Is This Crisis Infinite or Final?

This morning we have an exclusive preview of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Fighting American. As Dan writes in his introduction to the excerpt, Fighting American was "Simon and Kirby’s Cold War parody of their own Captain America, in which they still had some stake—though how much, and when they realized that, is a little unclear."

And Joe McCulloch has his report on the week in comics, as always. Despite the Memorial Day holiday, comics shops should be selling new titles today, but some stores may be waiting until tomorrow.

The Countdown is Over!

There probably isn't a comic book store in North America that isn't anxiously awaiting August 31, after yesterday's announcement about changes at DC Comics—namely, a "historic renumbering of the entire DC Universe line of comic books with 52 first issues," and "day-and-date digital publishing for all these ongoing titles, making DC Comics the first of the two major American publishers to release all of its superhero comic book titles digitally the same day as in print."

This is potentially a very big deal, and all of the usual suspects have commentary on the announcement. Tom Spurgeon's initial reaction: "This sounds completely idiotic." The prominent retailer (and one of Spurgeon's frequent debate opponents) Brian Hibbs, on the other hand, believes that it is "FUCKING insane." Hibbs doubts that the market can handle a move of this magnitude in the current economy. Fellow retailer Mike Sterling is similarly worried about the impact, but cautions that it is "a bit early to enter panic mode." Tim O'Neil is organizing drinking games.

And there's a lot more of course. I'll just point out a few landmarks of possible interest. JK Parkin at Robot 6 wraps things up here. TCJ columnist Sean T. Collins writes about the pros and cons, and says that "the most important question to [him] is 'Will this yield more good comics?'" [My guess: not likely.] Jim Smith ponders the same question. The Beat collects various creators' reactions on Twitter here, and an updated roundup of media speculation here. Elsewhere, Graeme McMillan catches a particularly pointed tweet from Brian Michael Bendis. That's probably enough to get you started. I am sure there will be further updates and discussion in all of the normal places, so if you want to spend a lot of time thinking and arguing about the comic book business, the next few days are going to be heaven for you.

I don't make any claims for myself as an industry analyst, but to my thinking, the "historic renumbering" of DC's superhero titles (which seems to have garnered the lion's share of commentary) isn't nearly as big a deal in the long run as the announcement that DC will be selling all of the titles digitally on the same date as their print publication. It is hard to believe that this isn't going to be a huge blow to the direct market's sales. On the other hand, this development has seemed more or less inevitable for a few years now, and while people may not have expected the switch to day-and-date digital to happen this summer, everyone knew it was coming eventually. I guess I'd say to you that if you really like your local comic store, now is the time to frequent it -- before it goes the way of your favorite local record shop.

But I'd like to be wrong.

11 Responses to Is This Crisis Infinite or Final?

  1. I like that something that could have been a potentially serious business announcement—the digital aspect—was marred by an enthusiastic nerd vision. I think its kinda cool that Warner Bros money will go into something that only two lifelong comics dorks could ever think of as legitimate. That JLA comic will be some fantastic kind of outsider art.

  2. If anyone ever thought that DCE (not DC comics but, yeah, DCE) gave a flying monkey turd about the direct market they were kidding themselves. If DCE had to chose between every comics shop in American closing and that Ryan Reynolds movie having a good opening weekend, the answer would be, “What the fuck is a comic book shop?”

  3. Fred says:

    Shannon, that’s the most precient comment I’ve read about this entire announcement. Thanks.

  4. Is this effort the last (and biggest) defibrillator shock treatment to the heart of the Wednesday comics market? Most likely this will follow similar efforts from the past (Heroes Reborn, the myriad of Crises, countless summer events, other less ambitious renumbering efforts): there will be an initial spike in sales, followed by a sharp drop off and then usual status quo of disinterest and apathy. (The day-and-date digital strategy is the one x-factor that is worth tracking). When this new/old endeavor fails will The Big Two stop with these line-wide stunts? I can hope, but this could be the beginning of the end. There is a solution, a magic bullet combination for DC (and Marvel) however to save the weekly, floppy comic buying market: write better, accessible stories; provide compelling, sequentially-clear artwork; ensure the issues come out on time. It would have to start at the ground level, not with lofty strategies in the clouds only the suits and bean counters can embrace. I have little faith anything so simple, yet elusive, is likely to occur. Kirby (among others) was able to do it at one time. But Kirby’s reached comic-deity status and the folks at DC (and Marvel) are only human.

  5. patrick ford says:

    Where are they going to sell these things? The number of comic book shops is going down at an alarming rate.

  6. Gene Ha says:

    Regarding your headline, truth in advertising, pal! Those Crises were the final one, and it will never end…

    Hoping for the best for the readers, the shops and hopefully the new readers. Eternal optimist that I am, as I got my life philosophy off of a spinner rack in a drugstore.

  7. Gabe Fowler says:

    If you start reading the comments on any of these posts, it becomes clear that most fans of DC comics hate their local comic store and look forward to their demise. Makes me glad that my shop never carried that horseshit in the first place. Retailers should simply stop ordering DC comics.

  8. R. Fiore says:

    Isn’t part of the thrill of reading something like Superman or Batman that it’s been around for 500 or 600 issues or whatever?

  9. timmyhensley says:

    Didn’t DC do this in 1975 with “First Issue Special”?

  10. As a comics enthusiast (nerd) one thing I like to do is have complete runs of a series. So, I just love to see “last issues”. “Last issues” before a “re-boot” give me a wonderful excuse to never buy that comic again. As far as I’m concerned, Green Arrow ended sometime in the 90’s when they cut his arm off and there has never been another Green Arrow comic printed since. It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s a lot cheaper than buying comics.

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