Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dan DiDio Makes My Point

Dan DiDio, DC Comics' Executive Editor, made an interesting point at a recent DC Nation panel in Bristol, England. Quoted from Comic Book Resources:

"DiDio emphasized the fact that DC’s business was periodicals, not trade paperback graphic novel collections, because those comics readers who rely on trade collections make him nervous. “We have to make it feel like you can’t wait for the trade. I hate the expression ‘wait for the trade.’ It’s the thing that upsets me the most, because it means in my opinion that what we’re creating isn’t worth reading now. ‘I can pick it up a year from now.’”

Well, you forgot to add "it's not worth paying $3-4 for", but yeah, you're essentially correct. Most comics are not worth reading now. They are, in fact, designed to make collections the optimal reading format. What is so hard for you guys to accept about this? You created this beast, with your decompressed storytelling methods that take roughly 10 minutes to read. And do you really, honestly believe that anything you're publishing is of such amazing quality that it absolutely must be read immediately, even if it's in an inferior format for an inflated price?

Listen, trade paperbacks are better. They just are. They read better, they keep better, and new readers prefer them. Just stop fighting it.


  1. Trade paperbacks are better than periodicals for one other really big reason that seems to escape his interest or attention; they're better because they're books and reading them is a leisure time activity that people have to make time for in their everyday lives.

    As books they're more durable, more portable, more sustainable and offer a more well-suited block of leisure time reading than the periodicals format, which is ultimately about digesting quick information in a disposable manner for people who read on the go. I have twitter on my iPhone for that purpose, not a sack full of easily perishable and difficult to handle comicbooks.

    If a publisher really wants to compete in a collapsing periodicals market then they're likely to have a hard time doing it by not being aware of how that market has changed for other business. Charging me $3-4 for something I'll read in a few minutes compared to the dollar I might spend in a coffeeshop to enjoy the New York Times just isn't a smart way to look at the market.

  2. I think, by and large, DC understands the book market much better then Marvel does. Look at the Bookscan numbers Brian Hibbs analyses every year; DC clobbers Marvel in the book store market, in large part because they were smart and invested in properties like Sandman and Preacher that have become perennials. Marvel has nothing to compare to that. Hell, DC will sell a MILLION copies of Watchmen this year! That's astounding.

    The really big leap will be the first one that finally decides to release trade paperbacks in place of floppies as the in-continuity means of moving "the universe" along. This is where I think DiDio's argument falls apart; if you put your promotional acument behind pushing, say, "Battle for the Cowl" as a complete book, rather then a 3-issue mini, people will buy it. I think they are afraid, at this point, to make that leap.