DC Pulls Plug on Earth One OGN Line Before It Starts?

In extremely disappointing news for people like me who want to see the Big Two move away from single issues, it would appear that DC Comics is already scuttling its Earth One line of OGN books that was announced last year.

There hasn't been an official announcement from DC Comics, but CBR reported this exchange at the Superman panel at San Diego Comic-Con involving J. Michael Straczynski, the writer of Superman: Earth One:

The fan asked whether [Straczynski] plans on continuing the “Earth One” stories. The writer revealed that the hardcover release will be followed up with by single issues, which will later be collected.

Kevin Huxford picked up on the exchange and Johanna Draper Carlson spread it around the internet.

I was really excited about this announcement last year. It seemed like DC was finally taking a progressive step forward into the future but I should have known better. Whether it's publishing a line of original graphic novels to sell in bookstores or fully embracing digital comics, it seems like DC (and Marvel as well) always seem to get cold feet and scurry back to the warm embrace of single issues and the ever shrinking direct market.

UPDATE: Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat asked DC for comment on this story. What she got in response was a cookie cutter corporate response that didn't clear up the format issue. You can check it out here.

Did J. Michael Straczynski misspeak? DC's comment certainly didn't clear anything up.


  1. Incredibly disappointing.

  2. boo

  3. ack. very sad :/

  4. I thought something bad was coming down the line on this, they sure have been mum on this for a while.

  5. As you said, it was too good to be true. Single issues are a sinking ship, but the deck still feels much more solid than the unknown, unforgiving water to publishers.

  6. I’m sure that they aren’t doing this randomly.  They probably got a very lukewarm response from the book chains.  I don’t know about everywhere else, but the trade section of my local B&N has been steadily shrinking the last year or so and carrying fewer new releases in favor of evergreens like Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim.

  7. Is Batman Earth One the reason Superman Secret Origin #1 is late? If so, it’s totally not worth it whatever format they decide to go with.

  8. Very sad news.

  9. To be honest, I forgot about this until I read this story.

  10. So it is the same story but told in smaller chunks to be collected later on. Meaning you are getting the same exact thing but later, correct?

    I don’t see how this makes any difference. Enlighten me.

  11. I was really looking forward to this.

  12. well… shit.

  13. @JumpingJupiter: Instead of moving intot he future and releasing a line of original graphic novels, they are releasing the books as single issues and then collecting them later.

    Which is like every other comic book series.

    Which is not a line of original graphic novels.

  14. @Conor: I see, you would like to see them take a risk and jump straight to collected?

    Well, from a business pov, it makes sense they would want to make money on this twice (in singles, then in trade). Am I missing something?

  15. 🙁 I was really excited about this as a person who reads comics exclusively through trade paperbacks. 

  16. @petefic: There are still going to be collected editions.

  17. I was incredibly excited about this, and this sounds really disappointing and stupid. We’ll see how all this plays out.

  18. That’s shitty.

  19. that’s pretty weak

  20. I decided enough with the single issues after moving to Australia and back. Damn those white boxes, damn them to hell!  Errr, sorry. Anyway, I like the trades so much better. I get pretty much a whole story at once, they sit nicely on the shelf, easy to get to so I can reread them, and I don’t care if they aren’t in pristine mint condition.

  21. Boo. As someone who reads way more trades than floppies i’m kinda bummed. I love getting a complete story in one purchase over waiting 6 months to a year to see how something plays out. 

    @jumping–i think DC is missing out on an opportunity to sell a product that chain stores can market and sell as "Brand New" instead of merely "collected editions" It starts to drive more business for new DC stories into different types of stores than they currently have with the LCS direct market model.  

  22. @jumping What Wally said, plus you can tell stories differently when it’s all written as one chunk as opposed to split up over X issues.  Also you don’t have to worry about managing expecations if an artist is running a little late.  The OGN will be done when it’s done.

    There are reasons Cooke and Lemire released Hunter and Nobody as OGNs instead of just minis to be collected later on.

  23. DC wake up, its not 1980 anymore. Same thing could be said to Marvel. Oh well, more money in my pockets I guess. No way im buying one, if it even comes out, with the follow up comming on in Issue.


    Go all issue, or all OGN, dont go ass half, who makes those stupid decision?

  24. I will be releasing my saddness about this in small doses over the next few months, and then release one big collected burst of anguish sometime next year.

  25. yeah, I wasn’t very impressed by the original announcement and I’m not very surprised by this recent news.

  26. meh, I don’t care much one way or another.  From the beginning I didn’t see how the bookstore readers or collected edition readers would know the difference between an Earth One book and any other DC book.  If you just buy comics in collection online, at a bookstore, or even a comics store, what’s the difference between a trade and an OGN really?  Pacing to some extent but does the casual market notice that?  Clearly there’s not enough initial support among the core comic readers to justify skipping the singles with this comics at this point in time.

  27. Dc wouldnt be pulling the plug if this line if the numbers were there. It has nothing to do with cold feet, it has to do with cold cash. If the numbers arent there, they really can’t do it. A Geoff Johns/gary Frank Batman book would probably sell in excess of 100,000 a month. If an OGN doesnt hit those numbers, then why publish it. Youd make less money. Factor in ad revenue and the fact that it can still be collected and have a long shelf life just makes more sense. 

    OGNs may be the future, but they arent the present. Not yet anyway.

  28. To me it makes no difference.  It would take the same amount of time between collected editions and OGNs so it doesn’t affect me at all.  If you want them to change their policy, vote with your dollars like I am and don’t pick up the issues but jump all over the collected trades.  If their main source of income shifts, they will shift their effort.  At least they had the idea to do it and got scared off.  They have to look at the money just like any company.

  29. @gobo–awesome point, plus it’ll give writers and artists more flexibility of how they tell stories. They won’t be handcuffed by the format and page count of single issues. Oh well its all academic at this point if DC gets cold feet.  

  30. It makes no difference. To the bookstore market, it doesn’t matter if the product is an OGN or a collection of previously published single issues. It makes no difference.

    The stories will, however, probably read awkwardly in singles since I assume they were not produced in 22-page chapters.

    I can’t see the point of getting mad at DC over this. All they’re doing is giving you the ability to buy/read the stories in 22-page chunks if you want. Options aren’t a bad thing. You guys think you’re cheering on innovation but you’re really NOT if you want the content to be more restricted in certain ways. Have the story available digitally, have it as collected editions, hardcover and trade–but there’s no since in NOT having it as single issues as well. It makes zero sense to get rid of singles. Just add more alternate options. (I DO think it’d be good if more creators had freer page-counts to work with on each chapter.)

    Innovation means more, alternate options. It doesn’t mean getting rid of things just because they’re "So 1980, dude!" Single issues are less and less perfect as time goes on, but they’re still sensible and profitable. They’re MORE practical than digital in some respects, especially if Marvel and DC are going to charge you so much for digital copies. I imagine a lot of the people upset with DC over this are the same people who assumed that digital comics would all be 99 cents, day on date release. You guys are way too idealistic and unrealistic when it comes to technology. And on the other hand, many of you are the same guys who buy $050 worth of singles a week.

  31. ^Oops, I meant $50 worth of singles a week, not $050. Guess my ranting got me a little heated. Apologies! 😉

  32. Great news!!!!


    I’m all for supporting the floppies.


    And honestly, why does it matter?  You’re getting the SAME story just not in a HB…Which we KNOW will come eventually.  So be patient, you actually didn’t miss out on anything at all.

  33. HB Hardback

  34. One step forward, one step back.

  35. C’mon.  I was really hoping this was going to be a good step forward.  I only read issues cause I love Ifanboy so much.  I would totally be on trades only. 

  36. Sometimes I feel like DC lives to disappoint me. It all started when the messed up Impulse and Superboy.

  37. Not at all understanding the shock here.  How is a $20 hardcover sitting next to 15 oither Superman harcovers and trades on a shelf in the back of a Barnes & Noble a huge step forward?  Anybody who isn’t getting this from their LCS or from an online order doesn’t care if its an "original" story and the creator’s names mean nothing to those readers.

    The only way this was going to make a retail splash outside of existing readers is if it got shelved somewhere outside of the comic section and got a huge push from the chains.

  38. Incredibly disappointed with this move. It would have been nice to see them at least try publishing OGNs for their big two before shooting this project down.

  39. Is this gonna happen to Johns on Batman also?  Is Johns on Batman still happening at all?  That would be nice to know cuz that is the one I was really looking out for.

  40. @JumpingJupiter – I agree.  Companies (including those that make comic books) will make decisions based on the bottom line profit potential.  I can’t fault them for following their fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders.  And in this case, the customer (us), will still be receiving the same product (content), just in a different form.  The sky is not falling … yet.

  41. I heard this from the DC podcast page, but I understood it as the first OGN would be broken up into issues, then released as a paperback. I will have to relisten to it.

  42. This is disappointing to be sure but it is interesting how unwilling DC are to dive directly into OGNs when Vertigo has been doing it more and more over the past few years – and, as far as I know, successfully at that.

  43. Some people are saying that we will get the same story after the issues are collected so we shouldnt worry.  I’m not so sure. 

    If the writers were truly allowed to "write for the trade" we will get a more cohesive long format story.  Instead we will get what we always get with collected editions, a series of mini climaxes every twenty two pages.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, far from it, but it would have been nice to get something a little different.

  44. Not sure which one it was from but during this years DC comic con pod casts  Johns made a stament that he had seen the art for the first issue.  It struck me as weird for a minute I thought he misspoke but it all makes sense now. 

  45. Well, at least we’ll probably have a good story. As long as they aren’t forced to write for issues but just release the trade first.

  46. man that sucks

  47. I like how conor claims DC has cold feet on digital comics but they have done wonders to be one of the best in the market.

    This entire news doesn’t really shock me. I thought this was going to be one-and-done deals anyways. Much as I like to see more, one by Johns and JMS is more then enough.

  48. Yeah, my LCS gave out a special order form for this about a month back, for a book not coming out till November. This seemed odd, so I asked my LCS owner what the deal was. Apparently there were some calls from their Dimaond rep to get the orders in on this "fast." They thought it odd too, so they put out the forms. Response was luke warm, most people saying "It’s a trade, I don’t need to pre-order it." Which I think is probably the overall issue. There’s no litmus test for the book’s popularity other than pre-sales before it’s release. If people aren’t deciding to pre-order this because "the trade will always be there, in reprints and second editions, etc." There’s less immediacy in gauging the popularity of a line (and that’s the important part) of OGNs. Indie OGNs work because most of them are single releases.

    At the same time, this always seems like a wasted effort. I can’t see someone finding this easily without already knowing about it amongst the Batman and Superman books in stores both comic and non-comic. As well, we now have two Superman books being written by the same guy in two different continuities. :-p

  49. By the way, @froggupler and @abstractgeek are dead on.

  50. Fart in a box. This is not good. But, we’ll still get Earth One stories, right?

    Come one, people.

    Depending on how it eventually sells, DC could change their publishing plans to do more OGN’s.

  51. I just never understood the ‘trade vs issue’ argument. Never did and never will.

    ‘Sorry we don’t have any $3 issues Timmy, but I have this $25 book for you!’

    and industry dies.

  52. @PraxJarvin: If they’re using traditional pre-orders from comic book stores as a metric for success then I’m not surprised that they are altering the Earth One line. As you said, why would anyone preorder a trade? That defeats one of the main purposes of trades.

    The strange thing is, DC has a long history of success with their trade program in bookstores and outside the traditional marketplace. It’s all very perplexing.

  53. My understanding is that the bookstore market WAS interested in new material. They DO care that the collections they have from Marvel and DC at least in terms of superheroes are primarily reprint material. The average person may not know the difference but a lot of geeks buy TPBs and HCs at bookstores and Amazon (the biggest player in that game) An OGN will sell much better than a reprint so they want new material, but it must not have been enough to warrant abandoning the $$ from single issues. 

    Creators aren’t inherently limited by the 22 page format. Thats a creative (and editorial) choice. Dave Sim abandoned the single issue pretense in Cerebus, giving up issue titles and splash pages and even end of issue payoffs. It wasn’t even chapters, necessarily, sometimes scenes would continue from one issue to the next. Every month you got 20 more pages of the larger story. The single issues worked pretty well (i thought at least) and you could only tell where the breaks were in the trade if you were trying. It certainly felt written for the trade but I think it served both ends pretty well. It can be done, but its never as successful and again they wont choose to miss out on money, even if it means possibly more money in the long term. If Dan Didio and Jim Lee do something that hurts profits in the short term, but builds profit years down the road, they are only helping their successors, as they will get canned 

    I am disappointed by this, but i do understand it.  DC was willing to step up, the rest of the marketplace wasn’t.

  54. This is incredibly disappointing. I, like everyone else here, was looking forward to trying something new. It would have been nice to have had a different format to look forward to. You can tell DC wanted to give this a shot, considering the talent they had lined up for it. 

    I think we’ll get whatever they’ve done so far in initial hardcovers and then we’ll get single issues.

    You know what that means right? Think about it…Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will be on another monthly title. So expect an issue of Batman: Earth One to hit somewhere around August of 2011 and the next issue to hit somewhere in Feburary 2012!



  55. This is disappointing

    But then again, Vertigo releases a fair number of OGNs with big names which don’t sell incredibly well (to my knowledge) so its not like DC doesnt have sales data to support this decision.

  56. errr… I don’t get the problem? They’re still releasing the collections they’re just releasing the floppys first.

    In actual fact they’re not even doing that if the quote is right, they’re releasing the OGN as a hard cover, then the floppys before finally releasing the collected softcover (assuming I read it correctly).

    Not really sure what the problem is or why this is such a step backwards.

  57. @mattstev2000

    The interest in the products was less to do with the creatives teams (though they are fairly big names) or the properties but more to do with the format.

    Ongoing OGNs would have many benefits including:
    Being able to go to a local bookstore to stay current with an ongoing story
    Every installment would have to be a self contained story
    Would have been easy to give to new readers to get them caught up to where a series currently is

    Its a shame to see DC scrap this plan before the first installment even came out

  58. God I’m so let down. I wanted to see Geoff Johns and Gary Frank on Batman more than almost anything. That artwork from last year really got me excited, but after hearing nothing for so long I figured they gave up on it.

  59. I don’t understand the statement. JMS said there will be HC release followed by issues. Can’t you guys, like pre-order now?

  60. @mattsev2000 The first Superman OGN will be released, any following "OGNs" will be issues first then collected

  61. Well thats stupid, now, isn’t it. 


    Floppies need to die! 

  62. Yeah… Count me among the apparent few who don’t think the sky is falling. Comic books are single issues. Conor, if the industry followed your wish, and moved away from single issues, how would you still have the podcast? Would you, Ron, and Josh all go out and buy 3 or 4 graphic novels per week, then choose the best one? Imagine if your purchases overlapped. You’d have about 6 books to talk about. Do you really think companies would be as willing to give Captain Britain, Nova, or Guardians of the Galaxy the same chance to grab hold of a position in the market if they only authorized graphic novel chunks of stories? And, as far as people dipping their feet into the industry, do you really think people would be willing to try a few things for $15 a pop? Just trying 3 new things would cost you almost $50. The comic book industry is already doing it’s best to squeeze out readers and prevent a new generation of kids from getting hooked on the stories by having such a high price point for single issues, but eliminating single issues entirely really would be like ordering a coffin and signing a will for the industry. It wouldn’t die overnight, and it would make some of the members of the shrinking current market happy, but it would signal the coming death of comic books.

  63. Bollocks! 

    Hopefully DC will change there mind again by the time Batman: Earth-1 comes out.

    OR they print it in Wedneday Comics format…..that would be lovely.

  64. How does him saying that they will be releasing an OGN followed by issues mean that DC is cancelling the line? 

  65. @ WonderManFan — You make a lot of good points. 

    From a business perspective I’d speculate the numbers did not warrant two OGNs and they went with their most popular character with the greatest crossover appeal, written by the writer who fans can’t seem to say a bad word about.

    To speculate further do we know if Straczynski’s numbers on Superman have been strong. If they haven’t been strong enough, that could have factored into the decision.

    Overall if I were putting together a 5 year strategy for DC Comics OGNs would be a vanity project much like Wednesday Comics and my focus would be on digital comics where re-packaging single issues into GNs would be easier to do.

  66. I’ll just buy the collections and pretend it’s a line of OGNs. I’m kinda OK with this, as long as the stories get told.

  67. It just seems like people are over reacting on this.

    They are still continuing the line it sounds like and you know what else? You can wait for the trade for the other stories! Just like you guys do anyways! So really, it’s not the end of the world. 

  68. People want trade because it’s conveniant or they "Like it on the shelf"…But I don’t care about you people and i’m certainly not going to spend MORE money taking a chance on some OGN that’s just a GN with a shiny new name.  If it’s 3 or 4 bucks, I can NOT buy anymore.  But there’s gonna be a lot of sore bungholes from people who paid top dollar for the OGN only to find out, they didn’t really like the story, or it’s not worth the cover price.


    In a nutshell, this is your complaint:


    We want in a hardcover version FIRST.  Before single issues or trades.  That’s all.  You’re upset because you can’t get the cover of your comic book hard.  

    Life goes on.

  69. Uh, with all due respect, nothing in what JMS said indicates that DC is in any way pulling the plug on their OGN plans.

    Posting an article like this, which essentially complains with the assumption that the news is fact. . with only the barest caveat that it is a fanciful rumor. . .? The comic community has enough avenues for fanning the flames of virtriol out of nothing. . . I would’ve thought Conor would have thought about this "news" more reasonably before stirring up the emotions of his readership. 🙁

  70. @Muady: I disagree, obviously.

  71. There does seem to be a lot of guessing then actual news in this article.

  72. Updated.

  73. Trade then floppies than re-trade?

    I think the Reverse Flash and Bizzarro are in charge of this Earth 1 program at DC. =)

  74. This is all false and they are continuing the line of OGN’s as planned.  They won’t be floppies first.  Shoddy news reportin’ ya’ll.