Done in One

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the midst of researching something else, I stumbled over something I'd been looking for in the back issues of Comics Buyer's Guide: the introduction of a "Done in One" icon. I thought I'd coined the term some time earlier, and I've been trying to figure out specifically when that may have been, if so, but this is a first step. Here's what I wrote in CBG #1168 (April 5, 1996):

"The idea of a Done in One icon came to me as I mulled the changes that had been wrought in comics since the Golden Age. There were serials in Golden Age comics. (For one thing, very early comics consisted of strip reprints, and many of those had ongoing continuities, of course.) However, sales led many publishers to adopt the idea that free-standing short stories produced the best results for the medium, and before long even most anthology titles featured primarily tales with their beginning, middle, and end in the same issue. Some Dell titles (Tarzan, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, etc.) featured one back-of-the-issue serial in addition to primary content, but basically for your dime you got at least one or more complete stories.

"When the Silver Age began, it was the same situation, based on that conventional wisdom. The DC super-hero stories which, in effect, began the Silver Age, were stories that were complete in an issue. It was Stan Lee who made a magnificent sales success out of taking several issues to tell a story -- and expanding the concept to be the standard for his line of super-hero material. (And, yes, Don and Maggie decried the practice and boldly stated that trying to serialize comic books would never work.)

"Today, casual readers -- especially those new to comics -- may find it hard to locate a story they can read without having bought the preceding six issues or being obliged to buy the ensuing three. So, when we can, we plan to identify free-standing issues with the Done in One logo.

"Any publishers want to use it? Retailers for special displays? Call me; we'll talk."

Well, no one did, but the "Done in One" term itself has become common parlance. My hunt for the first time I used it will continue. And I seem to recall that the reason we gave up using the icon in our reviews is that we switched layout systems at some point and the icon (designed by Al West) never made the transition.

[And let me note, hours later, that my quest for that first-time usage continues. I've now checked editorials and my reviews column in CBG #1155 (Jan. 5, 1996)-#1167 but have found no such reference. Was it earlier? Or did I actually coin the term for this use for the first time in #1168? Sigh.]


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