Friday, June 24, 2011

DC Comics Relaunch Part 1

The big news in fanboy circles these days is the September relaunch of DC comics superhero books.  For those not in the know DC will basically be ending all of their current mainstream superhero titles in August.  Then in September they will be launch 52 new series.  Many of these will be relaunches of already existing titles.  So in August you will have Superman #714 which will be the final issue. In September you will have Superman #1 the launch of the new series.
Confused yet?
Not a lot is known about this storyline yet, but we do know there will be changes. For example Superman is no longer married to Lois Lane. No they didn’t split, but are now said to have never even been a couple. Instead reports tell us that Superman is dating Wonder Woman.
So are all the books resetting their stories? No.
Batman and Green Lantern are continuing their storylines even with the new series launches. 
So what is the reason behind this massive change in the status quo?
That is a good question, and the answer is murky at best, and likely due to the fact that there are several factors at play here. Too many for a single post, so I will only tackle one today.
What is the big number one reason for this? Sales suck. This is an industry wide problem. In the nineties you would have comic book titles that would sell millions of copies. Today the most successful books sell around 100,000 copies. On top of that sales are trending down. Last month DC show their sales dip by 11%.
The hope is that this relaunch will boost interest and bring in the elusive new readers.
Along with the relaunch DC will for the first time make their titles available through digital distribution. The digital versions of the comics will be available for $2.99, the same price as the physical books and can be purchased on the same day as release.
While all this is nice I think it ignores a fundamental fact. The reason sales are down is the economy.  Following comic books is great if you have the disposable income, but if money is tight they are generally going to be on the top of the list of things to cut, especially when a single issue is three dollars.
To me this push would make more sense if they were offering digital copies at a cheaper price, but they aren’t, probably because they still need the support of the comic shops and undercutting them would not help that.
 That said digital distribution could make a difference for bringing in readers who for whatever reason have not, or will not, set foot in a comic book shop. But first you have to get their attention and convince them to give it a shot.
Next post I will go over the possible reasons for the relaunch involving the U.S. Legal system.

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