Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Thoughts On The DC Relaunch

When I first learned of DC Comics relaunching their entire line I wasn't a fan, as I considered it a giant waste of 70-plus years of continuous publication for some small short-term gains. Now the first few weeks worth of books have appeared and my anger has subsided, so what do I think?

Actually I don't mind it, or at least I don't mind certain aspects of it. One aspect I like is the best of the books feel like they inhabit their own little corner of the universe. Titles like Grant Morrison's 'Action Comics', JH Williams' 'Batwoman' and Jeff Lemire's 'Animal Man' all provide very different reading experiences. Indeed, apart from the ho-hum 'Justice League' book, there has really been only minor interaction between the various major characters at this point. Kind of like Marvel Comics in the old days, rather than Marvel now, where there's a crossover and 50 tie-in books every six months and everyone hangs out in the Avengers Tower.

Another aspect that I'm really liking is the digital versions coming out the same day as the print versions. There's quite a few #1s that I wouldn't pay full price for in the store (or are sold out), but are quite happy to pay a reduced price to read it on my phone. Basically it's another example of price discrimination, which as an economist I find intriguing. And I think that's really part of the rationale for this whole relaunch thing (beyond the gimmick), that is to give readers a chance to try out a bunch of stuff and work out what types of titles suit them. Actually I wish they'd been even a little bit bolder in the types of titles they tried out rather than have a dozen Batman and half a dozen Green Lantern titles, but I suppose they've got to keep the cash flow going, and hey, that's kind of what they have the Vertigo imprint for.

Already some are suggesting that Marvel do the same thing. Speaking for myself, I hope not - I think you can achieve creative diversity and savvy marketing without necessarily hitting the reset button. But if it helps you find new audiences then I guess it's all up for grabs. Either that or go the way of the pulp novel!

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