On Tuesday, DC Comics announced that on Wednesday, Aug. 31, they’re going to do a hard reset on their entire DC Universe line of books – 52 series, all reverting back to Issue #1, with everything in their library being available digitally the same day as the print version. You can read DC’s complete announcement on their blog, The Source.
In comic book circles, this is the definitive Really Big Deal (TM).
I’ve never been more than a casual DC reader. Even during the few years that I was a pretty hardcore comic book collector ($50-$75 a week back when books were a buck and a quarter), I didn’t dabble in DC much beyond keeping up with a variety of Batman books. Even now that I’ve dipped my toes back into the waters as a regular on about 6-8 things a month, I still find I’m sticking to old habits — licensed stuff from toys I loved as a kid, like G.I. Joe and Transformers, and Marvel hero books (although whereas in my previous life as a comic collector I was primarily into Marvel’s mutant books, X-Men, etc., this time around I’m pretty Avengers focused – Thor, Iron Man, Capt. America, etc.). The only DC book I pick up at all is Birds of Prey, and that’s mostly because I like the writer.
Comics is a very different beast than it was 20 years ago when I was into it. There are a comparatively insignificant number of active, regular readers of books compared to what there used to be, and it seems to me like there are significantly more titles released every month. Marvel and DC combine to publish about 200 comics a month, which is just an avalanche of material; the biggest stumbling block I faced when wanting to get back into a few things was “where the heck do I start?”
Plus, I love digital comics; I could care less about collectability any more, I mostly just want to read the stories and look at the art. I’ve got a bunch of comics on my iPad, and I love reading comics on it. Sitting on my bed in the dark flipping through pages on my iPad is great. But, up until now, very few things have been released digitally the same day as they came out in print, so if you wanted to follow a particular story I had to wait for a month or more for it to show up digitally. So what happened was, rather than wait, I just didn’t bother.
What DC’s doing with this August relaunch seems to be exactly the way I’d want to collect, though. Comics available in print for certain things that I would have an interest in buying and keeping and having on paper (and, to be sure, there are certainly going to be things like that). But, having the ability to just open up an app and tap a button to buy a comic digitally the same day it’s on the shelves is going to lead to a lot more purchases, I can guarantee that. Our comic shop in Bemidji is *small*. They put out maybe 20 comics a week, total; if you don’t tell them in advance you want a certain thing so they can order it for you and set it aside for you to buy, you may never see it.
Now, I don’t even have to bother with that. I’ll continue to have them pull a few things for me, because I want to support the shop and some things I just want to have the paper version of. But with what DC is doing, if a book that I haven’t given any previous thought to looks interesting, I can just pick up my iPad and push a button and get it. Immediate delivery, no storage issues with ever-expanding piles of comics, no “damn, I didn’t pre-order and they sold out but I want to read it, so now what?”dilemmas. Just open an app and get it.
What DC is doing is exactly how I want to collect. Hopefully the implementation is smooth and, ultimately, the stories are good enough that I’m compelled to want to read them. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but on paper this is something that I really want to see myself being on board with.
The great thing about what DC is doing is that I hope it forces Marvel to follow suit. That can only be a great thing for readers and collectors alike.