Friday, June 3, 2011

More on the DC Announcements

Rarely has a comic book event been reported on so voraciously as has DC's announcement Tuesday that they will be relaunching all of their titles in the next few months and that they'll be going day and date with their digital product line.

Since the news hit, the Internet has lit up like a Christmas tree on fire, with everyone from Bleeding Cool to the New York Times covering the story.

And, of course, Exfanding.

We were all over it, and only a full day behind the breaking of the news. As always, our biting insight was...well, mostly ignored by the rest of the Internet. Which is fine.

I'm not bitter.

Now, you won't hear us making pronouncements like, "This is it. Comics are dead." Or, "This is it. The greatest thing that has ever happened to comics. Ever." We try to be a bit more reasoned when we write things, and unlike a lot of places online, we try to stay away from making such sweeping (and idiotic) claims.

That said, let's make some sweeping and idiotic claims.

I've been following the story since it broke on Tuesday, and as always, fan reaction has been a mix of exactly what I expected ("How dare they do this to my characters?!") and some truly thoughtful speculation on what the announcements mean for comics.

In one respect, it's good to see people from all walks of life talking about comic books. And there honestly seems to be an outsider interest in all of this news, I think mostly because we're talking about characters like Batman and Superman, the true icons of the comic book world.

When DC killed off (the Jason Todd) Robin in the 90s, there was a massive outcry from the public, who for the most part completely ignored comics otherwise. Why? Because no matter who you are, you know who Robin is.

It doesn't register (how would it?) that Jason Todd is not Dick Grayson. Robin is Robin, and when Robin dies, people care.

And this time around, I think the general public is also quite interested in DC's stance on going digital. Books have gone digital, and there's a huge market of general consumers downloading new product onto an assortment of tablets. In the past year, Amazon's digital downloads have caught up to and surpassed their orders for new, physical books.

Now, for the first time, the accountant down the hall from you who remembers reading comics off a spinner rack in the 70s can catch up on his old friends in capes and tights without feeling self conscious about walking into a comics shop.

I'm sorry, that's just the way things are.

And it's the way things have been since comics shops first appeared on the corner.

I know retailers are worried about the digital announcement. I know they are, and honestly, I think they should be. But, as my LCS owner said Wednesday, "My clientele was never that accountant down the hall."

"If I couldn't get him in the store these past 20 years, I'm never going to get him."

Which is what I said on Wednesday morning, right here, in my initial reaction to the news. And, although I completely understand the panic, maybe, just maybe, reading a few digital comics will get that accountant in the store.

Comics have grown up, and now that DC has enabled many, many more people easy access to them, maybe others will realize what we already know.

It's time to open up the clubhouse and let everyone else play.

I think this move is a big, bold one by DC, with plenty of upside. And, of course, with plenty of downside. That's what makes it big and bold, you see.

If these reboots go the way they're promising--younger versions of the heroes, no continuity baggage to deal with--things look great. If, however, these relaunches go the way of One Year Later, there could be some trouble.

These new stories need to be both accessible and exciting, right off the bat.

Speaking of Bats, I'm really interested to see what they do with the whole, two Batmen thing. Does Dick Grayson go back to being Nightwing? What about Damien; what happens to him?

Questions like that are being bandied about online and on comics podcasts, and for the first time in a very long time, people seem to be genuinely hopped up about a mainstream comics event.

And that's very cool.

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