In a move that we have to admit is pretty shocking, DC Publisher Dan Didio, more than six years since we launched the Has DC Done Something Stupid Today? website, has finally come out and said something pretty damn smart. Echoing some of the points we’ve been making for years, here at Bleeding Cool and before that at The Outhouse, Didio, called out “speculator marketing” and other gimmickry used by comic book publishers (read: Marvel) to “give the appearance of a healthy industry” despite not actually doing anything to increase the readership of individual titles.
Didio’s comments came as part of a discussion on the DC’s performance in current market conditions in an interview with ICv2.
Where my concern comes from is more about the overreliance on nostalgia, speculator marketing, variant covers, and a lot of things that seem to be driving numbers in sales to give the appearance of a healthy industry, but it’s not built on the ongoing success of the individual titles in order to keep those numbers successful and maintained. If we’re creating these artificial highs on a continual basis, if something pulls that apart, does it break the infrastructure overall, and how do we change these buying patterns in that fashion to build something that is a more healthy business going forward?
Of course, selling comics based on gimmicks like variant covers rather than the actual content of the books helped tank the industry in the 90s, but despite an opportunity to learn lessons that nearly saw Marvel run out of business, the industry has spent the last decade seemingly repeating the same mistakes. In addition to variant covers, we also see constant number one issue relaunches, super-mega-crossover event tie-ins, and inflated issue prices that make a certain publisher’s dollar share seem high even if the actual per capita readership is low.
It’s encouraging to see someone in a position of power like Didio not only recognize this but seemingly try to do something about it, with DC reducing the number of titles on a monthly basis, resulting in more readers for each title, even if DC isn’t immune to going for some of that sweet speculator cash on occasion as well.
The periodical numbers have been strong for us. Our idea to bring down the number of books, I think, is working for us. It allows us to spend more time to improve the creativity of the material, which is what we feel is important right now. The Young Adult line starting to really catch fire with the Raven book has been exciting for us. I think we’ve been more than pleased than what we’ve seen on the Black Label material so far. All those things considered, it’s been going good.
Read the full interview with Didio and Jim Lee at ICv2.