DC Comics has had a pretty good run these last couple of years beginning with Identity Crisis and running all the through this summer’s Battle for the Cowl.  But for the life of them, DC rarely beats its biggest competitor when it comes to direct market share.    It seems comic book readers are always quick to point out the faults of a company, but rarely offer how they would solve the problem.

Here’s your chance to fix the company.

So here’s your chance to fix the industry, and here’s how it works:

  • The previous Editor in Chief has been fired, and the publisher is looking to hire a replacement.
  • In the comment section below, outline your ideas on what you would do to put DC Comics at the top of the direct market list and trounce the the competition.
  • In your comments you need to not only state the change, but why you believe the change would be for the greater good of the company.  For example, if your idea is to capture the young reader market (kids between 8 and 12 years old), how are you going to do it?  What needs to change?
  • Convince everyone that your ideas are the best direction for the company, by selling your idea.  Get us excited, get us fired up, and best of all make sure it is for the good of the company and the industry as a whole.

This week it is all about DC Comics, Dan DiDio is out, and you want his job.

The person with the best, most thought out answer will be named The Major Spoilers Fan of the Week, with all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.

Keep it civil, folks.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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44 Comments

  1. Gaf
    June 12, 2009 at 11:58 am — Reply

    I would stop screwing the fans. This can be done in multiple ways:

    1) QUALITY: Dramatically cut the number of titles being produced. Focus on creating a tighter, better crafted universe with better storytelling, better art, and better connectivity between the titles. Look at Pixar- 1 movie a year, because they spend their time putting each project through the microscope and finding every flaw before putting it out. Stop flooding the market with every half-assed idea, and put out only stellar work. And that doesn’t mean only Batman-Superman-Flash titles, it could be Animal Man, Secret Six, etc- but ensure quality. Universe wide events or crises are ok, as long as they are less often and worth the effort to read.

    2) COST: Be mindful of people’s wallets. People like the stories, the format is not as important. Use less expensive paper, less expensive print methods, kill the gimmicks around printing, and get the pricepoint back down to a manageable level- like $1.99 an issue. And perhaps serve more of it for free online as a taste of whats happening.

    3) LISTEN: Stop ignoring the fans. Today is like no other time- the internet makes the world happen in real-time. By listening to the fan base, and actually hearing their reactions, good/bad, and their suggestions, in some cases using them, they have an opportunity to create super-advocates that have a vested interest in the brand, and the characters. Solicit opinion, take the pulse, listen to what people want, and then figure out how you can create the best product that takes the fans in mind. Dont bend to the masses, but find strength in their sometimes wisdom.

    4) SOCIAL MEDIA: To follow up to #3- create a deep digital experience- I don’t mean put every comic online, I mean use what social media gives you to generate deep loyalty and keep DC top of mind. Interactive, shareable experiences that are free and open source will generate alot of good-will, and buzz where we comic people live- online. Use the P2P network to your benefit by releasing free web only properties that generate interest….

    So my formula is

    Tell good stories + decrease price points + listen to fans + create a more robust shareable digital experience

    Tell me you wouldn’t like that, people!

  2. June 12, 2009 at 12:01 pm — Reply

    I would put out a non-continuity adult themed Batman series, twice a month it would come out. Hire a writer who does good detective stories and a couple of capable artists to make sure it came out on time. There wouldn’t be no underwear over Batman’s tights in this version either. Total movie costumes. I just think Batman does a better job of looking scary when he has an all black uniform on. I mean come on now. Somebody should have realized that years ago.

  3. steviecool
    June 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm — Reply

    Batman – a weekly title with roatating creators (like the SpiderMan format)
    Batman – the cartoon version series for the kids (monthly)
    Batman – Detective (no costumes other than his, actual detective stories) – monthly
    Batman Brave & the Bold – monthly

    Maxi-series:
    Batman – Lost (adventures of where he is now)

  4. June 12, 2009 at 12:30 pm — Reply

    Bendis.

  5. Jon
    June 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm — Reply

    First of all, if you want to attract young readers, don’t dumb down to them like DC currently does. The options available for young readers are horribly drawn, terribly written, and are too cartoony and slapsticky in their presentation. The best book for kids they have is Scooby-Doo but that’s not enough to satisfy the super-hero hungry child. Super Friends (based on the toys) and Tiny Titans are virtually unreadable. Why DC doesn’t look over the fence at Marvel and try to make Marvel Adventures-type books is beyond me. There you have a property that isn’t demeaning, are well drawn, and that have appeal to kids AND to the older reader. Even Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers is a better kids book.

    Secondly, it’s not about the cover price. It’s not about the economy. DC loses every single month because Marvel is currently putting out better stories. Go back to the 80s and open an issue of The New Teen Titans, and look at the cover. The top books were New Teen Titans, OVER the Uncanny X-Men, and Jon Sable, Freelance was up there, too. Character driven books with an emphasis on GOOD storytelling, backed up by solid artwork. SOLID artwork. Not that scratchy, scrawly stuff that passes for artwork these days. One of the reasons Red Robin fails is because they went with C-level artwork. Average stuff, nothing that jumps off the page and demands your attention.

    These days DC seems to be all about the EVENT and not the title. There’s no imagination anymore, just rehashing and slicing and dicing what’s come before. Batman is a mess. The Battle For The Cowl was a waste of paper and energy. The Flash Rebirth was stillborn on delivery. The Rainbow Corps of Lanterns is a mess, just a complete mess, and DC Zombies (Blackest Night) is just an egregious fitting of a square peg into a round hole. Hey, Marvel has Zombies…what can WE do? It’s a travesty that Wonder Woman languishes. Gail Simone is doing an admirable job on the title, but where is DC to stand behind her and the book and push it and make it more noticeable? Oh, right. They’ve got bigger, more important things: Batman Reborn, Flash Rebirth, Blackest Night, World of Krypton. Does anyone over at DC even KNOW that Wonder Woman is a DC property? Don’t put out a Red Tornado mini-series exploring his relationships with his wife and daughter (yawn) until you fix what’s broken at your core.

    It’s not all Dan Didio’s fault. The editing at DC is atrocious. Mistakes abound that mar the professionalism of the books, and far too many stories are being allowed to see the light of day that aren’t funny, aren’t interesting, aren’t relevant to the title. There needs to be a reining in of the editorial staff, a mass firing if need be. I’d fault the writers and artists, but I think of it like this: OJ Simpson can write all the books he wants. It’s on the PUBLISHER and the EDITOR if they ever see the light of day. The editors need to know what good writing is, need to have more of a connection to their title’s characters. Maybe they do and there’s just so many demands and dictates in the DC Halls that they’re constrained, I don’t know.

    Stop inbreeding your writers and artists. If a title is failing, go out and get fresh meat. If Judd Winick writes Batman and sales go down and the forums fill up with hatred, it doesn’t mean that an EVENT is needed to save the title. It means that Judd Winick needs to be removed. Geoff Johns is a great great guy and a fan favorite, no doubt about it. But he was on JSA way too long and the story languished. One writer shouldn’t be on more than two books. Period. Bendis does half the Marvel Universe and if were only read dialogue and didn’t see any pictures, you wouldn’t be able to tell where Ultimate Spider-man started and New Avengers ended. Too much on the plate at once affects your focus. Oh, and just because someone’s written a screenplay or a novel is an actor doesn’t automatically make them a comic book writer. Go out and hold tryouts, go back to doing eight page inserts in books spotlighting new talent. Put in new voices, new talent, and give some life to the books.

    There’s a palpable lack of enthusiasm in DC books. Oh sure, there’s the hype around the Event books which hits a fever pitch prior to printing, but then the book comes out and it’s like the brakes get put on. Flash Rebirth is a great example. All this hype about Barry’s return, all the hints, all the teasers. You get the book, turn the cover, and POW! The reader goes from 60 to 0 inside of six panels. The prelude to Blackest Night is taking fooooreeeeeevvvvveeeerrrrr. Why is it that a newbie writer is taught to tell a story with an economy of words and pages, yet a veteran writer (or team) is allowed to drag a story out with no care in the world for number of issues? Batman’s death was handled so poorly. It was as if, oh look, the Omega beam zapped him. Huh. Okay, let’s move on, then. There was more concern shown over Superboy’s death. Terra’s passing left more of an imprint on the one who loved her, Gar, than Batman’s passing has on his team of proteges. It’s insulting, the writing.

    Comic books are like the movie industry. It’s all well and good to blame poor ticket sales on the rising price of tickets, or the cost of popcorn. No one ever wants to sit back and listen to the criticism that maybe the MOVIES aren’t that good (Land of the Lost, anyone? Speed Racer?). Just imagine if DC put out fifty books a month all with the consistent quality of Jonah Hex, or Scalped, or Secret Six (I’d throw Morrison’s new Batman and Robin in there because it was JUST THAT GOOD, but it’s only one issue in the can). What DC needs to do is really and truly assess their books and go back to simple as opposed to choosing to make things difficult by creating newer and bigger EVENTS. Simple means: a good artist with a good storyteller for a six issue arc. Dan Didio should demand that he be given that every month. Go back to character driven stories, go back to giving these characters a REASON for existing. Because right now, a bomb could go off in the DC Universe and wipe out half the characters, and no comic fan would really be missing anything.

  6. Jon
    June 12, 2009 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    Man, can you even IMAGINE Ed Brubaker doing Batman? Holy shnikes.

  7. Jon
    June 12, 2009 at 12:48 pm — Reply

    Robbie, you bring up a good point. He’s the Dark Knight DETECTIVE, yet when was the last time he actually did SLEUTHING? Sure, he did some in Identity Crisis, but then Meltzer basically painted him useless in the last issue.

    Batman has basically become a thug with toys. A true hard-boiled or noir spin on Batman would be a breath of fresh air, indeed.

    • June 12, 2009 at 5:16 pm — Reply

      Jon: You should read Paul Dini’s run on Detective, where most of the stories were indeed detective stories.

  8. MaximusRift
    June 12, 2009 at 1:38 pm — Reply

    I’d put Stephen in charge of everything Batman; Matthew in charge of everything Legion; ans Rodrigo in charge of….gee, I don’t know anything DC that Rodrigo likes. Okay, he can pick a franchise he wants and go with it.

    Barry stays dead, Conner and Bart live and Booster is de-aged to 17 for no apparent reason.

    Oh, yeah. I’d push my writing staff to write scripts for DC movies and take a more active roll in promotion and movie deals.

  9. Dean
    June 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm — Reply

    There are two sets of related issues for DC comics: the industry situation and their competitive situation.

    Firstly, the Industry is shrinking. There are fewer readers buying comics in the direct market than there were ten years ago. There were fewer readers in the direct market ten years ago than there were twenty years ago. The folks that are left have certain traits in common. Primarily, they have read an absurd number of comics over an absurd number of years. As a result, they are very hard to “shock” by rolling out a new event. The “Death of Aquaman” isn’t going to move the needle when they’ve read the “Death and Return of Superman”. Secondarily, they have deeply ingrained patterns. A guy who has bought every issue of “Wolverine” from the Claremont-Miller mini-series onward is not going to suddenly drop that title in favor of, say, “Manhunter”. The majority of their monthly comic budget is probably already committed and it is going to be very difficult to induce them to sample anything new.

    In other words, as long as DC is playing the same game as Marvel they are going to lose.

    Given that situation, it makes sense for DC to essentially concede the direct-market periodical market for superheroes to Marvel. Cross-overs and events are a waste of time, since they move the needle only briefly. They can not keep playing the “Death of … ” and the “Return of … ” card over and over to entice readers who are often hostile to your brand to begin with. Eventually, everybody has died and come back at least once and the Wolverine guy is still buying whatever title Logan turns up in next. It is Fool’s Gold.

    The only option DC really has is to change the playing field, like Marvel did in sixties. They need to find different readers for their product than the ones already in the comic shop every Wednesday. That said, they do not have to be a radically different type of reader. DC has a large, well-known stable of characters who were designed to appeal to boys and (by extension) young men. That is a much similar, but much broader demographic than they are currently battling Marvel over.

    So, let’s turn what are some products that do a good job appealing to young men? To some extent, it is the basic mix that it has always been: sports, action/adventure content and cheesecake. The best marketed sports leagues use rivalries between individual players and teams to boost interest. Action/Adventure content has new formats with video-games and DVDs that is both vastly more interactive and slightly more graphic than it was a generation ago. Cheesecake has split into broadly available pornographic content on the Internet and softer material that comes wrapped in a “Reality TV” package.

    How do comics compete?

    Well, both the rivalries and less explicit cheesecake are relationship driven. These types of stories are widely scorned as “soap opera” by direct market readers. However, when done right they add vital context to the fights and the undressed women that are the pay off. Any talented artist can draw Zatanna peeling off her fishnets or Superman shattering the jaw of a thug, but it takes a proper build up to make the reader care. This is easier to achieve when one creator (or group of creators working together) is guiding the story. So, the cross-title continuity needs to be loose at most and the number of titles a given family of characters can appear should be severally limited. Batman and his cast only appear in titles written by his primary writer, or the JLA. That is it.

    Better stories won’t fix the placement problem. There are brilliant Vertigo title that would love to sell half what the most widely mocked issue of ‘Dark Avengers” sells. Improved quality will only take you so far within the walls of the comic shop. So, DC needs to focus on making its core content look more like books. Paperback books sell in dozens of places that don’t carry comics. A bigger page count would allow both a higher price point, a cheaper paper stock and the more creator driven storytelling that I’ve already advocated.

    My creator friendliness only extends so far. I would insist on two things. First, a hard reboot on the entire DCU. As it currently exists, it is impenetrable to all but the most devoted fans. For characters who have appeared in movies or on TV, the characters should be revised to a version that is accessible to the large number of people who have seen the movie and not the small number of people who read the comic. That doesn’t mean Superman should follow “Smallville” continuity to the letter, nor that Harvey Dent must DEAD. It means folks that are familiar with those versions should be able to pick up a DC comic and see the characters they expect to see. This is mostly subtle stuff, like a black Pete Ross and a leather clad Batman who trained under Ras al Ghul.

    Everyone who hasn’t made it to other media gets the full Julius Schwartz treatment. The name is the same, but everything else is different. If a casual reader buy issue #1 of Green Lantern, then there is no way hardcore fans to spoil the experience by telling them fifty years of continuity. It is all gone along with everything but the core concept about a ring power by will. Completely change the game by making DC totally friendly to new readers.

    The character models and “sets” used by the artists should be as consistent as possible. If Clark Kent is 6’3″ and weighs 230 lbs and is built like a swimmer in one issue, then he should have a the same body type in every time you see him. By the same token, if Lois Lane is 5’6″, 130 lbs and has a 32b bust, then she should suddenly have a 36d when the artist changes. For all the obsession with continuity, I doubt that anyone can give you a lay-out of Wayne Manor, nor tell you what actress Vicki Vale most resembles.

    You promote the New DC by reaching out to your audience in the other places they are. Put banner ads on web-sites and bundle coupons with video-games. Use a sexy picture of Wonder Woman as an ad in Maxim. See if you can whip up a controversy with the implication of a sex scene (but don’t show it full on, nor directly state it) between two well known characters.

    Oh …

    And the traditional floppy market does have a place as outlet for All Ages titles, but I’ve rambled too long.

  10. Gaf
    June 12, 2009 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    I would stop screwing the fans. This can be done in multiple ways:

    1) QUALITY: Dramatically cut the number of titles being produced. Focus on creating a tighter, better crafted universe with better storytelling, better art, and better connectivity between the titles. Look at Pixar- 1 movie a year, because they spend their time putting each project through the microscope and finding every flaw before putting it out. Stop flooding the market with every half-assed idea, and put out only stellar work. And that doesn’t mean only Batman-Superman-Flash titles, it could be Animal Man, Secret Six, etc- but ensure quality. Universe wide events or crises are ok, as long as they are less often and worth the effort to read.

    2) COST: Be mindful of people’s wallets. People like the stories, the format is not as important. Use less expensive paper, less expensive print methods, kill the gimmicks around printing, and get the pricepoint back down to a manageable level- like $1.99 an issue. And perhaps serve more of it for free online as a taste of whats happening.

    3) LISTEN: Stop ignoring the fans. Today is like no other time- the internet makes the world happen in real-time. By listening to the fan base, and actually hearing their reactions, good/bad, and their suggestions, in some cases using them, they have an opportunity to create super-advocates that have a vested interest in the brand, and the characters. Solicit opinion, take the pulse, listen to what people want, and then figure out how you can create the best product that takes the fans in mind. Dont bend to the masses, but find strength in their sometimes wisdom.

    4) SOCIAL MEDIA: To follow up to #3- create a deep digital experience- I don’t mean put every comic online, I mean use what social media gives you to generate deep loyalty and keep DC top of mind. Interactive, shareable experiences that are free and open source will generate alot of good-will, and buzz where we comic people live- online. Use the P2P network to your benefit by releasing free web only properties that generate interest….

    So my formula is

    Tell good stories + decrease price points + listen to fans + create a more robust shareable digital experience

    Tell me you wouldn’t like that, people!

  11. ~wyntermute~
    June 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm — Reply

    This is a total joke answer, so, like, I’m not even that seriously enamoured of the name I’m about to drop, and I do not think he is the answer to everything. I just picked a ‘big name’ for comedic purposes:

    Invent the Time Machine, and go back in time to hire Young Stan Lee. And tell him “no mutants allowed”. :)

  12. June 12, 2009 at 5:32 pm — Reply

    I would put a group inside DC [Wildstorm?] in charge of increasing the “licensing division’ that goes after and wins licensed comic books. I would have them pay special attention to DISNEY, and I’d make it a goal to have a monthly “Flip Book” of Disney Princesses. There would be enough books released each month so that each Princess would have their own side of a complete flip book each month. Any other licensed material would be gravy, they’d go after anything “major”.

    I would flood every market that I could justify “prominently female” with so much Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman that she’d be a house hold name across the world in just a few years. This is not to say that I’d just through as much WW out there as I could. There would be tallented caring creators who really think the world of WW making the books. She’d always be in the JLA, Wondergirl would always be in anything “Kid-Titans” and probably in any non kid-titans as well.

    The JLA would ALWAYS have the big three in them. You’d NEVER hear a creator comment that they couldn’t use all the big three with their run of the JLA. It would be cannon and gospel.

    Every issue of the JLA would have at least 1 sub plot caused by the difficulties one of the big three are facing in their solo book[s]. The JLA would be the center piece of the DCU lineup. The readers of the JLA would have a good idea of what else is going on all over the DCU.

    I’d have monthly non-continuity books aimed for adults staring BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, and SUPERMAN.

    I’d NEVER have a “west coast” or “east coast” team of any kind. If stories warented it, I might put out more books in a month but under the same name or title.

    I’d have a cartoon, if nothing else than to sell action figures, on of the big three at all times. If one wasn’t running on a television network, then I’d host it on line and have my own advertising people sell ads for it.

  13. CF
    June 12, 2009 at 8:42 pm — Reply

    I think that Warner Bros Animated/DC Comics missed an opportunity with their DCAU DVDs. Like I suggested for Marvel Comics, DC should have included adds for their COMIC BOOK TITLES in their DVD Releases with The Local Comic Book Store Locator Number Prominently Displayed. The same can be said for Batman the Dark Knight Movie (Another Missed Opportunity).

    I would hire the best Science Fiction novelists out there to revitalize Superman, Green Lantern, JLA, JSA, Adam Strange, Doom Patrol and the Flash. Political Stories DON’T Work in Superman. Police Procedural stories are getting tiresome on Green Lantern. Blue Collar worker as Superhero is a dead horse so the Flash should stop beating it. There needs to be a sense of wonder involved in the more Sci-Fi flavored of the DC titles. Each of the Title’s writer should be free to write however wild a story as they want and they can’t be interfered with be “Tent Pole Events”.

    I would have Grant Morrison on Batman in perpetuity if I could. The Most Interesting and Original Batman Stories EVER.

    I’m afraid that Warner Bros is just going to have to pony up the cash to have TV Commercials on popular Animated Cartoon Series that advertise Comic Book titles (They can even semi-animate them) in order to drum up interest in YOUNG VIEWERS. Advertise Subscriptions even.

    Warner Bros should even go so far as to give out FREE copies of “Wednesday Comics” to movie goers at the premiere of their movies. This publication should have all the information necessary to either locate a Local Comic Shop or a Phone Number with which to order them from an online retailer or a Web Address to buy Digital Comics.

    DC Comics should try to get the Government to advertise in their comics (Even State Lotteries).

    DC Comics should try an Educational Comics Initiative to get schools interested in courses or classes taught with the visual add of comics. Of course, a major stipulation would be that DC Comics Characters are strongly integrated into said educational comic and that information for finding stores that sell comics.

    The DC Animated Universe should be revitalized for several strata of markets. You have the market for lobotomized people with “Batman the Brave and the Bold”. Bring Bruce Timm and Grant Morrison on a resurrection of the DC Animated Universe to tell the most inspired stories of the DC Universe in Animated Form. And produce some Adult intellectual level Animated pilots for broadcast on possibly one of the Major Cable Movie Channels. And of course, ADS for DC Comics Titles Should be broadcast in ALL of these features. Warner Bros. has to learn how to grow a brand in order to grow their viewer and reader base.

    On College Campuses, DC Comics should alternately sell and give away subversive versions of DC Characters in a Wednesday Comics Format written by the smartest writers working in comics today. Again, with the requisite Comic Book Store Online and Offline Information necessary.

    DC Should get more fake blog posters to promote their comics titles and to get other Blogs on the Internet interested in them.

    DC Universe MMORPG NEW Video Game Should have TONS of Promotional Information about the Titles DC Comics is producing. Or at least, that should have been part of the deal.

    DC Comics should print Comics in Spanish to get all those little Illegal Alien Anchor Babies addicted to comics from the start – and specifically to DC Characters.

  14. smarter.....
    June 12, 2009 at 9:49 pm — Reply

    “Firstly, the Industry is shrinking. There are fewer readers buying comics in the direct market than there were ten years ago. There were fewer readers in the direct market ten years ago than there were twenty years ago.”

    actually the numbers
    show the opposite
    overall market $$$/direct market $$$/
    2000 $255-275 million
    2001 $260-285 million
    2002 $300-330 million n/a
    2003 $350-400 million $310.6 million
    2004 $420-480 million $328.25 million
    2005 $475-550 million $352.33 million
    2006 $575-640 million $395.55 million

    2007 $660-700 million $430.00 million

    2008 $680-710 million $436.6 million

    this is just the direct market in the last 10 years for the Top 300 comic books
    2000 69.26 million copies $190.75 million
    2001 66.92 million copies $186.98 million
    2002 73.72 million copies $196.65 million
    2003 73.02 million copies $207.19 million
    2004 74.14 million copies $213.24 million
    2005 76.13 million copies $221.73 million
    2006 81.85 million copies $252.18 million
    2007 85.27 million copies $270.00 million
    2008 81.34 million copies $263.00 million

    there still has been sustained growth (though last year had very slight regression) in the direct market

    look at the 1st set of numbers , the growth in the non-direct market is were DC (and Marvel ) should concentrate

    just 6 years ago the non-direct market was aprx $65 million
    , last year it was aprx $260 million

    my direction
    would be to work the Direct Market
    as they have for the last 10 years
    but use the Direct Market , even more so , as a test market
    break even point on a “regular comicbook” in the Direct Market is anywhere from 7k to 25-30k depending on the talent involved

    i would put even more titles out there , and try out unique directions for titles , genres , content , and formats

    the real growth for DC (and Marvel ) will be in the non-direct market (and also licensing the material for out of the US usage )

    use the Direct Market as a testing ground , they can see what worked and what did not , and also evaluate feedback from the Web

    they can use that information for what should be collected in trade form for the non-direct market and also , the oddest things do really well outside of the US , may be picked up for oversea’s licensing

    the other boom for trying out more genres/titles/etc in the direct market
    is that it just takes a couple of new comics/properties to click with the film/tv industries
    and the payoff will make it all worthwhile

    the monies from one successful cartoon series/film/etc spun from a DC title/concept
    would make all of the “break even” ideas , well worthwhile

  15. ~wyntermute~
    June 12, 2009 at 10:04 pm — Reply

    I’m assuming that we’re operating under the “there is no budget” premise for this discussion? I’m just curious, but a few people are suggesting “do more promotion!” “hire more this!” “more freebies!”… And unfortunately, I’m not sure the DeeSee Nation’s current streams of revenue are enough to let them lead THAT much of a loss all in the hopes of attracting a diminishing audience or chasing the “casual” pop culture consumer. It’s like taking a massive loss on a console in order to pick up profit on the software, except for the fact that the “gamer pool” is only getting bigger.

    Unfortunately, what I see as the “best” way to fix things is also (in my opinion) the worst possible solution: cut titles in favor of the ones that produce money, and stick to what “the people want”. That last one is nearly impossible to pin down, in my humble opinion, because — just as an example — half of us want “grant morrison” burned in effigy, and half of us want Him given the keys to ..well, everything in perpetuity. So who gets what they want? So, as y’all can perhaps see, I’m implying that it’s maybe not ‘as bad’ as we think it is. People have variety, and while it’s _often_ not perfect, it’s better than the alternative. With a greater overall number of people working in the industry, and being able TO work in comics for a living, a LOT more material is being produced — good AND bad. As human beings, however, we are often guilty (myself included) of focusing on the flaws. 20 years ago, were comic books this plentiful and etc etc etc? Sorry. I might be entirely high on Hippie Happy Gas, what with my whole “it’s really not that bad” theory, but I tend to be off in left field on a _good day_ so… This is whatcha get on a Friday night when I’m bored. :)

  16. smarter.....
    June 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm — Reply

    i just looked this up
    DC direct market monthly sales (not $$)
    have been on average for the last 3 years anywhere from 2 to 3 million
    you would have to go back to 1996-98 to find a 3 year period with similar sales

    the difference is that Marvel now publishes 125 titles
    per month
    so equaling Marvel
    in Monthly Market Share will be very tough (though not impossible)

    the bottom line is very simple
    try new ideas , new formats , new genres

    and continue to produce the best possible comic books that you can
    do not settle for mediocre material

    they are headed in the right direction
    ( esp in the last year)
    they need to just refine what they are doing and also experiment more with idea’s

    but always keep quality in mind as the 1st qualification in producing material

  17. Allen Jones
    June 12, 2009 at 10:24 pm — Reply

    My biggest thing I would do if I was EIC of DC is let characters grow and evolve. Or at least start a line where they do. I wanna see a world where eventually the guys really do step up and become the top tier heroes they were supposed to be. Not do that, then cut the legs out from under them.

    I’m so glad that DiDio didn’t go through with killing Dick Grayson, now we get to see him step up and become the man. Though I would’ve liked to have seen that done as Nightwing (his last costume design was one of my all time favorites), I can deal with him stepping up at Batman.

    It was nice to see Bart step up after Wally (though in my personal opinion it was too soon, but whatever) went into the speed force in Infinite Crisis, but to see it cut so soon and now it looks like Barry is coming back.

    And don’t even get me started with Kyle Rayner and Green Lantern.

    Thing is, DC likes to talk about legacy and all that, but where’s the evolution, where’s the chance really given to other characters to honest to goodness carry on the legacy of those that came before them? That’s what I wanna see more of. That’s what I would be pushing. If it has to be done in a new ‘Ultimate’-type universe so be it. Or do we have to set it 3000 years in the future where there’s no choice but to have the new characters live up to the legacy of years past like the Legion has done?

    In many ways I would treat it like I would the WWE, have the big event every year or so (WrestleMania) and have mini-events throughout the year, to eventually build to the big event. Because let’s face it, events do sell. Having good events is the key to keeping the audience interested in the other books.

    DC has done a lot of great books that sadly people hasn’t noticed thus had to be cancelled (Blue Beetle, Checkmate, Manhunter, etc.), should do more to get people to read the books that are currently available. Having the double features is a good idea and gives more value for the buck.

    Anyways, this is more of a rambling, but some of it has been on my mind a lot lately so it was good to get it out.

  18. Aaron Brame
    June 12, 2009 at 10:31 pm — Reply

    I have been thinking about this for a long time and this is how I see it.

    1. Streamline the company. By this I mean we get rid of the fat and go straight for the heavy hitters. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman(give her a writer who would redefine and establish her as a major player), Green Lantern, The Flash, Justice League Of America, Justice Society of America, and The Doom Patrol (why is this title here? This is the team that is on the fringe, make this book about dealing with super science and unexplainable, things the major league never really sees.) and a series of book that would cover various stories around the universe: Adventure Comics (This book would focus on teen heroes and also be the proving ground for new artists and writers), Detective Comics (This would be the mystery book and would use the various detective characters from around the universe i.e. The Question, Batman, Nightwing, Robin, Blue Beetle, etc. and I would use independent writers and artists to give this book a hard edge) Action Comics (The heavy hitter book, this is the summer blockbuster book, month after month we give the fights and interactions everyone wants) and finally Elseworld (This book is a monthly book that tackles the various multiverse stories that people want to write and draw. We will use major science fiction and established comic writers giving them a fun playground for them to work with.) After these books are going we will do more of these kind of books like a mature horror title (dealing with the under belly of DCU), a science fiction anthology, and various others. Make sure the foundation is sold and then we build on it.
    2. More bang for the buck. Every book will be at least 48 pages with a normal 22 page ongoing story that will run for the whole year or more and another story which will run over 3 to 6 issues as an expansion of these same characters e.i. Superman back stories may be about Conner Kent or Supergirl, JLA back up stories will tell where a certain character was during a major story arc in the main yearly story or bring in a Black ops JLA, something of this nature. All the titles would run around 5 bucks, which in this format is worth it.
    3. The universe is all tied. We explain in the books what’s going on with all the characters e.i. their designed look, were they hurt recently, what’s going on in their home lives, etc. make sure everyone is on the same page about the characters and how they are functioning.
    4. Lasting effects. If a major attack happens in Gotham then show the damage. Keep the work tie to reality, a building is not going to be rebuilt overnight.
    5. Give everyone a chance. Let artists and writers other than Jim Lee and Grant Morrison work in the universe. Those guys work, in my opinion, is great but why not see what else others can create. Let young artists have a chance.
    6. Use the media. Get independent comic review pages, major news outlets and blogger involved in spreading the word about titles, if they are enjoying books or are looking forward to certain titles let them express it, in fact encourage this . Don’t shove a title down their throat just because we are putting a new book out. Give out promo stuff that is rad, to the reviewers and the readers in general. Giving is important to the fans, and we need to make sure it’s not just at the major cons but whenever we can. Not everyone can afford to go to a con.
    7. Hardcovers, trades and merch. Collect stories in full, if Batman R.I.P. goes into Robin and Nightwing hardcover all of it together. Also Omnibus all book series, quit spitting in comic collectors faces, a year of a book at a time collected together. Also hardcover early Vertigo books like Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and Shade The Changing Man in hardcover form (HEY DC I WANT MORRISON DOOM PATROL HARDCOVERED NOW! REALLY!). Start producing new action figures, Superman and Batman are great, but how about producing other characters and new merch that’s affordable.
    8. The kids. Keep producing kid’s book and try to get more kids into comics. Give comics away when a new movie opens. Get kids into comics by giving books out to schools to help kids get into reading. Helping kids is just important as our sales
    9. More Entertainment. Get as many movies, cartoons and video games out. But make sure that they are quality, don’t put out shit. Why are they making game about characters that developers create and not DC characters. Make them realize Dc characters are important and need to be in the media.
    10. Have fun. If it becomes profit driven more than fun and love for the medium then it will show.

    • June 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm — Reply

      Why do all of these proposals keep saying that we’re only going to focus on major characters?

      I could give a rat’s ass about Superman, Batman, or (generally) Wonder Woman. I want the adventures of Blue Beetle, Bat Lash, Black Lightning, Captain Marvel and J’Onn J’onzz. Where’s the DC Universe for me, hah? :)

  19. Allen Jones
    June 12, 2009 at 10:50 pm — Reply

    I agree with you there Matthew. There’s a whole bunch of great characters that could be used. But maybe in an anthology title or something? Rotate the characters and creators used. And if there’s enough feedback from it, then maybe give them their own title?

  20. Dean
    June 13, 2009 at 12:10 am — Reply

    Smarter, I don’t think sales dollar is valid comparison. In 1998, mainstream DC comics cost less the two dollars. Today, they cost either $3 or $4. Increasing your prices by more than 50% while growing your sales dollar by 38% is not an expansion. Also, the comic book market suffered a near fatal collapse in the mid-90s. So, I should have said fifteen years ago instead of ten, but I stand by the larger point that the direct market doesn’t feel healthy. There are fewer retailers and it seems like they are struggling.

    The sales outside the direct market are good news and compatible with my analysis. There are a lot of people who are willing to read comics who would not go inside a comic book retailer. With the the comic retail market being in a fragile state anyway, it seems like a good idea for DC to focus its energies on growth markets and the formats that work for them. That doesn’t mean abandoning the readers who are there, just not spending your scarce resources on getting big name creators to write comics that are tailored to that market. Give direct market fans what they say they want, which is fun, nostalgia and done-in-one stories. Just ruthlessly cut creator fees, titles and marketing dollars devoted to the direct market and move them elsewhere.

    With that in mind, the direct market is the worst possible place to test concepts that might appeal to a broader marketplace.

    The readers that buy direct market comics are different from more general readers in ways that are going to limit the appeal of DC comics titles. I’ve read a lot of comics for a lot of years and I don’t get half the references. I cannot imagine what some coming in cold must feel like. If you are the market leader, then that works to your advantage. It is hard to switch. That makes it easy to defend your market share. If you are the market follower, it works against you like gravity. There are just some people who will never read Aquaman, nor Scalped, nor Jonah Hex. So, why bother trying to convince them? Why release them in a format that suits them on the schedule they are used to? Why not devote your resources to putting those titles in front of people who might try them? Targeting college-aged readers strikes me as about right. They are young enough to be open-minded, but old enough that you can sell them R-Rated material.

    On the subject of bringing in kids, I like the concept. However, it is important to not idealize kids. Part of the appeal of comics when I was a kid was that they were a mystery to my parents. They were a little subversive. You have to be careful not turn an all-ages title into yet another vehicle for adult nostalgia. As great as the Bruce Timm cartoons were, Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS and even Batman Beyond might as well have been produced in the seventies to the average 12 year-old. If they are not producing new episodes now, then it is old to a kid.

  21. Aaron Brame
    June 13, 2009 at 3:09 am — Reply

    # Matthew Peterson Says:

    “Why do all of these proposals keep saying that we’re only going to focus on major characters?

    I could give a rat’s ass about Superman, Batman, or (generally) Wonder Woman. I want the adventures of Blue Beetle, Bat Lash, Black Lightning, Captain Marvel and J’Onn J’onzz. Where’s the DC Universe for me, hah? :)”

    The reason why we are focusing on the major characters is this, how many everyday people can name any of the characters you listed? Very few. I’m looking at this in a very logical way, we want everyday people not comic fans to come in (we have them already) and enjoy this universe.If you studied a little about marketing you would know why we’re focus on the major league and not the bush league at first.

    • June 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm — Reply

      The reason why we are focusing on the major characters is this, how many everyday people can name any of the characters you listed? Very few. I’m looking at this in a very logical way, we want everyday people not comic fans to come in (we have them already) and enjoy this universe.If you studied a little about marketing you would know why we’re focus on the major league and not the bush league at first.

      If I studied a little bit about marketing? That’s rather presumptuous, isn’t it? I spent over 13 years in radio and television production, creating commercials and pitches for advertisers big and small. I have a great deal of experience in the various theories of sales and marketing, and I can tell you this much: You don’t create long-term success by preaching to the converted. If you already know that Superman, Batman, Wolverine and Spider-Man will sell, and YOU KNOW HOW TO SELL THEM, why in the world would you make revamping those titles the centerpiece of your campaign? I mean no disrespect to anyone here, as I think there are some wonderful ideas being thrown around the Spoilers-verse right now that might do the floundering industry some good… But the secret to success in any industry in incremental growth, i.e., pulling in new readers, new concepts, new talent and characters. Telling me what we’re going to do to make Superman sell is a case of coals to Newcastle. I want to know what we’re going to do to make something like Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman or Alan Moore’s Promethea sell.

      Playing it safe is how the comics industry got to be in the state that it’s in, i.e. milking 100,000 hardcore fans out of more and more money every year to maintain their profit margins…

  22. Dean
    June 13, 2009 at 8:42 am — Reply

    @Matthew Peterson:

    “Why do all of these proposals keep saying that we’re only going to focus on major characters?”

    From an Editorial standpoint, those are your flagships. So, you need to focus upon generating buzz for those characters first.

    However, if you generate that buzz by reducing the number creative teams who can work with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern and the Flash to two (their own and the one on the JLA), then that opens up space for other characters. Make that clear from the outset and solicit pitches. Make sure the gig of being Superman’s boss pays really, really well. Maybe structure it like regular novels with an advance on a fixed percentage of sales. Give the creative team a stake in the product moving a lot of units. Do that in conjunction with cutting rates on the floppies and you should get creative, interesting pitches.

    Once you’ve settled that, then you solicit pitches for your second tier. Titles like Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, Blue Beetle, the Suicide Squad and Aquaman that have some name recognition or a solid basic concept. Strip them to the essentials and give them a hard reboot. Remember, these titles are being released more like mini-movies than traditional comics. They’d have release ads with release dates and be well over a hundred pages. You could pre-order them on DC Direct. While the end result is far more friendly to adaptation, DC might have to go a year without fresh Batman content to promote, since neither the direct market version of Detective Comics, nor the all-age Batman Adventures, would not be positioned as advancing the story. The former would be done-in-one Detective Stories and the later wouldn’t have any issue-to-issue continuity at all.

    That opens up a lot of space for … well … everything else.

    Put the new Shazam! release on the opposite side of the calender from the Superman release. Give him room to get talked about on message boards for a week.

  23. Brent from Bloomington"
    June 13, 2009 at 9:02 am — Reply

    You’d think being owned by Warner Brothers and putting out one of the most successful movies in years would give them the idea to ADVERTISE their comics outside of comic stores. How about some TV spots, so people know what’s going on with Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman? How about “Green Lantern: The Movie: Coming Soon. Before you see the film, go check out such and such green lantern trade (Secret Origins?) You no excuse for not advertising: You have incredibly popular characters people already LIKE and have shown that they will spend money on, your parent company has its own television network, you have two or three tv shows based around your characters, so why are none of these avenues being used to directly sell you products? Duh.

    • June 14, 2009 at 8:47 pm — Reply

      You’d think being owned by Warner Brothers and putting out one of the most successful movies in years would give them the idea to ADVERTISE their comics outside of comic stores.

      Why? I’ve worked in a comic store off and on for a decade, and the sad fact is that the movies and the comics aren’t the same. You can’t walk in and buy an adventure of a Christian Bale-type Batman or a Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man. What you get instead, are books mired in their own decades-long continuity morass, where you have to explain WHY it’s different than the movie, which generally turns people right off. Remember the excellent Legion cartoon a couple of years ago? The one that had interesting takes on old characters and did fun things with guys who haven’t been fun in a long time? The main Legion book bore NO resemblance to it, and a lot of readers were turned off by the somewhat less serious tales in the comic book series based on that iteration of the team.

      SUCCESS IN OTHER MEDIA DOES NOT MEAN A SUCCESSFUL COMIC BOOK. The Hulk’s book struggled while his TV show was on the air. Wonder Woman’s book didn’t seem to see much change in sales while her TV show was on the air. The Flash circulation remained pretty steady while his show was on the air. They’re different media, and liking one doesn’t automatically guarantee liking another. Look at the success of Heroes… It’s a pretty awesome show, but I wouldn’t want a comic of it, because virtually all of those folks have been done before in comics (and some of them much better.) The comic incarnation of it was sold as a novelty, a little “DVD extra” for the people who were inerested in it, because the general public probably wouldn’t have bought into it.

      What I want to hear is someone’s real plan to keep comics from spiralling into their own ass as the market base lowers and we continue catering to a smaller and smaller fanbase of die-hards every year. When someone is relaunching Youngblood and calling it “Classic comics” there is a fundamental disconnect between quality and cult of personality. How do we broaden our horizons, widen our buying public into the mainstream? Bear in mind that manga, books aimed at children, books aimed at girls, books aimed at tweens and books aimed at specific ethnic groups have already been run up the flagpole to no avail. How are you going to avoid being a new CMX, Milestone, !mpact, or Comics Greatest World five years down the line?

  24. CF
    June 13, 2009 at 10:25 am — Reply

    @Matthew: Enlighten us Matthew, what happened to the last Blue Beetle attempt? hmm? Yes, exactly, it was canceled due to low sales. Everyone’s talking about the flagship characters because they’re the ones who can still make money. I’d promote the second tier characters once a new comic book author becomes famous with success elsewhere. Then you could promote so-and-so is doing Blue Beetle, you should try it out!

    • June 14, 2009 at 8:37 pm — Reply

      @Matthew: Enlighten us Matthew, what happened to the last Blue Beetle attempt? hmm? Yes, exactly, it was canceled due to low sales. Everyone’s talking about the flagship characters because they’re the ones who can still make money. I’d promote the second tier characters once a new comic book author becomes famous with success elsewhere. Then you could promote so-and-so is doing Blue Beetle, you should try it out!

      Aaah, hogwash. With that thought process, X-Men could never have been relaunched (it was cancelled due to low sales and redone by a couple of relative new kids) and we never would have had to the graduation of characters like Wolverine, Ghost Rider, and (arguably) Luke Cage and Ms. Marvel to the upper tier. I’ll grant you that Blue Beetle went under due to low sales, but is that an indication of the quality of the character? Given that he was relaunched in “Second Tier” status this week, I’ll wager not. And creator cache only goes so far. I like Matt Fraction, loved his Iron Fist, loved his Invincible Iron Man, but I never settled in with Casanova, and Uncanny X-Men is still not something I’m interested in reading about. Grant Morrison got me reading Batman and Robin, yes, but you I don’t find any interest in reading Gotham City Sirens, Red Robin, or All-Star Batman and Robin (if that’s still being published.)

      Quite frankly, I think a lot of the problem with making money in the comic industry comes from “management by opinion.” The head man (or woman, let’s not be exclusionary) decides that only a certain group of characters sell. He then sets out to make every other character more like those, makes them crossover in all other titles, and tries to base his entire publishing plan on them. (If you want an example of this, purchase any magazine from Marvel between 90 and 95, especially if they feature The Punisher, Wolverine, or Ghost Rider.) Iron Man isn’t Wolverine isn’t the Hulk… And The Avengers, as a rule, shouldn’t be indistinguishable from the X-Men.

      You can make just as much money with the Blue Beetles and War Machines and Doom Patrols of the world (and I choose those example intentionally, I might add) as you can with your Batmans and Red Hulks and X-Forces, if you’re delivering a quality product and marketing it correctly. If you rest on your laurels (or to use a wrestling term, only push your main eventers) you will fall victim to the same sort of boredom on the part of the readers that we saw in the doldrums of 1996-1997.

      • June 14, 2009 at 10:10 pm — Reply

        @Matthew: Enlighten us Matthew, what happened to the last Blue Beetle attempt? hmm? Yes, exactly, it was canceled due to low sales. Everyone’s talking about the flagship characters because they’re the ones who can still make money. I’d promote the second tier characters once a new comic book author becomes famous with success elsewhere. Then you could promote so-and-so is doing Blue Beetle, you should try it out!

        If that were really the case, then Jonah Hex would have been given the axe as well, as it had lower sales than Blue Beetle.

  25. ferociousdave11
    June 13, 2009 at 11:36 am — Reply

    This is probably more in line with a marketing directors job, but heres what Id do:

    1. Bring DC comics back to the racks at grocery/target/wal-mart stores
    -Offer 3-pack discount comics on recent published storylines from a title (When I was 12 my mom bought me one of these from a local target, which contained Batman Knightfall titles, this hooked me.)

  26. ferociousdave11
    June 13, 2009 at 11:45 am — Reply

    I think this would expose more younger readers that would never make it into a comic book shop.

    2. Start doing tv commercials and movie preview commercials where celebrities/ pro athletes say: “Im a batman reader”, or “Im a superman reader” or something along those lines where kids can see that so-called cool people read comics too. Im always hearing about some pro-athlete who loves comics, so Im sure you can find willing celebrities, especially for $$$$. I think these commercials should be attached to the trailers of DCs movies/ movies geared for young adults, if it was attached to the Dark Knight, lots of people would have gotten a look at them.

    3. After a run is completed on a certain title by a writer/artist team, do an online poll where you ask the fans if the storyline was liked and if you would like to have the team back on the title. DC should then concentrate on putting the highest rated teams on titles, maybe rotate them through different titles, but keep them together.

  27. Dean
    June 13, 2009 at 11:48 am — Reply

    The reason DC doesn’t do TV ads is cost. A TV ad costs $350,000 just to produce. Every time it airs is between $100,000 and a few million. Want to advertise the Return of Barry Allen on CSI, because Barry is a police scientist too? You are looking a commitment in the millions.

    The counter argument is that it will boost sales. Well, how much does it need to boost sales to justify the cost? Comics cost $2.99. Of that 55% goes to the retailer and they’ve earned it. That is $1.35 to Diamond, who takes a cut for distribution. I have no way of knowing how much, but I doubt DC grosses more than a dollar an issue. Let’s use $1 for simplicity.

    According to the sales figures Heidi McDonald posts, Flash: Rebirth #1 sold 102,000 copies. More to the point, it generated gross sales of around $100,000. That is a third of what it would take to just produce a TV ad, much less air it. Neither the creative team, nor DC editorial, has been paid yet in this analysis. Creative has to be $15 grand an issue. Overhead has to be similar. Oh, and then the printer is going to want their money. All told, I’d be shocked if DC was netting more than $10 grand an issue on one of their top sellers. Obviously, increasing sales improves that number, but TV ads create a bigger hole than a direct market periodical could ever hope to dig out of.

  28. alastair
    June 13, 2009 at 3:29 pm — Reply

    move out of the comic shops and back to the news stands. I get my comic fix from trades adn from Marvel and DC uk collectors editions.

    These are £2,50, monthly books of 72-100 pages, with three stories reprinted, in Marvels case about 2 years old in DC about a year with some classic strips, There are Spiderman twice a month, FF, Avengers, Wolerine, sole avnegers (cap, thor, Iornman) and an anthology (hulk, She hulk, Ghost rider, Punisher, Heros for hire, Daredevil, and many more) for Marvel and Superman and Batman for DC this have recently gone to Bi-mothly, but started as monthlies.

    These are sold in major Newsagents, such as WH Smith along side the entertainment magzines (empire, SFX, gaming, total film)not the childrens comics and important placement.

    I would not suggest Dc or marvel used such old material in the US as the aim if to get them to subscribe to the single issues, and the UK does not have a large direct market compared to the US. But with the size of the US a regular digest available in to by in a newsgent or drug store may be the best way for people to get a fix easily and especailly for younger readers who can not drive, the comic market is limited to those who can get there,

    So for DC six month old stories, 100 pages, 4 issues. $5

    Batman, (detective, Batman every issue with 2 of either Mini or batman family family titles)
    Superman, (superman, Action, Supergirl, Mini)
    JLA/JSA (JLA, JSA, Mini and solo)
    Wonder woman, Flash, Green latern and Green arrow book.

  29. June 13, 2009 at 6:14 pm — Reply

    First Things First: Organization

    One of the first things I would do is sit every writer down in a room(or conference call) along with the editors. I would hand out a DC Encyclopedia for everyone. It will be homework. LEARN YOUR CHARACTERS. You don’t have to write like the writer before you, but you have to know the character.

    I’d also do the same for the artists. I’d reassure them that they have artistic freedom, but coloring and costume mistakes will not be tolerated. And while some artists prefer their personal colorists, my staff will decide whether he/she has the look we want for your art. Too long have some artists been held back by lackluster coloring(TONY DANIEL).

    Before these meetings take place, I would make sure my editors knew exactly what we are doing. I want them to be breathing down the creative teams necks. I don’t want them harassing the creators over deadlines, but I want absolutely no word bubble problems. I don’t want any unnecessary/unplanned retcons to ANY story that hasn’t received the go ahead from our staff. While fans generally hate the word and usage of “retcon”, I can not say that they should never be used. However, under my administration, it would be used very sparsely.

    Variants, Deluxe Editions and Absolutes, Oh My!

    There are still many people out there who COLLECT comic books. Let’s not forget them. Let’s make sure when we release variant covers, its only for special occasions. There will be no variants for issue #16, #25, #160…NONE. Most(but not all)Mini-series, #1’s, #50, Every hundred mark, and Events will have variant covers. If a line of titles are featuring a crossover story, then the chances of those titles receiving variant covers rise, but they will always be monitored. I love Alex Ross’ & JG Jones’ painted artwork of my favorite characters, but there’s less amazement when we see these variants every issue on every title.

    I understand that people want variant covers every time a new creative team is announced for a title, and while I too enjoy seeing more artwork from the talented artists of the world, there would be very limited releases for variant covers in that situation.

    Triple Threat: Editorial vs Creators vs New Creators

    As EiC, I would make sure if a writer is not happy with the direction we want to take with a certain character/book that we would talk personally about why this is the right direction and how to get him/her to enjoy and understand. DC Comics would indeed be a majorly editorial ran company, but of course would be an open door policy for creator input. We realize that as writers/artists come into the DC offices, that they may have some outstanding ideas for our equally outstanding characters. I would certainly welcome these ideas and plans.

    As many have mentioned before me, I would use the “WildStorm” imprint as a testing ground for new writers. Its that simple.

    DCU CONTINUITY

    PRIORITY: Making sure EVERY WRITER/ARTIST was aware of other titles continuity. There would be little guessing where a story fits. It would straightforward and linear. Every month we will send out the updated continuity story to the staff. Call it a continuity memo, if you will. Every 4 months, we will release “The DCU” which will be written by myself that gives you a brief overview of every book in continuity. It would feature art by different artists each release. This book would be cost effective and unfortunately might be subject to delay depending on the status of other titles. EVERY book in the DCU would be covered, obviously some more than others. It will serve as the perfect starting point for new readers who aren’t accustomed to the DCU and its characters and continuity.

    Digital Comics: One month after the newest issue of “The DCU” is released, there would be a page for our most well known characters. Of course, there are too many characters to feature in both “The DCU” every 4 months and even online, so for the lesser known characters that have a fanbase wanting to know their whereabouts, we will feature an idea similar to Pax’s stated above. “DCU: Global” where you’ll find digital comics of some the more “obscure” characters that don’t appear in monthly, weekly, or mini-series books. These titles would also be written by newer talent, and the stories would be subtly linked together but completely unnecessary for you to read every title. “DCU: Global” would also be released in trade somewhere down the line. Most likely when each title reaches 10 issues each, so its not just the first issue of each book.

    Elseworlds & All-Stars

    No More “All Star” Titles…after Wonder Woman. Instead of these out of continuity adventures, my staff would implement “DC Comics: Original” series that will be similar to Elseworlds in its approach, but its management is vastly better. The titles under this would only be announced once the majority of the first volume is written, and ready to be solicited. These are NOT priority titles, and cater to the smaller percentage of our audience that are not enjoying the ongoing continuity story of a certain character. “DC Comics: Original stories are strictly creator driven and will only be marketed as such.

    Out with the Old, In with the New

    New Teams:

    The Flash: Obvious choice from me. If I could pick a team to replace the rotation that we’ve had recently(ignoring upcoming projects like that whole Rebirth thing). I would choice Geoff Johns and Scott Kollins. Geoff isn’t an obvious choice but he was close. I want to see him write more Flash despite the downward spiral writers seem to have after returning to a book that they’d success with. Freddie Williams 3 is a fantastic artist and proof is surely in the pages of the final Robin issues. Great stuff. Great fucking stuff. He would surely be my second choice. His style should work very well with Geoff.

    Wonder Woman: Time’s up Gail. You didn’t do anything overly impressive and now its time to vacate. Diana needs a writer who can bring about a great mixture of power,intellect, and feminism. The clear answer here is Grant Morrison. Yes, with all bias and “fanboyism” on the table, I believe in Grant. I can see him doing an amazing job with Diana. I can already see this crazy dark storyline with Wonder Woman eventually battling Circe for all the marbles and Ethan Van Sciver’s art would make this CLASSIC. Why hasn’t this happened yet? And don’t tell me EVS can’t handle a monthly title. Because I have faith.

    JLA: Dwayne McDuffie can’t seem to make a storyline interesting, whether it involves a tie-in or not. I want JLA to be DC’s best book and in order for that to happen, JLA must tell great stories. With that being said, with Grant Morrison already taking up Batman and now Wonder Woman, my replacement for McDuffie would be Geoff Johns. I have a love/hate relationship with Geoff, but I surely know talent when I see it. I’m extremely curious to know what Geoff can do with a (potentially huge) cast of characters. Most of which will probably not feature the big 7. Art? Well, is there anyone disliking Philip Tan’s art in Green Lantern right now? Nope. There you go. As long as he can keep a monthly schedule then its a win-win.

    New Books

    All Flash: Yep. All Flash would be the GLC to The Flash. It would feature the adventures of Jai & Iris, Jay Garrick, Wally West or Barry Allen or ALL!!!! All Flash is what we need after Rebirth. Point,Blank,Period. Give the writing credits to Fabian Nicieza(who’s writing Robin) and let Scott Kollins reign supreme on this book again.

    Gotham Central: BRING IT BACK. Rucka and some new artist. I loved Michael Lark with those characters but I’m trying to build upon those characters and keep the same feel it once had. How does teaming Greg Rucka with Eduardo Risso sound? Exactly.

    Aquaman: Here’s where I might lose some people. I want Peter David writing Aquaman. In fact, I’d love for Jim Calafiore to draw him. This time, no gimmicks. No water hand, no hook. No beard and no random anger problems. This is SuperFriends Aquaman with a personality that’s less….whatever that was. Trust me, Peter and Jim would do an excellent job on the character.

    Canceled Books:

    Green Arrow/Black Canary: Take BC out and have her just do cameos or find a better way to incorporate the two together, because this is another book that should have been amazing but just isn’t.

    Batman/Superman: No one wants to read the same Batman/Superman stories time and time again. We get it, they are the backbone of the business. They make your business survive but they aren’t the most interested team together month in and month out.

  30. CF
    June 14, 2009 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    @Brandan(sic?): I think Grant Morrison would be a better fit for JLA. There are already rumors that he’s been placed on the project after McDuffie and whoever is doing the in-between issues are done. Morrison is a much better big-idea guy than Johns. Besides, Johns already blew his load for Big Superhero Team heroics on JSA.

    For Wonder Beeyotch, I would go with someone who has more experience in Mythology and Fantasy. Mike Carey perhaps? Certainly someone from Vertigo who’s a talent writer (which instantly excludes, Bill Willingjamon and Matt Sturgeon). Too bad Brian K Vaughan is off in Hollywood denying the existence of comic-fandom as if they were some retard red-headed step-child that he keeps in the basement. He would probably be able to make a really good Wonder Beeyotch.

    What about that woman Neil Gaiman is currently dating? I bet she could come up with a real surreal take on Wonder Beeyotch.

    I doubt, as greedy as DC Comics can be, that DC could afford Michael More or Less cock (you know of Elric fame?) to do Wonder Woman. He could really write the crap out of Wonder Woman.

    China Mieville of Perdido Street Station fame – would also be a good fit.

  31. Dean
    June 14, 2009 at 11:34 pm — Reply

    @Matthew Peterson

    What I want to hear is someone’s real plan to keep comics from spiralling into their own ass as the market base lowers and we continue catering to a smaller and smaller fanbase of die-hards every year. When someone is relaunching Youngblood and calling it “Classic comics” there is a fundamental disconnect between quality and cult of personality. How do we broaden our horizons, widen our buying public into the mainstream? Bear in mind that manga, books aimed at children, books aimed at girls, books aimed at tweens and books aimed at specific ethnic groups have already been run up the flagpole to no avail. How are you going to avoid being a new CMX, Milestone, !mpact, or Comics Greatest World five years down the line?

    First, I think you have to repair the core. Like it or not, new readers are only going to show up for stuff they already have an awareness of. That means characters who have had a life in other media. Repairing them primarily means making them as accessible as possible to the folks that know them from other media. The 100,000, or so, hardcores will HOWL, but as I said earlier their habits probably are not going to change no matter what.

    Additionally, when revamping those characters it is critical to bear in mind that the Silver Age characters were designed to deliver simple lessons to children. The fact that have a life beyond that is sort of a happy accident. To the extent that some clever new idea contradicts the simple message the character was designed to deliver is a disaster. Superman is about the tension between duty and romantic love. Batman is about grief. Wonder Woman is about how having a girl in the tree-house can be more fun than you might expect. The Flash is about how you can solve any problem with the scientific method, if you have enough time.

    Simple, but not shallow.

    If you fix the core, then new readers should start coming in. New readers are (almost by definition) more open minded than existing readers. Most people don’t know that Iron Man and Batman are published by different companies, nor should they. If they read and enjoy Batman without needing a 25 minute discourse, then they are more likely to sample other stuff. They don’t care how many time Blue Beetle, or the Doom Patrol, or whatever has been canceled, nor should they.

    Then, it is just a getting creators to do what Morrison is doing. Morrison writes “Batman”, then “Seaguy”. He writes “JLA”, then “The Invisibles”. Alan Moore and Garth Ennis are probably lost causes in this regard, but they aren’t the only talented writers out there. A talented retailer (or Amazon.com) does the rest. You buy “Superman” and get a recommendation for a Vertigo title by the same author. The run on Teen Titans (or the JLA, or whatever) sells the new property.

    Again, this only works for people who don’t already have pull lists and the litany of opinions that go with them. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the JLA and the Teen Titans are your entry titles. They need to be accessible, well-written and crafted to appeal to the same people you hope will eventually be picking up “The Sandman”, or “Doom Patrol”, or “Preacher”, or “Scalped”. Again, you will get howls, but the hardcore fans aren’t going anywhere.

    If new folks are not encouraged to pick up comics and finding stuff targeted them in the entry titles, then the new stuff and the stuff further outside the box are going to struggle.

  32. ~wyntermute~
    June 14, 2009 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    Matthew’s rebuttals bring up some pretty excellent points, AND point out something I noticed… There were some people in here arguing on the borders of incivility. I won’t point fingers, but I’m sure people know who they are (and if they don’t, it probably won’t do any good to point it out to them anyway). Gang, don’t make this place go moderated. If you’re being “funny” with a slightly-sarcastic comment, don’t “expect us to get it”. Use smiley faces, or parenthetical asides (like this one!), or some other gimmick that translates to print. I am probably just bein a whacko, but, like…. The Big Guys are consistently reminding us to keep it civil. “They” didn’t used to have to do that. I think that if it keeps getting worse… Well, y’all ain’t stupid, and can probably figure it out. :) I’m done for now.

  33. Gaf
    June 15, 2009 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    That you all for not making fun of me for accidently posting my answer twice. That in itself shows true self-control and civility in the commentverse.

  34. Gaf
    June 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm — Reply

    Ugh “THANK” you, I meant. (as well as “ACCIDENTALLY”). So thank you also for not attacking my poor spelling.

  35. Hey!
    June 18, 2009 at 3:50 pm — Reply

    So who winz?

  36. June 19, 2009 at 4:33 pm — Reply

    Is there a winner?

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