First, I don’t think it can be overstated what a tremendous impact Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison and Brian Bendis have on mainstream comics. Douglas Wolk points out that the 26 best-selling DC single issues were all written by Morrison or Johns, and if you look at the top of Marvel’s charts, Bendis rules the roost over there. In fact, taken as a group, Sean T. Collins points out that 65 of the top 75 best-selling comics of the year were written by one of three people.
I also don’t think it can be overstated how unhealthy this is, though I’m not sure who it says more about: the industry or the fan base. I’d like to believe that it isn’t the fault of the fans, that Marvel and DC are just shooting themselves in the foot here. Banking on three people for all of your output sounds like a bad creative decision and an even worse business model, and I don’t really believe that’s something fans want. Logic dictates that the more kinds of comics there are the better comics will be overall, and that the more people creating comics, collaborating with and challenging each other, the better the stories will be. If fans are that easy to please, that lazy, there’s nothing to stop companies from continuing that practice.
NEW YORK / BURBANK, Calif., June 23, 2010 – DC Comics, publisher of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Fables, is partnering with comiXology and PlayStation®Network for two separate digital comics distribution deals launching today, Wednesday, June 23. In addition, a DC Comics App for the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch is available allowing consumers an easy way to access DC Comics’ content. The announcement was made jointly today by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
Bonus: Now we can finally read Zuda comics without that horrible Flash interface, since Flash is to Apple mobile devices what garlic is to vampires.
DC has gotten a lot of flack for not throwing their hat into the iPod/iPhone/iPad ring along with… well, every other publisher under the sun. Comixology paved the way with the debut of their comics reading app last July and even created an app specifically for Marvel. The stakes got a bit higher recently with Marvel going day and date with one of their comics, albeit for a markup. But now that DC has launched its app they’ve also taken the full plunge, putting day and date comics on the app at shelf price, as well as making a more competitive pricing structure: prices range from free, to $0.99, and up.
Anyway, I’m sure you can find plenty of talk about the impact this will have on the publishers online, but my initial thought is that ComiXology has now officially and completely changed the game. A few years ago comic reading interfaces on the iPhone/iPod were counterintuitive, and the selection was grim. Marvel and DC had no presence, and the only Image book available to download was Elephantmen in its own app. I remember seeing the Comixology Comics app before it hit the store and thinking it was unbelievable, and an incredibly easy and fun way to read comics. Fast forward a little over a year later the app was so successful that now Marvel and DC (that’s Disney and Time Warner) have reached out to the company in order to build their officially branded apps. That’s an incredible leap, and add that to the hundreds of other comics on the official ComiXology app that are available to read and what you’ve got is a legitimate stranglehold on the market. That’s huge.
Think about it this way: Diamond was/is the number one source of distribution for comics in this country. The big two comic companies no longer show any faith in Diamond. (DC for quite some time.) Both have latched onto ComiXology as a form of digital distribution. If there needed to be some impetus for the “digital revolution” in comics I think we may have just seen it.
UPDATE: And for all the retailers out there…
“Staying true to comiXology’s support of comic retailers, DC’s partnership with comiXology also includes a first-of-its-kind Retailer Affiliate Program, which will collect a portion of digital revenues to be invested back to and on behalf of comic book retailers in a variety of initiatives.”
In a somewhat surprising move, and one sure to be seen as a response to Marvel’s recent purchase by Disney, Warner Bros. has restructured DC Comics, creating the new DC Entertainment brand. The press release, which was announced via the DC Universe Blog, has Paul Levitz relinquishing his position as President and Publisher to Diane Nelson, currently president of Warner Premiere.
In his new role, Levitz will be called upon for his deep knowledge and more than three-decade history with DC Comics, both as a comic creator and an executive. Besides serving as a writer on a number of DC Comics titles, he will be a contributing editor and consultant to DC Entertainment on projects in various media.
This comes hot on the heels of Rich Johnston’s previous report that Paul Levitz would be stepping down as President of DC Comics, but the news that DC would be changing from “Comics” to “Entertainment” was surprising, and Levitz’ new position even more so.
I’m not entirely sure what impac tthis will have on the company’s production, if any at all. If it means more movies based on their product, well, then good for them, I suppose. It’s a weird distinction, though. If they were planning on getting rid of Levitz, or even if this is a response to Levitz stepping down, why the change in branding? I imagine many are going to throw their hands in the air complaining that the company is going to worry more about movies and TV than it is comics, and I suppose that’s a valid concern but I doubt there will be any more changes other than a small shakeup in editorial. Still, Levitz had one hell of a career at DC, and this new role is either really beneath him or a nice, cushy position to segue into retirement.
Tomorrow: A review of Fantagraphics’ Squirrel Machine, which I am just having the hardest time getting my thoughts down on paper for. I think I’ve finally decided that I like it. That much I know. I know I like it.
AYRES Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 11:01 amWhat alot of people are forgetting is the shows influences are based on Asian culture and Anime, nowhere in the series were the Fire nation called Japanese or Chinese it’s obvious that’s where the show is based but it was never called that at all , the Water tribe was never called Alaskans or Inuit , where are the protesters for Sherlocke Holmes with Robert Downey jr being American playing a British icon????? Or did anyone have an issue when certain Latino actors portray Caucasian charactors (sic)?? I get that there is an issue here but I think people need to find a real problem with in the world and focus on something else.
Steve Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 1:34 pm…just because white people are cast in Asian roles doesn’t mean its whitewashed. Its possible that the director simply found these actors to be the best choice available. After all, M. Night isn’t a white guy himself.
Ryan Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 3:29 pmOh god. You “controversy” people are just ridiculous. I liked the cartoon. So far the pictures seem true to the cartoon. get a life.
Liem Says:May 22nd, 2009 at 5:04 pmShow me a white kid raised by monks who live monastically in temples and maybe then I’ll consider a non-Asian perspective that defends the casting choices.Ryan Says:Show me an asian kid who can bend air, water, fire and earth and flies around on a six legged bison then I’ll consider the need for the kid to have the “correct” racial background.
From Entertainment Weekly:
According to Smith, “The Widening Gyre is a 12-issue Batman mini-series split into two volumes, with a half year break between each. Issues one through six (Book I) will ship monthly. Then, the story goes on hold for six months. Then, issues seven through 12 (Book II) will once again ship monthly. Yes, I built in the break to insure we don’t run into my usual problems with lateness. But I’m trying to improve, folks: first six scripts and first issue’s art — by Cacophony artist Walt Flanagan — were already done before we took this public. But here’s the kicker: three weeks after the last issue of The Widening Gyre, we’ll launch a solo series featuring the new character, which I’ll be writing bi-monthly.”
A six month break between volumes and a bi-monthly series just to cater to Smith’s propensity for lateness? Damn.
The article also mentions that Smith will be adapting his unused 2004 Green Hornet screenplay into a comic for Dynamite Entertainment. Hopefully these books will be a little more Chasing Amy than Clerks 2. ZING, gotcha Smith!
The Widening Gyre begins in August. No word yet on a release date for the Green Hornet.