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Monday, January 02, 2012 

Nashua Telegraph sugarcoats DC relaunch

In this Nashua Telegraph article, they fawn over DC's relaunch, calling it the story of the year:
As we look back on 2011, there is little doubt what comic-book story was #1: DC’s re-launch of its entire superhero universe in September.

Even in retrospect it’s hard to believe they did it. Never before has any publisher – perhaps any business – canceled its major product line and started it over from scratch. Especially when you consider that “Detective Comics” – for which DC Comics took its name – had an unbroken run back to 1937, and that “Action Comics” had the highest numbering of any current American comic book (#904). Those little pieces of history are now gone, as even those two venerable books were re-started at #1 in September.
Oh, it's not so hard to believe they did it at all. Anything for the sake of sales and publicity, that's what both DC and Marvel are all about today. But all from scratch? That's an exaggeration, I'm afraid. The recent continuities of Batman and Green Lantern, for example, have remained in place.
You can imagine the sheer hysteria that gripped comics fandom when “The New 52” titles were announced in May. We fans couldn’t comprehend why DC would take such a risky step. We absolutely freaked out. “What was DC afraid of?” we wailed, for we were certain that only the threat of imminent demise could force such a move. Was digital destroying the print market? Had Warner Bros. given its comic-book arm an ultimatum? Was this the last gasp of a dying industry? Since nobody believed DC’s official reasons for doing it – vague, unconvincing corporate-speak that I have already forgotten – the rumors ran wild.

And it worked.

All of The New 52 titles sold out in September, and DC was #1 with a bullet. In October, it was a rout: DC’s share of dollar sales was 13 percent higher than arch-rival Marvel’s, and DC had 51 percent of the entire industry in units sold!

Best of all, the rising tide has begun lifting all boats. DC may be enjoying the lion’s share of the market pie, but their wild gamble has also made it a bigger pie for everyone. Sales of comics are up across the board, putting a lot of grateful comic shops thoroughly in the black.
But for how long? 200,000 for Justice League is far from a whopping sales number, and those numbers have since begun their not too surprising decline, as it becomes apparent that this is just more publicity stunt material with more editorial mandate involved than genuine urge to entertain anyone. The article doesn't even give any clear numbers of sales, nor does it tell if said sales numbers are even holding steady.

And telling everybody that the audience was in the throes of hysteria sounds insulting and sensationalistic, and trivializes any legitimate troubles they may have with these steps. As it so happens, we do understand why DC was taking such a risky step - to serve as a survival tactic for Dan DiDio, who's still basically in charge even after Bob Harras took over his EIC position.

At the end of the article, it says:
One last big story is the huge growth of digital comics in 2011. All of the major publishers are moving to same-day release of print and digital comics, with Marvel bringing up the rear in February 2012. This may turn out to be the biggest story of 2011 in the end, but for now all we can say is “to be continued.”
And that may soon have to be changed to "concluded", when sales of printed books slump down again. That aside, if DC's downplay of digital products is any suggestion, digital items aren't making waves as big as the mainstream press must want us to think.

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Andrew A. Smith aka Captain Comics sugarcoats everything about the comic industry these days. He (and so many other comics "reporters" in the MSM) never have the guts to ask tough questions, such as why a reboot was necessary in the first place. Or why we're bombarded by endless, repetitive crossovers.

CP

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