Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Exciting News From DC Comics

So I chose the above picture for a couple of reasons. One, I like it. And two, because I want to tell you about some exciting news that has come out from DC Comics over the last week or so. Now I don’t particularly care about Green Lantern, but that may be about to change, and not because of the movie. Comics have had a problem lately, numbers are dwindling, readership is down. Now there a lot of reasons why this is happening, mostly stemming from the way the comic book market works, this thing we call the direct market. Comics aren’t finding a new audience. It used to be that there was a 5 year cycle where old readers would be replaced with new readers, but somewhere along the way, that changed. The old readers stuck around, and the market changed to reflect that. Comics became insular and you ended up having to go to specialty stores to buy them, because they were no longer available on the racks of the newsagent or grocer. Things are a bit different here in Australia, you can still find comics at a newsagency, but the market in U.S. still affects what the content is and that effects what comics are produced.
So for years now we’ve been seeing this continually shrinking market, and we all seem to know what the problem is, but no one has had the balls to fix it. Well now DC does. Or at least they’re going to give it a go. So if we break down the problem, it’s that new readers find it difficult to access comics at the moment because they are no easily accessible physically and not accessible content wise, being mired down in 50+ year continuity. So DC is have a line wide re-launch. In the last week of August, they will print one comic, the final comic in a company crossover event, which will set the stage for the future. In September then, they are releasing 52 new number 1 issues, re-launching their entire universe with idea to make it more accessible t o those who are not currently reading comics. The characters will mostly be the same, but they’ll be new, slightly re-jigged or majorly re-jigged, to update them for a new modern audience.
Well, that’s all well and good, you may say, but that still doesn’t solve the problem of getting these comics into peoples hands. And you’re right, but this is where I think the most exciting part of the story comes in. DC Comics have also announced that they will now releasing all their comics digitally on the same day they release the print comic. This is big news. No one has done anything this bold yet. Yes, there has been the occasional digital day and date release, but that has just been a single issue, kind of a toe in the water. DC Comics are going all in in this. They see the writing on the wall, and they know that digital is the future. So now, if their marketing department can do their job, everybody with access to a phone or a computer connected to the net should be able to get a DC Comic if they want one. The problem they’re going to face is the price point of those digital downloads, and also the “ownership” of them, but that can be a discussion for another time. I will say this about the pricing though, at the moment, the model they’ve set up is that the digital comics will cost the same as the print comics when they’re first released, then will go down to a lower price point after a month, so $2.99 for a regular issue on the day of release, then down to $1.99 a month later. Many people seem to think the price point needs to drop down to .99 range for it to truly be successful, based on experience from song downloads and the psychology of a buck, and I tend to agree, but this is a first exciting step, and I wonder how long it will be before I crack and get some kind of tablet to read my digital comics on.


SDAL said...

A list of the 52 titles can be found here, http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/06/07/an-updateable-list-of-the-52-dc-titles-for-september/
or other places as well I imagine. Just in case you were interested.

SDAL said...

Olli couldn't leave a message, which is weird, but this is what he would've said;
"hi scott,

saw your post on your blog re: DC comics reboot.

i tried to post a comment but the system insisted i create a blog (which i'm not keen on) - so didn't bother.

i guess my issue is what happens in 5 years' time with DC comics ? do they go through another all-of-franchise reboot ?


Olli, maybe, but probably not. It'll be really interesting to see what happens, but tI think what DC are probably hoping happens is that they can have their cake and get a new cake too. My guess is that we won't really see a huge difference to the comics they're producing today, but there will be a greater demand for content suitable for the younger audience again, which will not really be tied to a continuity too much, so they will try produce comics for the audience that we traditionally think of as a comic audience, as opposed tot he reality of 30 year old men. So they'll have those comics, but will also keep some titles going to keep the 30+yr. olds happy. That's what I think is the greatest thing about the digital distribution, the potential for audience growth, to get comics into the hands of people who didn't even know that Brisbane or wherever has 3 comic shops in it's CBD, or a place like Roma which would only have access to Simpsons and Archie comics if they're lucky.
And really, it's only an issue if you've been following those comics the next 5 years, so we'll see what you buy come September.