Category Archives: state of the industry

Conversation Piece: The DC New 52 and beyond

We’re now in the first full week of the DC Relaunch. There’s been a lot of great things coming out of this relaunch thus far, nicest bit being all the conversation about comics that’s sprouted out of this. Every day on twitter, there’s always some new conversation sparking from this. It’s starting to perk up in circles that are outside of the normal crowds. People are starting to get curious and this is a good thing. Now the ultimate test is going to be if this material keeps them going long term. We’re all curious but if that curiosity spreads into crowds outside of our own even better. I feel we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift, where things are looking like they’re truly starting to go somewhere and it seems for the better. We hope so. For there is a lot of good going on, there’s excitement in the air, people are asking questions, people are wondering how this is going to work, and for all the bad there is a lot of good.

Now as the New 52 spreads, this feeling should spread further into the rest of our fair industry. I’m just small cog in the comic machine yet this is an industry I feel passionate about, I love talking comics, I love reviewing comics, and with all this energy flowing around it’s been perking my energy back up to new heights. We’re starting to enter a better world for making better comics. I feel as if I’m part of a new world, a truly brave new world of comics that can only get better. Every day I come online for all the things that aren’t that great in my own life, I instantly get recharged by all the conversations around me involving comics. There’s an equal amount of positive and negative. The nicest thing being that there’s a conversation. Surprisingly civil too, which amazes and makes me quite proud of the things I’ve witnessed. Even if they disagree with something you say, at least you all know you’re both comic fans and that you can agree to disagree. We all have to realize that we’re all comic fans. We all love reading about these characters, seeing what they’re up to, and in turn love when new ideas sprout up that give us new characters to embrace. From the New 52 initiatives, to Marvel’s events, and to the limitless ideas coming out of Image, Boom! and many other companies. It’s all comics. We have a lot of amazing books coming out right now. My goodness, you have Marvel with Spider-Island which has been one of the best events they’ve done in quite a long time.

Everyone has amazing things going on right now, and that’s what I’m noticing more of on twitter, and in general internet chatter. We’re having to learn to focus more on the amazing. There are a lot of people who can’t focus on that, yet it seems that the level of people realizing how many cool things are going in comics are balancing this conversation out. I’m a little guy in this chatter, yet even if I don’t like something I want to explain why, and I’ll at least read something before I instantly condemn it. I don’t like the look of the Teen Titans costumes but am I still going to read the comic? Yes I am, for I want to see if this ends up being a good story. I’m not a big fan of Rob Liefeld, yet I found myself loving the Infinite and will end up taking a look at Hawk and Dove. There’s something to be said about this. We’re working on making things better, and I want to be part of making things better. Though really if anything amazingly stupid pops up I’m not going to hesitate to comment. Right now though, we’re at the dawn of something that could turn out to be amazing. From the New 52 to this spreading like wildfire into everything else that makes this industry great. Let’s see what happens and keep making comics better.

Looking over the orders for the New 52

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/08/30/numbercrunching-the-new-52-dc-comics-orders/

This article caught my eye this morning, we’re now on the latter hours before the relaunch officially kicks into gear. The tickling clock on everything changing before us has started. So a few numbers strike me interesting out of this article, mostly in the middle range titles. Animal Man doing a lot better than I was expecting. Same with Frankenstein. Though the latter part with Blue Beetle, Resurrection Man, and Men of War concerns me, being books I’m quite interested in, yet them being so low doesn’t shock me. Going forward, this is the start of seeing how this is going to work out. The orders are solid, pretty standard overall. Six Months from now, between sales adjustments is wher the real test will lie. As always with the relaunch, we’re now in the wait and see haul. Like it or not, we’re now here, we just have to see where this all will end up going.

 

 

 

 

Inspired by a comment: The Marketing of the DC Relaunch

In the post I just did earlier, I mentioned missteps well glitches in this relaunch, and a great comment came my way talking about the marketing.  Yeah that’s the major worry on my end. I think the relaunch is necessary but I’m going to post the commercial that’s going to air in Cinemas over the next few months.

I’ve had thoughts on this that I’ve had troubles getting out over the past weeks, and this is one thing that troubles me. It’s difficult to promote comics on TV and Movies, yet it does show you the core characters within this commercial. Yet and the comment does bring up another point, the new audience potential. Here’s where things are going to get interesting. The advertisement of this in movie theaters and hopefully branching out to television is one thing. Mixed in with the radio shows that Dan Didio and Jim Lee have been doing in key markets, that’s the question is how to create these new readers. The lines have been branded a certain way, yet really for the new reader, what incentive is there to go out and grab these titles. Comic stores are relatively spread out, where I’m from in the Cincinnati area, they’re all in relatively close proximity. In most areas this isn’t the case. The million dollar question is what about the digital downloads? That could be an interesting discussion in itself. For there’s going to be many levels of marketing with this. The crowd outside of comics, the lapsed readers, and of course getting fans already reading trying out DC”s new offerings. Where we’re going to end up getting readers is going to be part comic stores and this is the other factor with the digital market. For those without a store nearby, there’s going to end up being a crowd that’s going to read these digitally.  Two flavors coming together in strange and mystical ways.

Between these methods, dare I forget social media as well, will all of these recruit a new audience? We’re going to have to wait and see. Six months to a year is when we’ll see the full effects of this relaunch. For as much as this is including, there’s also been a strong piece of polarization mixed in. Keep an eye out, this could be the biggest thing ever, or a giant cluster as we’ve never seen before.

 

The Dawn of the Relaunch is upon us!

I just got asked this on twitter overnight by ALouisS, “So….The DC relaunch is just over the horizon….Will you be mourning the loss of the DC of old?”, and that got me to thinking of that question. I’ve been following DC regularly since the late 90’s, getting truly hooked during Infinite Crisis. Infinite Crisis hooked me because that was the last major DC event that had real build up. It also had a feeling of actually mattering. Bringing back the Multiverse, setting up one year later, launching the weekly 52 series, and still there was ramifications coming from that event. The last big events to me didn’t have that same long term effect like Infinite Crisis did. From then on, every event felt like a pale comparison to the buildup that Infinite Crisis had behind it. For every misstep there was something good happening that caught my eye. That event turned me into a major league DC reader for a long period of time . Marvel became a distant world for me in my comic buying experience. I stuck mostly with DC, Wildstorm, and the occasional Image with other random indie books on the side. Just totally fell head over heels for the DCU. Over the past few years and through other crossovers I felt myself and my list balancing out with Marvel, DC, Image, and anything else that catches my eye.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed that DC has tended to wander in the direction of throwing spaghetti at the wall, seeing what ends up sticking. For the two biggest titles I’m sad to see go are Secret Six and the Stephanie Brown Batgirl title. It’s hard for me to say this but the relaunch was needed. If this does backfire I’ll be one of the first to say this turned into something horrible. Right now this industry isn’t growing in the way it deserves. If this relaunch serves to bring any new readers then the relaunch worked. There’s been some glitches, some downright serious glitches in the promotion of the relaunch. I still feel though that this  in theory isn’t a bad idea. I leave you off with this, I am going to miss parts of the old DCU, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the relaunch holds. Just seriously DC, don’t screw it up.

And we have the DC Comics Official Word..It’s time for Reboot.

Remember in my last post when I said don’t panic? Today the official word got dropped via USA Today that we have 50 Titles being rebooted in September with the first one being released August 31st with Flashpoint #5.

First off everyone grab your towels. For this is definitely going to be interesting to see how this one goes. I’m curious about it in the fact that your first title is the long hinted about Geoff Johns and Jim Lee JLA with a big seven line up. By the way for anyone who’s reading this and not sure what I mean by big seven JLA it’s Aquaman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash,I really can’t help but be excited about that. Now we have to see how the rest of the books are going to play out from here. For Jim Lee has redesigned 50 heroes for this relaunch. For good or for bad I say it’ll definitely be attention grabbing. I wish I had more information to use outside of just knowing about the new JLA title. This could actually be a good thing. I just get this picture of a thousand fans just wanting to hurt me for saying this could be a good thing. Honestly the fact that this is a simultaneous comic store and digital release is one interesting little quirk that might not be such a bad thing if it gets the comics into as many peoples hands as possible. For this sort of reboot if it’s going the way it’s going could turn out to be daring and cool. Jim Lee has hit or miss records with costume designs but I’m keeping an open mind right now on that front.

I’m in the excited yet cautiously optimistic stage with this one. I’ll be doing larger posts on this subject as I get more information. Just remember keep the towels handy in case of panic.

Special Guest article from @SolonDragoon/Michael

Note from your humble GeekWhoLanded/Wesley: Okay you all this is something my friend Michael wrote stating his current views on the comic industry. I’m going to post this with full disclosure that anything said in this post does not reflect my own personal views. Make note though don’t be surprised if some of them do. I’ve been poking at him to write something for awhile and he finally got this up. If you want to leave him feedback follow him @SolonDragoon. From here on it’s all him. Take it away Michael!

The comic book industry is dying.  And it’s all your fault.  Yes, you.  Personally.  Unless what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you.  In which case, just ignore that.  But do me a favor first, and make sure it actually doesn’t apply to you and you aren’t just being sublimely ignorant of your role in the destruction of comic books as a medium.  The source of the medium’s coming destruction?  We just can’t have nice things.  Or, at this point, things period.  Because all we seem to do is bitch about them.

Remember back in the 80’s?  Back when there was no internet.  There were no blogs.  No twitter, no face book, no social networking of any kind.  When, if you wanted to know what was going to happen in a particular comic book, you had to go buy it and read it to find out?  Long time ago, galaxy far far away my friends.  Everything is now about what’s going to happen.  Not what’s going on in the books right then.  Action Comics 901 is coming out you say?  Who the hell cares!  Old news!  Have you heard about what they might be doing to celebrate 925?

Please take a moment to note, I do not blame the sources of this information; nether the creators who talk to bloggers nor the bloggers themselves.  The creators want to talk about what they’re doing.  Hell, if I were writing Superman, I’d want to scream it from the rooftops.  Lord knows most of them aren’t doing it for the rich financial rewards.  And the bloggers, with several notable exceptions of course, tend to just report.  No, I blame the fans.

It has already been reported, and I use that term insanely loosely, that Flashpoint is officially the worst thing that DC has ever done, that everything about it is wrong, and that the mysterious ending to issue #5 will spell out the end of comic books as we know it.  There is only one problem with this.  Issue one came out two weeks ago.  As I write this, it’s May 22.  Flashpoint #5?  That ships to stores for sale on August 31st.  Glad we aren’t jumping the gun or anything, huh.

Now, I’ll admit a personal bias here.  I LIKED Flashpoint #1.  Best issue ever written?  Hell no.  But it was fun, it had some interesting twists, and it accomplished what it needed to accomplish.  To intrigue me enough to pick up Flashpoint #2.  Probably even check out several of the minis and one shots going along with it.  Will I get every single one?  Do I look like I’m made out of gold?

I’m certainly not trying to indicate that Flashpoint, either the series or the event, is not open to criticism.  The sheer number of tie ins, minis, and one-shots is stupid-crazy.  Especially if DC plans on continuing all of it’s normal series right along side them.  That’s a LOT of books DC will be putting out for three months.  That’s certainly a valid concern.  It also certainly had an inauspicious lead in, what with the Flash series leading up to it coming out chronically late and feeling incredibly rushed towards the end.  Also still unclear as to what the lead in to Flashpoint had to do with, you know, Flashpoint, but I’m willing to accept that might be more cleared up as the series progresses.  Flashpoint is supposed to be something of a mystery story after all.  I’ll even accept broad criticisms of bringing back to life and using Barry Allen.  I was certainly quite happy with Wally West as the Flash.  Barry’s return just felt, well, kind of arbitrary.

On the other hand, it seems amazing just how many fans seem to have a vested interest in Flashpoint being one giant pile of whale dung before the first issue even came out.  And just how much they seem to enjoy using every single thing DC says to prove their point in their own minds.  Let’s all take a step back people, alright?  Take a deep breath.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Good.  Now, let’s look at this slightly less rabid.

Flashpoint is a seven issue event series.  It involves the current Flash, Barry Allen, waking up in an Earth that was not the one he went to sleep in.  There’s no Superman, Wonder Woman is a conquering despot, as is Aquaman, Batman is…different, let’s say.  History has changed.  It’s designed as a mystery.  What happened to change so much history in such ways as to make the world Barry suddenly finds himself in?  Mysteries, excepting Columbo, of course, are designed around the idea of not really knowing what the hell is going on.  On finding out just who did what with what to whom and why.

To a certain extent, that’s what some of the minis and one shots are about.  Others are going to be about fleshing out more fully this changed world our protagonist finds himself in.  There are a lot of these, of course.  I’ll admit, probably too many.  Seriously, DC, that’s a lot of books.  On the other hand, I doubt you’ll have to buy all of them to know what’s going on.  Take Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis and Blackest Night; all of these had several crossovers and minis attached to them.  And you were perfectly fine just buying the main series.  You knew who the good guys were, who the bad guys were, what was going on, and how it got resolved.  I highly doubt that DC is going to change that with Flashpoint.  The minis are there for flavor.  They’re taking a magnifying glass to specific sections of the world to highlight better what’s changed.

And now, I’ll address the true elephant in the room.  What’s going to happen after issue #5?  Something is, probably something big.  DC is double shipping like crazy in July and August, a lot of storylines are finishing up just in time, and the only thing DC is shipping on August 31st is Flashpoint #5.  So, something’s happening.

Is it a total reboot of the entire DC universe?  Probably not.  Do Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour ring a bell?  Hell, Infinite Crisis.  DC’s had plenty of chances in the past to say, “Alright, starting from scratch.”  They haven’t done it yet, and it would be hard to persuade me that they’re doing it now.  Some continuity reshuffling?  Almost certainly.  DC does this.  It’s kind of their thing.  “We’ve got an event coming up.  Who do we most need to hand-wave out of a corner?”  It’s a thing they do, for good or for ill.  I could even see DC relaunching a bunch of titles at #1 with all new creative teams.  The end of a major event centered around reality rewriting is a pretty good time to do that.  One Year Later and the various issue #0s anyone?

DC’s certainly not saying.  I follow a number of DC creators on twitter and most of them have been downright giddy over things they’ve said they can’t talk about yet.  No one’s talking, and if certain rumors are to be believed, there are legally binding non-disclosure agreements involved to keep it that way.  Plus, you know what?  Sometimes creators like surprising you.  So.  What’s going to happen to DC after August 31st?  I’ll tell you in September.  Because that’s probably as soon as anyone’s going to know for sure.

So, breath.  Relax.  The world is not ending.  It’s an event.  It might suck.  It might be awesome.  It might fall somewhere in the middle.  It might have lasting ramifications to DC lore and it’s stable of characters for years to come.  None of us might remember it in five years time.  We just don’t know.  Because it hasn’t happened yet.  So,  my plan for Flashpoint?  I plan on looking forward to reading the first batch of minis as they come out, picking up some, passing on others.  Some I’ll pass because I don’t like them.  Some I’ll pass because there are just too many of them to get them all.  Some I’ll buy because they’re highlighting important characters or events to the main series and helping flesh that out.  Some I’ll get not because they’re important to the event, but because they just really spark my interest.  Seriously, Canterbury Cricket?  Wow.

And I plan on buying the main series.  And I plan on reading it, and if the first and only issue that has come out as of the writing of this article is any indication, I’ll be enjoying it.  And I’m not going to worry about what happens after August 31st.  It might be awesome.  It might be stupid.  Hell, this is comics.  Stupid-awesome is always a possibility.  But what I don’t plan on doing is working myself into a rabid, frothing lather over vague rumors and internet gossip of something that may or may not happen three months from now.  Reading comics, at least reading the serials from the big two, are not about the destination.

Superman will always fly around in a red cape saving the day.  Batman will always be Bruce Wayne, and he will always protect Gotham from whatever evil is occurring.  The status quo is god.  Very very rarely does the status quo change irrevocably.  Yes, there are times that it has.  And, especially for DC, most of those haven’t stuck.  Comics are not about where the story is going.  It’s about how we’re getting there.  And, as of right now, unless you work for DC and have been in those planning meetings?  You don’t know where this is going anymore than I do.  And I, for one, plan to sit back, read some comics.  And enjoy the trip.

The Finale of Tokyopop.

Yesterday was one hell of a big day in a horrible way being that the death of the US operations of Tokyopop is shutting down.

This is where I first read on it: http://www.comicsbeat.com/2011/04/15/end-of-an-era-tokyopop-shutting-down/

Then it just went from there.

On a personal note Tokyopop was actually my second big manga reading time. Between Viz and Dark Horse then once Tokyopop introduced the unflopped format being right to left reading experience my mind was blown. It was one fun period of time too. New manga in this unflopped format and it’s stuff I’d not heard much about till that point and it was absolutely exciting. When you went into the bookstores there was this sort of life about it that was absolutely cool. Here it was manga hitting huge and it was spreading everywhere else. Viz started to hit full steam with that and then everyone else started following suit. I swear I’d never had seen anything like it nor ever since. Then it spread into the graphic novels and it just exploded from there.  Walking into the bookstores with my comic interest in full steam with the manga push and I was in heaven.

It’s strange to think about the manga scene without Tokyopop. For there’s new people out there doing it now and Tokyopop is a shell of it’s former self but it’s sad to think about for me. For the manga industry in the states is still in a precarious situation. It’s doing okay but the boom is definitely in the rear view mirror and growing distant. I think in my heart of hearts that it could perk back up again but in what time period I couldn’t tell you. I think also the other hit of this is the fact that Tokyopop just started to have even the slightest potential to get into some sort of track again. I just don’t think it was soon enough. Just keep a thought for all those people that are losing their jobs and hopeful for you all that any manga you might have been following from them find new homes.

Here’s hoping next week brings brighter news and better thoughts for believe me it seems the past two weeks have had one wicked piece of news in it. Keep a thought out eh? Good luck Tokyopop employees and hopefully you all find new gigs soon. Here’s hoping for a brighter week to come.