Wednesday, June 08, 2011

"My Greatest Disappointment."

I knocked this strip out on Thursday while watching Rodan. But, per blog law (said blog law from the law blog of Bob Loblaw...) we're expected to discuss DC's new post-Flashpoint reboot plans. Even if it's all vile speculation, and I'm not a retailer, so I'm only guessing how DC's planned day-and-date digital distribution plan is going to work. (Check out the updated list of the 52 books at Bleeding Cool!)

If I'm honest, the first thing I thought of when DC announced all this, was that all the heroes would be WB-ized younger, edgier versions, like the 200th episode of Stargate feared. No, not the bit with the puppets...

Now, some are worried that day-and-date is going to be a nail in the coffin of comic shops. That may depend on the pricing of the downloads; but good comic shops rarely exclusively sell comics: they usually feature games, cards, t-shirts, action figures, and so forth. Some shops might be hurt by losing sales to downloads, but others will have diversified into other revenue streams, and better weather the storm, 'kay? (There is a question of whether DC is dicking over comic shops, which I can't answer. Maybe? On the other hand, if comic shops and the direct market were doing a bang-up job of selling comics, DC wouldn't have to do this, would they?)

Over at Comics Alliance, David Brothers' had a piece on 'Do you own your digital comics?' I personally would be reluctant to pay $3.99...$2.99...hell, even ninety-nine cents for a download that I can't save, can't transfer, and/or can only read on certain machines. The analogy is, if you buy an MP3 online, you can save it to your hard drive, burn it to a CD, transfer it to your iPod, whatever. With a comic, you're paying for the right to read it under certain conditions and usually online. Really, check out the digital comics articles over there; it seems like a bit of a mess yet, and the pricing for something you don't really have.

To completely armchair quarterback DC's digital plan, here's what I would do: I wouldn't throw 52 books out at once, for one damn thing. Thirty, tops. But, I would keep the "hold the line at $2.99" but shorten the main features in most books while adding 7-8 page backups. (I probably would keep, say Batman and Justice League full-length, if not longer...) I don't think the market will support throwing Captain Atom, Firestorm, Justice League Dark, among others, into the field all at once. I'm not sure how well received the recent back-ups were received (I enjoyed Metal Men in Doom Patrol, for one.) but DC has a tradition of such: it's a good way to try out new things, and to build your audience. Come for Superman, stay for Frankenstein or something.

I would also throw DC's digital pricing plan--same day as the comic in stores, $2.99; a month later it drops to $1.99--right out the window. Forget the how of this; but I would price books at thirty cents a download--but you only get to keep them or get access to them for thirty days. At thirty cents a pop, you might need to sell more, but do you think that will be a problem? Really? People will be far more apt to try out a new book, which gives that much more opportunity to hook a new reader on the comics habit. Moreover, when the issue expires after thirty days, some readers will want to spring for it again later, if they want to read several issues at once.

There's other things I'd fiddle with, on the digital end: the $.30 downloads would be bare-bones, no backups; with a more "special edition" version with backups and extra features like backmatter, script, or even uninked pencils. (All of which would be relatively inexpensive to add, by the by.) The backups could be collected later, say three or four parts at a time. I would offer sales as well, but not for the best-sellers like the top forty books, but the next forty. That way, the mid-tier books get a bit more push, until they work their way up, stirring up the chart.

But, so comics shops aren't left out, DC should offer discounts and coupons going both ways: purchase four downloads, get a markdown coupon for a proper comic. Purchase two comics, get a free download of some other book. Go nuts. Mix it up some, since I don't think DC has gone far enough, on this issue anyway.

By the way, My Greatest Adventure #1 is on the schedule of new #1's, and it would be a bit of a slap in the face if it didn't at least guest the Doom Patrol. (The Doom Patrol first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80.) And "Doom Idol" strips will return, as Robotman and Negative Man still haven't found a replacement for Elasti-woman...

Are we done with this? Not yet! More later, on the books!


Dale Bagwell said...

Arghh you dog! Still plan on dragging things out huh? Hey at least you seem to have plan unlike the good folks over @ DC. I'm not sure what I think about the new plan of action from DC with these Digital comics and all, but I look at it like this: like everything else lately, comics are now downloadable, meaning companies like DC and Marvel are losing money from pirated online comics. And much like the music industry, something had to be done to help curtail the rapid loss of revenue. I think this is a step in the right direction since there's really nothing that can be done other than severe punishment and legal action taken towards those individuals that illegally download comics. This is also DC steeping into the future of the business, and unfortunately that means stuff like digital comics is becoming the future. I myself am not going to download these things, but others will, and god bless them. I'll continue to buy my comics the old-fashioned way, or buy them as trades. It's funny how Marvel started to do this first, but then slowed down on it. Now that DC's taken the ball and is running with it, expect Marvel and other publishers to do the same. In this economy, no one can afford not to anymore.

My other main complaint, is that DC is once again rebooting their universe. Why? Couldn't they just put out the digital comics and continue the same universe that's been in play for awhile now? Everytime they do this, they cheapen the work of the creators that work hard every month to put out viable issues only to see them mean next to nothing whenever DC feels like "rebooting" every couple of years or so. I'm glad Marvel doesn't do this despite not really interesting me lately with their material. I'm not stupid and I see why they did this, but it's completely unnecessary, and only serves to drive away the loyal fans they do have for the sake of acquiring new ones. It seems like an ass-backwards approach if you ask me, but that's why I'm not running a corporation I guess.

And yes, the least DC could do after shit-canning DP again, is to at least have them star, even briefly, in the title that where they started in the 1st place, which is My Greatest Adventure. DC's also putting out DC Comics Presents again, with a rotating cast of characters, so here's hoping this is another place where they can get some love.

Also, who the hell decided you have to blog about current topics? I just figured that's what you'd do if that's what was on your mind at the time. I figure I'll mention this too on my blog, so thanks for the impetus on getting that started.

Oh, last thing, I love that you put Grifter in the new strip; I used to have that exact figure since I'm a big fan of his. I swear goo, it's like you live in my head sometimes. I feel cold and violated afterwards knowing someone else besides me was in there. Ha!

googum said...

Hey, it's blog law: I don't make it, I just arbitarily write it down...

I was going to say I wasn't a Grifter fan, because I've mostly only seen him in crossovers like JLA/Wildcats; but he seemed like an OK guy, actually. Kind of like Hawkeye: he had a mask, therefore he's a superhero, pretty much just because they say so. Did Grifter even have powers? I don't know...

Still, I natter on about the continuity side of DC's scheme tomorrow; which is basically me complaining about the books I want, which consistently sell terribly.

SallyP said...

Hilarious as usual. As for digital stuff...phooey. I want something that I can hold in my hands, and put it away, and take it out, and stuff.