Friday, July 18, 2008

DC Doesn't Get It

You've all heard me bemoaning the lack of any kind of availability of DC's archives in a cheap and friendly digital form. No matter what the drawbacks of Marvel's current formats, they sure as hell beat NOTHING. Which is what DC had.

Well, no more. Earlier this week, Warner Bros Digital Distribution announced this:

Wow. Talk about ridiculously underwhelming.

Instead of giving us what we want--just the comics, man--Warner is going to tart them up with narration and "motion." And charge us $1.99 per issue for the privilege.

No, I'm not making this up.

On the GIT Corp DVD-ROMs, we got 500+ comics for less than 50 bucks. Complete runs of Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, etc.

Even Marvel's forthcoming DVD releases are giving us 50 issues for 50 bucks.

And you can. if you choose, subscribe to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited online, and for a monthly fee have access to 27,000+ back issues, all you can read.

Again, you can quibble with Marvel's formats. But lordy, DC, you're making them look good. $1.99 per? Downloads for my phone (if I happen to have Verizon with VCast)? Relatively recent releases that almost everyone who cares to already has? With the craptacular "subtle motion" of panning a camera over a panel and using computers to move figures around? With one guy doing ALL of the voices??

Listen carefully, DC (or Warner...DC is mentioned just once in the whole press release!). You have in your possession the largest, most valuable store of comic archives in the world. And you're just sitting on them, releasing them in ridiculous teensy drabs, while Marvel is freaking eating your lunch. You're getting shut out of a growing market, a huge potential source of income, not to mention a way to attract new, younger fans. How many of your readers have never read a Golden Age JSA or Flash story, and don't want to spend $50 on an Archive? You want to attract new Legion readers? Don't just publish another randomly selected "Legion's Greatest Hits" trade...that's not the best way to hook people. They need to follow the month to month relationships and soap operas. Make 'em available on a cheap DVD set.

Use those archives, DC. Get creative. Find a way to use them that Marvel is missing out on. Can you imagine what the readership would be for an online reprinting of all the stories Grant Morrison is referencing in R.I.P. or Final Crisis?? Surely there are lots of innovations, far more creative than this con job you're pulling.

Issue #1 of Watchman "motion comic" is a free download for iTunes for a couple of weeks, so check it out if you're interested. But you won't be impressed.


Zach said...

I agree, the motion comics are utter and complete rubbish.

However, when it comes to doing something like the MC online DC has one major drawback that Marvel doesn't. As I understand it, is that in order to reprint material published after 1975 DC has to pay (or get the talent to waive) some sort of reprint fee, when Marvel doesn't (and got criticized for) not paying the creators a cent.

Which is why for example most Showcase Presents volumes stop almost exactly in DC 75, when Marvel can Essential anything they darn well please.

So theoretically, DC could put out all sorts of content online in that format but it would all be things from before 1976, which would apply to a niche audience at best and probably not be worth the costs.

snell said...

Zach, allow me to partially disagree with you. I think. there's an enormous market for pre-1976 stuff, not just a "niche auidience." DC obviously thinks so, too:

**DC keeps releasing those beautiful but overpriced Archives, both for Golden Age and pre-1976 Silver Age, so people must be will to spend $50.

**People are so hungry for the stuff that DC is able to sell them black & white reprints on crappy paper, and people complain that they're not coming out fast enough.

One of the great joys of the GIT discs is that I am now in possession of EVERY issue of Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc, something I would never have been able to afford by finding back issues or spotty trades, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to justify spending $100 for an Omnibus reprinting 31 issues apiece.

Maybe I'm just projecting my own desires, but I think there would be a huge market for DC's stuff. As to cost, I'll freely admit that I have no idea about the costs involved. But as DC has already cleaned up the artwork for their Archives/Omnibi, it can't be that difficult to digitize it. Hell, 1/2 day of Dark Knight receipts could probably pay for it...Marvel could afford to do it, and I think that turns the question around--how can DC afford NOT to?

MST3K lives...

De said...

I didn't hate the Watchmen installment but I really don't see the point in taking the time to animate, direct, and add voices to a comic. It's a slicker version of that old Nickelodeon show back in the early 1980s where they'd read comics as a camera held tight shots of the panels.

No way would I pay $1.99 for this.

Zach said...

snell. I agree that there is an audience for it, hell I own every single Showcase volume and if I had the money, would have every non-Archive Silver Age reprint of DC comics out there...

However, if I'm DC, and I'm competing against Marvel and I see that they have for instance, every issue of the Ultimates up on their digital sight, and the best I can come up with it Crisis on Multiple Earths it would make DC seem downright... Old fashioned at best, something they they've been fighting since the 60's.