Maybe DC is Trying to Get Rid of You

Most of the time, I secretly suspect that none of us have any idea what’s actually going on.

batgirl batarangIt seems like we would have our finger on the pulse of Comic Books, doesn’t it? We’re reading sites like this one, for one thing. Some of us are even reading the press releases that are sent to sites like this one, even if we have no idea how we got on some of those mailing lists and would cheerfully fake our own deaths to get that one guy to leave our inbox alone. We scan the comment threads to get some sense of the zeitgeist. We follow dozens of comic book readers, sites, and creators on Twitter. We spend our commutes listening to comic book podcasts. We talk to people at our local shops.

Somehow, in the face of all of this, publishers rarely go a month without doing something that makes us all go, and I quote, “Schwuhhh?”

The most universally reviled artist in the industry will get promoted to a flagship book, which will then proceed to sell like gangbusters. A series that even the writer’s mother does not buy somehow seems to escape cancellation for years at a time, as if it is a part of some kind of underground market/money laundering operation. Editors will spend years doing a flamenco on the grave of that one Batgirl even though everyone liked her, dancing with abandon as if Batgirl used to give them swirlies in junior high. The fan-favorite writer is always, always getting fired, after being constantly rewritten by The Man.

They must know what they’re doing, though, right? They work there. Every day. And these aren’t guys flying by the seats of their pants in the bullpen; a couple of these publishers are divisions of multinational corporations. There must be a method to even the most bewildering madness.

Just about everyone in the game has taken their turn being bewildering (remember that summer when it seemed like Marvel was going through a terrible breakup? Ladies were getting molested by tentacles on the covers, and suddenly there was a female version of every villain?) but DC Comics is the company that’s made me think about these things the most often, especially lately. Popular creators get fired and rehired from their books. People are replaced by fresh new faces who themselves are replaced before their first issues ever come out. Interesting New 52 books continue to die in the crib. All the while, the murmuring about Editorial (which I imagine as that shadowy cabal on the screens in Marvel’s The Avengers) not letting writers write has continued to grow into a steady din that’s hard to ignore.

Whenever one of these stories surface– and the wait is never too long these days– I think the same thing: “They have got to realize how bad all this looks, right?”

I can only surmise that they know exactly how bad all this looks; they just don’t think anyone’s looking. Not anyone they care about, anyway.

Still not sure what was going on here.

Still not sure what was going on here.

Trying to put myself in DC’s collective shoes, it seems to me that the type of fan who follows the creators and the business moves and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans is kind of a headache to keep around. That fan thinks he’s The Voice of the People and that DC works for him, when truth is only 15% of Americans who are online use Twitter; one in five adults in this country still aren’t online at all. At all. Why should we kiss that guy’s butt, they must think, when we could be going after the guy who doesn’t even know who wrote the book he just bought?

If you’re DC, maybe you’d rather have customers who like Batman and Batgirl, not Scott Snyder and Gail Simone. If your customer starts thinking of Batgirl as Gail Simone’s character, Gail Simone has you by the balls just a little bit, and that will not do. Batgirl, on the other hand, is your property. Ideally, you want a Batgirl who’ll do whatever you say, and a reader that’ll read whatever Batgirl does regardless of who’s pulling the strings. Even the illusion in a fan’s imagination of creator ownership means nothing but Maalox for you.

You miss the way comics were when you were nine? Maybe they miss the way readers were when they were nine. I bought that Transformers comic because it had Dinobots on the cover, not because I had Bob Budiansky fever. I bet it’d be pretty sweet to get back there.

DC has become the go-to destination for the most odious kind of crossover, the one where you buy one of your monthly books only to discover that it is Part II of a story that began in a book you don’t read. This kind of hooey doesn’t make me go back and pick up Animal Man or Superboy regardless of who’s writing them; it makes me drop Swamp Thing and Supergirl in spite of who’s writing them. If I were that guy who follows Swamp Thing wherever he happens to be, though, this kind of crossover would be money in the bank. “They won’t be getting my three dollars anymore,” I sniff as I drop another series. “Their funeral.” But what if they’re up in the office thinking, “Ugh, thank God he’s gone”? Maybe guys like me are just holding them back. They know what they’re doing.


Jim Mroczkowski would like to remind anyone tempted to settle his hash in the comments that he began by saying he probably had no idea what he was talking about.


  1. Swamp thing and animal man have been fine as separate reads, and half of this is complaining about stuff that didn’t happen or the jury is out on, negative uninformed article with no new insights. If dc didn’t care about what writers were on books why would they get john layman on detective, horrowitz on dark knight, diggle on action, despite whatever happened gail still has her job and is happy to have it and i’m glad it worked out. I want my time back.

    • You know, I read this comment and initially ignored it. But a shower and a shave later it was still eating at me.

      I dont know about everyone else, but I thought it was public knowledge that JIMSKI WRITES OPINION ARTICLES!

      We dont need out right negativity left and right about the article in place. You want to argue the points, argue them. You are helping absolutely NO ONE with comments like these. You want your time back so bad, I’m glad you took more of it to make a useless comment.

    • Yeah I have to agree with @ed209af on this one. Disliking the article and making a case based on challenging the points within the article is one thing, but your comment is pure negativity. Specifically, what “stuff that didn’t happen or the jury is still out on.” What are you referring to? And if you really, truly “want your time back” why did you bother to take the time to leave a comment?

    • The issues cited, Gail Simone is off batgirl DC doesn’t care about readers, brought her back after fan outcry ON TWITTER. They don’t listen and want us gone? Is this why she was brought back exactly none of us know but to draw the conclusion after this that maybe they want to house brand everything and assume they don’t care about dedicated readers seems to be folly.

      I was looking forward to Jim Zub on Birds of Prey maybe they shouldn’t have announced him too early if they were unsure, but I can’t say the book will be bad or anything due to him not writing it.

      I read this article while bored and tired, so there is why I responded. Mostly I’m sick of the DC hate train that rolls all over this site lately. I keep reading house style if they have such a house style why do even the normal batman books all read very differently.

      I like my marvel DC image and darkhorse books, not all the DC books I read are the genius that is batman or wonder woman but they are fun and don’t deserve to be bashed 24/7.

    • Great comments and a really lame article. I agree I want my time back for reading it as well. Quit complaining so much and get off the I hate DC bandwagon and I hate the New 52 if you do so much then don’t read them please. They have a lot of great stories, writers and artists doing one hell of a job and I don’t mind a crossover here and there, it’s been going on with comics since I started reading them almost 25 yrs ago. Give DC a break and just enjoy the ride

    • Perhaps some folk are being a tad too sensitive? I don’t see any DC-Hatewagon round these parts.

      Please, consider the subject actually being addressed in this article. The subject isn’t Marvel, or any other publisher but DC.

      Don’t you want articles that actually focus on issues? I do.
      And right now, the perceived problems with DC Editorial is certainly an issue.

      I’ve been a DC fan for decades. But all isn’t rosy in the garden. Thicker skins definitely needed so that the expression of opinion isn’t confused with ‘bashing’.

    • @Drumanespic. Here here!!

    • I’ve seen the DC-Hatewagon circling for months. With Marvel Now! on the scene, seems like lots of folks thought it would be a perfect time to start complaining about DC.

    • The new 52 made Ron’s list of the worst things of 2012 and quite a few people were on board with that.

      Besides the Gail Simone thing that was really strange DC editorial mostly seems to be messing with lesser tier books. I also feel like they take bigger risks with the books they put out, war comics, ivampire, omac, vibe/katana solo books etc, sure they will probably get cancelled but they are trying.

      I do have to say I think making x-men legacy about legion is risky.

  2. “The most universally reviled artist in the industry”

    The phrase “On the internet” or some variation should be added to this statement. I sometimes think that THIS is the cause for confusion – some people think that the internet message boards are indicative of the real world, and that is the fallacy.

    • Which is exactly what the article said.

    • well I suck at reading comprehension … sorry I missed it.

    • @conor: Really? Where did it specifically say that? Because apparently I missed it too.

    • “Trying to put myself in DC’s collective shoes, it seems to me that the type of fan who follows the creators and the business moves and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans is kind of a headache to keep around. That fan thinks he’s The Voice of the People and that DC works for him, when truth is only 15% of Americans who are online use Twitter; one in five adults in this country still aren’t online at all. At all. Why should we kiss that guy’s butt, they must think, when we could be going after the guy who doesn’t even know who wrote the book he just bought?”

    • Right, but what does any of that have to do with the comic book community?

      Those statistics Jim uses are NATIONWIDE. They in no way reflect or even attempt to reflect the habits or online usage of comic readers specifically. Here, I can pull meaningless and unapplicable nationwide statistics and apply them to a specific group too. 73% of Americans consider themselves Christians. I guess that must mean 73% of comics readers are Christian too right?

      Come on. You have to admit those statistics are not necessarily representative of the online usage of comic readers and that they are used in a manipulative fashion in this article.

    • @USPUNX: One of the points of the article is that maybe the hyper-engaged fan is not representative of comic book readers in general, which is true.

      We run a website, we know everyone else who runs the other big comic book website. We all know the numbers. We talk to the people at Marvel and DC about this stuff. Most comic book fans AREN’T online talking comics every day.

    • I totally understand that and know it is true. Those of us who love ifanboy and spend our time on here each day are not the norm of comic book fandom. I totally get that and agree with the point. I wasn’t disagreeing.

      However, none of that changes the fact that those statistics are meaningless in this context and used in a very manipulative manner in this article.

    • @USPUNX: You are free to believe what you want.

    • Come on? A none denial, denial? If you believe the opposite of my comment, which seems to be what you are saying, then just show me how those statistics cited in this article are applicable to the online habits of comic readers.

    • Oh come one man, reasoned debate is what makes this site great. Don’t give up on me.

    • Look at the pull lists each week, the top selling title gets what, 1100 pulls? That’s roughly how many hyper engaged fans on iFanboy make out their pull list so we can discuss it. DC Marvel that place Ron went and all the others want the billion dollar crowd that saw The Avengers, not use guys that following Scott Synders twitter. That’s the whole point of the article.

    • @michaelmccaffery: If you bothered to read all my comments you would see I already agreed with that point. You know what, let me just quote some above comments to make this real easy for you.

      Conor: The entire point of the article is that maybe the hyper-engaged fan is not representative of comic book readers in general, which is true.

      Me: I totally understand that and know it is true. Those of us who love ifanboy and spend our time on here each day are not the norm of comic book fandom. I totally get that and agree with the point. I wasn’t disagreeing. However, none of that changes the fact that those statistics are meaningless in this context and used in a very manipulative manner in this article.

      So therefore the entire premise of the article is flawed. I was simply asking Jim, or Conor since he jumped into the debate in lieu of Jim responding, to help clarify if there is any other evidence to support Jim’s claim. Get it now?

      Also, this isn’t the only comic site on the web. There is iFanboy, Comic Book Resources, Comic Book News, Comic Vine, and Newsarama just to name a few. Not even to mention place like Ain’t It Cool News, IGN, and, io9; all of which dedicate substantial time and web space to covering comics news. And there are probably a dozen others I don’t even know about. You really think only the 1,100 of us here keep all these sites afloat? Hmm? Do you? Or do you think maybe there a few others out there interested in this stuff too? Maybe even a few thousand others. Maybe even tens of thousands. You think that maybe, just maybe, the average comic fan actually is more engaged than this article pretends?

    • I demand a regression analysis of comic readers vs general population of internet users or this entire thing is a fraud.

    • Well I wasn’t going that far. I was only stating that without some kind of statistics about comic readers internet habits, the numbers Jiminski used are pointless and intentionally misused.

    • I suspect that regular, online commenters about comics do make up a small percentage of the readership, simply because I have observed that in anything that people enjoy, there are always tons of people who just enjoy the product but don’t get so worked up over it that they seek discourse with strangers on the internet over it.

      That said, I also believe comics fans are probably stronger Internet users than the national average simply because comics fans tend to be nerds, who are also heavy technology users.

    • Sorry Uspunx, I was replying from the car earlier and must have miss that. No I wasn’t driving…

    • Who is this “most universally reviled artist”? I think it’s an allusion to Greg Land – have to admit, I’ve never understood all the hate.

    • BCDX97 In my opinion, “most universally reviled artist” is intended to represent any creator that a particular fan might not be fond of. This makes it easy to insert whatever creator that you (or me), might not like without cluttering the article up with names that would generate arguments and diffuse the intent.

  3. I tried a little over half of the new 52 titles, and now i’m only staying on with Batman because of Snyder and Capullo. If that changes i’m gone. I have plenty of Batman collections i can read to get a fix.

    I’m not really a fan of what DC is doing right now. Not only are they trying to disassociate creators as rock stars from books (not necessarily a bad thing) they have created too coherent of a brand. Every title looks and feels exactly the same to me, so as a result i got extremely bored with what they have to offer. I’m interested in new things and DC is getting a bit homogenized right now.

    I guess for me, the characters aren’t enough to get me to fork over that money each month. I need the books to have some individuality and a little bit of heart and soul to keep me on board.

    • You’re not the only one. I’ve seen multiple people state that they’re only reading Batman now. That’s the boat I’m in too. I love Morrison but he lost me on Batman Inc. and Action. Now only Snyder and Capullo remain.

    • i also feel that DC is restraining creators too much as a result of trying to bring it all under one umbrella. Eliminate the creators voice and making the books just about the logo on the cover is holding back talent and forcing them into methods and styles that aren’t what they’re really good at. House style muddies the waters a bit.

    • I second that many of the books look and feel the same. Even when someone I really like is writing a book with characters I traditionally like (Peter Milligan and Stormwatch come to mind) it just feels like everything else. There is no attempt at differentiation – and if there is, I suspect the editors are responsible for squashing the individuality. Even books that started off with their own heart and soul such as Animal Man and Swamp Thing (seriously – those first issues got me so pumped) seem to have been streamlined into the damn crossover machine.

      I think if Animal Man and Swamp Thing (and JLD?) had been launched as Vertigo titles then we could have seen a lot more long term creativity. Going back to Peter Milligan, he’s clearly had a lot more freedom on Hellblazer than he ever did for JLD and Stormwatch. Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall for Vertigo… thanks DC.

    • and its not that i necessarily think the books i dropped were *bad*. I just felt no need to keep up with them. Kinda just there not doing anything special for me.

      If you’re a fan of the wire, i kinda feel like the books are a 40 degree day.

    • DC is dropping way too many fucking 40 degree days!!!! DC right now is essentially 90’s Marvel 2.0. LIke literally the writers and Editors are mostly former Marvel people from what might be there worst decade. I guess it works for all the fans that dig that type of thing but man if you are a seasoned reader those books are rough man.

    • Actually DC should create a line wide event called “a 40 degree day”

  4. I wrote this on twitter but it belongs here too: The WTF initiative is to DC what Guy Fieri’s haircut is to Guy Fieri. They think it’s cool. Nobody else does.

    Ya know how your favorite musician gets old and then starts making the worst crap you’ve ever heard in your life? (Greg Ginn post Black Flag:

    I feel like the people making decisions at DC are all at that stage in their lives. It’s just embarrassing.

    • @diebunny: Look, let’s just be honest here. Greg Ginn and Black Flag started to go way down hill pretty fast after My War.

    • Haha, I concur. If you ask me they started going down hill after Dez Cadena quit lead vocals, but that’s before Rollins even joined, so maybe I’m not the guy to be talking about Black Flag in general, haha!

    • Yeah honestly I’m not a huge Black Flag fan either but I do enjoy Damaged, sort of. You know what you’re probably right about Dez Cadena. The First Four Years compilation is there best overall release after all.

  5. Dear ifanboy, I think this a relevant topic that should be discussed throughout the comic book community. I just don’t understand why you would put out an article written by someone who has an obvious bias when it comes to the big two. Jim can’t hear one person talk fondly of Superman without let everyone know his complete disdain for the character. I’m not saying he wouldn’t ever talk bad about Marvel but I do think that he would overlook some of these issues and complain less if it was Marvel.

    • Good point. Marvel has done some strange things this past year too, things that have made fans scratch their heads and in some cases angered them, but they were excluded form this article.

    • “Just about everyone in the game has taken their turn being bewildering (remember that summer when it seemed like Marvel was going through a terrible breakup? Ladies were getting molested by tentacles on the covers, and suddenly there was a female version of every villain?)”

      Jimski doesn’t pull punches on Marvel. It just so happens that DC is in the crosshairs this time, and for good reason. I get a very strong impression that no one at DC is minding the store, because no one knows who should be minding the store. DC is part of a multinational corporation, but the ink they get in Time-Warner’s prospectus is probably a paragraph on the second-to-last page. If Warners really cared, do you think they would be happy with the chaotic mess DC’s press releases hint at, not to mention the ill will that editorial is generating among creators? No, and they would clamp down on it in a heartbeat – if they thought it would affect their business image one lick. But Jimski’s right, the only people who know about all this and care are the people who read sites like this, who are a fraction of the people who buy DC’s comics, who themselves are a fraction of people who will watch a WB movie or t.v. show or subscribe to TIME or use anything else of note to Time-Warner. Nobody cares except us, and I wonder if we care too much.

    • That’s true that line takes a shot at Marvel but that summer was a couple years ago and all the DC problems he points out are much more recent. Look at Marvel, the constant fill-in artists, the delays on mini-series shipments, the double shipping of flagship books, increasing the price of popular books to $3.99. Lots of things that have driven fans crazy in the past year or two that are excluded here.

    • @USPUNX: None of those things are what this article is about.

    • I get that, I think everyone commenting here gets that. Doesn’t change the fact that Jim uses mainly DC examples which, right or wrong, creates a feeling of bias.

    • @USPUNX: 1) There is a big difference between making decisions you don’t like and making decisions that point to general chaos and confusion in the ranks. Raising the price of books and doing multiple shipments a month makes Marvel money, or they wouldn’t do it (think about the extra costs in labor and production for making multiple issues a month). Rotating artists, and making it known that they’re going to rotate between a particular slate of artists, keeps books out on time and at a semi-standard rate of quality. What DC is doing is very different. Announcing Jim Zub on Birds of Prey and then yanking him before he even gets an issue out is not smart. That’s like a t.v. exec announcing what an awesome new show the network is bringing out from David E. Kelly and then not even letting the pilot air. Dropping Gail Simone from Batgirl and then bringing her back is not smart. Why drop her in the first place? What was so wrong with what she was doing? Obviously wasn’t too bad or DC wouldn’t have brought her back. That’s what Jimski’s complaining about, and Marvel hasn’t done anything quite as egregious on the creator end. If they had, would DC’s cast-offs be heading across the street, knowing they were going to get more of the same? In this creator-owned world, not likely.

      2) You’re kind of proving Jimski’s point. We, the superfans who hang out on iFanboy or Newsarama or Bleeding Cool or CBR (or all of them and more besides) know these things and care. The retailer -hopefully- knows these things and -hopefully- cares. But the average fan couldn’t care less, much less the outsider. And that, in his opinion, is what DC seems to hope for. For what its worth, Marvel’s been pretty good about pumping up the creator rather than the work, but time and again it has lead to cancellations of low selling but critically popular books, or moving creators from B and C list books to A list books, leaving fans of the B and C list books in the dust. But those, again, have been business decisions and make sense (I’m sad to see Gillen off JIM, and I’ve dropped the book, but if it gets him more exposure on an Avengers title then good on him). They might be unpopular, but not crazy.

    • @BC1: Those are all good and fair point I hadn’t considered.

      1) I would say this is a really good point, I hand’t considered a lot of what you said in here.

      2) I would actually argue that what you said here makes my point, not Jim’s. If there are so few engaged comic fans out there, and so many more “average comic fans” or “outsiders”, then why the plethora of sites dedicated purely to comics? And why have so many sites like IGN, Bleeding Cool, Ain’t It Cool News, io9, and others increased there comics coverage significantly over the past couple years? I think there are more engaged fans out there than this article makes it sound like, and I think more and more casual comic fans are becoming more and more engaged. There is a reason the creator owned stuff Hickman has done since FF and Avengers has sold so much better than the stuff he did before he signed to Marvel, people followed him They followed him to books about characters that never existed before, character they had no connection to. If the majority of readers only care about characters and title, not creators as this article claims, explain occurrences like that to me.

    • @USPUNK, I just wanted to chime in that even though marvel is charging 3.99, most of those books come w/ digital download. DC charges 4.99 for their combo packs. With that said, I’ve been a fan of the big 2 for 30 years. There are times when both companies just plain did dumb things. I think my issue with DC right now is that they can’t have consistency w/ their titles the way they are playing revolving creators. Example, the books that have been most critically acclaimed (Batman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and yes, even Aquaman) all have 1 thing in common (besides Scott Snyder on Bats and Swampy), they have had the same creative staff since launch (writers at any rate) and I think that’s the key. Good stories are not being told because the writers at DC can’t do any long term planning because they don’t know if they will still be writing their books day to day. That’s one thing Marvel has done right. They are letting the writers write and plan things out. Are they perfect, no, but then no one is. I’m not trying to dump on you man, so don’t take this as that. These are just my opinions.
      I totally get what Jim is saying and because of all the public dirty laundrey going on w/ DC, they are the topic of discussion. They should take a serious look at themselves because they really are starting to lose steam with the new 52. I sampled all the number 1’s to see what was up and I started out keeping more than half of them for the longest time. Between cancellations of titles I liked and the inconsistency of creators and storytelling, I’m down to like 10 titles from them now. That’s the lowest it’s ever been from DC for me. I’m finding I’m enjoying more Marvel, Image, IDW, and Dark Horse than DC and it breaks my heart because I used to be such a HUGE DC fan. I guess we all grow up in our tastes after awhile.

    • @killraven: I totally agree with all that. Those are good points and honestly I agree with most of them. I was reading probably 7 or 8 DC titles right after the new 52 launch and now I’m down to just Batman. I am a much bigger Marvel, Image, and Dark Horse fan than DC right now.

    • @USPUNX: The sites post a lot of news because that’s what the people who come to those sites are looking for, along with the particular spin/style of the providers. Conor and Josh have said before that there are some things they post because, in part, they generate page views. As for the proliferation of the sites themselves, there are a lot, but many of them have established a particular niche – Newsarama is a major aggregator of news, io9 does a lot of analysis on sales numbers and industry data, Bleeding is comics/”geek” culture, and iFanboy is a combination of news, analysis and column style editorial. Whatever your poison, you can find it.

      On the creator/character front, Hickman is an interesting case. He had a good following before Marvel, and I think it’s fair to say he got the FF gig because he’d shown he could write the kind of story that the FF needed, not because he was Jonathan Hickman. Avengers, however, he got because he was Jonathan Hickman – and he can write the kind of story that Avengers needs. So, Marvel does use name rec to get people on books, but for them it’s working. However, in comparing the numbers, it’s safe to say that his success on Avengers hasn’t quite helped Manhattan Projects break the sales needle, but that’s an apples/oranges comparison in the first place.

      Hickman does bring up one of Marvel’s few creator-oriented missteps of recent history: the “Architects.” Those guys did and have done a lot for Marvel, but it left out other stellar folks like van Lente, Abnett/Lanning, Cornell, etc., and I’m sure a few of them got a bitter taste in their mouth from that. I think Jimski penned an op-ed on that one too, and it wasn’t terribly positive either.

    • Jim has always come across to me as a pro-Marvel guy, so I take everything he says with a grain of salt.

      I’ve always been a DC guy. There are some Marvel books I’ve read and loved – but right now I feel like Marvel can take all their 3.99 double shipping books and go to hell.

      I do wish that DC didn’t seem like such a mess. I wish they didn’t have so many Marvel retreads – especially writers like Tom DeFalco and Ann Nocenti who are cranking out some real dull crap.

      But there are a lot of DC books I’m enjoying a lot – Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batman Inc, Batwoman, Demon Knights, Earth 2, Flash, Green Lantern, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Legion, Red Hood, Threshold, Wonder Woman – that’s a ton of good stuff.

      I really think Marvel is more popular now because of all the number 1s. A couple years from now, everybody will be complaining about how their books are stale.

  6. “If you’re DC, maybe you’d rather have customers who like Batman and Batgirl, not Scott Snyder and Gail Simone.”

    I think you summed it all up with that one sentence.

    I, like most comic readers I think, follow writers and artists more than I follow characters. I’ll be buying Green Arrow #17 not for Green Arrow but for Jeff Lemire.

    Right now at least, Marvel is embracing fans like me more than DC. The whole Marvel Now! relaunch is not about the characters they own, it’s more about the writers and artists who are creating their stories. They didn’t hype the X-Men, Thor, or the Avnegers for Marvel Now!, they hyped Bendis on X-Men, Aaron on Thor, Hickman and Opena on Avengers. That’s the whole point of Marvel Now! and I find it refreshing, while I’m surprised with how stale and static the New 52 has already become.

    • “I, like most comic readers I think, follow writers and artists more than I follow characters.”

      I used to think this was true but the longer we do this the more I don’t think it is. And that’s one of the points that Jim makes here. The hyper-engaged fan tends to follow creators and tries to keep up with the ins and outs of the industry but if you were to ask the average fan, who doesn’t spend all their time on the internet in comic book communities, they don’t care who Scott Snyder or Peter J. Tomasi or John Layman are, they just want to read a Batman story.

    • interesting points. I guess “fan outrage” online is like the same 20 people being very vocal, but ultimately sales numbers speak for themselves.

    • I get a picture in my head of them holding sales sheets up next to the monitor with this article loaded, laughing and flipping us all off. Bastards! *fist shake!*

    • and of course there is that all too typical superfan behavior of: “i hate this comic so much…i’m still buying it just so i can complain!”. End of the day it still counts on that spreadsheet.

    • @Connor:

      I would definitely admit to being a hyper engaged fan myself-I visit ifanboy daily amongst other sites, buy Previews, purchase around 60+ monthly titles, etc. At my LCS I tend to talk and engage with others like me. Conversation will most often start with “What do you think of Dan Slott on Spider-Man?” not “What do you think of Spider-Man?”. I guess my question to you would be do you believe there are really a lot of averge fans left?

      Of the 180 000+ people who bought All New X-Men #1, I wonder though how many bought it to see what Brian Michael Bendis would do with the X-Men, compared to how many bought it solely for the X-Men.

      Though on the flip side of that argument, I’ve been buying Fantastic Four monthly for the last 16 years and will continue to do so regardless of who writes it-I just like the Fantastic Four.

    • @tooloudasolitude: I agree with you. It seems like this issue is more grey than the black and white tones this article paints it in. I know there is the argument of “we talk to these people so we know, just trust us.” But it’d be nice to have a little something more than just the personal experience of the writer to go on.

    • I recall a poll on CBR a while back that was “characters or creators”, and it seemed like it ran about 50/50, and that was among people who are invested enough to get on CBR and post.

      I can tell you I’m a character person. There are some creators I get more or less excited about, but if I’m going to read something it will be based on the characters. There is no writer or artist so bad that I won’t buy a book about a character I like.

      As a result, I rarely drop stuff once I get started on it.

  7. No news is bad news. Every time they make some “Schwuhhh?” moment, the interweb is set afire with fanboys (i, or not) ranting and raving. While those specific ranters and ravers may not be saying very nice things about (say…) Legion Lost, suddenly there’s a lot of buzz about a series no one was talking about before. Seeing Liefeld jump on, then promptly off, Hawkman didn’t get me personally to buy more copies, but I bet somebody did. DCs been making money off us for decades. I like to think they have some idea what they’re doing.

    • Could somebody tell me what the latest “Schwuhhh?” controversy was? Otherwise these just seems like a generic article criticizing DC for the same stuff as last year.

    • Well there is the fact that they’re stamping comics with “WTF!” in April. If that doesn’t scream “Schwuhhh?” I don’t know what does.

    • Yea, I heard about that almost a week ago on IGN. If that’s the catalyst for this article then it’s still stupid. That’s DC’s attempt to put words in our collective mouth about whatever stunt/event/promotion they’re doing at the moment. I say this as a guy who’s buying mostly DC stuff. However that’s assuming the “WTF” stamp is the reason for this article, it hasn’t started yet and I read no detailed information on it so it’s not like Jim can say “DC tried to get my money with this, but it’s a scam!!” etc. It’ll probably end up being nothing.

    • What 13-year-old thought up the “WTF” stamp?

    • I imagine it was actually a 40 something year old who thought it would be “hip” and “cool” and ” that’s what the kids are saying today”. Time will tell if it works (but I doubt it).

  8. I wish DC editorial would concentrate on assisting the teams they hire to produce great stories. Surely, there’s more than enough work for DC’s editors right there?

    Apparently not. Yet their convoluted ‘grand planning’ seems to have done nothing to improve ailing titles, whilst fatally diminishing successes that just didn’t need interfering with.

    That’s my current perception of DC, regardless of what they think they’re doing. I’m buying 60% less DC titles than a year ago, whether they wished it or otherwise.

    • I think if I was an editor on a book and my job relied on having the sales on that book be as strong as possible, and I thought the writer wasn’t doing enough to get the sales up, I’d probably impose some changes on that writer.

      Writers are freelancers, editors are employees. I’m not sure which is harder to find other work, but the editor is likely more invested in his current job.

  9. After that avengers#3 article/review by jimski I was tempted to dismiss this article unread.
    But I have to say: “Chapeau!”
    That was a well written article that mirrored exactly my thoughts on the state of dc comics.

  10. This article made me cry out “GET OUT OF MY MIND JIMSKI!”

  11. Another fantastic article, Jim!

    I was just talking about this with a friend of mine, he was complaining about the first arc of Justice League. I understood and agreed with his argument, but pointed out that the book wasn’t for “us”. DC doesn’t seem to be terribly interested in the people who have been reading comics for 20+ years and just enjoy a good story. They seem to want the demographic that gets excited by the characters themselves and earth-shattering events.

    This demographic breaks down in to roughly two types of people:

    The long-time comic reader/collector who will by any book with “x” character on the cover, and the younger demographic who is in theory more interested in big events and simplistic stories than nuance and layered storytelling.

    The problem with this strategy is that marketing to the “collector” is not a sustainable business model, and marketing the “young” reader is alienating many of the older readers.

    That said, I don’t know what their sales figures are exactly, or who is buying each title. As a whole DC’s market share has dropped over the last year, but they are still number 2 in the industry and sales for comics like Justice League are still significantly higher than they were 2 years ago. I would be interested to know how much, if any of this whole strategy has been effective in capturing new readers.

    It’s all very interesting and complicated. I’m not professing to have all the answers, I understand what DC is doing, but it’s just not working for me.

    • I started reading comics monthly with the New 52.I’ve gone back and read the old universe and i like both.Although i have nothing against the New 52 i don’t think the old universe was that hard to understand.I think that if you want to know something about the universe, you’d do the research.But DC underestimates their fans.They expect fans of Young Justice (R.I.P) or the Nolan Batman films to go to the comic shop.Maybe some do but the majority would rather flock to Barnes and Noble to buy the few trades they find then go to a comic store.So i guess i’m agreeing with your statement that DC isn’t pandering to long time readers.

      Maybe i’m just an “X” reader but i liked the first story arc of Justice League.It was popcorn fluff, not bad but not good.I think Justice League has a chance to be a very special book instead of just another New 52 book, if the characters could just stop fighting each other and fight Lex Luthor or an alien invasion maybe then people would give it a chance.

  12. Remember when Joe Quesada said he’s never heard of tentacle rape.

  13. I understand the ironic tone of the article, and I have much the same opinion about comics today, especially from the Big Two. It seems like every book that has interested me in the past five years has been canned. This is especially true of the New 52; I went from having too many books on my pull list, to having a tentative one or two.

    So, the gist of the article is that the Powers That Be in comics seem more interested in pursuing the readers and fans who are more casual in their zeal for creators, which almost certainly means much, if not most, of the comic fans who are online are not the audience they want to depend on. The implied answer to the question “they must know what they’re doing, right?” seems to be “probably not.” It all depends on the sales figures. It’s no secret that comic sales figures are a fraction of what they were 10, 15, 20 years ago. In the ’70s and ’80s, books would be canceled for the sales figures of many of today’s successful books. So they try to pump up sales of the entire line by forcing crossovers that can be jarring to even the most devoted fans, spreading big name characters across multiple titles, and relaunching titles and lines every few months. They hope to draw back in the multitudes of yesteryear. The numbers of readers indicate it all may not be succeeding. But it’s an impossible problem – make the books accessible to a broader audience, and alienate the most devoted fan core; or focus on the devoted fans, and the books become impenetrable to a casual reader. The loss of shelf space and spinner racks in convenience stores and newsstands helped close off comics from a once-enormous audience; electronic comics might have opened up another audience, but it doesn’t seem they’ve caught on with any but those who were comic fans already.

    So, maybe DC is, indeed, trying to run off a lot of us. I’ll include Marvel, too, because of its cyclical bouts of madness. But DC seems to be going through its Mr. Hyde/Wolfman phase at the moment, jettisoning books and creators, then bringing them back, and resurrecting concepts and characters only to quickly abandon them or alter them beyond recognition. That’s not to say there aren’t good books; most of the books I’m reading right now are DC. I’ve been more of a DC fan for a number of years now. But it does seem that a lot of decisions are being made without regard for what the hardcore clamors for. Then again, maybe it’s not a matter of attempting to get rid of us; maybe it’s just a matter of them finally deciding we’re not that consequential to them. Personally, I think it’s a bad mistake; there must be a happy medium between pleasing the core and attracting the more casual fan. But, hey, they must know what they’re doing, huh?

  14. I really don’t think a comic book company is ok with losing customers. Especially customers who are in it for the long haul, are loyal, and have money to spend on books every Wednesday. The potential fan spoke about in this article, the guy whose never been on the Internet or whatever, those aren’t the types of people who are going to come back to the store every week (and if they don’t have the Internet they certainly do not have an iPad or comixology) and it really does not seem like any of e books are being written with them in mind.
    I agree that there are some things really wrong behind the scenes, but I don’t for a second believe its because a company just doesn’t want the direct market as customers anymore.

    • I don’t think it’s that they “don’t want” the direct market as customers, but they see the nice green grass on the other side and they want go over there! Or have their cake and eat it too.

      is that enough metaphors for today?…Probably.

  15. If DC’s trying to get rid of me, it’s working.

    So congrats to them … I guess.

    Good article, Jim.

    • Same here. I’ve even switched to trades with Scott Snyder’s “Batman.”

    • Well, Marvel got rid of me with their price-jacking up to 3.99 a few years back, so congrats to them as well.

    • Keep bangin’ that drum, BCDX97. If you complain about Marvel’s $1 difference and double-shipping enough, it’s bound to make a difference.

      Me? I’ll gladly hand over two more dollars a month for quality comics. And lately, DC’s made it much easier for me to afford it by freeing up all that space on my pull list.

    • Totally! I only started collecting monthly issues when DC started “Drawing the line”. Before that I was strictly GN or TPB kind of guy. DC is still keeping their 2.99 promise (mostly) so I’ll still get some monthly titles. But it is not hard figuring out which ones to skip so I can still get my GNs.

    • Hey, keep on buying those 3.99 books and maybe Marvel can start charging you 4.99 for them!

    • What about quality? Marvel’s been using paper so cheap lately I thought I was holding onto a newspaper section.

  16. It feels to me a lot like a mirror of what is happening on the animation side of things.

    Both Marvel and DC had very popular products in their animation (Avengers EMH, GL, YJ) but the decision was made to sacrifice the idea of the longer overarching stories in favor of relaunching everything to hook someone new who might be more willing to check out a “Brand New Show!” The thinking seems to be that those who were watching the old stuff will watch the next thing regardless.

    How is this different from relaunching everything at number one or restarting the whole line of comics. I think it has been made clear that, for better or worse, the days of long running series are gone in favor of the New #1 model. If it means constantly changing writers or artists it won’t matter in the long run because eventually it will all get cancelled and relaunched again.

  17. Teen Titans written by Scott Lobdell sells between 40,000 to 60,000 issues a month.

    Hellblazer sells less than 20,000.

    Why should they care for the critics and snobs when there are actual people buying comics?

    I’ve long called this the Michael Bay fallacy, that film critics whine and cry about the state of films but somehow Bay puts out a movie that grosses 300 million every year.

    Ed Brubaker had an amazing rant about this at comicsbeat, that the gap between what Internet comic fans want and what actually sells is as wide as the Grand Canyon and if you like something you should BUY THE BOOK!

    Also Jim haven’t both Snyder and Lemire said that the Rot crossover is thier idea, blaming it on editorial, is merely an attempt to whine about something without blaming the people responsible.

    Finally here’s a question or you, Jim do you Marvel wanted people to only think of Brubaker when they thought about Cap?

    • Michael Bay is old news, buddy. J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Joss Whedon are the new kings of Hollywood.

    • Even in terms of “style over substance,” Bay seems dated when compared to Justin Lin or Jon Chu.

    • Yeah, this is a little bit like when people say they want more comics for women, or kids, or blacks, or gays, or they want less superheroes and more westerns, or mystery, or horror, or fantasy, or anthologies, and they just don’t sell well enough, time and time again.

      Some times the critics like boring pretentious movies and books. Some times the public eats up idiotic TV shows and music. Nobody has the answers to any of the questions – we just like to think we do.

  18. Great article Jim. I considered myself more of a DC guy, and when the new52 started I was picking up 15 of the books. Now a year and a half later I’m getting 5, after the current arc of Batwman ends it will be 4. Between cancellations, and American Vampire’s hiatus, I’m only getting 1 Vertigo book. I’m currently getting 5 Marvel books, and I’m enjoying everyone of them more than I expected. If it wasn’t for the 3.99 price tag on some titles I’d probably be getting 7 or 8.

    All of this is mostly due to the fact that most of the DC books really started to bore me. I wanted to like each sucessive issue more than I actually did, and when I really thought about it, I was just buying stuff to continue the complete runs. I still hold out hope that DC can make some changes and focus on making stories more engaging so readers don’t grow bored with the direction of the books, but that would mean some big changes at the top of the DC headquarters, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

  19. Couple of things here:

    1) I wholly remember that Transformers comic. I still have it. Heh. I remember buying it at the grocery store.

    2) Due to two main factors I just dropped about 16 DC titles. (Unemployment and the way DC has been treating their talent)

    • Wow, I did the same thing w/ the Transformers…I believe it was issue 8. Man that brings me back. I must have been about 9 or so when that came out.

  20. Man, some days the negativity in the comments section gets too damn high for my tastes. Ah well. Long as folks like Jimski are writing thoughtful stuff like the above, the comments ain’t gonna get me down.

    Great points, Jim. It really makes all the yelling and crying about things seem kinda silly. Buy what you like, and if it goes away, just wait a while and something else will come around. Our Corporate Overlords are mysterious entities, indeed, and any attempt to fathom their ascended minds can drive a man to madness. Best to just enjoy their blessing and suffer their wrath when it rains down.

    Also, are we still on about the “Company Bias” thing? Really? This is a thing people are mad about? No wonder they don’t want our business…

    • I think most of the “negativity” you are referring to stems form many people, myself obviously included, thinking this is not a “thoughtful” article. Just because people disagree with the the premise or point of an article doesn’t mean they are being negative. These articles, I am assuming, are meant as jumping off points to start discussions and debates among us comic fans. At least that’s how I take them. If that isn’t the case then why are comments allowed? In fact that’s what makes this site great. The ability to disagree and debate about something WITHOUT descending into the pointless and intentional negativity that plagues so many other comic sites. If you like this article I would suggest you engage those here who didn’t like it and try to convince those you disagree with of the article’s merit.

      Don’t make a passive agressive comment like this: “Man, some days the negativity in the comments section gets too damn high for my tastes. Ah well. Long as folks like Jimski are writing thoughtful stuff like the above, the comments ain’t gonna get me down.” All a comment like that does is add to any negativity that might exist.

    • Sorry you took it that way, USPUNX. I was directing my comment more toward the tone of some of the comments than the discourse (which I do, indeed, enjoy and encourage), which was a bit belligerent for my taste, attacking the writer rather than debating the ideas.

      But perhaps I was not as clear as I could have been. If my comment offended you, I apologize. T’was never my intention, good sir, to be aggressive, passive or otherwise.

    • Apologies from me as well, I worded my comment in a far too agressive manner. I was only stating that disagreement wasn’t necessarily congruent with negativity.

    • And I couldn’t agree more!

  21. Very interesting article. I sometimes tend to forget that as vocal as we are, we are the minority when it comes to Comic buyers overall. When I was a kid I would buy any and all Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman and Superman comics regardless of who wrote or drew them. It wasn’t until I came back to comics when I was older that I started paying more attention to the creators and less on the characters. I still buy a lot of comics based on the characters, but I am also willing to give something new a try if it has a creator I like on it.

    But how many people went to see “The Avengers” because Joss Whedon co-wrote and directed it? I’d wager very few, if any.

    • I’m one of those few, actually. It was because of Whedon that me interested in seeing the Avengers. Then it was the Avengers that got me interested in reading more comics and learning more about the medium; up until that point, I only read the occasional trade.

  22. At first i though this was another article denouncing the new 52/Dan Didio or talking about how great things were “back then”.

    But i do admit that you made a lot of great points.With Twitter and comic writers being so connected to their fans, it seems like all the dirty laundry goes straight from the boardroom to the fan.We all saw what happened between Liefeld and Snyder and whatever side you find yourself on you have to admit that it looked bad.I’m no Liefeld fan but to see a huge argument between two comic book professionals on a weekend, it just doesn’t look good.

    Good article

    • The worst thing about the Liefeld/Snyder argument was Rob Liefeld choosing to make a private conversation public. Pretty childish, lost any remaining respect I had for the guy after that.

  23. is it cool if I sit on the fence with this one. I’m a 50 / 50 comic reader

    I’ll be getting Batman even after Scott Snyder is done. But I’ll be sure to follow him and Greg Capullo where ever they go next.

    • Yeah that’s one of the things I find this article to be lacking, the acknowledgement that this isn’t an all or nothing issue. I am totally in agreement with you, Batman is one of those books I read no matter who writes it. But on the other hand, I am buying Avengers and New Avengers for the first in years because Hickman took it over. So where does that place me? And I’m pretty sure Batman saw a considerable spike in sales when Snyder took over. I could be wrong but I’m almost positive that was the case. And if so, how does the premise of this article hold up? If the average comic fan doesn’t care about creators, why the spike in sales with a new creator? It’s really just not as black and white as the article tries to make it sound.

    • You are of course using anecdotal experience as fact, plus Snyder took over “Batman” more than a year ago so things could have changed. You reading Hockman’s Avengers books does not mean most readers don’t care about the talent behind them. Also before Snyder took over Batman, he wrote an acclaimed run on “Detective Comics”, and before that Tony Daniels wrote a mixed run on “Batman”, and before that Judd Winnick wrote a terrible run on “Batman” which had followed Daniels awful “Battle for the Cowl” mini-series. My long winded point, of course sales on “Batman went UP when Snyder took over.

    • I agree that for me, at least, it is not a simple either or choice. Would I be reading Batman without Snyder? Most likely. I’ll admit to reading & enjoying medicore Batman stories, simply because they are Batman stories. That said, if I hated the creative team, I would drop the book. (The advantage of being a Batman fan is that he has so many titles, what are the chances that they all suck at the same time?). Meanwhile, I’ll be sampling Green Arrow on Wednesday pretty much because of Lemire. I tried Cornell on Stormwatch and Demon Knight becuase they sounded intriguing and liked his previous work — same goes for Saucer Country — but, as much as I like his writing, my interest in Wolverine remains too small (and my budget too tight) for me to pick up his new book. I enjoy Waid on Daredevil, but can’t motivate myself to buy the Hulk because he’s never been a favorite character of mine.

      That said, I’ll buy pretty much any comic that Gaiman puts his pen to . . .

      Then again, perhaps I’m one of those overally finicky fans who aren’t actually driving sales . . .

    • Another example: I started reading Swamp Thing becuase of Snyder — had never really read an issue of Swanp Thing previously — but have been enjoying the series, so I will give the new creative team a chance, even though I have no prior experience with them. In other words, a good creative can make you want to follow a character beyond them.

    • Spike in sales often coincide with a new #1 along with a new creative team.

      I hope readers are discerning enough to read books based on creative teams.

      Why be enslaved to a character/book/company?

    • @ithoapien: We seem to be butting heads quite a bit recently!

      Anyway, that is true my point about Avengers is anecdotal, which is why I used the evidence about the jump in Batman sales; which is non-anecdotal and based on verifiable facts. Also, much of what you said about the creators and stories that preceded Snyder’s run actually makes my point. People were unhappy with the previous writers on Batman so sales dropped, when a new creator took over, sales peaked. DC didn’t change the character or team line up or anything like that, they changed creative teams, people noticed, and started reading. That was my exact point.

    • @Uspunx, well you been all over this article commenting. Your posts in other articles run a wide range of opinions.

      But to clarify my point, sales didn’t just go up after a new writer took over. DC announced before “Batman # 1” came out that Scott Snyder (the guy who wrote “The Black Mirror, and created “American Vampire”) was the writer. I could be wrong, but I imagine that the early sales could be attributed to Snyder’s name on the cover and not word-of-mouth about this new guy on “Batman”.

    • @ithosapien: Right, but that’s exactly what I’m saying. Snyder was the catalyst for the increase in sales due to his reputation as a creator. I think we are agreeing here but just didn’t realize it.

      And yes I have been all over this article. I really bugged me and I felt the need to comment on it. Repeatedly, obviously. Plus, what’s wrong with my wide range of opinions sir?

    • Ok, well I thought you were suggesting “Batman” sales went up just because of a new writer. I’m glad we agree it was because of Snyder. And there’s nothing wrong with having a wide range of opinions or commenting repeatedly on an article. Its just jarring when you show me articles and graphs about literacy going up in the US and then compare “Star Trek” to “FF”. And to be honest, this article irked me too because I didn’t see the point of it. There, confusion erased and agreements are had. Cool?

    • Haha cool. And just because I read the NY Times doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the FF films right? Right…

  24. Writers may get a lot of praise on or off a title but if I’m not interested in the title or characters, it’s a strong possibility, I wont buy it.
    The same cannot be said for an artist tho, for example if Jae Lee drew a book, I would get it in a heartbeat and maybe weep over the storytelling later.
    And what about those great cool looking covers that gets my attention blinding me from seeing the creators names? Count me in on those. I am a fan of the characters first, then the artist, then a writer or maybe writer and then an artist depending on the situation another example- Space Ghost-character>writer(Joe Kelley)>artist or F1234-Grant Morrison>Jae Lee>and the Fantastic4 which I still have not bought yet.

  25. I’ve been pondering all of the ‘murmuring about Editorial’ mentioned in this great iFanboy article (pondering it as an isolated matter though).

    Just imagining, for a second. what it would take to launch 52 stories, that have to run (more or less) concurrently through the medium of multiple Creatives (traditionally with their own ideas).,, To make sure these stories don’t open doors that close off other potential doors, and to build/project manage all these toward (hopefuly) some larger framework/common vision…
    This task, I think, will require some heavy-handedness. Yes, Image Comics builds amazingly creatively ‘free’ worlds and characters right now, but their worlds are not connected, their characters have no history to respect.

    Seems to me the New 52’s greatest weakness (its sheer size and history and over-connectedness) is also what makes it so damn amazing. (This is my first iFanboy comment. Go easy on me.)

    • Oh a new guy, ehh? Let me tell you something NEW GUY, that was a very astute and logical post. Here’s a cookie.

    • We don’t like new people here! Although your name is pretty cool so I guess you’re okay.

    • So besides the fact that Marvel Now isn’t a complete from-scratch reboot, I wonder if people would be giving the New 52 more slack if it had rolled out a bit more slowly?

    • I was pretty impressed the New 52 was happening all at once, even tho I was against it at the time. So if it was done one title at a time every month I probably would called DC “pu#####” and just read Marvel. And then there’s all the new #1s all in one month, which was the perfect time to try a handful of titles (plus LCS sale promotions). I don’t think it’s about DC rushing the reboot (the reboot itself was probably a bigger factor) but how the New 52 started to where it is now. There was more diverse titles when it began, it was divided up into cool sections (Light, Dark, Edge), plus the promise of no events. I think a clerk at my LCS actually complimented DC for trying new stuff (JLD, Red Lanterns, Frankenstein) whereas Marvel seems to have made new #1s and added more X-Men and Avengers books.

    • @abstraction_man Welcome aboard! In response to some of your questions, truth be told, unless you read it in a tell all book years later, you’re never going to hear more than murmurs about editorial or the companies. Generally the people who complain about it (see Chuck Dixon and Dwayne McDuffie) get blacklisted and never work in the industry or at least the company they spoke out against again. As much as “he who will not be named” is a jerk online, the dude loves comics. If he’s walking away from DC, the company where he got his start, stating that editorial meddling is chasing him away then there’s a problem. When George Perez, an industry legend instrumental in so many of DC’s titles from the Bronze Age on, hints at similar issues then there’s definitely an issue. Both creators are very used to working in shared universes, the give and take that entails, and turned lemons into lemonade time after time. And yet both creators walked away.

  26. I agree with the general idea of this post that more discerning fans such as ourselves are not what is driving sales at the Big Two at the moment. I thnk that the above comment about Michael Bay is quite apt. As much as we might priase a series like Mind MGMT or some other creator owned project from an independent publisher, at the end of the day it could never compete in sales with a Batman title. Yes, it seems as though every comic shop in New York City sold out of Nowhere Men #3 in an hour last week, but did those sales numbers come even close to The Avengers or Suprerior Spider-Man? I have a friend who asked me to pick up 5 additional copies of Superior #3 purely for speculative reasons (he already had copies “for himself”). Sometimes quality overlaps with popularity, for example The Avengers film or Snyder’s run on Batman, but just as often you have, well, a Michael Bay movie. That’s not in itself a bad thing — I wouldn’t want every comic I read to be like Unwritten, any more than I would like every film I see to be like The Master. The important thing is that there is enough at the table for every taste, and I think that this is where the discouragement with DC is being felt. When the New 52 started, the Dark/Edge lines were some of their strongest titles, and now many of them are gone. On the other hand, they could have simply canceled Demon Knights, like Frankenstein, yet they are giving it another shot with a rising writer. And, you know, the first issue was promising. Still, I get the disappointment . . .

    Regarding DC and crossovers, I think that they’re better than Marvel. At least, DC pairs titles that go together. Yes, I might only be reading Supergirl, but a Super-family event makes sense, just as Swamp Thing and Animal Man made sense. What bugs we about Marvel, especially their annuals, is that the crossovers seem pretty random. Plus, doesn’t DC deserve credit for going this long without a line wide event? I know, one’s coming (we all knew there would be), but they took their time, laid some groundwork. It’s not like Avengers vs X-Men which seemed to happen only a handful of months after Fear Itself . . .

  27. I do agree with some of what he is saying but truthfully as far as I am concerned Marvel is one big gimick fueled to sell the next big film. I jumped on the new Now line just to see what is up and for me its not all that great. I am not a big spiderman or x-man so that may be the case and the hulk was great untill they f’ed it up with all the red hulk and she hulk crap. Its funny that we complain so much about gimicks but ultimatly we still buy in. I mean really how many versions do we need of spiderman and really the idea of doc ock taking over peter’s body is dumb (wishing ditko, stan, and claremont would return). Now not to say that I feel that DC is doing a bang up job (because hawkman, hawk and dove, grifter, stormwatch, and various others are crap to) all I am saying is that I think the big two should really sit down and go back to the basics and really look at what built these two empires and focus on making a better product and not following the same tired ass themes that almost killed comics in the 90s.

  28. There’s a lot of flack for this article, but as a long-time DC fan and defender, I’m down to only 2 DC titles, for all the reasons this article points out.

    • Well, I’m a long-time DC fan and defender, too, and the vast majority of this article doesn’t apply to me at all. I sure as hell am not switching over to any overpriced Marvel books. I buy quite a few Dark Horse, IDW, and Image books, but I enjoy a bunch of DC books.

      The one thing I do agree with a bit is the crossovers – the new 52 has had too many of them. Mostly the books have been good, but the Owls storyline had some bad issues (I’m looking at you All-Star Western) and the Joker storyline has had some really bad issues (I’m looking at you Catwoman!)

      But doesn’t Marvel have crossovers, too? A vs X was a huge crossover! And I was buying all the books when it first started. I was giving Marvel a second chance – but I felt like I was getting ripped off and gave up on them for good.

  29. I’m pretty sure that most people, myself included, think they could do a better job running either of the big two. I’m sure most of us, myself included, are wrong, but it’s fun to think about all the different changes we could make if we were in charge. I would try to get people outside of comic stores to buy them, which I don’t think is something that Marvel or DC has tried since the 80s.

  30. Not that it matters to anyone but me and the comic shop I drop $25 to $35 a week, but after Batman & Superman finish these two exhausting (time & $$) stories, I’m pretty much dropping out of comics. I do think it’ll be harder than when I quit smoking but needs to be done, it’s not like I don’t have a couple thousand back issues to reread.

  31. As much as I love Animal Man and Swamp Thing at DC, I feel like I’m picking both up because I love the characters. The stories aren’t as captivating as I wish they could be and that’s when I realized that DC doesn’t have variety like Marvel or Image books.

  32. Maybe DC does want to make their brands more prominent than the creators working on them, which would be OK if they weren’t giving Superman to the slutty Starfire guy and Birds of Prey to Amethyst Gang Rape woman. Maybe the neckbeard mysoginist psycho is their prime demo now, which is fine too, which is fine too, it’s their brand.

    Wait was that your point?

  33. I had a longer comment and the Internet ate it. But basically all I was saying was: I agree with this article.

    I’m sure DC wants me as a reader but they are clearly placing a lower priority on ‘engaged’ readers like myself, who care about creators first and characters second. Pulling very few DC comics these days.

  34. I still consider myself more of a DC guy. But I will say that’s starting to change.

    The article makes an interesting point about creators versus characters. And in one sense, I understand why DC might want to try and exercise some greater control over their characters. The problem with that, IMO, is that it can be easy to forget that those creators are the ones helping bring those characters to life.

    Sure, Batman is going to sell. But a crappy Batman story is more likely to turn people off. Same with bad art. Creators need some leeway in which to tell their stories. Otherwise, what’s the point of hiring them?

    I get that DC needs to be stewards of their characters. But creators are the folks in the trenches moving those characters forward. And the way DC seems to be doing business lately doesn’t inspire nor allow creators to do their best work.

    Maybe DC is trying to get rid of readers like me. But if they aren’t pulling in readers to replace me…and alienating the folks who can actually help them do so….that just seems like a business model for eventual extinction.

  35. I think all of this news around DC has left a bad taste in my mouth regarding them, or maybe it’s just a general worry about the state/future of DC, especially with Bob Harras as Editor in Chief.
    @ Diebenny re: “I wrote this on twitter but it belongs here too: The WTF initiative is to DC what Guy Fieri’s haircut is to Guy Fieri. They think it’s cool. Nobody else does.”
    Holy crap, that’s hilarious, and completely true! It just feels like DC is trying to be Poochi the dog, living life on the edge where everything’s XTREME!
    I think the WTF initiative is very indicative of where DC is at the moment, because it feels very desperate and of the ’90’s, and is it in ANY way going to get people to buy books they aren’t already buying?

  36. I’m trying to think if there is a creative team and pitch that exists that could get me to read Fury of the Firestorm.

  37. I’m currently reading, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.” Great book, but it really strips away many of the fanboy illusions of how comics are created. Even in his heyday, Stan Lee was just as capricious as anyone in how was put on which book, which books were published, etc. Although the 1960s at Marvel were extremely creative in terms of comics, even then artists were kicked off books. Writers and artists were given no credit or compensation for their own creations. Why should I not be surpised that here in 2010s, things are still pretty much the same?

  38. This is an interesting and intelligent article but it has no basis to support its claims. For this to have any merrit we need quotes and polls that contain information that is specifically relevant to this topic. While the polls listed might give us a broad idea of how many comic fans discuss comics on the internet, it gives no info what so ever on how many of us are actually commenting about comics online. Everything youre saying here could be right, but there is zero proof given to support the points youre making.

  39. Hey, this post compelled me to create an account!

    Great points here. Speaking from personal experience, I do think there’s an echo chamber that exists for the most tapped in parts of comics fandom or whatever you want to call it. I mean, I used to work at Wizard where people online would call my friends and I all kinds of names on the sexist frat boy spectrum on a daily basis, and that stuff could be UPSETTING. But then I’d go to one of the cons the company put on (when they were still comic shows, mind you) and meets tons of guys who read the magazine religiously and were so incredibly complimentary to us. The kinds of people you’d never in a thousand years see online. Since then, I’ve really struggled a lot with figuring out not just who the real audience for comics is but who the real audience for writing about comics is.

    I DO think a majority of people who read comics on that regular Wednesday schedule get some kind of news online, but not all of that majority are folks who are following creators on Twitter and forming their buying opinions based on behind the scenes drama at the expense of what they naturally react to. The other day, I met a guy who was up enough on his comics to have very specific opinions on the New 52, but he never really read CBR. All his news he got from people posting random links to stories on Reddit. To me, that’s more likely the average comics reader – someone who follows general geek culture blogs and podcasts and forums and has their range of favorite characters/creators they love.

    That said, having a rigorous discussion online amongst the diehards is a great part of comics too – both for what it gives us in terms of community and for what we’re able to draw attention to in the culture at large.

  40. DC did get rid of me! I read all 52 issues through #4 dwindled my pull list to 20 then to 11 and now a big fat ZERO as of this month. These books are generic and all the art and colors look the same. I can’t believe with all the negativity I’ve heard through the comic community that the New 52 is considered a success. So I guess all of us rabid comic fans don’t make a majority.

    • According to last year’s sales numbers, the initial launch did very well.

      Not as well as AvX, maybe, which almost locked up the Top Twenty, but certainly lots in the Top Forty.

      Looks like they follow as a close second in market share, as well.

      I’d say if overseers from the Time/Warner end of the business have anything to say to DC, it’s “Why are we still in second place?” and “Who do we need to hire or fire to be in first place?”

      I’m sure the Marketing and Merchandising folks as well as Editorial feel pressure to do better, but many of their own initiatives work against them.

      Make everyone 21 to 29 year old again? Alienate long-time readers, but typical of the storytelling ethos of our culture. (See “Save the Cat!” for typical screenwriting advice about characters and their age and appearance.)

      Cancel great animated shows repeatedly? Again, fans often feel “cheated”, but animation executives like Jeph Loeb repeatedly point out that animated shows aren’t made to last multiple seasons, at least not under the selling model he and others now prefer.

      Reboot universes continually, because people are now longer twelve or twenty and new twelve and twenty-year-olds have come along to hopefully produce new material for? Again, long-time readers often feel “abandoned” but newer readers would supposedly be “overwhelmed” by continuity. Recap pages are great, but do all arcs have to feel like a movie and be five issues per? Can some arcs feel like a cartoon and have twenty-minutes episodes? Can you still do one-and-dones? Is it more about seven hundred back issues of legacy or about writing for the trade? Is there a happy balance between writing for the aficionado/connoisseur and trying to grow market share and readership?

      I think they feel they have to continually produce seasonal marketing strategies, and many times they alienate their current, ever-shrinking, slowly-graying constituency.

  41. Yea telling Kenneth Rocafort, JH williams, and Cliff Chiang apart artistically can be rough.

  42. I read a lot of DC books. Like 13 on-goings plus the Watchmen books. None of the books I’ve selected have been cancelled and I think DC’s relaunch was a success. That’s not to say I haven’t dropped any titles.
    I also read Marvel, Dak Horse and Image. I’ve taken part in these biased company superiority debates in the past and I think I’ve outgrown them. More and more I hear the same old arguments. “Marvel overcharges!” or “DC editors are nazis!” “Double shipping!” “Ahhhh!”

  43. Wow, I’m surprised at the number of very serious, and even irate, responses to what I read as a clever and somewhat tongue-in-check article. Anyway, with regard to all the goings on at DC, I’m reminded of the old adage that one should never ascribe to conspiracy what can more easily be ascribed to incompetence. In DC’s case, I suspect the latter.

  44. Actually, the more I think about it. back in the day, I really did not care who the writer or artist was on a book. I was someone who bought for titles, Batman, X-men. Spiderman.
    the only people I did sort of follow were Grant Morrison and Mark Miller. And it wasn’t due to the content so much, it was really just cos there from Glasgow, same as me.

    it wasn’t until finding some videos on you tube. Where three Dudes sat around a coffee table and were really interesting and entertaining about comics, that I started to pay attention to who’s name was on the cover of the book I picked up. So thank you, Conor, Ron and Josh. you assimilated me, resistance was indeed futile.
    I guess what I’m saying is bring back the video shows.

  45. I know it might sound bad, but I love hearing about someone dropping a title from their pull list. Ultimately we vote with our wallets, and this is how we tell them they are doing a poor job. I think its necessary for things to fail in order for new and better things to enter the market. Ultimately companies are in existence to make money, and if they make more money putting out books “us savvy internet chatting” comic readers don’t like, then we just need to go somewhere else that caters more to our liking. There’s no shortage of good titles out there, and good old ones are constantly being collected. Personally, I follow both creators and characters to a point, and when the two mix I get very excited. My point is, was I bummed when my new 52 books were no longer worth my time and money? Yes. Do I now spend that time and money on other titles I’m happy with? Yes. This was a very good opinion piece, and definitely got me thinking. Ive just realized, good or bad, I cant go to McDonald’s if I want a steak, because that’s just not their business model for the most part.

  46. Whatever they do is fine by me, because I no longer buy any current material from them.

    I enjoy mining their prodigious back catalog through my public library and I’m a huge fan of their animation if I can get it from the library or on Netflix.

    It’s pretty much the same relationship I’ve had with them since the 70s. Sometimes they do something I really enjoy and I buy a shitload of their product. Then I get into something else and ignore them for a decade.

    Next year the Showcase reprints will be rapidly approaching the Middle Bronze Age, and I’ll buy another twelve pounds of Legacy Material.

    Maybe in a couple of months or years, when the New 52 collections start piling up at my public library, I’ll continue reading Supergirl and Batgirl, and check out Swamp Thing and Animal Man. I’ll be looking to check out some of the recent, highly-recommended Batman as well, which should soon be up to two or three collections, probably later this year.

    I wish I could afford every comic on the stands worth reading, but I know I can’t. Monthly comics isn’t the way Time/Warner/DC gets their dime from me. Selling reprints of back catalog to public libraries and licensing their animation to Netflix is.

  47. Bravo. This article is me. I am you, Jim. I’ve felt this way for YEARS. I always loved comic books, ever since I was yay-high running around in my Superman underwear. I started collecting again back in 2008, never missed a cross-over title for Superman and picked up every monthly comics I thought were cool because I loved the cover or just because I needed to follow Superman for being so loyal.

    Being around long enough now and being around the boards, I now know some names by heart and who people love in their writing or art teams but I tell you, I still have no a clue in most of these writers or artists even look like. I could walk past Scott Snyder tomorrow and not have a damn clue it was him on the way my LCS.

    Nice article. Give me my character. Give me my cover and comic book. Not a writer.

  48. I’ve simply come to the conclusion that the same type of person who is an editor of a person in charge at DC or Marvel is the same type of person who runs for public office. You could have a conversation about comic books with an editor or a conversation with a congressman about politics and it would come down to same fact: They are smarter than you are, they know more than you are, they have larger responsibilities than you do, and your value and opinion as an individual is utterly meaningless to them because you have no power to affect them in any meaningful way. One vote, one comic book sale is a crystal in a snowstorm as far as they are concerned. They are going for the greater sales or the greater good and i you are part of that it’s great, if not… Then you simply don’t matter to them.

    We don’t matter. We probably never have.

  49. I swear comics fans are some of the whiniest people on Earth. The only recent DC crossover I know of that functions the way you say is Throne of Atlantis. Most of them (Death of the Family, Court of Owls, and H’el on Earth, for example) don’t: the reader can read a single book and get most of the story, particularly the parts that affect that specific character. I LOVE the H’el on Earth series. Originally, I only read Supergirl, but since I was interested in how Superman lost his Fortress of Solitude and how the Justice League got involved, I decided to pick up the entire H’el series. I’m glad I did too, because I really enjoyed the Superboy annual by Tom DeFalco, and just yesterday picked up the first Superboy trade so I get caught up on his story. That’s the way crossovers are supposed to work.

    There will always be some marketing gimmickry to crossovers, but if the characters involved are well-written, then it will compel readers to read more of the character in question. I was actually getting bored with Supergirl prior to H’el on Earth, and I think this gave her a shot of character development that she needed and it helped differentiate Superboy/man/girl from one another in some very distinct ways.

    The Gail Simone thing was a bit weird, for sure, but she’s still writing Batgirl so oh well.

  50. Very interesting article. A concept I had never considered. I find myself moving more and more away from DC because of a lack of interest in the overall tone of their books. One of the series that I found to be pure super-hero comic book fun, Superman Family Adventures, they canceled which left me more disillusioned with DC. I guess there’s no real wrong or right about it. DC just isn’t creating many comics for me as a fan, but there are plenty of other fans who love their books right now.