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Preliminary thoughts on DC’s announcement

Brian Hibbs

I think the “official” one that DC wants you, the consumer to see is the US Today one, but I think that Bob Wayne’s statement is probably the better one to look at.  I’ll reprint this below the jump…

 

Here’s Bob Wayne (I could link you to Rich, but he doesn’t need more hits):

 

******

 

A LETTER ON THE DC UNIVERSE AND SEPTEMBER 2011

To our comics retail partners,

In the time I’ve worked at DC Comics, I’ve witnessed any number of industry defining moments. But today, I bring you what is perhaps the biggest news to date.

Many of you have heard rumors that DC Comics has been working on a big publishing initiative for later this year. This is indeed an historic time for us as, come this September, we are relaunching the entire DC Universe line of comic books with all new first issues. 52 of them to be exact.

In addition, the new #1s will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character’s legend – but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph.

This epic event will kick off on Wednesday, August 31st with the debut of a brand new JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, which pairs Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, together for the first time. (Yes, this is the same week as FLASHPOINT #5.)

We think our current fans will be excited by this evolution, and that it will make jumping into the story extremely accessible to first-time readers – giving them a chance to discover DC’s characters and stories.

We are positioning ourselves to tell the most innovative stories with our characters to allow fans to see them from a new angle. We have taken great care in maintaining continuity where most important, but fans will see a new approach to our storytelling.
Some of the characters will have new origins, while others will undergo minor changes. Our characters are always being updated; however, this is the first time all of our characters will be presented in a new way all at once.

Dan DiDio, Bob Harras and Eddie Berganza have been working diligently to pull together some of the best creative teams in the industry. Over 50 new costumes will debut in September, many updated and designed by artist Jim Lee, ensuring that the updated images appeal to the current generation of readers.

The publication of JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 will also launch digital day-and-date for all ongoing superhero comic book titles – an industry first.

On Wednesday, June 1st, this initiative is expected to be announced in a nationwide feature article, and we’re hopeful the news will be picked up by media outlets around the world. Throughout the month we’ll reveal more details of our plans with articles in both the mainstream and comics press and on June 13th the Diamond catalog solicitations for all of the September titles will be released, followed by the June 29th street date of the print version of Previews.

DC Comics will support this initiative with an innovative mix of publicity, promotional efforts and retailer incentives designed to maximize your opportunity to increase your DC sales. We will discuss additional details of these incentives when we get closer to solicitation later in June.

We’ll be updating you more through email as September nears. But today, I hope your share our enthusiasm for this historic news!

Sincerely,

Bob Wayne
SVP, Sales
DC Entertainment

 

***********

 

SOME of my thoughts, in chaotic and jumbled order:

 

1) FIFTY TWO new #1’s? First off, that’s insane, second off, that’s FUCKING insane. Who on earth will buy all of those? The DCU is roughly 35-ish monthly ongoing titles now — is Vertigo rebooting, too? I don’t *think* it is? So they’re increasing the line by 50%-ish?

 

2) This CAN ONLY work if we get a big wave of civvies coming in… but 13 titles a week is way way way too much for civvies. Two or three a week might maybe have been possible?

 

3) full line-wide day and day is potentially huge because of the ripple impact it might have. It will take very very very few current customers moving channels to have a catastrophic cascade impact along and down the chain. Maybe as little as 3-5%? If we’re not netting more NEW readers (and I DO NOT MEAN “Marvel readers switching loyalty”) (And see above) we’re really running the risk of the entire comics market collapsing in fairly fast order — and I’m including things that aren’t superheroes.

 

4) this smells more like a jumping off point to me, for a lot of current readers — especially the “super fans”.  I wonder what Garret thinks?

 

5) There was a time to do this: after the First CRISIS. Or maybe after the “Final” one. I don’t think the economy/market is (at all) in the right place to absorb this right now.

 

6) FIFTY TWO new superhero #1s? Are there 52 strong creative teams out there? Editors who know how to shepherd a story properly? Seriously, DC hasn’t shown the editorial strength to have more than 8-12 (maybe) “on all cylinders” have they? I’M NOT TRYING TO BE MEAN ON THIS — but the consumer reality in the comics market is that readers judge this kind of initiative by the “WORST” element of it, not the BEST.

 

7) Fuck, they should have staggered out the launch over a few months… 1 (or 2, maybe 3) new books a week until they were up to their “right” number. I bet a LOT of people would try the “new” DC if the DCU was just 12 titles total in month #1

 

8) DCU Editorial, per Didio, has by and large been a cycle of events — generally with “big beats” hitting every two-ish weeks (sometimes more frequently)… for like the last 6-7 YEARS. But here’s the thing: structurally these kinds of beats can be generated because of history — “starting over” would appear on the face to eliminate that particular crutch?

 

9) The last time they tried anything EVEN REMOTELY like this it was a critical failure, and largely a commercial failure. Those three words? “One. Year. Later.”

 

10) I don’t want to trade the numbering on the “legacy” titles for the short-term bounce of a #1. In 2011 THAT BOUNCE NO LONGER “STICKS”. It is no more than a 2 month bounce any longer.  In my secret heart, I was praying for the other way around — that they’d go back to “old” numbering on everything — GREEN LANTERN would be #487, or whatever it would have been.

 

11) Does this mean that all of the backlist on my racks will now be dead weight? If they’re rebooting Superman continuity, do I want to have ANY copies whatsoever of 98% of the in print Superman backlist?

 

12) This part fills me with dread: “a more modern, diverse DC Universe, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character’s legend – but will relate to real world situations, interactions, tragedy and triumph.” DC is not Marvel, and, I think the appeal of DC over Marvel is the more fantastic nature of much of the characters/cosmology. “The New Blue Beetle will be a Filipino Transexual character” (or whatever) doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me, though.. and DC’s track record on “diversity” actually succeeding with the audience is fairly poor.

 

13) They’ve done REALLY well in keeping this on the downlow, though, haven’t they?

 

14) Following up on #11, does this imply we’re going to go 6-ish month without any NEW DC backlist? Will DC be smarter about WHAT gets collected and what doesn’t?

 

15) FIFTY-TWO new #1s? Jeebus.

 

16) If this hits, it *could* hit big; but if it fails, it will be catastrophic.

 

17) JUSTICE LEAGUE by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee sounds like something I could sell mountains of — if it was the lead of the month. First, are the other 51 teams at that status (answer: no. Because there are not 51 other creative teams of that weight IN ALL OF COMICS), and, second, will it get lost in the other 51 books?

 

There’s more, I’m sure — this is pure gut reaction, without any long think behind it.. look for something more reasoned, I suspect, in the next Tilting at Windmills in about two weeks…

 

-B

106 Responses to “ Preliminary thoughts on DC’s announcement ”

  1. I’m scared.

    “The last time they tried anything EVEN REMOTELY like this it was a critical failure, and largely a commercial failure. Those three words? “One. Year. Later.”

    It may have been, but that worked at getting me to check out DC books, as Marvel’s Civil War drove me away from their line.

    “second, will it get lost in the other 51 books?”

    It’s the only book shipping that week, along with Flashpoint #5.

  2. I keep trying to think of who the 50 books will star and I keep coming back to DC not having enough characters to fill all these slots.

    Also doing a line wide reboot and still having Multiple Superman / Batman books (assuming Detective and Action & Superman & Batman will still exist) seems even more foolish.

  3. “In my secret heart, I was praying for the other way around — that they’d go back to “old” numbering on everything — GREEN LANTERN would be #487, or whatever it would have been.”

    Give it 18 months.

  4. They are desperate to get new readers, I guess.

    I know it’s been almost 25 years since Crisis on Infinite Earths but who really wants that kind of massive reboot again? Are they purposely planning for 80% of this new line to fail? And it hasn’t been that long since Infinite Crisis, 52, etc.

    And, of course, what of Hawkman? You can probably judge how well a reboot will do by its impact on Hawkman.

  5. There can’t really be 50 new titles. No way.

    DC has two writers that can sell books by themselves, and one of them has trouble getting a single book out every month.

    They have…no artists capable of both selling books by themselves and/or drawing 22 pages a month.

    They currently have two successful characters—Green Lantern and Batman.

    I honestly can’t imagine 10 or 12 books doing well, let alone 20 or 30 or 50. (That number’s not real, is it?)

    I am super-curious to see what this means exactly. But then, I’m a reader and writer-about, not a retailer. Is comics retailing in the 21st century officially the world’s most stressful business?

  6. “Over 50 new costumes will debut in September, many updated and designed by artist Jim Lee”

    If people wanted costumes designed by Jim Lee, wouldn’t there still be Wildstorm books being published?

  7. This is Brand New Day for the entire DC line. I wonder what Morrison thinks about it. What happens to his big Bat epic? I really do wish DC success in this, but this is definitely my jumping off point. It seems like all of these initiatives are done for the sake of people who do not and will not read comic books.

  8. What, no words on the digital day-and-date “announcement”? What a disservice for Bob to give it a single line. And like all events, where is DC taking the risk? There outta be a return policy on these. For DC to release that many titles, and have retailers hold the bag…

    Wait, what if some of these are digital-only titles? What a great way for them to test distribution of DC only books.

    And 52 titles? Is this a multiverse move that will require another Crisis in a year to fix everything back to the way it was? Maybe all these new character designs are for versions on different Earths.

  9. I’m at least interested in trying creative teams I like. Will I go out and get all 52? Not likely. Right now, I purchase about 15 DC Universe titles with regularity and far more Marvel. Will this get me to try more than that? More than likely. They need to be sure that 2/3 of their creative teams are stellar and not dilute the launche with too many teams that are new and unproven.

    As a reader of DC for over 30 years, I don’t get upset at this. I do see there is a need to freshen things up. I don’t feel insulted that all the other comics I purchased are now invalid. I enjoyed them for what they were at the time.

    I think it is the biggest splash the field has ever had and actually I am optimistic about the whole thing. It would be nice if they rolled out a comprehensive list of titles and creative teams in the next few days to help instill confidence. I can’t help but think that they’ve got more than just Jim Lee slated to bring on the thunder.

    Brian

  10. Marv Wolfman actually DID want to restart the numbering of every title after the Crisis, but the higher ups nixed it.

  11. 52 new books and still no comic book shop within two hours of where I live.

  12. Your insight into the comic buyer and the comic shop perspectives is spot on. I smell disaster, and not because I’m some internet naysayer. Making the characters unrecognizeable beyond a costume is not the right approach for either group, and if the digital purchases become big — and how many of their readers have the devices to read them? — then god bless the owners of the shops. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

    I hope DC’s good title(s) like XOMBI will survive this big bang nonsense.

    Does this mean DC ONLINE gets rebooted, too? And if Jim Lee is heavily involved in that, what happens when Jim Lee misses a deadline on JL? I sense this reboot will not address the DC editorial whirlpool of books falling off the schedule because the artist or writer can’t keep a schedule.

  13. This all sounds like it is primarily designed to capture potential new customers who will download the titles on to their electronic devices. I am sure many of the new titles will be digital only. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the stories are shorter, with lots of cliffhangers to encourage weekly or monthly downloading of the next installment.
    I agree with you Mr Hibbs on the lack of quality creative teams to fill out 50 titles. That is why I wonder of some of these titles will be ten pages long, digital only.

  14. Haven’t read superhero comics in…God knows how long…but I chimed in (at Savage Critics, where else!?) just to say that this sounds really, really terrible. I mean, just the thought of a Jim Lee-redesigned DC Universe is enough to turn me off it forever.

    (Note: I was, and still am, a huge fan of Jim Lee during his crosshatchy X-Men days, but the bland and ‘crusty’ art of the new Jim Lee just…ugh, it turns me right off.)

  15. Since I am not a “DC guy”, and only collect 10ish titles a month – Why should I bother collecting the next 3 months, it will all be rebooted anyway.

    I dread the days of Heroes Reborn, and how quickly that went to pot.

    I think it is a jumping off point for me.

  16. I’m far more interested in the digital day and date thing than the comics. It seems like DC is pushing all their chips into the middle of the table and forcing retailers to do the same. I don’t think it will have that much of an impact because of two reasons:

    1) The digital services currently offered aren’t that good and nowhere near as good as the pirate-based services.

    2) People are creatures of habit. While some may try some digital comics, I think the vast majority (like 98%) won’t because they are used to the paper medium.

    I think the real x factor is price. If they cost the same as paper comics, it will be a non-starter. If they cost half price, goodbye paper comics.

    But what happened to Jim Lee’s presentation with the dental floss and the paper? All lies?

  17. From the DCU I am buying:
    Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc.
    Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics & Gates of Gotham
    Whatever Patrick Gleason was drawing which had just been Batman & Robin

    And I was looking forward to JH William’s Batwoman and Grant Morrison’s Multiversity.

    I am having a tremendously hard time thinking that this shuffling is going to give me anything that will make up for what they could be taking away. When Batman Inc started Grant said he had a two year plan for the title but we’ve only gotten 6 issues so far. I’m really disappointed that DC is prepared to throw away these last five years and the next two for such a gamble.

    I want DC to put out good comics but throwing away their few successes for a glut of probable failures is a frightening idea.

    How many of the 52 titles could be one-shots or mini-series?

  18. 50 titles.
    50 artist.
    This is gonna turn ugly.
    DC have no one who can understand the market, this is suicide.
    They have maybe 7 or 8 books that are good , the rest is subpar at best and instead of trying to improve their ratio they cancel all of them and change the origins of characters loved for decades.
    Every week 13 new books, what are they thinking?
    Obviously Marvel are not gonna be quiet after smell the blood in the water.

    Great article.

  19. I spoke to someone who Should Know today (they called me!), and I was assured that, yes, we’re talking about 52 new ongoing monthly titles set in the superhero universe, this is not “Vertigo and Kids comics too” or whatever.

    -B

  20. What are your thoughts on same-day digital releases? Won’t that decimate the comic shop end of DC’s sales? And what about loyalty to folks like you?!

  21. I continue to watch with dismay as comics erode over time. I’ve never been a fan of Jim Lee, and perhaps as things get worse, there will be less and less people qualified to write for and illustrate the things, just as fewer people will buy them. Shortly afterwards, even Hollywood will have lost interest.

    Desperation. No substitute for creativity.

  22. Point #3, ace?

    And I think we all know there’s no loyalty in BUSINESS, except insofar as you’re making a profit goes…

    -B

  23. I just had a thought:

    APRIL FOOLS!

    Fuck, it’s June.

  24. But, wait: Comics released in April have a cover date of June, so…MAYBE?

  25. Two thoughts:

    (1) Aw MAN! “All Star Batman and Robin” goes all the way back to issue #1! Now it will NEVER finish!

    (2) Hurray! “Batwoman” makes it to issue #1! Now it will FINALLY start!

    In all seriousness, this smacks of someone gambling their whole business. I wish them luck, but OH MY GOD what is DC doing. They are called “Hail Mary” passes, not “Hail Victory!” passes…..

  26. Well: this is a pretty apocalyptic way to start the summer.

    My guess: they can’t possibly mean 52 ongoing series though, can they? Is that an assumption people are making or am I not reading the press release closely? It doesn’t seem like they’re saying 52 new series… And certainly not 13 new titles a week– where did that come from?

    Maybe what they’re doing … Maybe they’re just doing a character-introduction one-shot labeled #1 every week for a year, in addition to a particular number of core titles. Instead of doing that one weekly series 52 (labeled issues #1 to 52), they turn their entire universe into 52, and are just doing another series like 52 but each issue is labeled #1…? Do some kind of year-long mega-event where all the characters go away and are replaced by people wearing Jim Lee clothes– like a Heroes Reborn kind of thing…? Or like if Flashpoint lasted a year, basically…? It lets them market-test a bunch of pitches, and creative teams, and see what works…?

    I mean, 52 new #1– that hardly seems like an accidental choice of numbers…

    I could see how some of THAT might work, possibly (though the digital bit should still probably remain a concern for people). I don’t know, though. The biggest problem with my theory though is it doesn’t make sense that you’d do FLASHPOINT before you did something like that, though…

  27. 52 titles actually isn’t that bad, that’s about what they publish per month in the DC Universe line right now, when you count mini-series, annuals and one-shots, so as long as they stick with just the 52 monthlies for the first few months, that seems okay. Well, it’s still too many, but it’s not an increase from what they’re publishing now.

    Regarding new reprints, going by the solicitations they’ve already had and a quick search of Amazon, they’ll be continuing to reprint pre-Flashpoint comics (is that what the equivalent of pre-Crisis/post-Crisis will be? Kind of awkward. How about pre-Point and post-Point?) in the post-Point era at about the same clip. And it doesn’t look like it’ll be a clean reboot in any sense, any more than the Crisis switchover was, except in this case it’s all happening at once instead of spread out across a few years.

  28. Is DC going to be launching 52 monthlies? Or is it simply going to be 52 #1s in September? Big difference.

    What about cross-promotion? Digital day-and-date releases are going to have a huge marketing push behind it, I suspect we’ll see price promotions designed to encourage digital sampling of the 52 titles. At the same time I suspect there will be some additional enforcement vs illegal downloads. I’ve speculated that digital downloads will enable greater levels of tie-ins between comics and the DCU online game.

    I think they’re hoping “Flashpoint” will do to the DCU what JJ Abram’s “Star Trek” did for that franchise — create some new excitement while freeing the titles from excessive continuity. SOMETHING has to be done — the decay of top titles, over time, is like Chinese water torture.

  29. Am I the only thinking this can’t be intended to be permanent?
    With Flashpoint altering reality, and this looking like a VERY altered reality, is it possible Flashpoint was merely Legion Quest and in September, Age of Apocalypse will start?

    To me, this interpretation makes a lot more sense than DC collectively losing their minds.

    So… Am I alone in thinking this?

  30. I for one am thoroughly thrilled by this announcement. I’ve recently returned to comics after a fifteen year absence from my childhood hobby and despite my renewed love for the medium I’ve found it difficult to grab a new series off of the rack and sink into the story. This is a big, bold, potentially game-changing strategy and I think it’s necessary in order for the medium to regain relevancy in today’s culture. As long as DC plans on targeting consumers outside of the insular world of comic shops and blogs I think that this has a chance at expanding the industry.

  31. who cares about badly written BAT-lesbos and horribly designed black CYBORGS…

    just gimme SEAGUY ETERNAL.

  32. To Hibbs’ point about business loyalty this one has WB all over it.

    A series of judgements is made by Warners

    1) People in charge seem capable. (stated before that this is their proving ground to Warners. Show us you’ve got some idea of how to reverse this. They are currently in late year one of people in position)
    2) Audience is dwindling.
    3) Large chunk of pulp on stands is not moving in significant numbers and is waaaaaay too far up its own ass.
    4) We need to seek outside readers in a VERY drastic way.
    5) So, basically we need the IP. We realize the publishing business is capable of making money but we can do things with it outside of the monthly that make us money.
    6) So, now it’s up to current folks in charge of DC to save the publishing branch. Get some more butts in the seats gentlemen. Notes to follow.

    The only thing that really confuses me is why the sheer volume of titles? If you want to be accessible less is more and with day and date trying to lure new digital readers…all I’m saying is that it seems at cross purposes with the stated goal.

    Outside looking in all I can assume is that it’s a touchy creator / contract / audience thing. When word comes down you fulfill your contractual obligations to the people you’re tied to and then you start cutting. I wouldn’t be surprised to see these relaunched titles and their teams in a race for survival of sorts. The EXISTING comic buying audience is going to be important in deciding which of the “offbeat” titles stick more than anything. So, for God’s sake if you love something vote with your wallet in the coming months.

    Eh, still processing the announcement, the analysis, and the analysis of the analysis.

  33. I think something like this has actually been inevitable for a while – I’m just surprised it’s happening this quickly, and this… all-at-once. I mean, if DC (and Marvel) have any chance of bringing in new customers, the only way they’re going to do it is through digital sales. And a linewide reboot clears the deck of all the baggage that makes superhero books seem impenetrable to outsiders.

    Here’s the thing, though: how much are those digital same-day downloads going to cost? Last I heard, they were charging the same price for digital comics as they were for real-life paper copies, which is insane; the customers they’re trying to reach – all them crazy kids with the iPads and the texting and the whatnot – have been trained to see digital content as something that’s either free or next to free. 99 cents for a song or an app, a couple dollars for a downloadable game – and a lot of this is for content that provides more entertainment value than your standard 20-page Big Two superhero comic circa 2011. If DC is charging three or four dollars a pop for the kind of comics we’ve been reading for the last ten years… well, this is going to crash and burn really damn fast.

    As for the notion that DC is going to be putting out 52 new ongoing titles… I simply don’t believe it. The only way they put out that many new #1s is if half of them are minis or one-shots. As it is, the bulk of the material produced by any such outpouring would have to be crap, unless DC has been keeping genius writers and artists locked away in its basement for years.

    All of this is premised on throwing retailers under the bus, and I can’t express my reaction to that properly without language that would probably get this comment caught in some kind of moderation filter. You’re indispensable in this system, apparently, up until the moment you become utterly disposable.

  34. Brian — I have tremendous respect for you and your perspectives, and find you to be among the more reasonable voices in the retailer industry. I also recognize that your thoughts above were, as you stated, off the cuff reactions to a very significant announcement that COULD impact your business meaningfully.

    That said, in reading your reactions it somewhat codified to me just how insular the direct market has become and how important it is for all the publishers to do everything humanly possible to expand far, far beyond it.

    Many of the issues you raise are valid, no doubt. But the definition of insanity is doing a task repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. We can put all the mascara and lipstick on the sow that we want, but the demographics of the direct market are damning, and — as you note — the gimmickry (reboots, renumbering, splashy art teams, variant covers, events) is having waning impact with each passing attempt.

    If not now when? DC is attempting to draw in millions of new customers, and is willing to risk tens of thousands as a result. While I’m sure that is hardly comfort to you and your fellow store owners, it’s the kind of bold and strategic bet I never thought I would see from the Big 2, and applaud them for it.

  35. As always, give me good stories that make me want to see what happens next, clear art and storytelling, and get them out on time. If DC can manage that, then I’m on board. If not, then I’ll be moving on.

    I don’t really care much about continuity and if it gets in the way of good stories, I’m all for jettisoning it. I would, however, appreciate consistent characterization over the course of more than a month or two.

    I’m also a little wary of what this means to Grant Morrison’s future BATMAN work as I’m very much enjoying the story that’s being told there. Also looking forward to MULTIVERSITY, but not sure that it’s actually going to happen after this change.

  36. DC already puts out close to 52 books every month set in the DCU (May’s solicitations have 48).

    So it’s not really that big of a stretch.

  37. From the standpoint of a comic book consumer, I personally think this is a brilliant move on the part of DC. Here are my thoughts for what they are worth (two cents, maybe?):

    1)It’s a great publicity stunt. It brings attention to the DC Universe to those who have been away and to civilians who may be curious. And contrary to what you suggest Brian, it may actually have some effect in drawing readers away from Marvel titles. Me, for instance.

    Within the last several years I have become mostly an exclusive consumer of Marvel Comics. Part of the reason for that is because I have been a longtime fan (over 30 years) of the Marvel characters and Marvel “house-style”. I also am of the opinion that Marvel’s quality and stable of writers and artists are far superior to DC’s. Another part of the reason for that is because DC has not offered me much in the way of anything I am interested in or want to read. I buy Batman Inc. (and bought Final Crisis) solely because of Grant Morrison. I got sucked into Blackest Night. (I desperately want to buy a good Legion of Super-Heroes book, but it doesn’t exist in it’s current permutation, IMHO.) I keep my eye on what’s going on in the DC Universe, mostly online criticism and reviews (esp. here at Savage Critics), and what I have read in general has not been positive. DC does not and has not for many years offered me much to suit my personal tastes mostly because I found some of the characters that I have loved and followed through the years to be unrecognizable.

    As a Marvel reader, I will at least at first, out of curiosity, pick up many of these first issue titles to see if they impress or interest me enough to buy them thereafter on a monthly basis. DC will have my full attention and interest for the month of September. The question here is whether they can keep it? As to October and thereafter, that depends on the quality of the stories, art, characterization, etc.

    Will this result in allocating monies away from books I would buy from Marvel? In my case, that will again depend on what is being offered and whether it suits my tastes and interests. I imagine in some respects that Marvel will respond and somehow “up the ante.”

    2)This p.r. stunt gives DC an opportunity to throw whatever they can at the wall and see what sticks. I’m sure the DC editorial, sales and marketing departments know that this is going to be a game of percentages and that out of 52 titles, not all will survive by the end of the year. They have to be experienced enough to know that the quality of writing and art on all of these new titles will vary. They know that the interest in some characters will be greater than others. The books will make their one or two month splash, DC will sell a bunch of books out of curiosity, but ultimately, the books have to be good. The ones that are will succeed, the ones that aren’t will fail. The way it should be. I think DC realizes this and you have to give them props for having the balls to go all out.

    3)This gives DC a line-wide opportunity to restructure it’s books. If it holds the line at $2.99 than this will give DC the opportunity to reduce page numbers while keeping the price affordable.

    4)It certainly will give DC (at least for a couple months) a greater market share. Whether that remains the case, see #2 above.

    5)I understand that this may create some synergy with online comics, but I don’t know anything about that because I don’t like online comics, I don’t read online comics, and don’t have any plans to do so in the near future.

    6)It creates buzz in general about the comics industry. It will bring more consumers into the stores, at least for the month of September. That can’t be a bad thing, can it?

    I for one am excited by this news. DC has my interest and it’s only June. Here’s the tricky part: they get one shot at this and they better not let me down. If they do, they may lose me forever. Or at least until the next publicity stunt.

  38. I’m divided.

    On one hand I can certainly see why this is a problem for retailers and other people in the business. I don’t envy what they’ll be going through, and I can see why maybe DC shouldn’t alienate its already-dwindling fan base.

    On the other hand, just for myself, as a reader? I’m cautiously optimistic and, frankly, I feel like the books can only benefit from driving away the people who really, really care about whether a story from five, ten, or twenty years ago “still happened”.

    I wonder if maybe they’re going back to the old-school sort of thinking, the idea that the entire audience turns over every five years. It feels like kind of a Hail Mary, and while I don’t think they’ll do all the things I wish they would (I expect we’ll still see a whole bunch of books for the Super, Bat, and GL families, for instance) I’m glad to see them doing something big.

  39. I have no interest in digital comics, so the possibility that Hibbs mentions of this being the thing that really kills the Direct Market is what I care about. Oh well, guess I’ll just try to enjoy it while it lasts.

    Mike

  40. Re 16

    Except 98% of the people don’t live in the USA. 98% of the market isn’t in the USA, and 98% of comic readers are certainly not in the USA. USA dwellers are the only people that actually get 2.99 comics.

    Our dollar is worth more than the US currently, so that means a 2.99 digital comic is around 60% of the cost you can buy one for in a shop, and rather less at some shops. 1.99 like Comixology etc. have is 40% of the price.

    I am pretty sure that they see international possibilities – and hence growth.

    It is also a major point of difference from their main competitors – and in fact almost all their competitors, except for 2000 AD I think?

    And yes, they both suck at diversity. Marvel’s idea of such is to have an American of occasionally different ancestry live on a different street in New York City. DC’s is to have that same American live in a different likely fictional American city.

  41. Get real, nobody reads and buys digital comics.

    Comics will live or die on paper.

  42. If every series was Seaguy they’d certainly die. Very quickly. :)

  43. This could have been a terrific idea – given a match between interested talent and the right characters. The proposed Miller “Dark Knight”, Steve Gerber “Amazon” and “Man Of Steel”, for instance.

    But Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Dan Didio, and Bob Harras will shepherd in the Second Great DC Implosion. Lee has a beautiful commercial style – it’s as if Patrick Nagle drew comics- is brilliant and has a sense for business. But he has created nothing memorable. He and Loeb did a fresh start well with HUSH, but his Superman soft reboot with Azzarello (FOR TOMORROW)was inert, and Wildstorm leaves not much of Lee’s vision behind.

    Johns is a one-hit wonder that’s creatively exhausted, and having him place his stamp all over DC’s books– you can only stripmine Alan Moore for so long.

    When you think of all the people that could have done this, and those that are doing it–

    I suppose it’s like Earth-2, a childhood favorite that DC shredded and forbade for decades, only to allow it to return – sadly, awfully, under Geoff Johns aegis.

    If this isn’t a jumping off point, there are none.

    On diversity: seeing this used as a buzzword by DC smacks as an attempt at self-praise, as if they were abolishing apartheid. Yes, DC has a lot of white male heroes romantically and sexually attracted to women – who were created by young Jewish kids decades ago. The US is less WASPy than it was then. But, see, look at a growing, thriving network like Univision. From “Despierta America” thru “El Gordo Y La Flaca” to the telenovelas, there’s practically zilch diversity, and zero WASPS, and there’s not an iota of guilt of agita over the fact. They program what they like, and the audience is happy. Network televison has more gay people and couples and more East Indians than it did in the 70s or 80s. That reflects the America now. “Modern Family” works because it is created by very talented people, and acted by even more talented people. It works because Sofia Vergara is amazing. “Hey, watch our show, we’re losing a bunch of white people and are hiring La Chupitos and Niurka Marcos!” isn’t a laudable mission statement, but patronizing tin-eared grandstanding.

    I loved DC, at varying degrees, since before I could read, and I’ve always wished it well. But you can smell that the Johns/GL movie is going to be a dud, and the Implosion doesn’t smell any better.

    Hope there’s someting left when the New Coke editorial team is gone.

  44. @mckracken: Right, and e-books will never catch on either!

    Digital comics have the potential to reach the huge percentage of potential fans who won’t or can’t step into a comic shop. I agree that prices have to be lower for digital comics to catch on–but ignoring digital would be pretty much signing comics’ death warrant.

  45. what have e-books to do with comics?

    Nothing. For comics you can’t use a kindle and the like.

  46. With this announcement, it would seem that if DC isn’t actively trying to bury the direct market, they’re quickly getting their affairs in order. With the day-and-date push and the relaunch of their entire line, this moves comes off like the beginning of a transition from print to digital.

    And just today it was announced that Dark Horse will be offering free downloads of 8-page comics (including Buffy the Vampire Slayer and BPRD) exclusively through retailers. Maybe I’m just being cynical, but it sounds like they are asking brick and mortar retailers to send their customers to Dark Horse’s online store. Here’s a knife, now please cut your own throat…

  47. Brian,

    What about the idea of “Buy a paper copy, get a code for the download copy?” Hasn’t that worked for the Blu-Ray market with attached digitial copy? Pay $3.50 for a paper & digital copy, or just buy the digital copy for a seperate price ($1.99)

    Honestly, that would get me interested in buying more.

  48. Thanks, Brian, great column.

    One other reason I’m concerned about this move is that so many excellent artists are tied up in FLASHPOINT mini-series. If George Perez is putting out 60 pages of pencils between now and August, he certainly won’t be on a book. Ditto Eduardo Risso and (probably) Rags Morales and certainly Andy Kubert. Will Phil Jiminez have the lead time to be on something? I have my doubts. Who are these 52 pencillers going to be?

    I also share your concern about the TPB backlist, which (ironically) is being advertised on comics news sites now, the Green Lantern books. Who needs to read that stuff now that it doesn’t “count”?

  49. @mrevansrm: The problems with the “buy a comic, get a digital download code” as I see them:

    1) You need a unique code for every individual copy of every book, that can only be used once
    2) It has to be sealed/hidden so people can’t just “steal” the codes while browsing in the comic shop

    That’s adding a lot of overhead to publishing comics (not to mention added shipping weight, if they have to use cardstock inserts or whatnot) for a feature that may not really appeal to that many people to begin with.

    I wish it were practical, because it would be nice to have the comics equivalent of ripping my CD collection…but it seems iffy to me.

  50. You know– I’m not a “comics journalist,” and I don’t know how hard that job is. But: Jim Lee’s on twitter. Geoff Johns is on twitter. It seems like most of the “legitimate” people who write about comics are on twitter. Is there a reason that people aren’t asking DC questions on twitter?

    I glanced at Jim Lee’s twitter, and it’s people like … complimenting him for liking Dick Dillin’s art. Of course he likes Dick Dillin’s art– he’s a human being! He’s got eyes!

    Whereas I think one question I know I have and that I imagine anyone with a stake in this might possibly have: how many issues does he have drawn? If he’s going to film festivals, and doing promotions of this big change this summer, and presumably going to San Diego, how many issues of his comic does he have done? Maybe I’m the only person who has that question. Maybe I’m nutty. Maybe Jim Lee is a solid reliable artist with respect to deadlines, and my question is way, way off in outer space.

    I mean, I imagine there’s a lot of questions that they won’t or can’t possibly answer. But: are people even asking them questions? I glanced at a couple big-name comics blogger types and I didn’t see that they were… but.. maybe I’m wrong… I mean, I’m not on twitter and never will be. But if people are all on twitter…??? What am I missing here? Why are people waiting for DC to hand them the information?

  51. I’m with Peter Singer on this one.

    As dismal as I think the prospects for the reboot are, I have to wonder if it’s all a massive stunt designed to shake things up, get some new people to look at the books, and then, say, six months in (allowing enough of a back catalog for a series of TPBs), announce that it’s all been an alternate continuity and that the original DCU is returning (“Your heroes are back!”) — plus those new elements that have won a little bit of favor.

    It gives them two publicity jolts for the price of one, takes some of the pressure off the creative teams — knowing they’ll have to produce only six books — gives the current ongoing storylines a chance to actually develop after the hiatus, allows them to create the illusion of change, and keeps old farts like me happy — assuming they haven’t driven us all off.

    As low as my opinion is of the parties involved, I can’t imagine that they want to kiss off the millions invested in licensing of the “old” universe. (I also can’t imagine there are thousands of potential readers out there who have been scared off by the continuity, the issue numbers, or the costumes.)

    The digital aspect is exciting — as much as I love my LCS, I don’t love the stacks of longboxes I’ve acquired over 50-plus years. If I have to pay three bucks for a digital copy, there’s no sale. Offer me a deal for, say, $75 bucks a month for unlimited downloads, and I’ll try the whole line.

    Of course, they could be serious, which would mean that after 52 years, I’m done with comics.

  52. What I’m most curious about is where is Bob Harras? I keep forgetting he even works for DC.

  53. I’d be surprised if it turns out to be a temporary storyline. The way the announcement it phrased it would be quite a reversal to go back.

    In addition to the actual titles and creators to be announced in two weeks, I’m curious to see if DC makes a grand gesture of confidence in the books, and a concession to the position they’re putting retailers in (combining 52 new titles to order with same-day digital competition), by instituting some sort of limited returnability on the entire line for the first few months of the relaunch. Something like you can order each book up to your average June DCU book order on a fully returnable basis, so retailers will be able to actually have rack copies of all those books.

  54. Steve P, I’m not so concerned about the 5-20 year old storylines as I am about the ones I’m reading now. Did everyone working on the current titles get enough advance warning to properly tie-up everything? (And for that matter, also make it work as a series ender?)

  55. Sounds like New Coke and hey…does this mean we won’t get to see how Batman-Odyssey ends?

  56. Sounds to me like DC is tilting at windmills (well, somebody had to say it).

  57. Seve:
    “Johns is a one-hit wonder that’s creatively exhausted, and having him place his stamp all over DC’s books– you can only stripmine Alan Moore for so long.”

    Which was his one hit though?
    JSA, his original Flash, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, or Superman?
    He did really well with all of those.

    Dave:
    “As dismal as I think the prospects for the reboot are, I have to wonder if it’s all a massive stunt designed to shake things up, get some new people to look at the books, and then, say, six months in (allowing enough of a back catalog for a series of TPBs), announce that it’s all been an alternate continuity and that the original DCU is returning (“Your heroes are back!”) — plus those new elements that have won a little bit of favor.”

    If new people come to look at the books because of the relaunch, why would they want to ever revert to what came before?

    Marvel F’d up the Ultimate Universe by pulling the talent that was selling gang-buster there over to the main books, and now both lines sell less than before.
    If you’ve got a hit doing something new, there is no logical reason to revert to what wasn’t working before.

  58. if i remember correctly dc tried something similar with one year later and also tried something in the seventies to add more titles that wound up with the dc implosion. looks to me like dc it its desire to out do marvel is risking not only flooding the market and if it back fires. wind up with another implosion plus all the launches are just asking for another crisis to clean up the future mess to come.

  59. Relax, guy!

  60. @Steve P
    The digital codes need not be inserted in the book, they could be generated electronically at the time of purchase by linking retailers to the online store. Thus, your receipt would contain the codes for your digital downloads.
    Regardless, that doesn’t seem to be what’s going to happen anyways.

  61. [...] Retailer Brian Hibbs, Savage Critics:” …full line-wide day and day is potentially huge because of the ripple impact it might have. It will take very very very few current customers moving channels to have a catastrophic cascade impact along and down the chain. Maybe as little as 3-5%? If we’re not netting more NEW readers (and I DO NOT MEAN “Marvel readers switching loyalty”) (And see above) we’re really running the risk of the entire comics market collapsing in fairly fast order — and I’m including things that aren’t superheroes.” [...]

  62. I expect that this will change my own personal purchasing very little. I still will likely not buy books by Geoff Jones because his writing does not interest me. There are plenty of great comics out there not from DC (and this is coming from a life long DC fan).

  63. Now that Bleeding Cool has announced the first ten titles of DC’s relaunch, I am filled with Meh. Had James Robinson scripted Hawkman, I would have gladly checked it out. But now? Naah.

    The only news that’s made me perk up is the hope that J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman will finally be released.

  64. I don’t see SEAGUY yet.

    Damn. They probably save the best for last…

  65. I am sorry if I am offending the just announced creative teams, but I am kind of shocked by the latest announcement on creative teams.

  66. Why is the writer of the Flash the current artist? Does he have prior writing experience in comics?

  67. Interesting announcements today. The various ordering incentives (a mix of returnability, higher discounts and variant covers) seem pretty progressive (I don’t like the variant cover thing myself, but I guess it has a history of working for them. Returnability and higher discounts are always good, though), and a good way to get retailers to take a chance on the whole line with less risk, especially since they’re extending through at least three months of the launch, not just the first issues.

    None of the announce creative teams really interest me, though there are a few solid artists in there, who I’d be happy to read a book by if I hear good things about it.

  68. Regarding the number of artists-turned-writers:

    On one hand, I don’t think there’s a need, at all, to have a separate writer and artist. I also don’t think prior writing experience is necessary if the stories are written to match whatever the artist wants to draw. Comics are a visual medium, and the stories should serve to support the visuals. When it comes to mainstream superhero comics, good art and a good editor are most important.

    Which sort of leads into my other thought; these books are going to be *heavily* editorially-driven and mandated. I believe Jim Lee’s costume redesigns were done with an eye toward adapting them to the big screen. Nowadays, it’s hard to pull off the underwear-over-the-tights look (a la Superman) in a movie without it looking silly, so DC redesigned the costume without them despite the fact that it worked on the printed page, fairly well, for 70+ years. DC has said in the past that Warners wants the DCU superhero movies to replace the Harry Potter franchise as their summer tentpole movie franchise. I absolutely feel that is what this reboot was made to facilitate. The GL book we see launched in September will in no way contradict the mythos or visuals established by the movie (itself an interpretation of Johns’ run). The characters, as they are presented in the books from September forward, will also correspond heavily with the representations of the DCU characters in their mass media ventures. I’d even say there’s a small, outside shot that the movies, video games, etc. will be “in-continuity” with the comics. Meaning if you’ve seen the GL movie or played the video game or watched the animated feature, the comics take place in that same universe. (I actually feel like that’s a smart idea at this point.)

    The digital day-and-date initiative says, to me, that the comics themselves are another place to market and promote these characters to a wider audience. It feels like Marvel sees the comics as a small piece of their revenue, and mostly just as an easy way to maintain copyright privileges. It’s possible for DC and Warners that they see the comics as, maybe not as important when it comes to the bottom-line, but as important when it comes to maintaining and spreading brand recognition. Batman on your TV, your PS3, your iPad, your movie screen, your t-shirt – a multi-pronged attack on all modern entertainment outlets.

    I don’t think there will be “artistry” (Kirby’s “Fourth World”, Moore’s “Swamp Thing”, etc.) in mainstream comics for the foreseeable future; not while the movies are so profitable. But it is still possible for the comics to be more than afterthought, and I’m hoping that is the result of this reboot.

  69. Well, Brian got his wish as DC is allowing for returnability for all 52 titles. And that’s on top of lots of other retailer incentives. I love how every complaint that’s been thrown out by the naysayers is being summarily dismissed as we find out more details. KUDOS DC! Kuuuuuuuuudos.

  70. @Jason Wood: The biggest complaints of Hibbs (and many of the other critics, which you call “naysayers”) have NOT been addressed — mainly, what Hibbs (notably in a recent Tilting) and many others have been saying for AGES: that the biggest problem with DC (as well as Marvel) is OVERPRODUCTION — cranking out pointless, marginal titles that cannibalize the fanbase and diminish the impact of the brand. (And I’m sure the retailers out there can explain better than I how returnability only mildly mitigates risk — the time & money invested in ordering, shipping, sorting, shelving, unshelving, repacking and SHIPPING BACK deadweight titles is money that’s clean pissed away.)

    Another major problem is DC’s repeated failure to capitalize on new launches and relaunches. “One Year Later;” the incompetent launch and early death of the First Wave line; *everything* surrounding the Final Crisis event (prequels that didn’t mesh with the event’s storyline, tie-ins that didn’t, unasked for, nonselling sequel minis, etc.); the utter non-event that was the prestigious launch of the Earth One GN line (now aborted?); the half-assed, quickly dropped fumbles of publishing initiatives like the Minx line, the Humanoids line, the Vertigo Crime imprint, etc., etc….. again and again, DC has approached these launches with a marketing plan that amounts to: “If you build it, they will come.”

    Well, maybe not.

    There’s a lot of potential good that could come from a major reboot / relaunch. I’m not a diehard fan deeply invested in the status quo and wouldn’t mind a “reimagining” of the DCU, especially one that doesn’t require a casual reader to have a Ph. D in the esoterica of Donna Troy Studies and advanced Hawkmanology.

    But what WON’T work is 52 titles flying out essentially at once. What WON’T work is expecting core readers to become “DC zombies” and pick up all those titles. What WON’T work is expecting that casual, intrigued civilians will buy into that overwhelming mass of overproduction. What WON’T work is a cashflow plan that’s too dependent on the expectation of an unprecedented flood of digital subscribers.

    Common sense tells me that with 52 titles, maintaining continuity, story integrity and overall quality is next to impossible. And past experience tells me that it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that DC has really thought through how this is all going to work… especially with it being helmed by the dubious triumvirate of Dan “Crisis! Crisis! Crisis!” Didio, Jim “WildStorm’s Absentee Landlord” Lee and Geoff “The Reanimator” Johns.

    “If you build it, they will come.”

    God, I hope it works THIS time.

  71. Regarding the returnability of comics at the retailer level, it’s incredibly helpful. The downside you mention is virtually non-existent assuming your ordering levels aren’t ludicrous and you stay realistic. While you certainly have the opportunity to order more than usual on these titles, you still should not order beyond what you can realistically sell.

    The glut of 52 titles does worry me. Obviously we’re looking at, DC needs to sell X number of comics in a month to hit a certain level of profit. Apparently they’re accountants have told them that, on average, that number can be achieved by publishing 52 “ongoing” comics. I think after the first 6-8 months that number will likely shrink down to the low 40s as under-performers are trimmed away while the number of mini-series, one-shots, etc. increases to keep the line *roughly* around that 52 number.

    Personally, I would have thought something like Ultimate DC Comics might have been a safer bet. Put top-flight creators on a core of 4-6 monthly comics featuring these “re-imagined” versions of the characters. Give it 2 years and if they succeed like the Ultimate Marvel line did, have a Crisis event with the result being the Ultimate DC characters are the new versions of the characters.

  72. While some aspects of the alarmism are entertaining, I’d like to ask a serious question. Some people seem to think this is like FLASHPOINT or even the Ultimate Universe with 52 new titles being added alongside the venerable stable of DC books.

    It seems pretty clear to me, thse 52 ARE the DC books. This is it.

    Okay, so some titles will succeed and some won’t. No suprises. But let’s hazard a guess at “one year later” and wind ahead to Spetember 2012. How many of those 52 will still be going? Or maybe 18 months? two years?

    One third failure rate? Maybe a bit more? A lot more would be my guess. Having put all your eggs into that basket, it might be a LOT more. If people don’t buy-in to the new universe (and why has no-one called it that?!) then you REALLY don’t buy-in. Or if they “wait to see how it does”….there could be a RAPID and marked decline in floppy sales. Like off a cliff.

    And if this fails for DC, what then? You can’t just “go back.” This is a MAJOR roll of the dice, and it could all come crashing down on them.

  73. “On one hand, I don’t think there’s a need, at all, to have a separate writer and artist. I also don’t think prior writing experience is necessary if the stories are written to match whatever the artist wants to draw. Comics are a visual medium, and the stories should serve to support the visuals. When it comes to mainstream superhero comics, good art and a good editor are most important.”

    This definitely seems to be the thoughts of editors these days, as the story-telling has sunk to abyssal lows. Being able to draw, and even draw dynamically, does not equate to good story-telling. Image proved this two decades ago.

    Good writers are marginalized, given the company script, or crappy writers like Bendis are given the keys to the kingdom.

    But I am sure the big two apreciate your validation of their editorial-driven comics.

    Personally, and I am not alone on this, the story has to be solid, or the package is hamstrung to begin with.

  74. @Bret: To be fair that should be “…crappy but popular writers like Bendis…”. While I would agree that the perfect comic producing unit should theoretically be one person drawing and writing etc. Isn’t the only reason people work for the Big Two the fact that they can’t do both? If you can write and draw you’ll pop off and do your own stuff with the odd foray back to get some fat cash, natch.

    I’ve read a lot of panicking fans (“No more DC for me!” is my favourite; I give myself 10p whenever it crops up. I have 60p.) but I’m not in the Fandemonium camp myself. It’s just another shake up; just like Spangleman is back! Cakefaker is dead! DC are just doing it all at once rather than the regular, drip-drip of Marvel. I’ll take or leave the books depending on the creative teams just like I always have. It’s the same properties with the same creators shuffled around. Ball. Cup. Cup. Ball. That one! The one with Grant Morrison’s Superman under it!

    As amusing as it is to watch DC rub their nuts in Marvel’s face for once I am not unaware of the very real gravity of the situation. The primary interest for me is the retailing part of it. Since I am hampered by lack of knowledge and what seems to be daily announcements as to how/what this entails I can’t really offer much. But I am on tenterhooks.

    The digital stuff looks Very Important but I need someone to talk about that for me as I’m just not interested in digital as a reader. (I’m as likely to read From Hell on an Ipad as I am to watch Apocalypse Now on my phone.) I am, however, interested in the mechanics of the digital retailing stuff and any and all impacts on bricks’n’mortar. Look, I’m the kind of clueless buffoon who thinks Digital will, potentially, bring in a vast new audience and this will lead to a trickle down effect into the stores. Everyone wins! I imagine that isn’t the case though.

    On the Luddite side of things – I think DC *really* need to support the retailers. The retailers are the troops on the frontline here. I think they should have given the retailers *all* the information about their plans and left the wider audience to get it off news sites etc. That’s the decent thing to do, I think, but also the savvy thing. You need to minimise the psychic disruption to your main allies, surely. Because it is with the retailers that this lives or dies.

    I reiterate: DC *HAVE* to support the retailers in any and every way possible for this to work. If it doesn’t work the damage to DC will primarily involve embarassment and cancelled trips to Hooters but retailers have their livelihoods on the line here. DC have realised that you don’t win The War by Holding The Line but now the whistles are blowing all down the way and it is the retailers who have to tamp out their fags and lunge over the top. I hope to see you all on the other side.

  75. I certainly wasn’t trying to validate anyone’s way of thinking when it comes to the writer/artist dynamic. If Image proved it to be true in the early-90s, were they simply refuting heavyweights like Kirby and Eisner, or even solid producers like George Perez, John Byrne, and Walt Simonson? And are there not *many* writers we’d rather not ever read again? You mention Bendis, and he’s in that category for me.

    The business of superhero comics has changed drastically since the 90s. They’re less about being a literate medium and more about guiding a brand. To me, that’s the work of an editor; someone to make sure all the various elements of a shared fictional world are operating effectively and efficiently in the big picture. Writers and pencillers are idea people, the ones who create month-to-month thrills. As comics are visual I don’t see any reason many immediately assume that an unproven penciller can’t generate those thrills.

  76. A couple of additional thoughts that have occurred to me (man, I should just get a blog):

    1) The uninspired/same-old creative teams and artists-as-writers aren’t particularly an issue, IMHO, if the goal is to attract brand-new readers. People who don’t read comics don’t know Morrison from Krul and they don’t know or care who was writing the book last month. They *do* get the idea of jumping in at the ground floor of something new (or at least new-ish), and I suspect several of us posting here got into comics through something that objectively doesn’t look so great these days. (For me? G.I. Joe and Secret Wars.) Look at the things that do well in movies, music, TV, and novels — they’re not always that good, but mass appeal is not the same as quality, unfortunately.

    2) As for same-day digital releases not being important to those new readers…well, they don’t stay new readers forever. One month they’re a new reader, next month they’re a returning reader, a few months later they’re a fan. (Hopefully, anyway.) And if you become a fan of something and want to read about it online, discuss with other fans, etc., it’s bound to be disappointing to find out that you’re a month or more behind other people just because you don’t happen to be near a good comic shop — or because you just happen to prefer one format over another.

  77. For all the reboots and PR-grabbing to juice sales, what are the new audiences this is supposed to bring in? As a retailer maybe you know this but from the material I’ve seen it’s not obvious. Not just for this reboot but all reboots that DC and Marvel do. You note how many big events bring in X number of civilians but none of them seem to stick beyond an issue or two (death of x character).

    I’m sure there are audience demographics beyond the standard male 18-34, but who does DC aspire to bring in? Even the 2011 Oscars tried to reach a younger audience and they were clear about their goals. I’m not clear how this will bring in new readers to comics besides the olive branch DC is offering a catchall “minorities” category. What is there here to appeal to young women? What will make gamers or iPad users pay for a print or digital comic for the first time? Baby boomers? What other media does DC want to grab market segment share from in the competition for consumer share of wallet? None of this is clear from the retailer letter.

    BTW, the call has been made elsewhere for a more modest top for WW to go with the pants, but I do find it sad and ironic that the men are clad neck to toe even more so now, yet WW still sports decolletage for going into combat. If you want to cast a wider audience net and convince people to come back to comics then stop playing to these cliches.

  78. 3 bucks for 5 minutes of shitty entertainment isn’t gonna be any more appealing to the masses just because now it’s on a computer screen.

    I also can’t believe the level of what’s either public ass-kissery or delusion that I’m seeing out of so many retailers on this.

  79. Anthony – good points, well stated. I am not a fan of editorially-mandated stories, like the non-stop events (civil war – secret invasion – dark whatever) that involve other titles and break up the stories in them. You might not be implying that heavy of a hand, but when you say the writer is the weakest link of the three, it sounds like it. My apologies if I am putting words in your mouth.

    A fair point on the assumption that unproven artists are not getting fair shakes as writers as well, but there is a big difference in drawing well, and drawing well sequentially to create a coherent story. Many of Hibbs’ reviews underline the disconnect here, but to be fair many of these are a disconnect between writer and artist. The point here is that being a good artist does not automatically equate to being a good sequential artist – but maybe I am overstating that as well.

    I place a higher premium on solid storytelling, and that primarily comes from the writers. DC would be better served just focusing on that. Yeah, this relaunch generates a lot of buzz, but if they had maintained solid stories over the years they would not need to be doing this.

    At least, this is why I stopped buying comics a few years ago, despite caring about the characters and wanting to continue following them. The stories stunk, particularrly for the price of admission, and all the editing and art in the world cannot change that – and they have tried.

    All of our mileage varies, of course.

  80. After the WTF factor settled in, I actually think this a bold move on DC’s part to bring new readers in to what was once a mass-market media and is clearly not anymore. They’re going for a two market approach which they used to have with comics selling on newsstands and in the comic specialty shops (stress on the specialty, no offense Hibbs!).

    USA Today articles aside, I still think they need to market the shit out of this outside of comics fandom in a way to draw in the general public in a way that hasn’t been done since the Death of Superman (and really this is the biggest thing to in the comics industry since that happened). Put a bumper before the Green Lantern movie. Rush the DVD of same out on August 30 with a coupon for the downloads. And that’s the tip of the iceberg if this is all going to work for them.

    They’ve answered a lot of fears with packaging, pricing, returnability, yada yada yada, but still the real deal breaker, the thing that could end comics as we know it, is the 52 #1’s in one month. That is not good for the direct market or the digital customers. If you spread them out over 3 months that would come to about 3 a week, which is somewhat reasonable. Or if you have 52 as a set number, why not one a week for a year with a connecting backup series in each to pull readers to the next title (and have it written by Alan Moore and drawn by an accelerated-growth clone grafted from Frank Frazetta cell-matter? I’m not actually sure which of those is less plausible, or if either is more implausible than the whole idea in itself working).

    As it is, they’re asking readers to choose between titles. Azzarello & Chiang’s Wonder Woman or Eric Wallace & whoever’s Mister Terrific? Johns & Reis Aquaman or Daniel & Tan on Hawkman? Can you say DC Implosion Mark 2?

    It looks like they’ve been saving some already announced titles for the launch which are intriguing: I suspect JH Williams’ Batwoman and Peter Milligan’s Red Lantern Corps will see the light of day here. But I’d like to see some more exciting talent being brought in from outside rather than the internal reshuffling that seems apparent with those 1st ten titles announced. Hell, even One Year Later looked better from a creative standpoint, and that didn’t work.

    Still, I commend Johns & Lee’s announcement that they would be bringing more to the genre table with the relaunch, with some war or western or adventure titles (like, the things the general pub reads). That Darwyn Cooke pencilled page of Vigilante (the old West guy, not the lawyer-turned-costumed killer guy) holds promise.

    But with all the news, what really peeved me was that the new JLI title promised at the end of Justice League: Generation Lost would be by Aaron Lopresti on art (yay!) but also Dan (most dependable but boring writer in comics) Jurgens. But that’s just me.

  81. In regards to DC attempting an ‘Ultimate’ line… weren’t the All-Star books supposed to fulfill that?
    c.

  82. Okay, I’ve been away in Legoland with my seven year old for the last 3 days and had NO Internet/computer/comics of any kind during that time. That’s why I’ve been silent the last few days. And, of course, more details have been announced since.

    Just a few responses here for things that commentators posted (and by the way, folks, I’d like to congratulate you all for being a relative oasis of sanity on the internet for this!)

    From Jason Wood a few days ago:
    “That said, in reading your reactions it somewhat codified to me just how insular the direct market has become and how important it is for all the publishers to do everything humanly possible to expand far, far beyond it.”

    See, I agree. I’d be ecstatic if comics sales quintupled, because some of that is clearly going to come to me. My question, however, is: “is this size & scope of a relaunch going to be what grabs non-comics reading people?”

    The LAST time they revamped Superman, I was working at a different store and we sold nearly 1000 copies of MAN OF STEEL #1 — but can I rationally hope to sell that many copies of NuSUPERMAN #1? Or even a significant percentage of them? Yes, MAYBE if it was just a tight line of 4-12 books, but 52? That makes me very very nervous.

    Robert G:

    “It’s a great publicity stunt. It brings attention to the DC Universe to those who have been away and to civilians who may be curious. And contrary to what you suggest Brian, it may actually have some effect in drawing readers away from Marvel titles. Me, for instance.”

    Drawing readers from Marvel books to buy more DC books isn’t a net increase in readership. It’s just taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another. That’s not really helpful for the market at all.

    Anthony Casaldi:

    “Regarding the returnability of comics at the retailer level, it’s incredibly helpful. The downside you mention is virtually non-existent assuming your ordering levels aren’t ludicrous and you stay realistic.”

    Paying 10% of cover price to be allowed to return a copy (and thus have NOTHING for your investment) is a HUGE downside.

    Further, per DC, only 41 of the 52 books are currently planned to be returnable, and I’ll go on a limb and suggest BATMAN #1, SUPERMAN #1, WONDER WOMAN #1, and GREEN LANTERN #1 will be of the non-returnable 11. Those titles, of course, will be the ones of the most *potential* interest to the non-comics reader, and therefore the most potentially volatile, and the most in need of returnability in the first place.

    -B

  83. “‘The New Blue Beetle will be a Filipino Transexual character’ (or whatever) doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me, though.”

    “Or whatever”?

    Would you have written this as: “‘The New Blue Beetle will be black and gay’ (or whatever) doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me, though”?

    If not, why not?

  84. @ Hibbs- I love how your whole attitude about this move by DC is negative and it is going to cost you so much potentially. For somebody who can afford to take three days off to “go play in lego land” you sure do sound alot like Chicken Little. I can’t remember the last time I took three days off from work.
    The sky is not falling. I have heard for more than ten years now that comics are dying as an industry. Its not dying its just changing. Day and date is not going to kill comics. There is no physical numbers to prove that it will. There have been examples of this (Iron Man Annual?). As far as the 52 new releases, lets just wait and see how good they are before we start writing them off out of the gate. As a reader/collector I am excited and can not wait for September.

  85. Yeah, Brian! I agree with Travis! Taking 3 days off to spend time with your son? What an asshole you are! /sarcasm

  86. [...] day-and-date distribution for its revamped universe, which has led more than a few retailers to cry doom. As well they should; DC makes up about a third of the comic book market and is probably [...]

  87. What I was trying to point out was that in this financial market, As a comic book dealer, If I was financially secure enough to take three days off, then I would be VERY lucky.
    Yes, I would love to spend that kind of time with my son. But I also would not be trying to scare everyone shitless, Like the esteemed author of this article is so doing. Calm down. Wait for the outcome. Then piss on the art form I love and respect. That is, if you can afford to?

  88. “Then piss on the art form I love and respect.”

    And you’re the only one who does. The rest of us hate and disdain comics. We only read the things and come here to talk about them because Filipino transexual terrorists put guns to our heads and force us.

    Sheesh.

    Mike

  89. [...] Brian Hibbs gives a retailers’ point of view reaction to the moves. [...]

  90. “Then piss on the art form I love and respect.”

    Right, because commenting on something DC does is commenting on ALL COMICS.

    Think, Travis. Think.

  91. Went to the barber Thursday, barber says “I saw the big news about DC Comics on AOL.” His follow up was priceless. “I’ve never bought a comic book in my life, but is this stunt as stupid as it sounds?” Not exactly the intended civilian response, huh? A real small businessman read the story and saw it as a desperate stunt without half the knowledge of the history and economics of the biz.

  92. What I most appreciate about your comments, Travis, is that you decided to be a douchey asshole just minutes after I praised this thread for being levelheaded and intelligent. So, congratulations!

    Not like it’s really any of YOUR business, but *I* didn’t pay for the trip to Legoland at all — Ben’s grandparents did. No, *I* have to be the one to tell my son he can’t have any of the dozens of things he wants AT the park because I simply don’t have the cash for them.

    This is also *my* first vacation in many years, as well — I believe it has been five years for me.

    So: please take this as my most humble and respectful invitation to go fuck yourself. With a rusty knife.

    -B

  93. I am trying to be positive but the more I read these announcements the more negative I feel.

    A life long DC fan should be more excited about this.

    Something just doesn’t seem right here. This must have been forced on DC.

    If Generation Lost was popular then why are they changing the writer? Why are they changing the writer on Superboy? Where is Jock going? Where is Morrison? Cornell? Sterling Gates? Why are they erasing the impact of Batman Inc, perhaps the best thing to come out of DC over the past year?

    Sure I will read Snyder’s Batman, but I was reading it anyway.

  94. I’d say “at least there’s DC’s backlist” but I think a lot of us already own that backlist so that might be good for our wallets but less so for DC’s income…

    This seems like one of the least inspired relaunches ever. Tony Daniel on Detective Comics #1, really? Really? They can’t be hoping anyone will think these #1s are “collectibles”, can they?

    Lack of interest… growing… (good job, DC)

    PS to Brian: don’t let yourself be baited!

  95. George “This must have been forced on DC”

    More likely it’s that “666 Fifth Avenue” DC, the publishing company run by print guys, ended with Paul Levitz’ tenure, and “DC” is now a West Coast division of (ahem) AOL Time Warner that’s in the business of line extension. The “old” DC, the one that many of us had great affection for, hasn’t -really- existed in a good while. It’s like seeing the dread “Now Under New Management” sigh on the window of a business you like very much – it needn’t be cause for alarm, but experience has taught us the “uh-oh” reflex.

    Some things just smell kinky, like the AOL merger with Time Warner, and Dan Didio’s vanity project, Earth-New Coke DC –that ain’t roses…

  96. Seve – You are probably right. And I actually understand why DC is doing a reboot. They want to make more movies and sell comics on the ipad and want a base of ideas/concepts with limited complexity and history.

    But Geoff Jones experience is traditionally in mining continuity, the exact opposite of what they are trying to do. Infinite Crisis, JSA, Legion of 3 Worlds are perfect examples of that. How is he the right person to do this?

    Jim Lee is not timely. What happens when he gets two months behind the anchor book? The existing consumer base loses interest when books run really late, do they think the wider consumer base will be any different?

    And I despise Jones’ Green Lantern, and I love Green Lantern.

    I want to have faith in this, but the sceptic says that you don’t need established writers on the Flash, Detective Comics and Hawkman because they will be written by editors to meet universe building story beats or whatever Didio calls it.

  97. “The LAST time they revamped Superman, I was working at a different store and we sold nearly 1000 copies of MAN OF STEEL #1 — but can I rationally hope to sell that many copies of NuSUPERMAN #1?”

    I don’t think DC is really looking for that much of a boost, and is trying to do something more long-term and sustainable than a one time boost (how many copies of MAN OF STEEL #2 did that store sell? How many of the Superman titles one year after the relaunch?). Best clue to that is that the returnability qualifier is just a 25% bump on your May order. I suspect they’d be thrilled with an overall 50% increase in orders.

    I do think they need to make some sort of commitment that at least the non-returnable books will stay in-print and available with minimal re-order time for at least a few months. Especially with the digital releases, you don’t want to have to say to a customer “We’ll be getting more copies of SUPERMAN #1 in three weeks” at a time when they can get a copy on-line instantly, or wait two weeks and get if for $1 less.

  98. “I don’t think DC is really looking for that much of a boost, and is trying to do something more long-term and sustainable than a one time boost…”

    For digital comics? Maybe. For the current direct market? No. No way.

    I have absolutely no idea why anyone would think this move has potential for long-term success in the DM. Seems like a blatant “get while the gettin’s good” move to me.

  99. What is also odd is that so far this appears to be superheroes all the way down. No actual other genre titles.

    And if the Vertigo more general interest stuff is actually far lower selling – why no digital push there, more importantly?

  100. I have nothing more to say, I just wanted to push the comment thread to post #100.

    -B

  101. Hibbs: Is that a new record?

    And gotta say, outside of the (Hallelujah! At Last!) release of JHWIII’s BATWOMAN, I’ve found the announced titles so far to be a bit dispiriting — a whole lotta brand-dilution going on and a lot of head-scratching WTF titles (RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS? Seriously? And does anybody, anywhere think Babs was more effective and interesting a character as Batgirl, as opposed to Oracle?)

    Until today. I didn’t know I secretly have been dying for JUSTICE LEAGUE: VERTIGO and FRANKENSTEIN: AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E. (Unfortunately, my spider-senses indicate that these are also the kinda books that will be the first to get ignominiously axed.)

  102. How about ROAD TRIP: CONSTANTINE AND QUANTUM ?

  103. [...] Wayne sent a letter to retailers that says in part, “We think our current fans will be excited by this evolution, and that it [...]

  104. [...] being released digitally for sale at exactly the same time as its print release. I heard retailers (Hibbs among them) worrying aloud, in kind of frenzied language, that this was potentially a deathblow to their [...]

  105. [...] [Source: Comic Book Resources, The Beat, Savage Critics] [...]

  106. […] Brian Hibbs gives a retailers’ point of view reaction to the moves. […]

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