Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Why I'm making September a DC-Free month

Some time ago, +DC Comics announced that this September, their annual "event" for their entire line would be something called "Villain Month."  In September, all 52 comics published by DC will be about the villains rather than about heroes.  So, for example, instead of Justice League being about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, it will be about their arch-nemesis, Darkseid.  Meanwhile, instead of Superman's comic being about him, it  will be about Bizarro.  DC is producing these comics with special "3D" covers.  Additionally, they will be using "decimal" numbering, so that instead of being issue #24 or what have you, we will get issue #23.1, 23.2, and so on.  Thus, issue 23 comes out for most of the original New 52 titles in August, and 24 in October, with the ones in between numbered as fractions.  And finally, not all titles will be published. Lower-tier characters like Batgirl won't be published at all, to make space for multiple versions of the top tier ones like Batman.

All of this adds up to one thing: this is a pure, 100% marketing campaign. It's a giant gimmick.  And as readers of this blog know, I hate gimmicks.  I had already told my comic shop not to put aside any DC titles in September that are normally on my pull list (fortunately, my awesome comic shop was really on the ball about it and has worked with their customers to make sure we are kept happy in the face of this marketing firestorm), figuring that I would "play it by ear."  But the more I hear about this obscene marketing ploy, the uglier it gets.  Now The Outhouse is reporting that DC is basically screwing the retailers over the 3D covers and the retailers are claiming that they're not even sure at this point how many copies of each title they are going to be saddled with.  And so at this point, I've decided that I just can't support DC whatsoever regarding this marketing ruse.

Therefore, in September, I will not be buying any DC comic-books. Period.  Not one.

But it's not just the contemptible retailer-hosing that has turned me off of DC for the month. It's the whole way this thing is being handled. I just can't see why I should buy any of these books, for the following reasons.
  1. Half the DC series I pull aren't even getting an issue during Villain Month, because DC has so little respect for these characters.  For example, in September, Supergirl, Batgirl, and Worlds' Finest are simply not going to be published at all, demonstrating just exactly what DC thinks of my favorite characters.  Instead of buying those three, DC wants me to buy three extra copies of the pull list items that are being published that month, such as Justice League.
  2. The titles I collect that are being published, are putting out multiple copies in a single month. For example, Justice League is getting four issues (23.1, 23.2, 23.3, and 23.4), each costing $4.  That means DC expects me to spend $16 on just JL in just one month. And most of these won't be written or drawn by the people who normally do that title.  Which means these stories have nothing to do with the series I am actually collecting, but are just event tie-ins. I don't collect things for the tie-ins. I collect series.  So no thanks.
  3. The 3D covers hurt my eyes. 'Nuff said about that.
  4. It's a blatant marketing ploy designed to get people to buy things for the hype rather than because the stories and art are actually any good. And I hate naked marketing ploys.
  5. I don't like and can't support the way DC showed absolute contempt for the retail shops on this one.
And so, I'm not buying any DC comics at all, in September. I will not touch them. I don't care if I am "missing out" on some stories. I'd rather be confused in October and November than financially support DC in this scheme of theirs.

Now, one of the major problems I have with Villains Month, as I say above, is DC's shoddy treatment of retailers.  You might think that my decision to boycott DC will hurt my comic shop just as much as DC's contemptible behavior. But never fear!  I still plan to visit my comic shop. I still have some comics on my pull list like Thor and Red Sonja.  Beyond that, the fact that I am not buying 6 out of the 9 items normally on my pull list in September means I have about $24 extra. I plan to spend that money on DC's competition -- either trying out some Marvel titles, or more likely, trying out some indy stuff from Image, IDW, Boom!, Dynamite, or what have you.  For example, I've heard Walking Dead is good, and Invincible. Maybe I will pick up some trades.

In fact, my actual plan is to spend $2 on non-DC comics for every $1 I am saving buy ignoring DC for the entire month of September.  I'll admit that partly, I'm doing it to spite DC.  But also, I am getting so tired of the Big Two publishers even after only 9 months back into reading comics that I really do want to investigate more of the indy market.

Now here's the huge enormous risk for DC:  By keeping me buying the comics on my pull list each month, DC basically prevents me from sampling non-DC titles.  In September, by publishing comics that are not part of the regular series line for any comics, and by not publishing half the stuff I collect at all, DC has seen to it that I have the time and the money to sample non-DC titles.  And the really big danger for them is that I might like these comics better than the ones I have been reading from DC.  And if that happens, then it could lead to me permanently dropping the titles I did not pick up in September.  DC could end up losing me completely.

Personally, I really, really hope that Villain Month is an unmitigated disaster. That DC's sales are the lowest they've been since rebooting the new 52. Heck I wish they were the lowest ever, in the history of DC comics, by two or three orders of magnitude.  Then maybe, just maybe, the imbeciles running things over at DC would learn a lesson (if those goons are even capable of learning anything).  

But I don't think that's going to happen, because too many comic-book fans have proven month in and month out that we're just a bunch of suckers.

We buy the gimmicks of the comics companies over and over again, hook, line, and sinker.  We stupidly do things like buy variant covers that will supposedly be "valuable" some day even though experience ought to tell us that most of these comics end up in the bargain bin in short order.  We scarf up "event" comics even when the events are horrible. 

I say "we," but I'm not going to be in that category any more. As I said above, I collect series, if I like the series. If that series happens to participate in an event, I will get those issues of the series -- I'm not going to stop collecting Batgirl just because she crosses over into Batman, since the rest of the Batgirl series is so good. But from this point forward I simply refuse to be a sucker anymore. This Villain Month thing is the last straw.  Starting with September, I'm 100% done with events.  I won't buy extra comics to "get all the parts" ever again.

Of course, I'm just one person, and obviously my tastes are wildly at variance with those of the general comic-collecting audience, so I can't do anything to influence DC's marketing/publishing decisions. But I can at least have peace of mind knowing I'm not going to support their behavior anymore.

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