With the comic book industry is getting back to some sense of normalcy with new comics coming out both at local comic book shops and digitally there has been a growing trend for both DC Comics and Marvel the last few weeks. That trend has what both companies digital publishing strategies are. DC Comics started with their Digital-First comic book line launch that reprinted stories from their Walmart Giant exclusive comics digitally. Marvel followed suit with their own Digital-Only line. But as both DC Comics and Marvel have begun these new digital focused initiatives a worrying trend of what comics are taking part is growing.
As many readers know I am a big supporter of digital comics. I still collect physical comics that I buy at a great local comic book shop here in Las Vegas, shoutout to Maximum Comics. At the same time, I see a lot of potential for the comic book industry in tapping into the digital marketspace. When announced I was excited for that DC Comics and Marvel had created digital initiatives for their respective publishing line. DC Comics specifically started out well with having Batman: The Adventures Continue and their Walmart Giant individual stories turned into single issues. It was a great first step into testing out what type of storytelling and characters worked within their digital initiative.
But now as both companies have restarted a normal publishing schedule DC Comics and Marvel have made the same decisions with their digital initiatives that is worrying. That is specifically with filling their respective digital initiatives with a lot of comic books that previously releases issue both physically and digitally. In just the past few weeks DC Comics announced comics like Supergirl, Terrifics, RWBY, and gen:Lock would end their runs digitally, with the possibility of being collected in physical trade format in the future. Similarly, Marvel’s Digital-Only line immediately included titles like Hawkeye: Freefall and Ghost-Spider publishing their solicited issues only on digital shops.
The concern with this movement of switching comic books, and in some cases publishing the final issues of a series, digitally is that nothing new is being introduced in these digital initiatives. This immediately builds a bad taste around DC Comics and Marvel’s digital initiatives as just being ways to publish work that is done but leave collectors physical collections incomplete. And as DC Comics and Marvel have shown many times in the past, they do still see the physical comic book market as the main source of their income. But to switch many titles that already had several issues physically published to be digital-only damages the valuable relationship with loyal readers.
For those like myself who want to see DC Comics and Marvel invest more time to develop their digital market as more than just another marketplace for their normal publishing this is not what I want. When it comes to the digital market, I want to see DC Comics and Marvel invest actual resources to creating stories that work to tap into that market. Because the digital space is a marketplace both companies could use to develop stories that are not only readers that only read books and comics digitally. This is a space that a lot of people, especially a younger generation, are using to consume content. Creating comics that are targeted towards digital content consumers would be a huge opportunity for the comic book industry if marketed and priced correctly.
Now to be fair to DC Comics, they have been testing out publishing new comics as digital exclusives. Those comics include Batman: The Adventures Continue and DCeased: Hope At World’s End. Both titles have a strong creative team and great price point of $0.99. Promoting titles like this will only further help quality titles like this help make DC Comics and Marvel’s digital initiatives work long-term.
As both DC Comics and Marvel continue to develop their respective digital initiatives they need to create more exclusive content that begins digitally. Just publishing final issues of comics that they are ending and had low sales numbers does not breed positive vibes around DC Comics’ Digital-First and Marvel’s Digital-Only initiatives. They should not continue to burn their loyal readership base because it could end up biting them back if this trend continues. For both digital strategies to work creating original content and appropriately marketing them will be key to DC Comics and Marvel’s success in this market. By doing so both companies will open doors to new readership while rewarding their loyal readers as well by letting them complete their physical comic book collection.
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