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

December 21, 2015

Reports: DC May Go Bi-Weekly With Certain Titles In 2016

The best information gathered by mainstream-focused sites Bleeding Cool and Comic Book Resources indicates that DC Comics will double-ship on some titles in 2016. That's a practice by which certain titles in certain months ship more than once, going bi-weekly or roughly so, resulting in more than 12 issues in a calendar year. Marvel's done this for years with some of its more popular titles. The idea is that because comics accrue order numbers and lose them slowly, you're bound to experience a second sale for that title in a month that is near the first one and the more prolific series will quickly find its own level near the one-title-a-month level, at least initially.

imageI'm not a fan of this practice for a few reasons. I think it encourages limited-range ordering and pushes creative resources into a few, rigid directions. In nearly every case, the extra issues necessitate some sort of mid-stream change in creative teams. Sustained, regular creator assignment is a recurring factor in nearly every high-quality series run on an American mainstream comic book. Switching creators mid-series also makes the title harder to track -- something exacerbated by the name changes and relaunches that are a regular thing in comics now. I know that I use the creative team as a identifier, and that I'm unable to when they're not consistent. It's a little thing, but comics bleeds from a thousand different cuts.

Taking the really long view, I would probably prefer this strategy to the classic one where there's a separate title launched starring a character that already has one, a title that sort of but not really overlaps with the core series. I mention that only because manipulating the market at the top end isn't ever a new strategy; companies have always tried to maximize sales on their best books, in many cases at the cost of a reliable stability that allows newcomers and don't-want-to-think-about-it people easy on and off series access.

I think the driving point here is that DC ends up doing this, they'll likely be rewarded. DC's reign as the responsible older brother of the comics direct market came to an end a few years back, and this is one more instance where they're both participating in and benefiting from something that may have long-term, malaise-style consequences. Whether we're geniuses building distribution-system stillsuits or hillbilly cannibals munching on our own extremities only time will tell.

for no particular reason, here's art featuring DC's Wildcat character
posted 3:25 pm PST | Permalink

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