Last week I wrote a compelling editorial that reviewed the last five years and discussed the possible future of DC Comics. In the past two days there have been recent revelations involving DC and their editorial decisions which tend to shift into that, not so bright future I had predicted. Consider this the follow-up to the DC five Year Review article from last week.
They say history repeats itself or as the Doctor once told Joe Grant, “The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself.”
The people at DC Comics are playing a game as I write this. The game is a rather expensive version of ‘Needle in a haystack’. DC is trying to find over 2 million dollars. That’s right, DC Comics projected revenue for 2014/2015 is down over 2 million dollars. Looks like the endeavors of the past five years have paid off.
Now, like any good company, DC is cutting corners and inflating other avenues to generate income. This is being done through lowering the page rate for artists and the contract fee for writers. The other avenue is to increase the ad space on pages as well as toy with cover prices.
We’re also looking at the 6-12 issue guarantees for a majority of the DCYOU titles to be rescinded and cancelled without a moments notice. You know what else gets canceled without a moments notice, titles that don’t sell. This happened in 2013 to a six issue mini-series called ‘Insurgent’. The book wasn’t selling well and was up and axed after issue 3. Don’t worry, at the end of 2013 a whole year later almost, DC published an Insurgent trade with all six issues for anyone who was actually reading that abysmal story.
What exactly does this mean? If anyone knows their DC history then they will undoubtedly remember the DC Implosion. On the heels of the DC Explosion of the 1970s, DC published everything from mainstream comics to TV tie-ins like ‘Welcome Back Kotter’ and ‘Isis’ as well as launching new series like Firestorm, Star Hunters, and Black Lightning to name a few. Eventually DC was outputting more than it was taking in as income and revenue so they shrunk the line. So come June 22, 1978 DC cancelled most of the newly launched titles as well as some mainstay titles like All star Comics,. Aquaman, House of Secrets (which was at issue 154) and Showcase (at issue 104) to name a few.
Think about it, the whole DCYOU and other endeavors done by DC in the last five years are very similar to the DC Explosion initiative as well as the end result of a DC Implosion. DC seems to be in disarray and on the verge of another meltdown. If cancelling most of the DCYOU titles doesn’t seem reminiscent of this then I’m very unsure what is. Someone at the top sees this as DC Editors have been told to stop “Batgirling” around which refers to the overall experimentation of the DCYOU in the DC Universe.
Experimenting is one thing. However to experiment on half your books in the process is another thing. Once again, when dealing with billion dollar franchises you can’t afford to be all artsy and take risks with everything. Look for Bruce Wayne to become Batman again sooner rather than later. Look for the whole move to have a looser more open continuity to be tightened. Also this means Superman will finish his mid-life crisis and go back to his red and blue suit and return Conner’s clothes before Superboy notices they’re gone. However in the last two days, Dan DiDio, the head cheese at DC Comics has gone on record stating that most of the DCYOU was not his idea. I’m not sure about the rest of you but that leaves me wondering “Da Hell?” If not his idea he certainly had to give the green light, being the head Publisher and all.
Another major problem is DC’s miss-use to offer real competitive salaries for artists and better contract rates to attract writers and new talent. However if you look closely a large amount of DC’s creative forces have jumped ship for exclusive Marvel contracts while others have branched off and explored the creative owned market; which to it’s credit has received a hell of a lot more positive attention in recent years then way back in the mid 1990s with it’s negative impact thanks to uppity artists who wanted more but failed to deliver on their own promises. But that is another story. So then why are they loosing talent elsewhere? DC was in a creative slump in the late 80s and early 90s. It wasn’t until they had Mark Waid (the Geoff Johns of the 90s) show up and single handily re-invented most mainstream characters with the help of Grant Morrison and others. By the mid 90s and all the way up till the end of Post-Crisis DC, they were a force to reckoned with. Not today.
Where will this leave DC? It’s hard to say, unlike Marvel who had problems for years but eventually found some solace in the arms of the Mouse and a new home in Walt Disney’s castle, DC is already owned by one of the largest film studios ever, Warner Bros. They seem to let their comic/ magazine division just run amok and do whatever they feel is the ‘hot’ ticket of the week.
The problem with DC is simple, they are blind to what is in front of them. Change, being different, sharp and edgy these things aren’t found in new flashy costumes or updated histories. They are found in story driven plots and well written arcs. DC had that, many will tell you the same. Some say by not buying the books will help. Well in some cases that won’t; Batman and Superman will always sell regardless. When Amazing Spider-Man had a bad patch in the late 90s with Ben Riley, that series sold at it’s all time lowest. Don’t believe me, try buying a cheap copy of Amazing Spider-Man 430. Low print run. The characters are too big to fail. Screaming out on social media doesn’t help or your favorite comic book forum group. they ain’t got time to read those sites.
What helps then?
The old fashion ways. Letters! Or if you want to be hip and trendy, shoot them an e-mail. If all of us who complained online (and myself included) wrote a letter a day or an e-mail a week we just might see some changes. Hell, they want our money it’s just they think they have it already.
We’re fans, we have some control over this if we pull together and become a unified voice.
I wrote my first e-mail today, how about you?