Boss: The ex-intern, you mean. Get the fuck outta here!
Gary (consulting online dictionary): Fuck!
Gary: Whatsisname–the intern kid–
Boss: The ex-intern kid–
Gary: –was right. Prose is words only.
Gary: We could call it comic prose…
Larry: Comic SuperProse!
Boss: Give the “super” thing a rest, Lar. Comic prose is good…
J.D.: Is it, though?
Gary: Is it what?
J.D.: Comic prose.
Gary: As opposed to what?
J.D.: Comics. Comics includes pictures and prose already…
Larry: So what do you want to call it?
J.D.: I kinda want to call it comics.
Boss: Do you kinda like having a fucking job?
J.D.: Comic… literature?
Boss: No. No, no, no. How many times do I have to say this isn’t comics? Comics are for kids.
Larry: That why everyone calls them graphic novels now.
Gary: Can we call it a graphic novel?
J.D.: Everyone else will. Except the ones that call it comics.
Boss: We didn’t come up with it.
Gary: Can we buy it off the person who did?
Boss: Find someone who makes substantially less than I do and have them look into that. I like graphic. What’s another word for novels?
Boss: Yeah, we’ve done those. What else?
Gary: Jesus, what is it with you and literature?
Boss: Graphic literature. That’s fantastic.
Gary: Graphic literature, fantastic! Fan-tas-TIC.
Boss: People ask me why I keep an aggravating son of a bitch like you around, J.D., and times like this are the answer! Graphic literature…
J.D.: People think I’m aggravating…?
Larry: Oh, man, do they ever.
Gary: They fucking hate you, man. I heard someone called you a dirty stinking nazi…
J.D.: They did?!?!
Gary: The American kind. Not a real one.
J.D.: Ah. That’s all right then.
Boss: So we’re all agreed, the new Superman story is graphic literature.
J.D.: Yeah, we can’t call it that.
Boss: Who says? Who the fuck says we can’t call it graphic literature?
J.D.: That’s what Marvel calls their comics when they want to call them something other than what they are.
Boss: FUCK! Fucking Marvel… OK. What were the other options?
J.D.: That’s just words–
Larry: See that, that right there? That’s why people think you’re an aggravating son of a bitch.
Gary: Graphic prose, then.
Boss: Sounds like porn.
Gary: Maybe it could be a porno story.
J.D.: With Superman?
Gary: Probably sell better.
Boss: I’ll run it by the boys upstairs, but Frank Miller isn’t involved so don’t get your hopes up. Come on, come on! It’s big, it’s a story, it’s got words and pictures but we don’t want to call it comics–
J.D.: Even though it is.
Boss: –or graphic–
Gary: Even though it’d sell better if it was.
Boss: –or a novel or literature. So. What ARE we gonna call it?
“James and Greg and Sterling are working so intensely closely on the Superman material that it’s one of the reasons we felt comfortable putting the numbers shields on the books. These guys are working together and creating what we call mega-fiction…” – DC Executive Editor Dan DiDio
J.D.: All I’m saying is, “mega-fiction” doesn’t really get across the idea of a visual story…
Boss: Eh. You can’t have everything.
Larry: Does anyone know where I could score some coke?
- Sorry for stepping on your bit, boss. [↩]