Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 2, 2011

A Few Words On DC Comics And Its First Wave Titles

There were three pretty good pieces of off-hand analysis about DC's quiet cancellation last week of various titles related to its First Wave effort -- kind of a soft imprint that mixed established pulp heroes and early superhero comics and which featured a bunch of notable mainstream comics creators. They took place at the active comments thread typical to Heidi MacDonald's The Beat blog, and I think are worth pulling out for a second possible look on your part.

imageUnsurprisingly, Abhay Khosla provides the most verbally dexterous and thorough dissection of the books and how they were presented to the audience from a consumer's viewpoint here. A poster named "caleb" follows up by placing such an effort in the overall scheme of what a company like DC Comics tends to do better than launching imprints here. Marc-Oliver Frisch places the matter in its market context here. Taken together, it's a pretty dire picture that the three posts paint: general editorial malfeasance and poor execution in terms of scheduling the books and making a long-term case for them as a necessary purchase, a system that encourages companies to perhaps focus on titles with existing traction and maximizing their sales, and a market that leans on an audience that has to be convinced to make more purchases instead of a market that excels at bringing in new readers to read new books. If DC is totally done with this effort, that's one depressing hic jacet; if it has some rough plans for future efforts, those factors constitute less a launching point than they do a modest millstone.

That's not to say this is the entirety of what happened here. Some are critical of the books' marketing -- although it has to be said that in comics, the definition of successful marketing tends to be whatever marketing gets done for successful books, which limits the conversation a bit. We have almost nothing on DC's own thoughts on the matter, nor the full extent of official actions taken. It's argued that a company like DC launches such efforts as part of a natural process for trying out new marketplace solutions and to keep talent engaged, in a way that guarantees more failures to successes but adds strength over time to the bottom line. I imagine that last one is a factor, for sure. Still, the three posts above offer up a distressing picture of an editorial initiative that seems more doomed from the start than destined for success, all unfolding in a market that may have a harder time shrugging such things off than it did in the day when the top books sold more.
posted 5:00 pm PST | Permalink

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