What's DC Doing Wrong?

Kirk Warren wrote a great article that's up at the Weekly Crisis regarding his ideas on why DC's falling farther behind Marvel in its sales, and supporting thoughts from readers that commented on a previous query he put out there about this topic. He tackles the issue from a bunch of different, interesting angles--their marketing, public relations, continuity, lack of new blood and more--in an excellently well thought out manner. I especially like it because it isn't marked with the bias that's usually found when people tackle this topic.

Hop on over
, give it a read and then chime on in.


Dr. Zoltar said...

That article was great and spot on. I hope DC is listening. They really need to do some damage control now.

Arkonbey said...

That was a great article; more critique than condemnation. DC should listen.

My two cents on DC (and Marvel to an extent). Stop leaning on your 'heavy' characters (supes, bats, wonder); it limits creativity.

The fact that Superman is NOT in the public domain now shows that DC is loathe to try something really new. I'm not saying hit the B-List (Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman), I think DC should take real risks, try new things (I won't say New Universe as that has terrible implications), don't keep rehashing. Try a new hero, in a new city or planet and don't connect it to any current DC story. (here's a thought, how about a powerful, gritty, naturalistic female hero? ).

Soon it will be too late to do anything, why not risk now?

John said...

There were some good points, but a lot of it was still aimed at hard core fans (like everybody who reads this blog) who pay attention to web presence and editor's blogs and the like. For people like us, Didio's lack of presence is noticeable. For the regular buyer, they don't really care.

The ability to sell comics all boils down to quality. Quality can mean many things: art quality, writing quality, character quality, but it all boils down to whether you're selling a book that people enjoy or not.

Currently, DC just isn't creating a lot of quality work. Trinity is mediocre, JLA is consistently inaccessible to newcomers, Batman (as mentioned) is being pulled 8 different ways, and the constant barrage of events create a barrier to the guy who just wants to pick up an issue of something and just understand it.

Dr. Zoltar said...

I totally agree with the lack of quality. DC needs to pair down its current titles and do a regroup of what they have. I love me my Superman, but lately that title has sucked. I love me my Legion of Superheroes, but dropped the latest version as I didn't like it. I love me my JLA, but now (as quoted in the article) they come off as JLA Detroit.

DC needs to go back to less titles and more solid writing. Right now the DC universe as a whole comes off as a jumbled mess of many people's ideas. Maybe DiDio needs to hire a "think tank" of DC comic lovers to come up with some top notch ideas to get things back on track.

There has been some solid writing in the past they can learn from: The current GL storyline, Morrison's Seven Soldiers, Robinson's Starman, Morrison's JLA, the Linda Danvers Supergirl, etc.

Ferretnick said...

It is a very well thought out and presented topic.
However, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to DC.

I don't read a lot of their titles so continuity between books isn't a real issue for me. Also, I just kind of 'go with the flow' from issue to issue. I haven't been overwhelmed by tremendous storytelling, but I've been entertained (mostly).
Of those books that I was dissapointed in, I've dropped them.

Green Lantern has been a continuous good read. All-Star Batman (and Superman) is okay. I don't hate them.
I'm not a fan of Grant Morrison typically but every now and then he presents a pretty jewel that makes me go "yeah, that was good'.

Maybe Marvel is doing better marketing, fan-interaction, etc... but they probably just have a better PR person.

It's unfortunate for both companies. If we as fans aren't happy with them, how do they expect to draw in new readers when we don't want to recommend their books?
I'm finding that my favorite books are all indpendents now and and I rarely get excited about either a DC or Marvel comic anymore.

John said...

So, there's a disconnect here that we should all be aware of. There's the push to have DC make better comics for its existing fans, and a push to make better comics for people who don't read comics.

Those paths are completely different. If DC makes better comics for its current readers, they have to continue to concentrate on continuity (CCC!), make sure that the subject material is sufficiently mature for its aging core audience, continuing to let their characters evolve (they get married, they die, they get replaced), and do a lot of crossovers to make sure the DC universe feels like a universe and not a bunch of parallel dimensions.
This makes DC comics harder for the casual market to get in to.

For the casual market, they need to concentrate on more one-shots, less on continuity. Their characters need to be more static and unchanging. Crossovers are less human and more like marketing for an underselling comic. The stories are less mature, and you should be able to pick up a comic at random and instantly feel like you know the character and what the plot's all about. There shouldn't be anymore "writing for the trade."

I don't know about you guys, but I first started buying comics at the grocery store when I was a kid. Comics cost 25 cents, which was something I could afford. I could miss an issue of Spider-Man, come back to the series and not realize I had missed an issue. You can no longer do any of those things.

DC has a choice to make: it seems to me they are trying to make both paths work and are failing. Do they go after the huge, untapped market, or the guys who spent their savings on going to the San Diego Comicon this week?

Girl Friday said...

You all should've commented on Kirk's post. ;P

@Dr Z: They need SOMETHING, definitely.

@A: Oh, man, I think they should hit the B-List, because hey, the B-List imo, is where it's at. Blue Beetle? Fucking awesome. Remember when GA and Aquaman were awesome?

But I agree on the New Hero idea too--unconnected. I don't know, something. Try an Ultimates universe, without Elseworlding the characters. New blood is a must too and if you ask me, they completely missed the Jason Aaron boat.

@FN: You're reading the awesome titles, that's why. How cracked-out delicious is All-Star Batman and Robin the Kidnapped Wonder?

Marvel IS doing better marketing, interaction and hype. Hey, I might not like Joe Q, but I know that I'd be wooed by his charm if I sat down at a panel and listen to him--he's one of those guys.

John: JLA is beyond inaccessible--as a non-newcomer, I even get lost. Or maybe just apathetic.

The regular buyer may not care, but here's what conclusion I've come to after reading the comments and letting it all percolate for a few days:

Regular buyers aren't the people bringing in new, loyal customers. It's the hardcore fans. The ones that take their savings down to SDCC and spend four hours in line are the ones that are going to shove a classic trade at a buddy and go, "Man, you have GOT to read this."

As much as we like to joke about the typical geek, most hardcore fans aren't that. They have friends, they have coworkers and they'll spread the word faster than any movie would.

We saw a dramatic increase of Iron Man sales right after the movie came out and everyone was in love with it. And, two months later, there was just a dramatic decrease. But I've watched a newcomer head into The Stop with a friend, just because he was along for the ride, become a regular.

I think the huge, untapped market is far more likely to pick up an indie trade than anything from Marvel or DC that isn't a self-contained entity--Marvel Zombies and Kingdom Come are the first that comes to mind for this.

What DC needs to do is attach the current readers firmly, and then do a 'bring your friend' party.

Oracle_Batgirl said...

good posts by all. And I did stroll over to Mr.Warren's blog and comment. Thank you for providing the linkage. :)