What’s Wrong With You: DC Comics Relaunch

Listen, the relaunch, reboot, refresh, whatever you want to call it has been a boon. Comic shops are selling books, and it’s been a little like a sweeps month around here with five DC Picks of the Week in a row. There’s always something to talk about, and there’s a touch of air under our feet in comics all around. Even the folks who “hate” mainstream comics have had to give DC a little credit with backhanded compliments like “well, at least it’s getting people into comic shops.” It can’t be argued that they didn’t sell a lot more books than they do normally. Whether than can be sustained is a question, but for now, hey, backpats all around. It’s a complete success right?

I suppose that depends on how you look at it.

As we finished up this fourth week of #1 issues, I couldn’t help but notice that all these books, every one of them, is for the same audience. Most of them are incredibly violent and adult themed. The ones that aren’t dripping with blood and just-short-of-fucking scenes are throwbacks that read completely anachronistic. These books were written for comic book fans, both already existing and lapsed. All that marketing and advertising was for people who already liked comics, or did at one time. Was there an all-ages book in there anywhere? Was the idea of genre books sufficiently explored? What did this do to get actual new readers, besides a slew of the same old tricks.

This has nothing to do with quality. Like in any publishing line, there are good comics, and bad comics, and comics that go on for days and days with no end and introduce a billion characters, and look like they came with a holofoil cover. I’m talking about who these books are for, and they’re for comic book readers.

I think DC had to make up their mind one way or another to do something meaningful in terms of really going after a market of people who didn’t give comics a chance before. They decided against it, probably figuring that it was too unlikely to make them any money. But if anyone has the clout to make a full-on dedicated movement to turning the comic book into something bigger than it is, it’s a company like Time Warner. They can sustain the early losses while backing up a massive media push, and really give it a go. They didn’t do that at all. They wanted to retain the revenue they’re getting, instead of risking it for a different revenue.

The genre books, which looked like the most able to convince people that comic books don’t necessarily have to mean superheroes. Yet they all tied back into the shared universe, making sure to appease the existing comic book reader. Hell, Jonah Hex went from being a completely stand-alone book (that admittedly sold for shit and was saddled with an even more shit feature film), to being tied into Batman’s world in All-Star Western. Again, it’s not that it wasn’t good. But I’m a comic book reader. I was going to read it anyway. But this move was done to attract comic book readers. That’s it.

Then there are the big titles. Did you read Superman #1? He’s arguably the most famous superhero of all time, and that book was an incomprehensible hodgepodge of panels and words and it went on forever. Suppose someone comes into the store and picks that up as a safe bet? They’re never coming back. Who thought that was a good idea?

What if they had decided to take some of the books and really do genre stuff. Make a crime book that Batman isn’t ever going to appear in. Make a romance book for people who like TV drama. Use the massive resources, and be prepared to take the hit. Then we’ll know once and for all if comic ever have a chance of growing again. DC went with the road that said they don’t. They gathered all their ducks and instead aimed for every comic book reader there is, and ever was. They were the target market. If the mythical new reader wants to, they can buy their comics in iTunes, where they’ll find exactly what they’re expecting.

In six months, when this hoopla is faded, and we have a new continuity that has replaced the old continuity, we’ll be sitting in the same boat we were in, possible with a slight shift in market share in DC’s favor, but no real change. They’ll have good books everyone is talking about and bad books that seem to stay alive and good books no one is buying, but it’s going to feel pretty familiar, and we’ll be left pining for that audience that might be out there, but we’ll never know for sure.


  1. Right on. I could barely recommend any of them to my non-comic fan friends.

    • I agree. This was a bit of a squandered opportunity. I admit to being a bit of a Marvel fan (and they have gone down this road), but DC has such a rich history, that is makes me wonder what it will be like on issue 5 of these titles. I admire the idea, but it was done with little risk and lots of instant rewards. Like walking a tight rope, but 2 feet off the ground.

  2. Stop thinking like a mature rational human.

    This was a smash and grab.

    At first I thought they might do something interesting, but now it’s pretty clear what it was all about.

    Hey, it worked on me.

    • There’s nothing wrong with the big hero books, but they missed a big opportunity to diversify their portfolio, which is the only way to keep in the black, as is they are putting all their eggs into the DCU basket. Which as shown before, is a small basket.

    • See this had the opposite effect on me, it turned me off to DC I think I bought 4 titles of the new 52 meaning I dropped about 10 of them. I like the rich history and me personally don’t like the comic world without it.

      Also I did try to get my 12 year old daughter to read the new teen titans she liked it but said why didn’t the cover match the inside? They show a bunch of new characters and you don’t get a hint of them. Her overall review was I liked it but I liked the old one better….

      From the mouth of babes….

  3. Disagree. There are a good number of titles I’d recommend to new readers or younger audiences. While there are mature themes in books like Batman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Grifter, Animal Man, All-Star Western, Birds of Prey and Aquaman, they’re terrific for teenagers on up. As for younger readers, there’s Supergirl, JLI, JL, Blue Beetle, Static Shock, Flash, Action Comics and maybe Superboy. There are also books I didn’t enjoy like Green Arrow that appealed to 11-year old Jack Accampo in the conversations on Fuzzy Typewriter. He’s having a lot of fun with the reboot, and he’s the primary demo.

    • I also think it was completely wise to tie Jonah Hex into the Batman mythos. The Arkham Asylum game is hugely popular with non-readers, so any association with that name and that world seems as inventive a means as possible to hook readers who would’t normally try Jonah Hex.

    • I don’t like Westerns that much and had avoided Jonah Hex for that reason…The Gotham, Urban-ized All Star Western Hex was one of my favorites of the new 52.

    • Please go back and read Jonah Hex prior then. Because it’s just good.

    • @Paul: Yeah, but you’re saying you’d recommend those books to non-comics readers. There are plenty of pre-relaunch (prelaunch?) books I’d also recommend to people like that. The relaunch has not attracted anybody new, of their own accord, so far as I know, which is presumably what DC wanted it to do.

    • @RapidEye: Well I took a break from comics about two years ago and was brought back because of the new 52. And I have friends who have never read Comics that I am looking forward to share these books with.

    • I enjoyed the entire month of the new 52 – trying out DC books and adding favorites to my subscription list. I admire DC for trying this and for the most part, succeed. However, when I read this column, I realized that, yeah, throughout the month, as I went in to get my books, I saw NO cross promotion with DC’s Vertigo and kid lines. This was a 30-day opportunity to connect potential new comic readers with non-mainstream books. For existing readers it would have been easy. If they buy hero books already, they’d see the standard ads for the new 52 books, but nowhere in those ads was a mention of the other lines, not even a line at the bottom of this beautiful pin up-quality ad, no logos, or suggestions (“If you like Detective, try Scalped.” “If you like Demon Knights, try Fables.” Nothing in shop displays either. No “deal” where a reader buying a new 52 could get their choice of a Vertigo or kid book free or cheap or whatever. I don’t know to what extent DC plugged new 52 to mainstream media, but was there anything in their press releases that mentioned their other type of books? Every story I read from USA Today and the like never once said something like, “DC also publishes crime, noir, thriller, fantasy, science fiction, horror…” or ” also publishes kid books based on popular heros and cartoon characters.” THey totally missed the boat. Let’s hope that they work on it, or at least try harder online with digital releases.

    • @RapidEyeMovement: It attracted me, and I’m new to comics. I even started a blog on it called New52ers. Just because new folks aren’t immediately jumping into the online community doesn’t mean they aren’t reading comics. Reading new comics as a new reader and understanding hardcore comic news on sites like this are two different things; I took the plunge to wade through all the stuff I didn’t/don’t understand on iFanboy (years of continuity casually mentioned in articles, lots of names, both of real people and comic characters, that I don’t recognize, just a general understanding in how information is presented that people in communities like this share a pooled knowledge that new readers aren’t going to be a part of inherantly, not that it’s a bad thing), because I really like what I’ve seen from comics and want to know more. Sites like this are awesome for people with the sort of personality type to join online communities, but don’t assume everyone new is going to dive in wholeheartedly and learn everything they can about publishers, creative teams, industry news, and past continuity. That’s all the stuff that intimidates new readers, and it’s not needed to enjoy the New 52.

    • @Paul: There aren’t enough Jack Accampos in the world. I think you’re seeing things through the eyes of what YOU would be reading if you were a teenager these days. In that respect, I’m right there with you. I would have been overjoyed with this selection. But most of the teenagers today don’t have our tastes. And they don’t have dads like Dave to introduce us to this stuff.

  4. yeah i’m kinda amazed they didn’t go after the teen market a bit more as well as making some things that jive a bit more with mainstream TV/Book tastes. Look through that section at a bookstore and see what types of prose books are popular right now especially with teens….i dunno they just missed the mark. There wasn’t much of anything in the new 52 that i could suggest to my wife. She reads A LOT of books, but isn’t very interested in most comics. Its been fun for me, but its not necessarily new for non comics people.

  5. I think Josh is jumping the gun here a bit. Sure the majority of the sales probably came from existing fans, but to say that this stunt didn’t bring any new readers ? I doubt it. Thing is though that most of these new readers won’t show up in your LCS they’re at home with their iPads and getting their collected stuff online or from a bookstore.

    • Sorry for the double post, but I had to add that I doubt we’ll ever see the full effect this has, or hasn’t, had on comics if they keep hiding the digital sales numbers.

    • I am one of them. I have bought 29 of the books so far on my iPad. Also jumped on to the Ultimates reboot as well.

    • If they were having any sort of significance success via digital sales, we’d have heard about it by now. There’d have been a press release. The very fact that we haven’t heard about digital sales numbers means that there’s nothing there to brag about. Digital sales = the same hundred or so guys on all the comics websites chatting amongst themselves and living in a bubble where they think every reader is like them.

      And I’m not anti-digital, by the way. I read digital comics. But I know that very few people are doing the same.

    • The digital market is way bigger than you think. Comixology’s iPad app is in the top 10 grossing iPad apps ahead of angry birds HD even. And that counts in app purchases of course. They are making a lot of money at Comixology, they just won’t tell you how much. you would think DC would be required to put in some numbers in the annual general report though?

  6. @Wally the same here with my wife, she has started to read more comics but she is not interested in the super hero genre

    • she likes the Daniel Clowes stuff i’ve given her…..really likes Hunger Games and Harry Potter, dragon tattoo and all that. I’m sure there is stuff out there, but its work to find it. I think the New 52 should have tried a bit to reach out to the millions that reading some of that stuff and try to bring them in with similar genre’s and styles. But then again you have the Vertigo critics praise vs sales numbers paradox.

  7. Until dc goes $0.99 for comics there is no reason to even really aim for new readers to me as the current 2.99 or 3.99 will get me a HD episode of something great like Breaking bad.

    why even try it?

    this is the great transition era from the direct market as the main source of money for the comics to digital.

    also i feel like most comic book readers talk of new comic book readers like they must have some kind of learning disability, i think wonder woman is a prefect book for a new reader. it feel just like how some people still talk about kids books. Don’t write down to people.

    • Totally agree, $0.99 is the only pricepoint for digital comics.

    • I agree but for a different reason. I’d love to go digital but even at 1.99 it’s cheaper for me to by from my LCS because I get a 35% discount.

    • If comics companies are really serious about hooking new readers, its $0.99 per issue and that’s it. That’s the price that people buy stuff without thinking while surfing around on itunes or whatever else. Somebody who liked the Batman movies with no prior desire to read the comic might give it a “what the hell” and get hooked.

      They are such dinosaurs, especially Marvel who has all this creative talent but can’t seem to hold onto the football

    • @cutty Thank you for the mental image of a dinosaur in a Captain America mask fumbling a football.

    • People realize that almost all new music sells for 1.29 now. We have a long wait until .99 rolls along. I am totally fine with 1.99.

    • Endlessw: 100% agree

    • I am new to comics and am happy to pay 2.99 per issue. It’s not the price that turns people off (at least not wholly, not for a lot of people), it’s the years and years of continuity, massive events, crazy-high issue numbers, etc.

      Two things led me to start reading comics now: the fact that DC relaunched all their titles at once to #1 (huge, because a random number one here or there still takes place in a much larger, confusing world, with stuff like House of M and Blackest Night and these crazy characters coming in out talking about stuff new readers have no idea about), and the day-and-date digital, because I don’t have a local comic book shop, which is something I think a lot of people in the comics community take for granted. Until now, I haven’t had the option of buying comics in any form but trade, and neither has anyone else I know arond here (and, due to the popularity of comic heroes, what with all the mega-hit movies, games like MvC3, popularization of graphic novels, etc, there are a lotta people that could be into comics if they were accessible). Digital is a dream come true for someone who has long wanted to follow comics actively but hasn’t been able to.

      So yeah, the question of ‘why try it’ might still be applicable for people who have long avoided comic shops because of the price, but why it try it for someone who is confused/intimidated by the massive amounts of history and/or simply doesn’t have regular access is quite different, and that question was answered, at least for me, with DC’s relaunch.

      If you want to see how different the perspective is for brand new comic readers, I started a blog called New 52ers. There’s a lot of common-sense knowledge among the community and hobbyists that’s not-so-common-sense to people new to the industry, so hopefully I can help bridge that gap and bring people attracted by the New 52 into communities like iFanboy, to become long-term fans. This community rocks, but it’s still intmidating to people with no comic shop and/or no prior knowledge to bring to the conversation.

    • It costs more than 99 cents to produce a comic. There’s no way they can put out a line of comics for that price and still make money.

      If something costs more than people want to pay for it, that simply means that the industry itself is obsolete.

      People arguing for 99 cent comics need to realize that what they’re really saying is that digial comics, to them, are worth less than what they cost to make. If that’s the case, then what you’re pushing for is the death of the industry.

      You can say that 99 cents is the ideal price, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s like saying that 99 cent gasoline is the ideal price for gas. It’s not going to happen.

    • @froggulper it cost more then $2.99 to produce a HD episode of a One hour television program but that is what they sell it at that and they make money.

      Are you telling me that an one hour television program cost the same as a 22 page comic?

      the cost of producing a comic does not go up huge if you product 100,000 issues or 20,000 issues and if you are still buying comics now you are the super niche hardcore who is still buying at $5.99.

      that why they do it. in the THIS MARKET you need to sell $3.99 to make a profit on a 24 page comic but if comics sold twice what they do now they could make a profit on a lower price.

      Going to $.99 on digital will destroy the current market model you can make a profit if you sell more.

      also dc and marvel sell the comic to diamond at a dollar something. not at $ 2.99 so it already not that far from there Really selling price.

    • There is such a thing as economies of scale. If the audience for comics was bigger, the cost for the product would be lower. The audience for a TV show is much bigger than a comic by many, many times, so the cost is lower per unit.

    • @Josh Flanagan

      but as you are arguing the whole point of this relaunch is to bring in new readers to increase the scale as it were? so take the chance. Amazon has got to be selling the Fire at a lost to push Barnes and noble out of the market. take the chance that you won’t be making a profit now in order to break into a new market.

      dc doesn’t have the support to do that from it’s parent company they are worried that they will piss of the retailers of whom they are dependent upon for most of their sales at the moment.

      i think dc is going to try to have it’s cake and eat it too by putting all trades for sale on the amazon fire for $9.99.

  8. Just tried again to read Superman#1. So torpid. This is *the* book the non-comics readers are likely to buy after hearing a news story about the DC relaunch, and it completely bored me. But… maybe a pre-teen boy would like it? I dunno.

    But at least he wasn’t walking anywhere.

    • Let’s be real the batbooks are what people are going for. It’s easier to go with a guy in black rubber and a cape skulking around rooftops at night, than with a guy wearing brightly colored spandex flying around in full daylight… Or so I’m told….

    • I dunno, I think even the mainstream press was pushing Action Comics far harder than Superman. I’d imagine Action and Justice League would be the biggies for new readers. Plus anything with Batman on it.

    • @Paul: People still tend to go for the book with the name of the character on it. It’s why Snyder was moved from DETECTIVE to BATMAN.

    • See? I loved Superman #1. To me it felt right. It felt as though the writer wasn’t afraid of having more than 10 words on a 2 page splash.

      Compared to Justice League #1, Superman #1 felt like you got your money’s worth.

    • I definitely preferred Superman #1 more than Justice League. One gave me a complete story with enough plot threads left dangling to keep me around for the next issue, while the other felt like the writer was purposefully trying to divide a complete story in to as many issues as possible. If DC is going to get serious about making its books accessible to new readers then decompressed storytelling needs to be thrown out. I’m not saying that multi-issue arcs are a bad thing, but when the very first story told in your big relaunch demands that the buyer come back and pay three more times over the course of as many months? It’s really no wonder that sales are dwindling.

      Justice League #1 and in fact all the first issues of the relaunch should have been one and done accessible stories showcasing their titular characters and concepts, baiting the readers before giving them the hook and allowing the creative teams an extra month or two to better plan the direction that they want their work to take.

    • Mogloth, if you got to the end and were excited about what happens next, that’s great, but not definitely me.

      For my own “comics evangelism” I am going a different route. I discovered Mazzucchelli’s “Asterios Polyp” (http://goo.gl/0mng9) this month, and it was the most amazing comic/graphic novel I’ve read in some time. I just ordered a new copy for loaning out. Highly recommended.

    • @James696 – You hit the nail right on the head man. If there was every a time to shift away from long-form, decompressed storytelling it just past for DC. I loved some of the stories but I am a comic reader and I am coming back next month no matter what. This was a time for one and done stories with a begining, middle and end. Instead we got 52 issues of begining, or in some cases begining of begining. But there is NO WAYJustice League #1 is going to get a non-comics reader to buy the next 5 issues at $3.99 a pop.

    • Anville, for me it isn’t so much What Comes Next. I dont think I put Superman on my pull list, but my LCS owner put it in there for me.

      Superman #1 is all about how the comics should be constructed. To me there was a ton to read here. So, it made me feel like it was worth the price.

      The story was so so to me. But, the way it was put together was what all should/could be.

    • @Mogloth, I agree. I kept checking to make sure it wasn’t a 3.99 book because there was so much to it. It might have seemed a mess and crowded for us usual comic readers, but I realized that in my own case that was mostly just because I was constantly thinking “ok, and how does this tie in to Action, and what’s different about Lois, Jimmy, etc. etc.”. If I was a new reader (and I’m not that old of a single issues reader, only about 6 months, so I think I can have a pretty accurate perspective on this) I feel that I would definitely appreciate the heft of the story, that I was really getting my money’s worth. It laid out a lot of things that will make for a much more interesting Superman than the one we’ve been seeing in the old DCU.

  9. Was there as much diversity in tone and content as theoretically possible? No.

    Was there as much as even comics fans would like? Nu-uh. (Just look at Batman and Dark Knight, each of which feature Arkham break-outs.)

    But was there more on the table in terms of variety than there was just three months ago? It sure feels like it. I think DC was trying to split the difference– hoping for the best but playing it close to the vest in terms of what they thought they could get away with. I don’t think they expected the level of response. That must have been their wildest expectations and then some. And they may live to regret how monotone the new lineup wound up being, especially when it comes to the level of violence depicted in “T” rated books and the overall super-sexualization of female characters.

    None of which offended me personally, but out of the 25 books I picked up this month they all had a lot more in common than they had in contrast.

    The next step for them, hopefully, is to KEEP pushing the envelope in terms of how broad this initiative can go. Broaden the writing bench. Shore up the female characters and creators. Tone down a couple of teen targeted titles and then start bringing in the other genres into the DCU proper.

    Monitor willing, this is just the start.

  10. I disagree. Between Green Arrow, OMAC, Static Shock, Mister Terrific, Superboy, Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightwing, Supergirl, Aquaman, Blackhawks, The Flash, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men and Superman the new 52 has plenty of choice for younger readers. While I have trouble seeing the New 52 as a reboot due to a lot of the old continuity being intact, the majority of the new titles are solid jumping on points for anyone looking to get in to comics.

    • interesting how those are most all B-List characters. You’d think logically they’d take 2 of their biggest icons…..Batman, Superman for starters and make at least ONE teen friendly book with two of the most global icons in the entire comics industry.

      Just make one book for that market with those characters. No less risky than anything else they are doing.

  11. I agree that this program probably didn’t bring in the new readers they wanted, but in terms of grabbing new comic book readers among the current crop, it seems to be a big success. In September, I bought 1 DC book (not counting Justice League.) In october, I bought 12 (counting Justice League.) Of the 12, I will be continuing to read 11 of them for at least the first story arc, and am fully on board for the long haul for about 7 of them, and probably more. So they got a lot more money out of me!

    • It’s not that they didn’t want it, it’s that they didn’t attempt it. You are not a new reader. You are a comic book reader.

    • I know you are talking about DC attempting to get people who don’t read comics at all, but while I am a comic book reader, I wasn’t reading DC Comics. On that level, they succeeded, because without the reboot, I would still be buying 1 DC book a month and not 12.

    • I felt like the new 52 was great for new readers. I have never read a comic until the 1elaunch and am now hooked. I felt most of the titles I grabbed did a good job of reeling me in and felt that I had got my moneys worth as well. Personally I feel like the relaunch worked

  12. Everytime I read articles like this I want to agree. I really do. But the simple fact of the matter is that 99.9% of humanity doesn’t care about comics and never will. The genre thing has been done by countless companies. We have TV properties, video game properties, comics about political figures, romances, crime stories. It doesn’t matter. People don’t care about comics because they are comics not because they haven’t found a story they like. What I mean to say is the medium itself, sequential art stories, hold little appeal in today’s market. For most people its considered outdated. For kids its what their parents read when they were little. For their parents its what they read when they were little. Even if you have a really novel, really awesome comic its still a comic. It would be like trying to sell Mortal Kombat for Sega Genesis to either a kid who can play his XBox360 or a parent who hasn’t played video games in 20 years. Why would they? Yes you’ll get an occasional convert now and then but by and large the number of readers will continue to gradually decline. We have a niche market because of the medium not because of its content. As such the company’s job is to grab as large a percentage of those who participate in the market as possible and if they’re lucky grab a few here and there from related markets – fans of cult TV shows, for example. I hate to be a doomsayer but thats really all they can do at this point.

    • I don’t disagree with you. If they had done it, they probably would have failed.

    • I completely agree with this. The average person on the street has a negative and usually inaccurate view of the comic book medium. The relaunch could at most serve as an entry point for casual readers or those interested in the medium but frustrated by the years of continuity or the lack of a near by comic shop. Those who watch the cookie cutter police procedurals or read trashy romance novels are not going to start picking up comics, even if their genres are represented. In response to the article in general, I view the DC relaunch as overall fairly diverse. Each of the four Batman title provides a different flavor of the character. Action and Superman couldn’t be more different. Red Hood and Catwoman definitely appeal to a similar group of readers that is different from the remainder of the relaunched titles. Teen Titans, Static, Green Arrow, and Blue Beetle are targeted at the younger crowd. Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and Demon Knights couldn’t be more different from the stuff I was reading from DC in the past. Wonder Woman brought in the Greek mythology. Each week I read on various websites drastically different views on the 13 titles released, which signaled not a lack of quality but a diverse line-up of titles. I agree that DC did not hit every genre of comics but DC try to release titles that appealed to different types of readers.

    • “People don’t care about comics because they are comics not because they haven’t found a story they like.”

      That’s really all it comes down to. People who enjoyed the comic book movies will go see the next comic book movie, not pick up the actual comic book. They like movies, not comics.

    • i remembrer in highschool when all the gothy, alterna girls were watching x files and buffy and reading Sandman Comics….that was basically it, but i used to see em all over. Seemed like a pretty successful crossover title.

      They coulda gone after that Teen Romance Vampire Twilight genre with an original or adapted prose book that’s dominating the teen section of an bookstores.

    • I’m not disagreeing, so assuming this DOOM premise is true, where are comics headed? Medieval patronage via Kickstarter to get the next issue of Title XYZ?

      The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more I feel like american super-hero comics lost the plot back in the 80s when a certain cohort of readers (for some reason I’ll leave to the sociologists) failed to cycle out of comics when they turned 15 like all the cohorts before them did.

    • Keep doing what they’re doing. The comic book medium itself may be on the decline but comic book related properties are worth millions via movies, video games, toys, etc. For mega companies like Time Warner and Disney the comics themselves can be justified as being marginally profitable research divisions because the properties they create net them millions in related merchandise. For the indie comics they are by definition niche companies so they don’t need huge profit margins to keep doing what they’re doing. I’m not saying comics are going away. They will go on for quite awhile in one form or another. I’m just saying don’t expect millions of new readers. They don’t exist.

    • @kmob
      People dont care about comics because they dont even know things like walking dead/ preacher/ Bone/ sandman/ criminal/ Locke and key/ the losers/ gravel/ fables/ the sword/ wanted/ etc.. even exist as comics at all. For those i just mentioned that are now in film.. they dont realize that these stories exist in forms superior to their “film” and “tv” versions. That superior form being their original form. Comics in your “99.9 % of american minds”.. is SUPERHEROES. Comics = Superheroes.. to those 99.9%. Comics = a bastard medium to them because of things like the 60’s Batman TV show. Most people dont realize that there are talented batman writers in comics (and bad) just as there are with different portrayals of batman in Hollywood. People watch “the Dark Knight” movie and they think thats the best batman can be.. thats hollywood talent. But we’ve all read batman comics as good as that movie before. (honestly i dont remember when.. ha.. but i have).

      Ive been giving collected edition comics to all kinds of people for the better part of a decade and half of them get hooked. Even my 65 year old mom. (shes a fables and locke and key junkie).

      Stereotypes are the problem here. Thats what human beings do.. they boil everything down to the lowest common denominator. Comics= Superheroes = childish. It never occurs to people that maybee reading crap Romance novels is childish or watching sports so much you could become an ESPN analyst is childish ( i mean i love sports.. but come on why is it an “adult” thing to do .. to blow a whole sunday watching football and perhaps talking about stats. You know the same stats we all talked about when we used to buy packs of baseball and basketball cards.. when we were 12 right? No difference. One is accepted .. and one isnt.

      I love superhero books as much as the next guy but you all have to admit that the top writing talent gravitates towards non superhero books. And those become the most memorable.. at least in my opinion.

      And now getting to this DC relaunch .. ive purchased 20 of the books and read 15 of them so far.. Most are Average. That sucks for new series. Marvel still has most of the writing talent. Granted it seems like DC has some great pencilers… I was impressed most by all star western.. green lantern new guardians.. batgirl..flash.. .. i guess action comics was pretty good. .. Batman was pretty disappointing to me. Anyway the bottom line.. is how do you relaunch and not add 5 or 6 new writing talents??? Get more Abnett/ Lanning.. get some Jason Arron…. maybee get someone like a warren ellis… geez… I liked Johns from years back but to have him and morrison running the show… still? Thats nothing new. Frankly I think T Bedard is the most talented writer of them all.. and thats not saying that much.

      And finally.. the combination of this economy with our ever changing technology .. is limiting what may have been a change of attitude towards comics with the exposure that hollywood has been adding as of late. Unfortunately hollywoods help may have come too little too late cause people dont have the money and or the time they once had. Instead we’re typing comments up on ifanboy or brangelina.com or whatever. I mean borders books just went out of business. Blockbuster video is next…Its not just comics that are suffering… Speaking of which.. if people around the world continue to pirate film/books/ music.. and even comics like they do… we may end up having to do without some of those.. or at least without the quality that we want.

      Oh …. and the Japanese dont think comics are childish.. ha… and in europe comics arent ruled by superheroes.. and are consequently better respected.

  13. I wonder if DC really wimped out of trying for the non-comic book reader as you imply, or if they tried their best and it just didn’t work out that way? I just finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants and she talks about how she was trying to make (and I will grant that I take this assertion with a grain of salt, but still) a mainstream situation comedy and ended up with an edgy, alternative, non-hit fringe comedy show. And no matter how much the show’s creators tried to course-correct to appeal to a mainstream audience, the show had a life of its own and kept re-directing itself to crazytown.

    Also, what would the comic book for a non-comic book reader look like? If you’re aiming that purposefully for a broad audience, aren’t you doomed to end up with a broad product? Isn’t that aiming for the lowest common denominator?

    I haven’t read all of DC’s new #1 comics. Actually, I’ve read exactly one. (I’ll be getting more as soon as my monthly delivery comes through.) But I liked it. And I liked (well, I think I liked) that I saw an ad for that comic on a tv show. I don’t think the problem is with the comics industry. The problem is with the market. Most people don’t know what a comic book is. Or how to enjoy it. And how do you conquer a market that isn’t aware of your product? (Product that, incidentally, has a devoted following?) You advertise.

  14. What’s the alternative? The mainstream comics medium (regardless of publisher) is withering, slowly but surely. Sales numbers are down month after month after month for the large publishers and something has to change if the decline is to be halted (dare we hope for a reversal of fortunes?).

    My LCS reports brand new readers coming into the store to demand sold out copies of Justice League, as well as regulars who have previously shied away from DC dipping a metaphorical toe into the DCU waters.

    Will it work? Will those new readers stick around for issue #6? Or #12? Or #200? Who knows. But this is a bold move and one that every comic reader should hope pays off. Indeed, we all have a vested interest in DC’s reboot – perhaps it’ll be the thing that stays the execution of the funny books we all love.

    • part of the problem is that you can only get most of these comics on a wednesday through an LCS with a pull list ordered months in advance.

      My wife and her mom go to our local bookstores all the time to look for the new buzzable reads. That’s really difficult with comics and the every shrinking non pre-ordred inventory of a lot of shops.

      Is as much the product as it is the system that sells them.

    • @wally I was thinking about this recently when my LCS sold out of a couple of DC #1’s that I wanted to get. I even went to another store to pick up a couple. I heard about ridiculous prices on ebay, talked about how my LCS under-ordered… and then I remembered the other big change the relaunch brought – digital comics.

      It never occurred to me to download one of these to my iPad to read. Maybe it’s because I am just not a digital comic reader, at least not yet. We have owned a Nook for a couple of years, but I only read one book on it, and the experience was… well, better than reading a book on a fucking smartphone, but not as good as a paper book. And let me also clarify that I have 20 years’ experience in the computer industry, much of it dealing directly or indirectly with creating and providing softcopy (digital) documentation on computers. I don’t know if I am a hypocrite or a Luddite when it comes to digital documentation. Maybe I’m too old to make the change, although I have tried digital comics. That just isn’t my preference.

      But with digital comics being available, can it really be said that shops having inventory or selling out is a problem? These issues are available for download whenever and wherever you want.

  15. Working down at my LCS every Wednesday I’ve seen (in our limited microcosm of the greater comics world) what readers new and old are buying. Most of the old readers just stuck with whatever DC books they were already getting, possibly added/replaced a few. New readers or “muggles” or “mundies” as we call them, stuck almost entirely to Batman, Superman, Wonderwoman, Aquaman, and Justice League, with a few straying off the beaten path to try other Superman or Bat-Family titles. So we haven’t been making a huge profit outside many of our Marvel readers trying a hefty chunk of DC books, and the fact that our Box Customers 1-16 all tried all 52 of the #1 issues, but it seems like a gas fire, it’s gonna burn really fast for the first issue, MAYBE the first arc, and then go back to the norm, which isn’t a bad thing, at least it isn’t hurting us. I do agree though, people (including the non-comic readers themselves) really sell the non-comic readers short. It’s not that hard to pick up what’s going on in most of the titles, so long as they don’t have Legion in the titles. And the fact is, most of these characters are known on a very limited and general level to the general public, ie Aquaman lives in the ocean and talks to fish, Superman is an alien and can fly and not get hurt except by rocks, Batman has no powers and is also Christian Bale, you get the point. These characters are not some kind of completely unknown commodity to people, and if they were, even if you DID put a #1 on the issue those people were not going to buy it. This relaunch was absolutely aimed at old readers in part, in other part is was aimed at “new readers” but only those new readers who had previous knowledge of the characters on a rudimentary level.

  16. This is an interesting topic and, frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I want to see the entire first arc on many these before I draw any significant conclusions.

  17. I remember years ago, Marvel was asked about doing a Vertigo type line, and I think Quesada responded that they knew their demographic, and they felt like their brand was best served by focusing on just being a great catalog-in-the-shape-of-a-universe of super-hero characters. I feel like that’s what DC is doing here. They’re pushing into various genres, but they’re doing it all within a branded universe, to maximize use of that.

    In this, I think they’re also very much directing most of their effort toward men, and then splitting that between teens and adult male comics readers. Is this a mistake? Maybe. I dunno. But I definitely feel like Swamp Thing and Animal Man are designed to appeal to people who grew up in the just-pre-Vertigo era, while books like Superboy and Teen Titans are geared to catch tweens and teens, boys who like video games and are looking for something that’s a bit edgy. All the Bat books seem geared toward what’s cool about the Nolan movies — and that makes sense to me.

    They definitely have some big iconic super-hero books, and I think they should — I think books like Flash and Aquaman and Green Lantern need to be accessible while still being straight-up hero books that you can give to a wide range of age groups. That’s DC’s cornerstone.

    But I do think there are a few books that, even if they exist in a super-hero universe, work fairly well for broader audiences. It doesn’t matter if Arkham is in Gotham, the fact is that it’s a psych profiler and a bounter hunter team-up period thriller — I hope they continue to sell it that way. i think that works. I, Vampire seems at home as a gothy horror book, and Grifter and maybe Voodoo could stand alone as action thrillers. Birds of Prey, too, though it’s got much stronger ties to the comic book universe, so I want to see how that plays out. I was one of the few who really enjoyed Deadman in DCU Presents — I felt like it was a very clean “pilot” episode that didn’t depend upon knowledge of the larger universe or the past.

    And then I’m really rooting for Supergirl, which I think could be a fun super-hero book that’s geared toward teens who like books like The Hunger Games. A super-hero book aimed at a slightly different POV.

    I do feel like there’s enough diversity here, while still trying to make use of their cohesive universe. I mean, I think DC could’ve just splintered everything and made a Sci-Fi line, a Romance line, and a Horror line, but… those have traditionally failed, and even Vertigo seems to be dwindling away, so I can see the purpose of trying to maximize the branded universe and their rich catalog of characters.

  18. “They decided against [going after a market of people who didn’t give comics a chance before], probably figuring that it was too unlikely to make them any money. ”

    What disheartens me about this relaunch is that I think DC may be incapable of identifying what is new-reader friendly. I think of the titles that grew and attracted new readership over the last few years, and I think of titles like Batgirl, Red Robin and Power Girl: books with strong titular characters that were primarily self-contained and did not rely heavily on continuity. Unfortunately, many of these book were eliminated from the line. Perhaps some of the new crop will fill that void. I can see titles like Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Superboy fitting the bill. We will see in time, but only a handful of the nu52 fall into this category.

    I think the hardest thing about this relaunch (for all readers) is wading through all the titles. Thank god for sites like this and other comic readers willing to do the heavy lifting of reading and reviewing the books!

    • BATGIRL, RED ROBIN, and POWER GIRL might have been great books but to say that they were “titles that grew and attracted new readership over the last few years” would be inaccurate. They didn’t sell well.

    • I’m inclined to agree here, Powergirl sold well when it was Amanda Conner doing the book, but still only to comic readers. And Batgirl and Red Robin never sold well, at least not at my lcs. The books that sell well to the public generally have the suffix “man” and start with “Bat” “Spider” or “Super” even most of the female readership at our shop avoids titles with female titular characters like the plague, mainly because they feel that they are generally poorly handled, unless Greg Rucka is writing them.

    • @conor: Sorry, that was an inarticulate turn of phrase. I should have said “attracted new readers”. In my experience, I have seen a lot of “new-to-comics” readers gravitate to those books for the reason I was trying to emphasize. I was not trying to say that those books were growing sales. In a world were almost all comics lose sales one month to the next, THAT would have been nothing short of a phenomenon.

  19. I hadn’t thought about this in these terms before now.


    The goal is allegedly to make these books bait for the wily New Reader, but they may have operated under the assumption that the New Reader they could snare already thinks of comics solely in terms of “super hero adventures.” A “comic book movie” conjures one image, and it’s not Ghost World. It’s not even Jonah Hex.

    Or you’re 100% right. I’ve certainly read a few books that were just #719s with #1s on their covers.

  20. The one bit about this relaunch that will have real and lasting impact was DC’s decision do to day & date digital releases. I think as we go forward, and as print releases dwindle, there will be an explosion of formats, leaving behind the “22 page monthy” title. All forms of art are influenced by the medium, be it music on vinyl 45s, paintings on canvas, the format of the novel, etc. Hopefully the real possibilities of being “paperless” will allow for some creative breakthroughs in the near future, as creators start stretching their legs in the new “space”.

    I was just rummaging around for my copy of Scott McCloud’s “Reinventing Comics” (must have loaned it out!) but he covers all this.

  21. A friend of mine whose read comics for years invited me to go to the local comics shop 5 weeks ago. I was a 25 year old male who had never touched a comic, In fact I had trolled this friend of mine for reading them in the past. I’ve always been a heavy reader, but generally stuck to non-fiction exclusively. I figured I’d go in grab a Batman book to appease my buddy and that would be it.

    Long story short, as of this week I’ve set up a file, purchased over 30 of the new 52, Morrison’s entire run on Batman & Robin, The Return of Bruce Wayne mini series, Daredevil 1-3, Captain America 1-3, several Green Lantern trades, bags, boards, a long box, the list goes on. Hell, I’m currently on this site pulling this weeks titles I bought and giving them a rating.

    After seeing how fast I was to drop a ton of money on this “whole comics thing”, two more of my friends who had no previous comic reading experience came along the second week of this month, again with the intentions of “buying a bat-book”. They’ve been back every week since, set up files, and we all look forward to Wednesday.

    If it weren’t for the New 52 I strongly doubt I would had given it a try. Most books I’ve read I’ve enjoyed thoroughly, and the ones that aren’t that “new reader friendly” have made me curious enough to buy a ton of back issues and trade paperbacks.

    So I guess what I’m saying is; it worked on my friends and I hook, line, and sinker. I plan on spending my Wednesdays after work at my local shop for the foreseeable future.

    • Can I ask what it was that so hooked you? You are certainly a new reader, but it still sounds like you had a tangental connection because you had a comic-reading friend. Do you think you would have ever picked up a comic if not to appease him or do you have any insight on what you think would draw in readers with no connections whatsoever? Also, welcome to comics!

    • The original reason I went to the shop was because when it comes to music, books, movies, etc my friend and I have very similar tastes. I trust the guys judgment (for the most part) and he was incredibly excited to have a point where he could get back into the DCU. So I figured, what the hell, ill give it a try. I’m honestly not sure if I would have picked up a comic if I hadn’t gone with my buddy. I listen to a podcast that on occasion discuss comics, so I imagine if anything might have driven me to it would had been that.

      A couple things really hooked me once I picked up that issue of Justice. First, there was just enough information that I wanted to read more, but I didn’t feel totally confused as to what was happening in the current story. I already knew Bruce Wayne/Batman, I however didn’t know what was up with this Green Lantern guy, whose somehow making a team of green firefighters to put out building fires. So, I read more to quench that curiosity. Secondly, I discovered how severely underrated the medium itself really was. I won’t lie, I thought comics were a joke because of the general stereotype they have. Once I saw the art of people like Frazier Irving and J.H. Williams, all that went out the window.

      Probably the most underrated variable in this whole “get new readers to read comics” equation is the comic shop itself. The place I went to blew me away, the owner has known my name ever since the first time I walked in the shop. He’s given me nothing but great recommendations, and introduced me to other regulars who love to talk about what they’ve liked and what they think I should read next. The place isn’t intimidating, the people don’t give you the whole “I know more about comics than you, noob” vibe. My friends and I talk about how it’s easily the best customer service we’ve ever received.

      The thing I would have done if I were in DC’s position is advertise in places they wouldn’t normally advertise, but are loosely attached to comics in some way. Ad’s in things that have that same age and gender demographic of comics like, sports, gaming, alternative music, etc. Let people know that if they liked Batman when they were a kid, or enjoyed the dark knight movies, that they could jump on here and not wait every three years for a movie. They could have very well have done these things, but I never saw them, and it turns out I’m who they were looking for.

    • Really interesting feedback, thanks for sharing. One thing that jumps out to me is the idea that the quality of the comics exceeding your expectations because of a preconceived stereotype. That is what needs to change the most in my opinion. Publishers need to acknowledge and work to change the existing stereotype of what comics are to non comic-readers. Obviously, I have no idea how to go about this, but when you advertise with Jim Lee illustrations of muscley men in bright costumes it will be difficult to point to that and say “see, comics are not what you think they are!” Maybe they need to put full page previews in magazines so someone reading Entertainment Weekly can see JH Williams III in action to change their notion of what they think comics are.

    • if you want to read some Great captain america, i recommend Cap and bucky, its also only 3 issue in (the numbering is just high). Great story, thanks for sharing.

    • Moon Knight, The Mighty Thor and Venom are all still in single-digits (somewhere around #4 to #7).

      Also, I know it’s a ridiculously high number, but you may enjoy Amazing Spider-Man. A good place to jump on is with issue #666, the first Spider-Island issue. There’s a new Spider-Man book coming out soon (Avenging Spider-Man) that you could start with number one. Can’t remember exactly when, but it’s due this fall, iirc.

      It’s good to hear that you’re patronizing a cool store. If you want to save some cash, consider subscribing.

      Welcome to the wonderful world of graphic sequentials.


  22. Couldn’t agree more, Josh. That is in terms of this being entirely aimed at current and lapsed comic book readers. Never once did it feel anything other to me. Not when the books were first previewed, and most certainly not after having read them all. A whole lot of pomp and circumstance over something that was really nothing more than a giant gimmick and cash grab targeted at us lot. This was just one big event. An event masked as something bigger and more important. But at the end of the day, it’s target was the exact same as any event book. Selling more comics to comic book fans.

    Hey, it’s working for now. They got all the industry and current reader buzz in the world. Congrats on that. It’s just that it’s not all that much in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong. DC has scored big time in terms of besting Marvel for a couple months and possibly a bit longer. So I highly doubt they’re too displeased with how things are going. But all the industry talk about going after new readers and growing the target base? Ha. Ha.

    I can’t get too overly indignant, however. Main reason being because even if they went balls out and tried to get that new audience, I don’t see it ever being that successful. Not in today’s market. Not with all the other options people have. Odds are most people who don’t already read comics, aren’t all that intrigued. And even if they were and didn’t know it, good luck getting them to realize or admit it. It’s just a sad state of affairs, IMO. And a sad matter of fact.

    Had DC really gone after that crowd. I mean really gone for it. Odds are they’d have failed and in turn only turned off and angered their current reader base. A reader base that is getting older and fatter by the minute, mind you. One that is dwindling month by month, year by year. And exactly the reason Josh has every right to be disappointed in DC’s “same old, same old” approach. But it is the crowd (however small) that they are currently making their living off of. I’m guessing that’s where the direction they went with came from. They were simply too afraid to lose what little they had, when the odds of getting the crowd they wanted were realistically probably slim. Sucks that comics seem to be stuck in this rut, and that there doesn’t seem to be an obvious choice or direction to get out of it. But hey, that’s how things go sometimes, I guess.

  23. Get 90s creators to do 90s style because they sold so much in the 90s. I think it comes to to this. They hope the 90s kid has now got a decent paying job and still want their 90s books. I hate generalizations, but this one fits for the most part.

  24. Another thing…i kept hearing about how they were going away from the “Writing for the trade” mentality, but every single issue i’ve read is a “to be continued” kinda deal. A nice self contained adventure might have been good as an introduction to characters don’t you think?

    • Unending serial adventures is “not writing for the trade” in this instance.

    • I think, from DC’s POV, more important than a single adventure was the HOOK to get you to NEED the next issue. This still doesn’t mean they’re “writing for the trade” — they could just be writing an ongoing serial adventure, something more akin to, say, 80s-era X-men, where plots ebb and flow and overlap, but each issue ends with some kind of hook to bring you back for the next month. With the digital platform, I think this is probably the wise course… get back to that ongoing serial feel.

    • oops, Josh beat me to it.

    • hmmm good points. I dunno if serial adventures are really reflective of our instant gratification society though. Are 1980s techniques really the best idea for the 21st century? Its an on demand world, not waiting 4 weeks to find out what comes next. It seems to me that one and done’s with loose continuity would be more relevant and appealing these days. People could come and go as they please, but would be hooked by quality. or not. who knows.

      really i’m just playing devil’s advocate on that. I just get this feeling that they are just rearranging things and employing the same formulas and expecting dramatically better results. That never ends well for anything.

    • It’s a good question. I’m not necessarily saying they need to use the SAME techniques as 80s comics — I’m more just point to examples of how comics were at one point serialized and open ended.

      And it’s not only for comics. Soap Operas. TV Shows. I’d say that shows like LOST suggest that you can build a serialized show around a large mythology and mystery that attempts to hook you on a larger arc. But that’s just a storytelling technique, and I’m not sure that changes in an “on-demand” world. People still sat down at watch a weekly show, say, 24 — even though that was a show that wouldn’t wrap up until the 24 episodes were done.

    • yeah i thought of that…but y’know weekly shows and monthly comics…lots more down time in between. Reading vs. Watching. I mean really just throwing out the theoretical. The form of comics in terms of 22-30 pages of serialized story delivered monthly…that’s really a 20th century user experience. I wondering out loud if its still relevant. Maybe its more than Story arcs, Direct Market…maybe its a bigger issue? who knows.

      Its all theoretical for fridays. =)

    • One on hand, I think that there should be more “one and done” stories — some arcs simply seem stretched out to fit the length of the future trade collection. However, for as long as I can remember, I have loved seriel storytelling in general, a taste that I’m sure comes from comic reading. I would hate to see that aspect of comics narrative disappear, and, honestly, I don’t think that it’s going to do so. After all, the publisher does need some hook to get us back in for the next issue . . .

  25. Look, I mean I hate to beat an old horse here, but isn’t one of they keys to growing readership making comics available in places other than comic book stores? That’s where digital comes in obviously, but it is still in it’s infancy and has plenty of issues to work through(pricing, formatting, etc.). Unless DC was ready to start putting floppy issues in Target, Toys R Us, Rite Aid or the supermarket, I think I can understand why it was too great a risk to not go all in trying to get non-comic readers. Frankly, and very sadly, I think a lot of non-comic readers simply don’t like the idea of going into comic shops. Feel free to lambast this post if you disagree, I’m just shooting from the hip here.

  26. I honestly don’t feel they catered to longtime readers at all. The exact opposite in fact. I have been buying DC since the 70’s and while now I am looking at upcoming months where my pull list will NOT be dominated by DC books. Some books, like those in the Batman family or the Green Lantern family were streamlined but kept enough recent continuity to try and appeal to new readers as well as old. But every other book I picked up, outside of those two corners of the DCU, had it’s main characters’ personalities & continuity simultaneous;y wiped and replaced with plastic sex-and violence addicts. This shows no respect whatsoever to the rich history of these modern myths. But, I suppose it will make my wife happy that I’ll be spending less on them going forward. {sigh}

  27. I bought 00 of the new 52 and the ones I got I didn’t think new readers would get it. The books I got were not bad in my, but I just wanted more. I’m a Marvel guy and the guys at the comic book store know it. They told me how the relaunch has brought some new business. This month I bought more DC books than Marvel and I thought that Marvel had better books.

  28. Josh isn’t saying they failed. He’s saying they didn’t actually try hard enough (or at all?) to bring in people who’ve never read a comic before. I can’t really disagree.

    However, I’m not sure there’s an alternative that wouldn’t alienate one demo or the other. I may be overly optimistic, but I’m sure there were many discussions at DC HQ about how to draw in comic virgins while maintaining the loyalty of current readers. Maybe they just couldn’t come up with a viable solution. Can’t say I blame them. Sure, I want comics to grow and stay alive. But I also don’t wanna sit through a year of exposition. Call me crazy. At the end of the day, I don’t really give a rat’s ass about these mythical “new readers”. I care about how my money is spent on my own entertainment.

    It seems like ever since I came back into comics ten years ago, all I’ve heard about is how the industry is dying, and if we don’t get new readers the end is nigh. After ten years of hearing that and not seeing anyone offer or attempt a practical solution, I’m pretty sure it can’t be done. If the Hollywood trend and moves like this relaunch mixed with plenty of advertising can’t do it, nothing can. I know it sounds cynical and defeatist. Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. But in the meantime I’m gonna enjoy my comics guilt-free.

  29. This based on logic and anecdotal evidence, but:

    You are not really going to get a lot of new readers from this New 52. I think they were maybe going for lapsed readers. If the 90s had more readers then they have currently, then you have a significant pool of readers that something like this might get them back into the shops to check out.

    Jonah Hex wasn’t revamped for new readers. It was revamped for comic readers. The one-and-done story doesn’t tap into the obsessiveness of comic buyers like arcs; therefore, I believe, it leads to lower sales.

    Factor in Hex stories that build on the mythos of the Bat world and you have the hook.

    People enjoy good stories even if they are comics.

    Kids love comics.

    This is undeniable.

    However, the current comic market has no idea how to reach these demographics.

    It can be done though. I do it monthly.

  30. It will be interesting when the Diamond numbers come out. We’ll have a whole piece of the puzzle missing, digital downloads, that may effect how successful a title really is.

  31. During this relaunch, I have heard many different opinions of what “new reader” really wants. Usually from hardcore comic book people. I just though I would give my take on it. Before this new 52, I had only read a few trades, and this is the first time I’m trying out issues, since I can do it digitally, otherwise, I would have never done it. I don’t know if this makes me a new reader or not, but I probably would have given up on comics all together if it had not been for this relaunch.
    I have really enjoyed the new 52. I have tried 12-13 of the new issues, and I am probably going to stick with 5-6. Several book, did not assume that you came with the emotional baggage of reading previous issues or superhero comics in general. I had problems with others, but not the reasons that are typically mentioned. For instance, I did find the narrative in Superman #1 annoying and dense, but it actually used that space to get all the introduction to the character and his world, and made me care about a “Superman fights spacething” story, which surprised me. On the other hand, Aquaman was probably much better written, but do they really expect that telling me “Aquaman is not as lame as you think” and “you should care about him because he has daddy issues” (like EVERY superhero) is enough to get me back for next issue? And I have much bigger problems with team books assuming that getting the name and the power of each character into some dialog box is enough to make me care than I have with Batman saying “I am the night”.

  32. What if the goal wasn’t to grab the new reader, but to take a bite out of Marvel and to build an event around the same day digital push? “We’re going digital starting 9/1” isn’t nearly as headline-grabbing as “we’re rebooting everything and by the way it’s digital!” Even a weak reboot will feel fresh to a newcomer, and it’s much less daunting than trying to spot the jumping on point for several series over the course of several months.

  33. Well, I’m a new reader. So, technically I’m a win for DC. A digital win, as it were. But the shiny has worn off now. Three dollars for a comic is just not my thing. And not all the comics I bought went to the zero point that I was hoping,

    So, my perspective is, it was a good move even though it was not drastic enough for me. If they went to the extreme that would’ve made me happy, I’m sure it would have made all the fans that have been paying DC’s bills all these years pretty mad.

    What else could they have done?

  34. I started reading this article but now I’m kind of depressed. Instead, I’ll got talk to my friend Clint, who just started reading DC comics.

  35. I’m going to be buying *fewer* DC titles now. Books that I enjoyed are gone, replaced with a load of crap, in my opinion. I was excited to pick up all the Batman books. Whoops… Detective Comics was the biggest load of horseshit I have read since Spawn/Batman. I didn’t try a *ton* of titles, since most didn’t interest me, but only about half of what I read are keepers. I did enjoy the hell out of OMAC, but my friend Kevin who just recently started reading comics couldn’t understand my enthusiasm, and this is precisely why. He’s a new reader. New readers will be lost about Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again, or Swamp Thing history. Had I not known about Swamp thing already, I would have WTF’ed at that book, and never bought another issue.

    Glad these books sold like gangbusters this month. What’s October going to look like though? Is my LCS going to sell another 80 copies of Justice League #2 on next Wednesday? How long are Mister Terrific, Green Arrow, Savage Hawkman, etc going to last? Are the Legion books going to be here next September? Why are people going to keep reading those unless there is already an emotional tie to that character from pre-relaunch? Hell, Green Arrow is one title I was getting and won’t be now. Reading reviews as the weeks went on showed a definite decline in enthusiasm.

    Where are the all ages/YA books? Sure, Minx failed, but that doesn’t mean new monthly issues will.

    Teen Titans gets revamped into something that one guy who still lives in his mom’s basement, and the place smells like cats, and he still thinks Youngblood is cool would like? Huh? He only torrented the books anyway, fuck that guy. C’mon, he’s like 40 and still watches hentai. Red Hood and Starfire who were awesome gets shuffled into that kind of crap book?

    Marvel is far and away my preferred of the big two, but I would be lying, and a fool if I didn’t give DC credit where credit is due for having some awesome ass characters. DC COULD be humiliating Marvel all around. How are they failing at making a Captain Marvel/Shazam book not appealing to kids? What about Plastic Man? How are they failing at making Plastic Man appealing to kids? DC is blowing Marvel away in the animated department as it is. Advertise with the cartoons, advertise with the toys. I’m a Marvel guy through and through, but when I go to Target or Toys R Us and see the DC action figures, I want them ALL. If someone wants a cut to put the info for Comic Shop Locator on the package, give them the cut. Advertise like it’s the 80’s and we’re watching He-Man all over again. This is the same f’ing problem I have with Sony and EverQuest. “Boohoo, our subscriber base is plummeting”. Well no shit. Last advertisement I saw for EverQuest was three years ago, and that was for a special occasion. Only comic book ad I’ve seen that I can ever recall have been these New 52 TV spots. DC and Marvel both now have huge financial backing. That this is not happening is mind boggling.

    I want so bad for every Wednesday to look like the Wednesday that Action/Detective/etc #1’s did. My store was packed that day. It dwindled as weeks went on, but still a good influx of people. Who knows when I’ll see these people again. The pull boxes they asked for will still be sitting there six months from now, with weeks two, three and fours books sitting there, collection dust, and that money will be tied up or lost for the shop.

    My jaded opinion is that this, overall, is a bust. I hate saying that. I wanted it to be a huge win, but I was skeptical of the whole thing. It seemed so half cocked. Jim Lee and Goeff Johns basically admitted it was half cocked, and that Flashpoint turned into Crisispoint and woohoo reboot. They’ll just Crisis their way out of it again. So goes DC comics. Don’t be idiots. We need you here.

    • I think you’re dismissing a few things there with a sweep of the hand.

      Teen Titans strikes me as very accessible, with a tone that appeals to tweens who might like Young Justice. I have an 11 year old son, and while he hasn’t read TT yet, I think he’ll like it.

      Where are the YA books? I think Blue Beetle, Static Shock, Supergirl, Superboy, and Teen Titans all works well. Keep in mind that YA books today are pretty edgy (thinking The Hunger Games), so these titles would seem to fit to me.

      Having an 11-year-old, it seems to me that DC is getting his attention. I don’t think kids over 10 would really be all that interested in a Plastic Man or a Captain Marvel — at least not as sort of silly, playful, bright heroes as I assume you mean. My son thought Power Rangers was too “kiddie” by the time he was 8. He watches Naruto and Bleach and shows like that — so the stuff that appeals to him is stuff that’s a little edgier, a little melodramatic, stuff that that feels a little over-his-head while tapping into a huge mythology. NOt that my kid is representatie of all kids, but… I think that’s the base that DC is trying to tap.

      NO one, not even DC, expects all 52 titles to survive. The point of the relaunch was to try a bunch of different books, and to see what takes off and what doesn’t. To see if you can grow an audience, or just bring back lapsed readers. It may be a little inside-the-box, but I do think they’ve found some level of variety within the branded universe.

    • @daccampo Having listened to your son the past 4 weeks on Fuzzy Typewriter, I think he is awesome and wish he was representative of all kids. Love to hear updates on if he keeps reading some titles in a few months.

    • @MaxPower — thanks! Yeah, I’ve talked with Paul about doing an epilogue show and checking back in with Jack. He’s still working his way through the massive stack of books I keep handing him, so it may be a week or two away, but I suspect we’ll definitely talk about the books he’s really excited about continuing. 🙂

    • Everyone loves Plastic Man, Dave. EVERYONE!!!!!!

    • I’ll give you this, Timmy. If the guys that do the ADVENTURE TIME show on Cartoon Network, then my son would probably LOVE it. So in that respect, yes, Plastic Man could work as an offbeat, surreal, gonzo super-hero thing.

    • Detective Comics wasn’t any worse than Tony Daniel’s Batman stories. Honestly, I didn’t like the issue but it was better than the last issue of his Batman I read.

  36. I agree with a lot of what you’ve said here. DC really could have taken a risk with some non-superhero comics, and I think that might have driven away and attracked readers in about equal measure. Let’s imagine, for a second, that they did. Some folks are gonna be happy about the books, some aren’t, but they’re still gonna be the same people going into that comic shop, by and large.

    The REAL problem isn’t content, or even accessability (as digital distribution begins to erode that road block). It’s awareness. Comics are never ever going to be a mainstream media format when the only people at they’re advertised to are people already reading them. The stores are never gonna get more business without ads telling people why they should give a shit.

    We want a mainstream audience? Speak the language of mainstream media. Advertise on TV, on buses, IN FRONT of movies, Green Lantern! I mean, these are companies owned by Warner Bros. and Disney, for christ’s sake. If they want these companies to be anything other than IP factories (and they may not…) you’d think they’d at least try to raise awareness in a lasting way.

    Finally, put the comics where they can be impuse purchased! Where parents can bug their parents for a book because Batman is on the front. Honestly, how many of us have bought a DVD on our way out of Target because they’re cheap and they’re right there by the checkout? Put these books out into the world, give them a chance to fly! Don’t just change some outfits and call it a day.

    The books are great, and as you guys are always saying, continuity doesn’t really matter. People will read these books if we stop hiding them.

    • i agree with all your points, even though the reality of of some of those media buys you suggest are flat out impossible.

      Kill the direct market off and sell comics back in normal places again would be an amazing thing. I wish they sold more than Archie and Naruto at my local supermarket.

    • wally i know you have issues with your LCS, but killing the direct market means killing the primary revenue stream. I dont know about Narutos sales but the Archies you see in your supermarket dont make much money for the publisher. While the Archie digests may sell up to 200,000 copies, but thats typically about 40-50% of the print run. More copies are coming back to the publisher than are winding up in consumer hands. Those are huge losses, and when comics were on the newsstand they had the same problem. in the 70’s Spiderman was selling 300,000 copies but shipping 500,000 copies a month. Thats a lot of returns to eat into your profits. And the profit margins are smaller for the publisher in the newsstand system as well. Being outside of the direct market means returnability, which means big losses. Selling 200,000 copies in 2000 direct sales locations is impressive and pure profit. Selling 200,000 copies in 100,000 locations and getting 300,000 copies returned is breaking even at best.

      Casey you have illustrated a great point also. like you said how many of us have bought a DVD or anything really at the checkout line. It’s prime real estate that EVERY product wants to get. It’s not like there are huge open spaces at the register that Target keeps offering to DC, you have to get in a fight for those spots. You mention DVDs, thats a cutthroat business and studios have to bend over backwards with price concessions to get the product there. That’s why you mostly see big studio titles which have huge prints runs so the per unti price is low enough to give target a steep price break. They are also often studio overstock, which means they price to Target is very low. Lastly while we may bitch about the price, comics are cheap. Target can stock 2 facing of a $2.99 comic or they can stock 3 facings of a $20 dvd in the same space. $6 vs $60 which do they choose?. And conisidering the dvd is probably reduced in price to $10, ( $6 vs $30 still 5 times more money) vastly increasing its chances of selling.

      Returnability and price point mean comics will never get the visibility they once had (remember when they had that visibility the comics industry almost collapsed until the non returnable direct market saved it) The only viable alternative is digital because the “shelf space” is virtual and can be continually rotated, and there is not only no returnability to hurt the publisher, but no cost to the retailer, as no money changes hands unless there is a purchase.

    • by that i meant killing of the broken system not the shops. Mostly i think the 3 month pre-ordering as the only way to get most comics, non-returnability and the single distributor monopoly is what is killing the entire industry. I think shops could actually thrive if they had a more friendly system to test inventory. Its so B-list and indie unfriendly. You can’t sell whats not on the shelf.

    • I buy easily 10-20 comics a week, from many publishers and have for years. I have never preordered a comic three months ahead. I didn’t miss a single new 52 comic (i got about 35 in print of them all first prints, then another 6 digitally because it was late at night and i was on my couch when i decided to give them a shot). Maybe I’m lucky and i have access to good comics shops, but to me it sounds like we just need more good comic shops and less bad ones.

  37. Negativity too damn high? 🙁

  38. i don’t understand why everyone is hating on Detective comics so much, also before everyone decides if they want to keep or drop a book from their pull list they should at least stick with the book through the first story arc to see if it is a keeper or not. Many story arcs have an issue or 2 that are so hot but then the other book/s are amazing.

    • Would that we had the bankroll to do so.

    • Yeah but they released 52 new books, many of us went outside of our budgets to try a lot of them. Frankly if the #1 didn’t wow my i’m not coming back for #2. I just don’ t have the money and time for all of them. I’m prob cutting half my pulls just to take my pulls back to normal. I’m looking for more reasons to cut, than to stay on at this point.

      52 in one month wasn’t really the best strategy for sustained readership.

    • @wallythegreenmonster: For you, perhaps. But I think we’re going to find that this strategy worked out quite well for DC.

    • @conor-of course….from what i’m reading with the sellouts and the 100k+ sales and 2nd and 3d printings…thats fantastic while it lasts. If this sustains…if we’re all cool with our pull lists growing, great stuff all around.

      don’t get me wrong… my “keeper list” is a lot bigger than it was before the reboot, so now i have more stuff each week. But y’know thats only gonna last for so long.

    • @wallythegreenmonster “…thats only gonna last for so long” could be said about just about anything. Nothing lasts forever.

    It really is the perfect rebooted #1 for a superhero title—and it is definitely perfect for younger audiences, as well. Not a single one of the New52 books has been as successful for ushering in potential new (young) readers. And it’s been awesome for established, oler readers as well. In my opinion, Bendis is putting on a masters class in what DC should have done with some of their new reboots.

    • It’s a good point.

    • I agree that USM is great, and is better than most of the New 52 books I enjoyed.

      That said, with the way the direct market works — outside of anecdotes from individual retailers or comics reading parents of comics reading kids — I don’t think anyone REALLY knows what’s attracting younger readers. If anything is.

      While I really don’t like doomsaying, I feel that somewhere in the late 80s to mid-90s, comics totally gave up on younger readers in favor of a slightly older cohort of readers (most of us, myself included) who broke the whole “read comics between the ages of 6 and 14, then discover the opposite sex and leave comics for the next generation to find” routine that had been going on for decades.

      It probably wasn’t a conscious decision, but I’m not sure it had to be that way.

      I was at an aviation convention back in July, and could actually see the results of this particular organization’s 20-year strong initiative to encourage kids (particularly girls) to become aviation enthusiasts and/or pilots. Those results were in the form of hundred of attractive, 20-something women enjoying the show with their pilot parents. Some of them were no doubt trophy wives, but still.

      To contrast, I went to a comic convention last weekend, and saw mostly guys a little older than me (I’m 29), a few women (mostly with the dudes) and only a handful of kids.

      Something’s been going wrong for a long time. Can it be fixed? I dunno. Should it be fixed? I dunno that either — 20 years of comic book reading have made it nearly impossible for me to have any kind of outside perspective.

    • If any of us could answer that question, we would. I’ve talked to plenty of folks in comics who can’t.

    • I COMPLETELY agree on Ultimate Comics Spider-man being a fantastic example of how to make an accessible, all-ages super-hero book.

      That said, “Not a single one of the New52 books has been as successful for ushering in potential new (young) readers…”? Whuh? If that’s your subjective opinion… well, okay. But there’s simply not enough data to objectively say what has or hasn’t been successful at capturing young readers at this point.

    • i read an article the other day about a comic called “Pocket God” that’s all ages, based on a kids game, sells for .99 cents and moved 150k+ digital copies in the app store. Most all of us have never heard of it, but its a cartoony kids digital comic that you buy on a digital device. Looking at stuff in the Scholastic catalog side of things…diary of a wimpy kid and so on….

      Kids are reading comics but not necessarily the ones sold in comic shops that we talk about.

    • I liked Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, but I gotta be honest. It’s no better than Justice League #1. Because I don’t make a habit of picking at something’s flaws, it’s not a big deal, but I did find it rather weird that I got to the end of that issue and he wasn’t webslinging. Felt like I was missing half the book.

    • I don’t know if i agree that Ultimate Spiderman reboot is a perfect all ages book….with modern attention spans, i don’t know how well they’d do with the Bendis Decompression style and the “how come spiderman is on the cover but not in the story?” factor.

      Based on the shows and cartoons my nieces and nephews watch i think they would have been bored by it

    • I have a hundred 14-15 year old students who read comics daily.

      They are loving Ultimate Spider-Man and the New 52.

    • @scorpion–really? thats awesome and very encouraging to hear! nice to know kids want to read something longer than a tweet.

    • @Sage The fact that the $4 book contained only 21 pages and 1 demonstration of superpowers irked me at first but I flipped through it again and found something I liked: no ads.

    • My daughter is not into superhero books at all. She, at 11 years old, likes stuff like The Stuff of Legends, the marvel Oz books, and Bone. She is always ordering books from the library that ive never heard of, and introducing me to a lot of great comics.

  40. If I could have only 2 comics, it would be Ultimate Spider-man and Swamp Thing. I am not a new or young reader, but
    Spider-Man appealed to me as a fresh start and I have always liked Swamp Thing.

  41. @Josh, can I just say that I so love that you have a regular column called “What’s Wrong With You?” LOL You have wonderful edge and energy in your writing; even when I don’t agree with some points (rarely of course) it’s always fun to read. Great job.

  42. Good article Josh

    Although i cant disagree with what your saying about Dc possibly not acheieving many new readers with this New 52, i cant help but admit im sure it did wonders for their sales for now and bringing in new Current comic book readers.

    Im guilty of being a prime example of one of your other Whats wrong with you articles in choosing all Marvel comics to read yet this whole idea made me a fan and hopefully continuing reader of at least 10 of these titles. It was a great reason for me to start and although they may have not exactly accomplished what they set out to do, in the bigger picture of things i felt they had some success in gaining me and probably many others as potential buyers of their comics.

  43. Josh… I like these “What’s Wrong With You” articles. I think you do a good job of positioning your opinion with leaving it open for debate. Keep ’em coming.

    With this I think you pointed out the elephant in the room about the entire reboot. While DC may have put on their happy ComicCon face and said, this is in effort to attract new readers, we really needed to take that with a grain of salt. The reboot was really done to attract readers away from the competition. Attracting new fans into any pop culture media is extremely hard. Whether it be books, movies, television, etc. I mean NBC doesn’t create a new quirky sitcom to attract new people to watch TV. They do it to attract viewers away from CBS onto their shows. Not saying that the “new reader” phenomenon doesn’t occur, because obviously we all started somewhere. But the idea that new a huge massive amount of people where suddenly going to run out and buy their first comic book because because they read in Rolling Stone that DC was going back to #1, or saw that commercial on the SYFY, was just a pipe dream that I’m sure DC’s head honchos were aware of and then decided to play it safe. The best they could hope for was that people would give their Marvel books a break to check out what was going on across the isle.

    What DC did worked in that scope. I personally was ready to hang up my comic book habit for a while (i do that from time to time). But the reboot got me to at least hang around for a while. For the last month, every Wednesday I walked into my LCS and was greeted by a wall of “Sold Out” signs. In the three years of going there I’ve never once seen a single sold out sign. But there they were, at least half the DC titles already gone every week.

    As for diversifying the line, I say mission accomplished for now. Would I be picking up any #2’s if it wasn’t for the exciting “Dark” line, or that they sent an old favorite Jonah Hex in a new direction. No, probably not. These titles that are out of the previous DC norm will keep me interested for a while. Yes, there could have been a wider range of genres represented. But remember, this is the DC UNIVERSE. Their SUPERHERO world. Would it have made sense to have a romance book set in this universe? I don’t think so. If we want more drama, romance, teen comedy, or whatever, we probably just have to wait for the inevitable Vertigo reboot 😉

    When it is all said and done, DC had the balls to do what Marvel chickened out with a couple years ago (i.e the Ultimate universe). For now it has worked, but time will tell if it has staying power.

  44. These potential new comic book readers that you speak of don’t exist. When we started reading comics it was because we had a friend or a family member who introduced them to us, or we saw them by chance and gave them a go. That hasn’t all of a sudden changed. We got into comic books by reading comic books that were aimed at comic book readers, and it is possible and likely that others will to.

    Sure, ‘Superman’ may have been a mess, but ‘Action Comics’ #1 was fantastic, as were many of the other #1s that came out.

    As far as there being no ‘all ages books’, I know when I was a kid if I even smelled a hint of ‘all ages’ I was outta there. I wanted to read what the grown ups were reading. That was one of the things that attracted me to comic books at such a young age, the fact that they were a little bit naughty.

    So yeah, I’m not trolling or whatever, but I disagree with your point.

  45. Really good Article! Everyone i know who is interested in the Relaunch is a comic book reader or at least was at some point. Since i started reading comics again i try to recommend the stuff i like to my non-comic fans and the books that get the most love, are the Vertigo ones (Fables, Y, Sandman) which don’t have this “guy in spandex” Appeal to them. DC should have tried to reach that kind of audience with at least 2-3 books, maybe even with a lower price tag.
    But they seem to go after the quick and easy buck, and it sure worked. Even here in Germany (where i’m living) the 52 sell very well and most shops i know of were sold out after few days.
    Keep up the good work.

  46. For me and a few of my friends i tried about 35 of the new 52 some were really good some just not that good. but at the end of the day i am only going to add 2 new DC books that i was not already reading, ( that’s about 6-10 DC titles) Being mainly a Marvel guy i still had fun with the relaunch but it didn’t drastically change my reading patterns.

  47. Huh. Had not really considered the books not being for new readers. I feel like the books are targeted very much at new readers. The overblown and gratuitous dialogue that explains everything is definitely for people who aren’t experienced comic readers. They explain characters, places, events and drug you over the head. I have found it annoying and cumbersome to read and it would typically show a strong lack of trust in the artist, but is really showing a lack of trust in new readers.

  48. Haven’t read USM yet, but if memory serves (it probably doesn’t) wasnt the ultimate line originally used as an “Older Teen” line? Granted I was in Middle School when the ultimate line originally launched and I was way more interested in reading Punisher MAX since my dad would buy the singles for me. If USM is really an all ages title that’s awesome though, there cannot be enough all ages superhero books imo.

  49. Fantastic job, Josh. This was spot on.

  50. well said.

  51. I think it’s important to identify who the hypothetical “new readers” are supposed to be. If they want to get the younger kids reading I think that they need to put them in places that kids actually go to with their parents. I got my first comics as a kid at a pharmacy, grocery store, toy store, and wal-mart, and that’s where they should be putting the comics now. Also, I think we remember the comics we read when we were kids less violent and adult than they actually were. The Uncanny X-men black and white paperback I got from the Book Fair at school had Wolverine slicing up Kierokk, Storm swimming nude and suprising Nightcrawler while Wolvie ogled, and Colossus being run through by Deathbird. The All Star Squadron comic I got at Toy Liquidators had the whole JSA being “murdered” in various horrifying ways (turns out Brainwave was in their minds and it wasn’t really happening). I had no idea what a comic shop was until I was 13, but I had already been reading comics since I was 5, because I could see them, and ask/beg my parents to purchase them. I had all my family members who know absolutely nothing about comics and talk to me about the relaunch. Imagine if they didn’t have to go out of their way to buy these exciting new supehero comics they saw on the TV.
    As for acquiring new adult readers, I think that’s a harder task to accomplish. Even if you publish straight crime, law, romance, medical, or slice of life drama comics, most adults aren’t going to accept these potentially great stories just because of the medium in which they are presented. For “grown ups” I really think word of mouth, or “word of shoving a book in to a friend/relatives hand is one of the few tactics that is successful. I’ve even given trades to friends that have a very hard time reading the books, because they’re just not used to the format and it’s frustrating for them to get started. ” How do you read this?”

    The greatest amount of potential new readers are the kids, and none of the stuff I read as a boy had “kids”, “young’, or “johnny dc” anywhere on the cover. I think I might have been insulted if they did. I totally agree that a lot of these books are not kid friendly(detective, red hood, catwoman for example). However, comics have always been violent., just like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Fools even get sliced up in the Narnia books and movies for heaven’s sake, and they are marketed as kids books.

    • ” If they want to get the younger kids reading I think that they need to put them in places that kids actually go to with their parents. I got my first comics as a kid at a pharmacy, grocery store, toy store, and wal-mart, and that’s where they should be putting the comics now.”

      Agree big time. It’s hard for a 10 year old to convince their parents to take them to a comic book shop that may be 10-15 miles away.

  52. Interesting article. I think it’s borne out of some misguided preconceived notions, though. Getting people that are already reading comics in some other area? What’s that, another 30,000 readers maybe? There’s no way they threw away the amount of money they threw away just for that. They were definitely looking for new readers, though whether or not they got enough to justify the expense remains to be seen.

    As far as making genre material…the more I hear about things like that, the more I realize comics are screwed. If all they have to offer are things that people can already get, but with voice acting, movement and music…why spend $3 a month?

    I do feel they should’ve had more all ages books to offer, though. What’s out now appeals more to children just learning to read rather than 9-12 year olds. We could do with more comics that have “Adventure” in the title, so to speak.

    At any rate, I’m more interested in comics now than I was before all this, but as young as I am (early 20’s), I’m not DC’s target audience. I’ve been reading them since I was eight. And unfortunately I can’t exactly get any friends into comic books since there isn’t a store to be found for miles and miles.

    If DC REALLY wants new readers, besides potential digital sales, what’s necessary is to get comics back into Wal-Mart, and supermarkets. My uncle’s been reading since like 1970, but with no comic shop in town and no comics in Wal-Mart or Kroger, there’s really no way for him to actively give DC or Marvel the money he would have no problem paying them. And he’s not the only person I know like that. Kinda sad, really.

  53. Honestly, I think DC and the comic retailers are fooling themselves right now. There’s no possible way the sales figures of the last month will be sustained. In six months the figures would have returned to their typical place.

    I see it like DC is focusing their attention on the same amount of titles as pre-relaunch. Action Comics, Batman and Justice League are front and centre. DC placed their heavy hitters on those title. Slowly but surely, every other title begins to falter. Superman, Detective Comics, Green Lantern the New Guardians – WTF? And then there are titles which should never have made it into the relaunch, Firestrom, Red Lanterns, Legion Lost. DC is just up to their old trick

    It’s a short term solution.

    I’m not including titles like Animal Man and Swamp Thing. Books of that quality seem to appear from time to time in comics almost due to the strength of will and raw talent of their creators (and are the reason i still read comics) not because of any thought out publishing strategy – maybe that is just me being naive though

  54. Thanks for this article, Josh. I think you hit the nail on the head.

    As an educator and librarian I was keeping my fingers crossed for a wider range of books, but I didn’t really think that I’d get it.

    And I didn’t. I can take some of the titles and add them to the Teen/Adult collections, but I’m pretty sure (I need to check the list again) that I can’t put any of the new 52 with younger kids. Bummer.

    I’ve have no doubt that comics will continue to be published, and with kids in mind. It’s just every other publisher (HaperCollins, Scholastic, etc.) that is jumping on the band wagon, and leaving DC and Marvel behind. That’s a divide that I find increasingly interesting.

    I want floppies to stick around for a good long time, but if DC/Marvel don’t write for anyone except the wallets they already have, is that likely?

  55. I might add that DC relied on the same old people who’ve made the same old comics for decades — Bob Harras, Jim Lee, Dan Didio, Geoff Johns — to re-spin the DC mythos. Why would anyone think these men would be capable of doing something different? When your management is this monolithic, you can’t expect miracles.

    Imagine if they’d handed the keys to “outsiders” like Becky Cloonan or Paul Pope?

  56. Part of the problem with the DCnU is summed up in this article that you posted earlier today, and that’s the fact that DC is using (and reusing… a lot) creators who have been writing/drawing comics for 10, 20, 30+ years. What’s worse, even now, when these creators are already leaving their titles, who do they replace them with? The same people who have been writing/drawing comics for the last 10+ years.

    Now don’t get me wrong! Many of these creators are legends, and I have nothing but the utmost respect for their work, but the whole purpose of this brand new DCnU is supposed to be to get people excited about comics again by telling great, new stories about characters that people love.

    Yet, who do we have telling these “new” stories? People who have been in the comics industry for decades. If these people were telling such great, new stories in the first place, then why weren’t DC comics selling better before the relaunch? How is that going to revitalize the industry? I think the sad reality is that, for many of these creators, their best days may be behind them, but DC insists on putting them on books where they may not be the best fit (Perez writing Superman being the latest example) simply because they’re “big names”… to the relatively few of us who still read and care about comics in the first place.

    Instead of dipping from the same well they’ve been using for decades, a strategy that clearly hasn’t worked, otherwise they wouldn’t have felt compelled to relaunch the entire line, DC needs to focus their efforts on bringing in the BEST talent, not the best-known talent. The best-known talent is great for those of us who grew up reading comics and still love them today (and in some cases, they’re still the best ones for the job), but it’s only the BEST talent that stands a chance of bringing in and, more importantly, retaining new readers to this industry that so desperately needs them.

    • While I don’t completely disagree with the general idea behind what you say, I don’t think what you’ve suggested would entirely work either:

      First, a lot of who they have writing / drawing currently have been under exclusivity contracts for a while, and not using them may be more expensive to them in the long run than asking them to try a reboot of characters and try for a new approach to a character.

      Even if the the exclusive contracts weren’t in place, you’d still be left with DC telling a lot of creators who are still in their prime (10-15 years in the industry hardly means you’re ancient and outdated), that they wont be using them any longer. DC would then start pulling some great but largely unknown creators from other publishers. Marvel would respond by snatching up all the current big name creators that DC had just laid off. DC would then be in a position of starting their relaunch by now having to convince longtime comics readers to stick around not just for new treatments of characters but by creators they’ve never heard of to boot. Most comics readers still have that mentality of sticking with the Big Two, or maybe occasionally dipping into Image or Dark Horse (I confess, I’m still one one of those people). The buzz around the relaunch would then be even more head-scratching…… DC lays off established creators and starts their relaunch with people they’ve never heard of, while Marvel has most of the big name name in the industry.

      This scenario really applies to the current longtime reader of other comics from DC and Marvel…the other side of the coin is that the truly NEW readers they want to attract, don’t even know the names of most established creators, regardless of whether they’ve been around for 10 years or 40 years. Few people outside of established comics fans can even tell you who Stan Lee is, much less who Geoff Johns or Jim Lee is. There are a few exceptions out there where their names in other fields may have brought readers into comics already….names like JMS, Neil Gaiman, Judd Winick, or Brad Meltzer may have brought a few people over from other avenues.

  57. As far as getting a larger share of the pie goes, the number of DC titles I’ll be buying in October will be, at least, twice what I was getting in August. Just this week I picked up, and loved, both an Aquaman & Jonah Hex comic, neither of which I normally would have considered buying. Meanwhile, I still haven’t read an issue of the new Daredevil series, despite a strong interest in doing so. Thus, from this perspective the New 52 worked.

    As for new comics readers? Don’t know. I don’t think that the medium is the problem. My girlfriend had a fondness for R Crumb before I met her, and will devour any of the Boom Muppets books I bring home for her. Yet, I still can’t get her intrigued enough about Unwritten to pick up an issue — though the most recent cover did finally get some positive response from her. This is where the suggestion of broader genres may be relevant. Of course, Winick may be trying just that — more romance and so on — in Catwoman and look what the reaction was? (For the record, my problem with that issue was not the subject but the sleezy way it was rendered). I think that within the confines of “superhero” DC did put out a wide variety of approaches. Should they be looking more outside superheroes. Yes, but was this the place for it? Not sure.

    I remember spending much time browsing through comic racks in grocery stores and such when I was young. In fact, sometimes I would go with my mom on her shopping simply to be able to visit the comics — even after I started frequenting a local comic store regularly. So, yeah, making them more available outside speciality retailers would be super.

    Overall, I think that it’s too soon to tell how well this did or did not work out for DC. Probably end of the year we’ll have a better sense of things . . .

    A Vertigo reboot? As long as they don’t mess with Unwritten . . .

  58. This may have already been covered (I am posting this fresh off reading the article and haven’t read the other posts) but, it seems to me, the main reason for the relaunch was to have a bunch of books starting at #1 to coincide with going day and date digital. I think the digital market was the target and, certainly from my experience, it’s been hugely successful. I’ve had several friends, who are not comic readers, check out the new books on their iPads. And they plan to stick with it. The big appeal for them was the “here’s where I start” factor.

    I would also add that I think there has been a deliberate move on DC’s part away from categorising books. Making a book “All Ages” is a guide for parents. Kids don’t care one way or another. And there’s plenty of books in the relaunch that kids are loving. They’re the books “seasoned” readers rated poorly for simplistic “boring” story lines.

    You won’t find evidence of this online. New readers don’t hang around on comics forums. You won’t even find it in shops. The only place you’ll find it is when your non-comic friends start talking to you about what they’re reading. And the best thing you can do is encourage them. Not tell them why the book they like sucks.

    I think it’s been a resounding success for DC. It’s exciting times.

  59. I agree with the article. I’ve been thinking about this since the relaunch was first announced, worried that after a short term sales boost, sales will return to what they were and long term fans like myself will be stuck in this new universe.
    Hopefully DC can use the “cloaked woman” to revert back to the old universe after the relaunch fails to hook new long-term readers.

    • Out of curiosity (Not a long term DC reader, know most of my history through online reading and forums) what is so different about the new Universe Vs. the Old? I know that some characters have been de-aged, and some origins reworked (Slightly) but is there really a need to go back to the old DCU?

  60. I think that after over 10 years of the Ultimate Universe over at Marvel pulling in more revenue & pretty much having Marvel dominate the comics sales for years (their really awesome & extremely successful film adaptations were a big help as well) finally woke up & tried to give this reboot a shot. Sure they had something similar like All-Star Batman & Superman, but those were on a much smaller scale compared to the new DC reboot. They wanted to make the stakes higher than Marvel did a decade ago by not making changes to a separate universe & keep the old one in tact, but straight up revamp everything. Now, for DC to have the guts to actually pull it off without any delays (so far) is pretty extraordinary & there have been quite a good load of fantastic books coming out that wouldn’t have seen the light of day in the old DCU (Demon Knights for one). I agree with Josh in that it does seem a bit familiar with only a third of the books the new DCU has actually worth checking out each week & really there are very few new reader friendly books out there at all (Flash & Justice League), but is it really all that different to what the Ultimate Universe had promised years ago. Marvel geared that to new readers, but when they realized that all it did was bring back old comic readers then they still considered it a success b/c at least they had that. I think that that’s what DC is trying to do mostly. Having enough press to gain mostly returning readers (albeit a reboot this size there’s bound to be some new readers crossing over) all in the name of sales, which really is the entire point of all reboots in general.

  61. ive read this article and some of the reactions and i think that although i respect your opinion,josh,it doesnt speak for a lot of people when you say that DC didnt shoot for the new reader.i find this polarizing together with your other article regarding too much comics.first of all,yes im a lapsed reader.for more than 15yrs and i was drawn by the allure of starting with #1 issues.but dc managed to convince my wife and some of my friends who never read comics aside from those newspaper strips to try and they liked it.new readers are aboard and they so liked it that they branched out and tried criminal,powers and incognito.but they attributed that zest to DC.i like paul’s reasoning on this subject that focused on the positive side of the “reboot”.you hate superman #1?a lot of people loved it.and new readers at that.you are looking at the glass half empty.

  62. Somebody told me that the DC Reboot was like trying to give yourself a haircut while driving – it’s much easier and more effective to pull over and shave it all off.

    The “softness” of the reboot is my main issue with it – Are we starting from scratch, or aren’t we?

    That said, I’m sticking with Supergirl (in digital), dropping Wonder Woman after one issue, continuing with Batwoman (in floppies) and I’ll see how I feel about the next issue of Aquaman

  63. Is it impossible for comic fans to measure the success of the reboot at attracting new readers?

    I’d love to hear from genuine non comic readers who read a lot of books anyway about how they’re reacting to the reboot.

    • There have been a handful of those on Newsarama and CBR. I’ve found them pretty interesting reads, though they usually go in completely different directions than what even comic fans saying we should go for new readers would ask for.

      For instance, in a large number of “new reader” responses I’ve read, a lot of them have given thumbs up to Green Arrow and Justice League International, two books that have been given anything from a “meh” rating to being down right attacked by longtime fans.

      The truth is, we as comic book fans just don’t think the same as someone who would be a COMPLETELY new reader. We don’t know what they want. We’re making guesses.

  64. The comics industry is eating itself and we’re part of the problem. The big companies are too scared of losing the readers they have to go chasing new ones. In an alternate universe where we could experiment then everyone over the age of 20 would stop reading Marvel and DC superhero comics so they’re forced to make and market them in a way that is designed to attract new kids to the industry. My feeling is they’d end up being entirely digital, same price as downloading a music track, a proper continuity reboot, and feature more interesting and socially diverse characters.

  65. I haven’t read every post so someone may have suggested this, but I keep thinking about what comic books look like to someone who’s never been interested in one before. Then I realised I’d really like to see that. Is it daft of me to wonder what this reboot had looked like to that potential mythical new reader out there through a reality tv series? I’m thinking Revision 3, a title of LCS . . .

  66. Interesting to find this contrarian article after all the positiviy surrounding the relaunch on this site. I know a few people who bought some #1’s that didn’t read comics before and this month was the most fun I’ve had in my 6 years of reading comics.

  67. I think it also has a great deal to do with how well the LCBS did in aggressively going after this opportunity…the one closest to me in NC let you buy all 52 issues for $52….how do you pass that up?! I never bought issues before and just bought trades occasionally. As a result, I am already up to about 30 in my pull list balanced between some of the new DC titlles, marvel and a few others thrown in there…I am sure I will add others as my familiarity grows with different characters. In one fell swoop, wednesday is now my favorite day of the week. Well done Ultimate Comics in Durham.

  68. Ya I would love to comment on the quality of the books, but I live in Sacramento and every GD new 52 book sold out.

  69. Josh, I agree that DC has focused these books at the comic book fan. If they wanted to grow the audience for comic books they might have tried printing some TV-related books, celebrity-based books, romance or funny books. All of these were types of books they’ve done in the past. I don’t think that would work anyway. Besides, if this strategy works so well then why doesn’t Dark Horse or Boom have a bigger market share?

    What about Vertigo? Has that line of books expanded the comic book reading audience or just kept maturing comic fans in the fold as they grow older? It appears to me that many of these books have been redesigned in order to be easily turned into TV or film projects. Grifter, DC Universe Presents, and others seem to be targeted for adaptation into franchises. That might have been part of WB increased interest in this business sector for Time-Warner. This way, they do it with characters they own.

    For me, growing the comics audience base is really an issue of access and value. That means it’s the price, lack of comic book availability at your neighborhood drugstore or other easy access places and the mature tone that keeps most of these book out of the hands of kids. When the market went from any type of store to the Local Comics Shop it built a community for the comic fan but that community was very exclusive and didn’t welcome the Great Unwashed. You had to know your stuff to walk in and hold your own in a conversation. Going to a digital format might help some wealthier kids get comics whenever or wherever, but it will isolate the average fan more and more.

    I was introduced to comics as a kid by an adult who bought me a Flintstones comic because it was a cheap gift they found on their trip to some convenience store. Today, an adult has to go somewhere they are not familiar, to pick a book of questionable moral themes and value, and pay as much as they would for a news or entertainment magazine that has more pages. It doesn’t make sense. It would also help to drop the price on the digital platform.

    • For me, growing the comics audience base is really an issue of access and value. That means it’s the price, lack of comic book availability at your neighborhood drugstore or other easy access places and the mature tone that keeps most of these book out of the hands of kids. When the market went from any type of store to the Local Comics Shop it built a community for the comic fan but that community was very exclusive and didn’t welcome the Great Unwashed. You had to know your stuff to walk in and hold your own in a conversation. Going to a digital format might help some wealthier kids get comics whenever or wherever, but it will isolate the average fan more and more.


    • ya the first comic i ever read…. was a batman comic in 88 or 89.. while my parents and i were road tripping through the western states… they bought it for me in a middle of nowhere conveniance store.. maybee it was a gas station.. i forget… but i loved that comic.. and then i was hooked.

  70. Holy wow, that’s a lot of comments. Which means this one will never get read. But oh, well, I’ll say it anyway – I disagree, Josh. I took no less than three people to my local comic shop (who asked me to go with them, and not vice versa, which was a shocking enough change in itself.) It turns out that they were interested in superhero books but were intimidated by continuity and heard the buzz and wanted to try it out. DC got some new readers this month – not lapsed readers, or shifted Marvel readers, but brand new ones. And it starts with superhero books. Then it’ll move on to other stuff like Vertigo and indie books and whatnot. This was about getting people who might already be predisposed to buying comics to try them, not about seeing if the Desperate Housewives crowd or a man who only reads Louis L’Amour will take a chance on a comic book.

  71. DC’s reboot worked with me, I am geeting 43 out of the 52 titles, before the reboot I was only getting the ba Thetman titles, superman/batman, and teen titans as far as DC ttitles were concerned. There were several titles I had been interested in, but did not know what issue would start a new story arc.

  72. I laugh at how many people in this thread say, “Well it’s worked on me.”

    YOU GUYS ARE COMIC BOOK FANS. You’re proving Josh’s point entirely.

    • Yes, but I was a comic book fan who was NOT buying DC comics. They wanted new readers. I am a new reader.

    • I think you might need a re-read, John. That wasn’t the point.

    • I know what the point was. I 100% agree that they didn’t bring in nearly as many new (non-comic) readers as they wanted. But I think realistically speaking, they weren’t going to do that. The best they could have hoped for was to get comic readers who weren’t reading DC books to give them a try, and in that regard, they succeeded. I get the point of the article. I’m just saying that while they didn’t do the thing you are talking about, they DID do something else, and for the short term at least, it has been successful for them. How long it will last, I have no idea.

    • Well it worked on my wif, she i.s looking forward to Xmas to getting an iPad and reading “my new 52s” as she calls them

  73. Where are the non-superhero-non-traditional comics is what I’ve been thinking for a while now.

    Where is DC’s Walking Dead? Its Promethea? (admittedly superhero but still…non traditional).

    Damn this is how entrenched I am in the current status quo i cant think of any non-conformist books other than these. Thing is I’m not sick of superhero comics….but I feel myself getting there. Or at least I want more. Sure I pick up something indie that you guys recommend now and then and having just got engaged I’m thinking the little hardback book about engagement (I forget the name right now) might be a cute present for my fiancee.

    But why isn’t one of the biggest company’s using this perfect time to launch titles for those who don’t go into comic shops? Books they could potentially put in specific stores-not even bookshops but wedding outlets (using the aforementioned hardback as the example again). They only rebooted characters and timeframe not the company or its output. I wanted books outside of the DCU or at least things that could exist without necessary crossover. Not to say crossover doesnt help show people the fun of superheroes but we shouldn’t have to rely on the same old same old to sell the book. A crime book without Batman is a great way of putting that yearning I have. Something good-set wherever-works on its own merit without cameo novelty.

    I think Marvel with its idea of publishing novels into graphic novel format is clever. It isnt marketed well, they arent sold alongside the writing prose versions however THAT is something DC could have tried. Not how Marvel is doing it but make a thing of it. Fresh original stories by big names and maybe anthologies of short stories by lesser knowns. I’d pick up every single one of those. You start appealing to the literary crowd who otherwise scowl at comics. I know, I do an English degree. They do. I also know however many would pick up an illustrated anthology.

    I’m not saying these are the examples to use, Im not saying I’ve not had two beers tonight and cant think amazingly-that would be a lie. My point is think otuside the box you big, silly companies. If Im a diehard superhero fan and I want fresh meat who do you think you are winning?

    • D/C’s already has the Vertigo imprint for non superhero books… certainly among the pioneers for “non conformist books”. Preacher is the best comic ever. The Sandman isnt far behind. Fables rocks.. Scalped is like the HBO of comics.. Northlanders is great also… I get a big kick out of Izombie as well… and sweet tooth isnt too shabby either (although its a little light on the dialogue for 2.99)… Y the last man was pretty good… I loved the Losers too….. hmm.. Lucifer was pretty good.. and Hellblazer is good /bad/ and ugly…. (i recommend all of hellblazer except the first writers arc.. Jaimie Delano gets too metaphysical for my taste).. You cant go wrong with these books…
      I think D/C has done what you were talking about with All Star Western.. and that military title “men of war”… both non superhero books. hmmm.. i guess the vampire one would be non superhero too?? So 49/52 are superhero books… ha.. I think they could have done 5 or 6 more.. and made them in the DC universe but just about cops or just about sci fi.. or just about something historical…. so they could attract both current and new comic readers. Of course taking the “edge” out of a few wouldnt hurt much either.. However… as a few others have been saying.. and as the article writer also said.. Its most important that Batman/Superman/ and perhaps the Justice league.. shine right now.. because those could be the only books that people pick up. On wednesday (Odin’s day) there was a 40 something woman at my local shop looking at the D/C books by herself (which is odd). She started asking me if im going to “read all those” or “if im just a collector”……. i said “im going to read them”.. it was a larger stack than normal for me cause of this D/C 52 crap. about 20 books instead of my usual 12 or so a week. I had to explain to her what the 52 meant. She was literally looking for the “new number 52 comics”..I said “Its all these number 1’s.. starting over again.. its never happened before”. I asked her if she “buying them for kids”.. and she said shes “looking for herself”… I gathered that maybee she was a speculator… HA….. the speculators are back… The hillarious thing is.. the more speculators… the less the comic will ultimately be worth…. a small spike in prices .. and then a large drop a few years down the road. Oh batman #1? we cant give that away..ha
      OH and bobby.. check out the Luna Brothers.. they rock… and Vertigo man.. Vertigo… Hell anything written by Ennis/ Ellis/ Brubaker/ Abnet and Lanning/ Arron/ Millar/ Hickman/ damb… i know im leaving some out.

    • You’re damn right and Im Im not arguing with any of that. But where was the push for those books. Why not Vertigo publicity? See to me those seem the best books to hook people into comics with and yet they are still the niche, cult status books.

      I do love some of those titles and as a massive Gaiman fan i really need to get into Sandman. I simply couldnt think of them due to it being very late and being full of cider.

      P.S something can never be TOO metaphysical lol

  74. Agree. I could not recommend one book, with confidence, for my 10 year old. I enjoyed the new 52 but it just sucked more money out of the current user base.

    We need expanded availability and appealing titles for kids and youth to bring in new users.

  75. I don’t know exactly how the direct market & Diamond work but it seems like there should be all-ages books sold to supermarkets. Then they could advertise their other books inside. All I know is that I miss comics on spinner racks.

    • My local supermarket has comics, but they are hard to find and usually pretty old. I miss spinner racks too, that were displayed somewhere people could find them, and usually only a coupe of weeks behind the direct market.

      My 9 year old niece decided she wanted some comics a few weeks ago, and my father went to get her some…..and couldn’t find any. That’s part of the problem right there. If kids never see comics, they won’t even know they want them.

  76. This sounds a little bit to me like “Hey, DC, you should have published more new books that won’t sell!”

  77. I have to disagree with Josh in a way…What DC did may not have gotten many “new” readers, but I have it feeling it hooked many fringe readers such as myself. For years I have been a back issue reader. I bought them cheap in back issue bins and small local conventions. I put together runs and kept myself content. I could never bring myself to start buying the new issues due to their price and jumping in to a larger story line. The releaunch’s excitement hooked me in and got me buying new comics (digitally even) as I now feel “part of the community” all starting at #1. So, it worked for me….they’re getting my money now when they weren’t before.

    • I really like what you wrote here. I think there is a valid point that DC made their main stream universe accessible to new readers. Not necessarily people who are brand new to comics but new to DC like me….. for sure.

  78. i asked my comic guy if he had any new pulls started for the reboot and he said yeah about half a dozen or so… this was after 2 weeks of the new 52, hopefully he’ll get a few more. But regardless, 6 or 7 new pulls multiply that by X number of comic shops around America, thats A LOT of fresh eyes.

  79. free comics for under 14s rule in all comic book stores is now in effect per my command!

  80. Great article, Josh.

    I agree with a ton of what you said, and I think you’re reading things correctly.

    But beyond the problem that you’re sensing, I think there’s an even deeper one: the medium of comics itself can’t attract that many new readers. It’s not a content problem (although that’s part of it) so much as a problem with the medium itself. A crime comic not connected to Batman just wouldn’t sell. A romance comic targeted to people who like sitcoms just wouldn’t sell. Tons of mainstream people may like crime stories and comedy tv shows–but they don’t like comics. They would never read them, not even if the type of stories that they like the most were told in comics form. Heck, they don’t even want to read superhero comics even though they go to see superhero films.

    On the other hand, I agree with you in that I really wish DC would have at least TRIED venturing into other genres not connected to the superhero universe. If they were ever going to try that, it should have been now, if only to say “Yeah we tried it.” I really do think it would have been a spectacularly failed venture. But I really wish they would have at least tried it.

  81. To be honest, I’m not sure this is the place to judge how successful the relaunch has been at bringing in new readers. This is a site for comic book fans, run by comic fans, read and supported by comic fans. All of our conversation is going to be based either around what we already know, as already established comic book readers, or on guesswork as to what the “other” folk think of the books.

    Whether or not the relaunch has attracted new comic book fans is something we’ll find out further down the line, as we see new people coming to sites like this and joining in the conversation. For now, we don’t know.

    • True.It would be interesting to see if Ifanboy membership increase because of the new 52 and see how sales of the new 52 go. Not just for this 1st month(alot of curiousity the allure of 1st issues) but 6-9 months down the line when the shine wears off a little.

  82. I have a friend who has never gone to a comic shop (with the intention to buy comics) in her life. She’s well aware of my love of comics, but without telling me or asking my opinion, she went out last week and started a pull bin at my LCS requesting 16 titles. When she finally did tell me, I was shocked and thrilled. We had a long talk last night about she bought, my opinions on what she should stick with and other titles she might enjoy. I recommended she give each of the titles a few issues (unless she absolutely hated it), I was careful not to get too excited or let my own opinions get in the way. She admitted that she probably wasn’t going to stick with all 16 titles, but that these were the ones that caught her eye.

    The point is; she did this entirely on her own. This is a girl who has only read (very few) things loaned to her by myself and other friends, and most of those were things she had seen in film or television (Scott Pilgrim, Walking Dead, etc.). She’s never read a floppy, and she’s never read a superhero comic. Yet her she was talking about the books I read with childlike excitement. It was a beautiful thing. I almost envied her.

    I just wanted to share that experience and point out the fact that this IS happenening. It may be a very small percentage, and I’m sure Josh would argue that she has read a few GNs in the past, but I know the girl and I consider her a new reader. She heard the buzz and got the bug. So maybe DC is bringing in new readers whether they tried to or not.

  83. I think DC’s public stance was “going after bringing in new readers”, but the cynic in me thinks they’d be pleased as punch if all they did was bring in Marvel and lapsed readers.

    I don’t see how one month of an advertising push is going to bring in the holy grail of new readers. I’d like to be proven wrong, but the expanding of the customer base is going to have to happen from the ground up.

  84. Outside of the normal browsing I do online, it appears to me that DC has not done much to advertise. We’ll see, but if anything this relaunch is more of a deep breath for comic book fans, a chance to cleanse the palette, and reboot the superhero archetype in order to give it more relevance moving forward.

    I, for one, have been loving the reboot so far. The characters seem fresh, they are taking new and strange chances with the types of stories they are putting forward, and all of it feels more like a reflection of our times. Gays and puritans alike may have been irked that Batman finally got laid by a woman, but I for one was giddy when I read it. Batman has been chasing psychos for years, and went through a very dark period in his life, and has been due for some hanky panky for some time! And with Catwoman nonetheless, good for him!

    I disagree with this article, and the perspective of any writer who puts forward in such black and white terms their opinion of the stories that others have spent a lot of time and effort into creating. I have read a few of the issues that Josh didnt like, and I found them quite good. If you are going to have such a “this or that” opinion of comic books, I’d like to see you do better. If not, then I suggest you be clear that this is YOUR opinion, because its people like you, who criticize that turns off new readers to comic books when they come to places like this looking for advice on what to read.

    I have been following iFanboy for some time now, and have found that a few times I have ignored a book because someone called it trash, only to find later that I actually enjoyed it. Comic book sites like this need to rethink how they do reviews, because you turn people off to new books by taking such a “my way or the highway” attitude in your critiques. You are the gatekeepers, yo, YOU are the ones who are scaring off new readers. Consider that.

    • Was it unclear in some way that this is my opinion?

      And I take a lot of pride in the fact that we have created new readers and strengthened the love of the medium for people who already read comics. We’ve even kept some people around. We do good work for comics every single day. That shouldn’t be questioned just because you don’t have the same taste as I do.

    • I buy 20-30 comics a month.

      If it wasn’t for iFanboy, I’d buy zero.


      Not a single issue.

      I buy a ton of trades.

      If it wasn’t for iFanboy, I’d buy one to two Alan Moore collections a year.

      The iFanboy trinity are the single most important factor in what I buy next to writers I now respect.

      I heard that DC has television commericials on network TV for the New 52. Not sure if that is true though.

      If so, that is about as expensive as you can get for advertisement.

    • Not that Josh needs my help, but it is my OPINION that he and the rest of the iFanboy crew do a tremendous job maintaining the best comics fan community I’ve ever encountered. They represent a wide range of tastes and critical perspectives, without ever swerving too far into academic elitism or knee-jerk fanboy nerdery. The level of discourse in the comments section is typically highly rational and respectful.

      And DavidCW – are you really going to pull the “I’d like to see you do better Mr. Reviewer!” argument to defend your own opinion of something someone else has reviewed? BO-RING. At least call him a homophobic anti-religious baby-eater or something exciting.

    • Like the others here, I am reading sooo many more great comics now than I would be without Ifanboy. They provided me with a community and a place for discussion which was crucial since I didn’t have any comic reading friends, which I do now because I met someone from this site. Don’t say that they need to say “In my opinion…” before every sentence because that would be boring to read and annoying for them to write. You know it’s their opinion, so you don’t have to except everything they say, I sure don’t, although I feel I subconsciously try out new series after Josh recommends them, not realizing until later. They also have some of the most interesting, and funny articles and commentary out there. It’s not just opinions they are giving, it’s entertainment. While some articles are more serious than others, this should be fun to read. Comics are fun, and we shouldn’t turn every difference of opinion into a fight.

    • By their very definitions, an Editorial, Op-Ed, or Formal Review (most of the content on this site) is the opinion of the writer. Pro-tip: Most everything you’ve ever read on the internet is someone’s opinion. Its all about the grain of salt you take with it.

      Not much advertising? I’ve personally seen DC New 52 spots during NFL games and prime cable placement. Movie Theatres, print ads, PR MSM coverage and viral campaigns….its about 1,000,000 times more than any other comics publisher has done in my lifetime. Its all over the place if you’re tuned in to pop culture.

    • I don’t understand how someone’s review of a book could be interpreted as anything BUT an opinion. I mean if he is analysing something then HE is analysing something. Its just what a review means. I mean it makes no sense to expect anything else or go into it with anyother mind set

  85. I like my DC comics I’ve picked up. I did not always give them 5 stars, but at least they are fun for me to read and enjoy!
    I hope there are quite a few others out there that feel the same way.

  86. Comic books to me are like another thing that i enjoy very much, pro wrestling. They’re niche. A man once said about pro wrestling, for those who love it, no explanation is necessary, and for those that don’t get it, no explanation will do. Pro wrestling will always be for a group of people but never appeal at large to the general public. much like comics, in even in the nineties when it was hot, it was hot for a period and then everyone remembered, oh yeah, this is wrestling, we’re not into this. And as much as they try to rebrand it as Sports Entertainment, and as much as we try to rebrand it as graphic fiction or graphic novels, comic books will always carry that stigma. just like pro wrestling will always carry that stigma. So in a sense, it’s not neccesarily a bad thing to stick to who you know is going to keep coming back. The average desperate housewives or grey’s anatomy fan isn’t going to pick up a romance comic because it’s still a comic. just like the average fight fan isn’t going to tune into monday night raw because it has elements of a fight in it. i think at a certain point you have to accept that your product has it’s fans and that it’s not going to be mainstream, no matter how many superhero movies they make any given summer.

    • While I see your point I heartily disagree. I think comics have the same potential of any storytelling medium it just desperately needs a new view point. It needs new life and to be a thing of its own rather than so entirely dominated by the superhero (which I love btw). I know people who will buy a comic if its something they like from outward mediums and personal sensibilities. Because if they read they read. If they don’t give em something not wordy. That’s the beautiful relationship of books and pictures. I think they can be very limitless in potential. The ifanboy podcast about all-age comics really bought that home for me

  87. DC and Marvel should check out the Japanese manga industry, or just look at image, idw, boom etc etc. The emphasis can’t always be on superhero comics it’s just too much of the same. Anyone looking for how you do a fantastic on-going should check out some great manga like ‘One Piece, Bakuman or Akira’, stories that have a beginning, middle and will eventually have an ending.

  88. Don’t forget too…there may be more sales (digital) if the first issues in October when the digital prices drop….it has been VERY hard for me, but I am delaying my pulls (one per month) by a month to eventually be able to buy them all for the reduced digital price. There may be more like me out there that – financially – can better justify a purchase at 1.99 than 2.99. I know…LCBS offer discounts…but there isn’t one in my town, so the 30 day price reduction is very nice.

    • I bought paper copies for the #1’s but this is my strategy going forward. I hate the idea of waiting the month because the feeling of community and being able to discuss these books on wednesday is a lot of fun, but the budget requires it.

  89. Do you think there is a net gain, or net loss of readers every year? I know we all get the warm fuzzies when we hear about one of these “New Readers” falling in love with the medium, I know I get happy whenever a cute girl comes into my lcs and starts buying fables and I see her week after week getting new fables trades till she’s confortable enough to ask me or any of the other register jockey’s for a suggestion. But on the flip side of that coin, we have our fair share of subscribers throw up their hands and just say “Fuck it!” as well. I’d like to think we’ve garnered more new readers than we’ve lost, but I just don’t know. Thoughts?

    • If sales are any indication, and struggling stores, we’ve definitely been losing readers on the whole. There’s no hard data for that. But you hear about a lot more stores closing and tightening their belts than you do expanding and opening. That’s why it would have been important for DC to go after NEW readers. If they retained a few longer than they would have, or brought some back to the fold, that’s a positive, but the longterm effects are dubious.

    • Josh,
      Please don’t take this personally, as I love iFanboy and your “voice” and attitude are most similar to mine, but I do disagree when you say that it was not worth it. As I mentioned before, the relaunch has totally revitalized and reignited my passion for comics (DC comics in particular).But we must remember, that DC (Warner Bros) is a business and that it is their job to increase readership. While I will agree with you about doubts on how many “new” comic book readers this created, I have a feeling it has created more DC comic book readers. How many True Believers are now picking up more DC books than they did two months ago? Lots more I assume.

      I read other commenters complaining about the new 52’s emphasis on the superhero genre. This confuses me. That is what the “DC Universe” is all about:. A world dominated by superheroes. DC has and DOES branch into non-superhero genres and titles – they call it Vertigo and those are awesome books. But I, like many others, LOVE the world (universe) created in the DC Universe and the figures that populate it. I grew up on them and they are dear to my heart. So, please commenters, remember…some of us love to lose ourseklves in the Universe that these talented artists and writers (and business executives) have created and now are “recreating”. I believe it has reinvigorated the comic world, even if the number of “new” readers is minimal – the fringe readers like myself are now “full-time” and loving it.


    • The piece above was about bringing in “NEW” readers. I’m not disagreeing that they gained new readers who were already reading comics. No one does.

    • As far as the struggling stores go, I know digital has had little effect on that, the numbers of digital vs. print copies are still pitiful according to the numbers from 2010, (but 2011 may be a whole new beast) I honestly think online sales of print copies of books is the bigger threat to small stores, shops like Midtown and tfaw are able to offer hugely reduced prices and attractive incentives that smaller stores just can’t offer. I know personally that our store would be much worse off if not for our Box #1, who buys every DC title and every variant, say what you will about Variants, but they really help recoup diamond orders if the shops have the customers for them.

  90. Geoff Johns: It’s really important to keep expanding the audience and bringing readers in. Obviously. That’s a loaded question, you know the answer to that. It’s yes, it’s super important. I think digital day-and-date helps tremendously. And hopefully the relaunches and the stories that people are trying to make accessible stories again introduce these characters to a new audience. But the hope is people pick them up. I think the key is making it accessible, both in an availability way and also in a story way.

    source: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/01/jla-1-dc-relaunch-jim-lee-geoff-johns/#ixzz1Zfjpq6e3

    Rob Liefeld: “There is a generational opportunity to get new readers,” said artist Rob Liefeld, who is drawing DC’s new “Hawk and Dove” series. “The industry has been stagnant, and it’s the right time to hit the reset button.”

    source: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2011/08/22/dc-comics-exclusive-covers-batman-superman-revamped-heroes-and-digital-will-save-the-day/#/0

    Same article, Dan DiDio talking about needing to bring in new readers: “The walk-in, casual fans have gotten away from us,” DiDio observed. “We are down to just the die-hard buyers.”

    Comic-book stores have become increasingly barren, with sales dropping consistently over the last three years and down an additional 7% so far in 2011.

    Probably should have put that in the piece, but I figured it was a foregone conclusion.

    • Yes, I understand what you are saying, but….dang it, there is just a stigma about comic books and certainly about comic books stores (see Simpsons, etc). This is totally off topic…sorry…but OH for the days when you could get comics at the local convenience store off the spinner rack in the early eighties….why, oh why did they have to change that – THAT was how you got NEW readers – accessibility.

    • They had to change it because people stopped buying them and the market didn’t support them. Comics got too expensive, they became non-returnable, and no one other than comic shops ordered them. Blame the audience, but also blame the publishers for milking them with shitty content for too long.

    • It would be cool if the big 2 each made a digest style, self contained, all ages comic with their A-List heroes that could be sold next to Archie and Naruto in supermarkets…make em returnable. Not an entire line..just one title. See what happens. hook a new generation.

      Its the lack of thinking and coming up with new strategies that is so depressing. You just can’t depend on LCS sales to save the industry.

    • I have seen such things, recently on shelves at convenience marts.

    • well thats pretty cool then. I’ve never seen that yet. Closest i’ve seen is a Naruto manga themed book full of short stories and such. Hope it gets more widespread

  91. I agree that many of the books didn’t make much of an effort to start on fresh ground (Just ask the 2,535 characters in the two Legion books), and overall the books are aimed at an already-reading-comics market. But how could one of the two biggest comic publishers in the world really afford to “take the risk” and simply ignore all of us who love these characters so much? I understand the need for new readers, but I don’t think publishing stories that current readers wouldn’t enjoy would be obviously bad business.

    Also, although there were stories that didn’t work well for new readers, I know personally that many did. I have a friend who is marginally interested in comics (he’s read Watchmen, a few other OGNs, but never singles or trades), and he’s fascinated by all of these new 52 and is always asking me for recommendations on what to read.

    The “reset” line that DC kept feeding us was, in essence, a lie, but it definitely served to get many people onboard who wouldn’t have been otherwise–and I think the majority of these new books have succeeded tremendously, both financially and critically. More pulls than ever? 4 DC picks of the week in a row? I really don’t see how this is so bad. Instead of complaining that the books weren’t meant for non-comic readers, why don’t we make some new comic readers? People who don’t read aren’t going to go into some comic book store they’ve never heard of and pick out a book–we need to be handing these out, spreading the word, telling people that some of the best stories being told are in comics. It’s just as much our job as the comic-reading community as it is the publishers’.

    • By the way: I don’t mean this as an anti-Ifanboy protest. I scrolled up and saw a few angry posts of this nature–I definitely do not agree. Ifanboy was absolutely the biggest motivating factor into getting me into the comic book shop every Wednesday. I went from spending money on trades and OGNs a couple times a month to spending my hard earned bucks on a half dozen comics every week (wait, why am I thanking you? I guess it’s me, not my wallet being appreciative…).

      I just don’t agree with this article, and I whole-heartedly consider the New 52 a rip-roaring success. I’m celebrating! Keep up the great work, and remember, if nobody ever gets mad, then it’s just boring.

    • It’s OK to disagree. I won’t hold it against you.

    • Sorry, last thing: particularly if you have strong opinions on either side of the New 52 debate (but really everyone) ought to take the Nielsen survey on it. Have your opinions directly heard, and you can plug your LCS at the end.


    • i disagree that its the fan’s ” job” to do evangelism for multibillion dollar media empires…especially when they spend almost none of their own money on external advertising. Outside of the MSM new 52 push, comics companies do not spend a lot on advertising, and when they do its in places where only the existing audience can see it.

      If you want to tell a friend about a book, or spend your money on giveaway copies, thats awesome, but i can’t say i agree with the grass-rootsy-ness of your implication that its our “job”.

    • I definitely agree, comic publishers need to start advertising outside of comics. It’s like they work to make sure we stay in our own isolated little part of the universe.

      In the meantime, I’m only saying that as a comic book reader who wants to see comics continue to exist (as I assume you do too), we ought to be telling everyone we know about all this new stuff that they can jump on board with if they’re interested. I’m not saying that you have a duty, I’m just saying you have a vested interest in getting more people interested.

  92. Honestly I am increasingly certain that the problem is with the medium itself. it is not a medium like movies or tv that has mass appeal anymore. Simple.
    And just becasue people enjoy superhero movies doesn’t mean they will enjoy superhero comics, in the same way that people can enjoy detective TV shows and not want to read detective novels becasue they are not that into reading.
    Still, even if they can grow the audience a bit, it can’t hurt, but comics will never again be a mass medium like in the forties.

  93. I prefer the old DCU.

  94. After 200 n some comments you’re bound to be re-stating but wanted to note that the main fault in the logic of this article is that it’s not DC’s job to “save the comic’s industry”. It’s DC’s job to make money for their corporate parent and for their corporate parent to make money for their stockholders. Sad but true. DC is not in the art peddling business.

    DC and Marvel (and especially Disney) have doubled down on the idea of “Legacy Characters”. Inventing characters that are basically unchanging trademarks that you milk for all they are worth, everywhere you can. That would appear to be the corporate strategies. Batman & SpiderMan will exist, even if comics die out.

    “Legacy Characters” occur in other mediums but not to the extent of comics. What percentage of Fiction novels do you think are Legacy Characters versus new, original (albeit derivative) content?

    The anger, it seems, comes from the fact that Marvel and DC are the two largest companies in comics and that their entire business model for the last 20 years relies mostly on Legacy Characters. Therefore the majority of civilians associate comics with super heroes. But DC & Marvel make money this way. So might as well be mad at people for eating McDonalds.

    In modern times more people watch content than read it. Its never going back. So Comics audience will always be shrinking when compared to movies/television or web videos. A person who watches a movie does not translate into a person who reads. However, I see no reason why comic’s audience cannot cannibalize prose fiction’s audience. If people are readers already, there’s no reason why they can’t be comic readers.

    Oh other than the difficulty to obtain materials, fewer choices of content, less scholarly authorship and criticism, societal stigma, and so on and so forth.

  95. If anyone really wants to get into comix as a new reader, I mean really get into em, the they should go back and read any of the thousands of great stories already told in and collected in trade format and buy a cpl new issues off the shelf at the same time then see how they like comix as a whole, cause for me its old and new.

  96. I got three of my friends to go out and buy some books and they are all hooked. They are not even comicbook readers ever at any point and now they are.

    Just Sayin’,


  97. I have a colleague at work who loves the comics, but honestly hasn’t picked up a comic book since pre crisis. So I’m putting him in the “new reader” category. He heard about it from the new and was pretty excited for the re-launch. He told me that he went to the comic book store this past weekend and flipped through Superman #1 and it wasn’t as he thought. His thought he would be getting an origin issue instead of being dropped in mid story. I haven’t stopped collecting since I was 13 (now 36) so something like that wouldn’t phase me. But as a new reader, I can see how that can be off-putting. I told him that Action Comic is the origin story. But how is he going to know that if he is picking up a book cold turkey. It also didn’t help where the store he was at sold a bundle of the new 52 week one at a premium price (which is another issue itself when dealing with a new reader). It makes you wonder, should Grant’s story be in Superman instead of Action Comic? The advertising worked, it brought a new reader into the store. But Superman didn’t sell him. Like other people has said before in their comments on this article, USM #1 did an excellent job with being a true first issue.

    I feel that the super hero stories are the hook that get us to buy our first comic book, but after that we start exploring different areas of the medium – Westerns, Indie and off the wall sci fi books. A launch like this could have positive ripple effects for the whole industry….okay I’m off my soapbox.

  98. I would put myself in the category of “new reader.” The inner 10 year old in this 40 year old had his interest peaked by the big excitement about the DC Comics reboot. When I was a kid, I read DC Comics (except for some X-Men from Marvel) and through a couple periods of my life picked up anthologies of Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and the Justice League. The Batman Arkham Asylum series brought me back because it gave a different perspective and twist into the comic world at the time. I kept interested now and again but maturity (whatever that is defined as) had me ignore comics now and again until a friend would hand me a book that would reawaken me. Recently, that book was the IRREDEEMABLE series from BOOM! And with Waid being one of the creators, looking back over my old books I had in a box, was the reason why. RED SON also gave me a look into another alternate perspective on the superhero, although not as strong as IRREDEEMABLE did. But that is what led up to me jumping on the bandwagon so to speak this month.

    So far The Flash and Batwoman #1s have not disappointed in telling stories and delivering characters I can look forward to reading next month, like an old time serial. I am a little frustrated as a “new reader” though is the turn around time on the subscriptions by mail, but I realize now after asking around that the comic book store should have been my first stop on this. A newbie mistake of course.

    Coming from the “new reader” perspective though has shown me what the true battle is. It isn’t that kids will not be able to dive in and read, IMHO. It is whether adults who left DC Comics and comic books in general will dive back in like me. Sure kids are the future, but the money is really from people like me wanting to share with our kids or just look back into a medium that was part of our childhood. I had to ask myself, “Is subscribing to a comic book series a mid-life crisis or is it looking back an old medium for a way to enjoy potentially really exciting stories?” I obviously answered this question “yes.” But is the general adult population like me? For me I started by picking my tried and true titles that I mentioned above and then looked at reviews and picked up Batwoman and Animal Man to give me something that was a true mature story but with a superhero. I think it will be interesting to see what books drop off and pick up as the months go on and the books show their strength. I hope that its the strong stories and not just the normal names that sell. That will be what shows the true strength or weakness of this reboot for me, the novice.

  99. Correct me if I’m wrong. But all of us here got into comics at one time or another throughout our life (or me, got into it, dropped it, and got back huge and stayed since 2001). And none of us needed some huge move like the “New 52” to get us into comics. There are a million different reasons we all got into reading comic books, i.e. super hero cartoon shows, movies, games, comic events, friends, etc. etc. etc. My point is the “New 52” is just another ONE of those reasons. There is no doubt in my mind that it has brought on some new readers, brought back old readers, and brought over other readers from say Marvel – to try out some of these great NEW books. Bottom line is it is getting people reading, and who can blame DC for that?

  100. Totally disagree with the main point of the article, I think there were bundles of books in the reboot that could quite easily be given to new readers for them to understand and enjoy.

    Especially when you consider that probably 80-90% of people on this site didn’t need to wait for a number 1 book to jump into reading comics. If people can pick up Batman #832 and enjoy it, why wouldn’t they be able to pick up a much more reader friendly Batman #1 and enjoy it?

    Lack of readers is nothing to do with jumping on points, content or anything like that. It’s distribution, delivery, marketing and a change of focus in what people want to do with their free time (comics are going to struggle to pull people from gaming, tv and movies).

    Also, I don’t get the Jonah Hex point either? Tying it to the Batman world is only a crutch for you because you know it contains elements of the Batman world, new readers wouldn’t care about it being set in Gotham and probably wouldn’t know who Amadeus Arkham was. Surely they’d just enjoy the excellent writing and art and the fact it was a continuing story would bring them back for the next issue rather than the (albeit excellent) 1 and done issues that used to be Jonah Hex’s staple.

    Pretty much the only point in the article that I agree with was Superman #1 being a mess. That was the biggest balls up by DC in the reboot.

  101. I’m on the fence you could say. I have enjoyed some of the reboot books, but not many. However, i DO think we’ll be back to the hum drum flim flammery we’re used to in a couple of months if not sooner.

  102. “The genre books, which looked like the most able to convince people that comic books don’t necessarily have to mean superheroes. Yet they all tied back into the shared universe, making sure to appease the existing comic book reader.”

    But here’s the thing DC’s reboot was about pulling all of their comics into a shared universe. If you want comics that are from a wide range of genres and not tied into that Universe, DC publishes and entire imprint just waiting for those readers. Vertigo comics does everything you say you want DC to do. DC Comics right now is about building their universe, tied together, over multiple genres (minus a romance book, mind you). But when talking DC, you cannot discount what vertigo is doing on the other side of the office.

    I realize your article is about DC not doing what you specifically want DC to do for you, but the problem is that they’re doing it. You just are ignoring it.

  103. I prefer DC over Marvel. BOTH companies have convoluted histories and improbably weird plots. (Remember the Spider-Buggy?)

    I’ve been reading comics since 1968, and I will still be reading comics this year, next year, etc. Do I like what DC had done? I would have preferred it to be a true reboot, instead of keeping some large chunks of continuity and dumping others.

    Am I staying with DC? Yes, because I still care for the characters.

    Has DC “sold out”? I would say yes, The new universe seems to be R-rated.

    And for all those who whined about Superman’s red trunks (oh, excuse me, underwear)–they’re gone now, are you happy? Had the world flocked to the comic shops because of that? (And I haven’t heard any complaints about Supergirl’s costume.)

  104. This thread is too goddam long. Josh, you are absolutely correct.

  105. All of us on this site can easily see DC’s “pull back in old readers approach” based upon the fact that many of us are already appreciators of the medium. It’s also funny how nobody on this site would be able to properly define a comic that is accessible to non-comics readers for the same reason.

    I bought around 35 new DC titles and I left a stack of them by my girlfriends side of the bed and asked her to check them out and tell me what she honestly thought. My GF has never not read a comic book, but she is certainly not a reader even close to the level that many of us are. Every once in a while she’ll read something, but even if she likes it that doesn’t drive her consume everything within my ample selection. Her enjoyment in reading Persepolis and Top 10 don’t translate to wanting to read stapled comics from the comic book store every week and those stories will often hold her over for months until she randomly takes the time to experience another comic book.

    My GF didn’t read all of the 52s I bought, and why would she? Why would anybody who isn’t already hosting a comics podcast do that to themselves? It is also important to note that she didn’t go to the store or online to try any of these out on her own accord. My nerdiness made them available and she graciously humored me because I honestly wanted to see if DC was able to connect to her. Her opinion, i felt, was way more important than mine. I was already on board. People like her is what DC was claiming to appeal to.

    I would say that she read around ten of them. I asked her not which ones she thought were good, but which ones is she the most excited about reading the next issue of. She picked 3 of them.

    1. Animal Man – Her favorite. She said “I didn’t expect to read something like that from a comic with ‘DC’ on the cover.”
    2. Aquaman – The reference of Aquaman as a cultural joke can be grasped by anyone who doesn’t read comics. Acknowledging that within the pages, while at the same time showing Aquaman as capable and heroic, really resonated with her.
    3. Action Comics – She said “I have never seen a superman like that before”.

    Her opinions may not come close to answering the question of what draws in new readers. But to me, there is a fragment of the answer in there somewhere. I don’t think it really has anything to do with these being super-hero books. She has no deeper connection with that type of comic than she does any other. If anything her checking out these types of books is more me than her. It doesn’t answer the question of what gets new consumers to take that chance, but I think it sheds a little light on what can connect to a new reader.

    • The best comics youve shown to your girlfriend are top 10 and persepolis? No wonder shes not hooked! Try some classic Vertigo geez!.. Ill admit i havent read persepolis although i know where perspolis is and ive heard of the comic… and Top 10 was good.. …. but Top 10 dealt with superpowers as much as most marvel and DC books do. Can you say fables/Izombie/Sandman/Preacher maybee? And how do you know that nobody on this site can properly define whats accessible to new readers? Ive seen what works and what doesnt work with people that have no comic interest.. thats half the battle. Superheroes dont work most of the time. I say again the words “Comic book” do not have to mean Superpowered human story… Most people could give a crap about that.. not to mention 90% of women.

    • @iroberts007 The house is loaded with all types of comics from all genres. I recommend cool things all the time that have nothing to do capes. But it is on her to read them. I can’t expect her to be as obsessed with them as I am. She is her own person, and while she recognizes comics to be as viable a mode of expression as any other, she ultimately is going to prioritize her own interests before dabbling in mine.

      I’ve pointed to her Preacher and someday she will get to it. She actually read Sandman a few years ago and enjoyed it. The DC 52 was something that DC set as a way to draw in these “new” readers, or so they claimed. To this kind of stuff my gf is a new reader more so than any genre. I just wanted her opinion to see how well DCs “attempts” fared with brand new readers, because we don’t know. We’re too inside this universe, and that universe includes your good examples (we have 4 out of 5 of your listed examples in our home). Superhero comics are dominant in the field, most people who bother actually do give a crap about that. That doesn’t mean all other genres ceased to exist. Whether it is about superheroes, horror, westerns, noir, or cartoons it is all one big industry that has reflected to its audience for a very long time.

      Ultimately the consumer makes the choice, and it is all too often that the consumer gives way less of a shit than we do. I believe there is a comic out there for everybody, but that doesn’t mean those people will go to the shops the way we do. We’re too inside to understand. The options are always out there. That isn’t the problem. The only hope is that if you make comics, just keep making comics.

    • Ya.. i was saying that most human beings dont care about superheroes. As for your response,, the small percentage of that human population that is the american comic reader loves superheroes. I love superheroes. In Japan and in Europe comics featuring superheros are few and far between.. and its better for those sales because of it. And they also maintain greater respect because of it. Garth Ennis was saying recently that he wished that Alan Moore hadnt written Watchmen and revived the superhero in america for the 80’s and beyond… because now.. its all about superheroes.. Thats 80% of the market. To the man on the street.. that 80% seems more like 100%. Its killing the longevity of the industry.
      Having said all that.. I bet you my Marvel collection is bigger than your Marvel collection (joke).