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Thursday, June 2, 2011

DC Comics Reboots; Digital Versions Get Same-Day Release

Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern all have popped collars... it's a dark future indeed.
DC Comics has decided to reboot its lineup, possibly in response to the ongoing lawsuit with Siegel & Schuster heirs over the rights to some of Superman's basics (his costume, Lois Lane, Kryptonian origin, etc.). Thus they have a chance to eliminate the elements they might not control about Superman, and start the comics over again.

It's not just Superman, it's all of their major characters. They'll be revising costumes, starting 52 different comics from issue #1, and generally updating and revising everything. It's a major redo that's sure to piss off some old fans, but they hope to bring in many more new ones.

One of the biggest things about this redo is that DC plans to begin releasing the digital versions of their comics day & date with the print versions. This is going to ignite a firestorm of protest from retailers, no doubt. They feel the delayed release of digital titles is crucial to their business. They may be right... but the fact that digital titles are so ridiculously expensive has to be helping them.

This is an important step towards sanity in the comic book business. Let's face it, digital comics are the future. As tablets become ubiquitous, it's an opportunity to get past the high cost of printing and get a whole new generation hooked on comics. But as an entertainment value right now, comics suck. For $4 you get some fraction of an hour's entertainment (if it takes you an hour to read a comic book, you have bigger problems to worry about). You can get a good iPhone game for less than $4 and spend far more time than an hour playing it.

The real wonder is that DC and Marvel haven't figured out how to leverage the gold mine of their old comics. Thousands of issues gathering digital dust, because they're trying to sell them for $3 each. Insanity. Try some different price points and see how many thousands or millions of new comic fans you can create. The older the comic, the lower the price should be. It's the inverse of the printed product; who really cares about Spider-Man issues from the '60s? Complete story arcs for $1 or $2 would be a reasonable value.

Maybe this move by DC brings the day closer when comics will fully embrace digital distribution. Meanwhile, comics retailers will need to figure out how they will survive as the market moves in that direction.

1 comment:

  1. While the move might be insane, it does have people talking about DC Comics. Any publicity is good publicity...