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  1. #406
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianS View Post
    I would argue you are one step from ditching comics altogether.

    A publisher's efforts -after everything is said and done- should be to attract new readers. Digital sales are, as far as the rumor goes- negligible, and thus it would make more sense to put more effort into mass marketing physical copies.
    Bookstore OGN's, trades, and Scholastic book orders are definitely the strongest growing distribution formats (as far as I know) and seem like the most likely path forward. But I wouldn't rule out digital either. As we've said earlier in the thread, digital sales for comic publishers aren't terribly impressive, but there's some good reasons for that. It's a different audience, but comics just copy-paste the print product over with no adjustments to appeal to that audience. There's no real marketing or advertising behind digital, and the price point is ridiculous compared to other, similar products.

    If DC made digital comics for a digital audience, it might fare much better than it has.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

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  2. #407
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    If DC made digital comics for a digital audience, it might fare much better than it has.
    Maybe that is the case, I don't presume to know the digital landscape/market in great detail. However, I do fear that going *full* digital might be the last straw for many, and that actually, it ends up hurting the market more.

  3. #408
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianS View Post
    Maybe that is the case, I don't presume to know the digital landscape/market in great detail. However, I do fear that going *full* digital might be the last straw for many, and that actually, it ends up hurting the market more.
    Full digital as in no floppies or trades or print of any kind? Yeah that'd be a mistake. Why would you cut out your fastest growing source of revenue (trades/OGN's), as well as your primary source of revenue (floppies) like that?

    DC doesn't seem like it's positioned for a switch to "mainly/completely digital" anyway. That'd require a lot of build-up, marketing and advertising, a dedicated site/app to handle the traffic, product created specifically for the format and the audiences and I don't even know what else. I'm not sure if DC has any of that. I know they used to have (and probably still have) a Comixology type app, but Comixology switched to being a reader only after the Amazon buyout; you can't make purchases from there anymore, and I don't know what state the DC app is in.

    As for a format shift being the last straw for floppy readers.....I don't think anyone wants fans to leave, but the brutal truth is it's going to happen. The direct market is going down and will be replaced by something else. I don't think that'll happen immediately (though depending on how long this pandemic lasts....), but sooner or later, this dying market will shudder its last breath. When that happens and publishers move to OGN's or digital or whatever format they switch to, some floppy readers won't follow. And that will be sad. But what matters is how many new readers the new format (whatever it is) brings. It doesn't matter if old timers like me leave when the direct market dies, as long as we're replaced by new fans.

    All that aside, it'd be a mistake to put all their eggs in one basket again. They did that with the direct market and, from what I know, the problems and eventual collapse became evident almost immediately. It was too limiting, too reliant on established customers. Why do that again and find yourself with the exact same problems? No, I suspect it's better for publishers to diversify; push as much product as they can through as many channels as they can. Digital comics for digital audiences, books and OGN's for bookstores and Scholastic, and they might as well ride the direct market as long as they can too before it ends.
    Last edited by Ascended; 04-14-2020 at 06:47 AM.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

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  4. #409

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    If DC made digital comics for a digital audience, it might fare much better than it has.
    They have. Probably most notable the Injustice series, but there have been many others. The current Batman: The Animated Series sequel comic is digital-first. Those were designed for digital and priced for digital. And Injustice was marketed to gamers, which mostly prefer digital.

    Just because they aren't specifically putting out Action Comics or Detective Comics in cheap, digital-specific ways doesn't mean they haven't tried to cater to that audience.
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  5. #410
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digifiend View Post
    Whelp. Diamond have furloughed most of their staff.
    https://bleedingcool.com/comics/diam...ghs-employees/
    I think Diamond's monopoly may be over after this. Which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
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  6. #411
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noodle View Post
    They have. Probably most notable the Injustice series, but there have been many others. The current Batman: The Animated Series sequel comic is digital-first. Those were designed for digital and priced for digital. And Injustice was marketed to gamers, which mostly prefer digital.

    Just because they aren't specifically putting out Action Comics or Detective Comics in cheap, digital-specific ways doesn't mean they haven't tried to cater to that audience.
    Oh yeah, I forgot about the Injustice comic. Sold decent from what I recall right? Pretty sure the trades did well, not sure about the digital but I *think* it did well?

    Quote Originally Posted by superduperman View Post
    I think Diamond's monopoly may be over after this. Which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
    Agreed. I don't know if it's really going to make that big of an impact at this point but it's better than nothing. My condolences to the employees who are losing their jobs of course, but I won't shed a tear if Diamond doesn't recover.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

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  7. #412
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    Injustice sold very well, actually. I don't recall reading anyone saying that DC should go full on digital and never print comics again.

    Rather, that delaying trades and delaying digital comics is not a good move. Furthermore, my personal belief is that digital comics and trades can at least be a growth market with effort. The publishers would be wise to hire experts to help them exploit it. You're not likely to grow anything with monthly pamphlets sold in comics shops. I don't think anyone wants those except the people who already buy them, hence why the market only shrinks.

  8. #413
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    Besides Injustice there have been quite a few other "digital first" books. Designed for digital, they are less interesting to look at than DC titles designed for print.

    They are produced in what I'd call for lack of a better term "half pages", so that when printed, 2 digital pages are printed, one above the other, on the printed page. No content crosses that center line, because in digital that would make no sense.

    It's very restricting. Panel designs have to be very simple, very constrained, to fit the format, and look pretty dull in print.

    Now, it might be fine for Marvel art, where the house style seems to be that panels be pretty conventionally drawn. (Maintaining the Kirby/Ditko style established in the 1960s.) Marvel has so many books that this conventional format is not universally employed, but it commonly is. Grids of panels with generally white gutters.

    It's clear that the DC house style - likely set by the art director - is "go nuts." So you have at least panels with overlays. Some books have almost 100% splash panels, but where the bottom or top of the splash is just color that is fading out, with all the other panels as overlays.

    It's not difficult to do - any good comic book artist can adapt their panel style to suit Marvel or DC preferences. But the DC layouts can be amazing, when you really look at them. Very creative. After reading most books, I go back over every page just to look at the panel choices and how the colorist and letterers work with it to help blend the work and help lead the eye to the right panel.

    It's more work vs. guided reading, and guided reading is actually an awful way to read through pages with unconventional panels. The pages are just not meant to be taken in that way.

    There are exceptions at DC. Nick Derrington's unique style uses only conventional panel designs, and I wouldn't change that for the world.

    But most of their titles have angularly shaped panels, panels with no borders at all or partial borders, elements of panels blending over the line into other panels, some panels intruding on several sides over the corners of other panels.... etc.

    Some will argue, as with the insistence that print isn't better and that all that matters is content, that panel design shouldn't matter either, and that we should just go with the all-digital conventional look.

    But I say the presentation of the material is important. The delivery format - print vs. digital; the coloring (RGB vs. CMYK); the panel designs. If all that matters are the characters, why do we even need good artists? Why do people have preferences between artists? Everything about the look and feel of comics matters. It's an art form. A charcoal is not a watercolor, even if they are both of a landscape. Form matters, not just content.

  9. #414
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    Besides Injustice there have been quite a few other "digital first" books. Designed for digital, they are less interesting to look at than DC titles designed for print.
    This is generally true from what I have seen, but it does not have to be that way.

  10. #415
    Astonishing Member Factor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    Besides Injustice there have been quite a few other "digital first" books. Designed for digital, they are less interesting to look at than DC titles designed for print.

    They are produced in what I'd call for lack of a better term "half pages", so that when printed, 2 digital pages are printed, one above the other, on the printed page. No content crosses that center line, because in digital that would make no sense.

    It's very restricting. Panel designs have to be very simple, very constrained, to fit the format, and look pretty dull in print.

    Now, it might be fine for Marvel art, where the house style seems to be that panels be pretty conventionally drawn. (Maintaining the Kirby/Ditko style established in the 1960s.) Marvel has so many books that this conventional format is not universally employed, but it commonly is. Grids of panels with generally white gutters.

    It's clear that the DC house style - likely set by the art director - is "go nuts." So you have at least panels with overlays. Some books have almost 100% splash panels, but where the bottom or top of the splash is just color that is fading out, with all the other panels as overlays.

    It's not difficult to do - any good comic book artist can adapt their panel style to suit Marvel or DC preferences. But the DC layouts can be amazing, when you really look at them. Very creative. After reading most books, I go back over every page just to look at the panel choices and how the colorist and letterers work with it to help blend the work and help lead the eye to the right panel.

    It's more work vs. guided reading, and guided reading is actually an awful way to read through pages with unconventional panels. The pages are just not meant to be taken in that way.

    There are exceptions at DC. Nick Derrington's unique style uses only conventional panel designs, and I wouldn't change that for the world.

    But most of their titles have angularly shaped panels, panels with no borders at all or partial borders, elements of panels blending over the line into other panels, some panels intruding on several sides over the corners of other panels.... etc.

    Some will argue, as with the insistence that print isn't better and that all that matters is content, that panel design shouldn't matter either, and that we should just go with the all-digital conventional look.

    But I say the presentation of the material is important. The delivery format - print vs. digital; the coloring (RGB vs. CMYK); the panel designs. If all that matters are the characters, why do we even need good artists? Why do people have preferences between artists? Everything about the look and feel of comics matters. It's an art form. A charcoal is not a watercolor, even if they are both of a landscape. Form matters, not just content.
    It's only restrictive if you try to put a comic created for print on an app for a smartphone.
    If content was created with that medium in mind, artists could find a whole new language and new possibilities to better explore this new canvas. There is A LOT that only digital could make possible.
    The problem is that comicbook companies aren't really designing their products for it. All the times DC tried, it was incredibly half-assed. Taking a page and cutting it in two is not the way to translate the content to a digital device. They haven't bothered trying, so we haven't even started to see what a DC comic created for a smartphone would look like.

    Now if you're reading on a decent-sized tablet, print pages translate VERY well. Double-page spreads aren't the best, but they don't really hinder the experience.
    DC need to pick a strategy. Maybe just market for tablet owners, so they can make sure they have a product that fits their public's device?
    I don't know, but I'd sure like to see them experimenting a whole lot more with new formats, frequency of new content and a more diverse output (i.e. different genres and less focus on the usual suspects).
    Their all-ages and Black Label stuff is a great step in the right direction, but I still don't think the company is well positioned for the future.

  11. #416
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    Quote Originally Posted by Factor View Post
    Their all-ages and Black Label stuff is a great step in the right direction, but I still don't think the company is well positioned for the future.
    This is true. I doubt DC will blaze any trails. Someone else will do that. For example, DC got interested in those young adult graphic novels because Raina Telgemeier, a digital webcomic creator no less, bust that whole thing open. DC will probably keep on playing catch up because of the culture of the company and its fanbase. The idea of a young adult webcomic about a girl succeeding probably would have sounded absurd to them, because it's something they likely never would have been able to make work.
    Last edited by Vampire Savior; 04-14-2020 at 06:45 PM.

  12. #417
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    Besides Injustice there have been quite a few other "digital first" books. Designed for digital, they are less interesting to look at than DC titles designed for print.
    Oh yeah. I half forgot some of those books were digital first and not same day digital. Stupid brain.

    Yeah, they were released weekly, and cost a buck right? We had Arrow and Injustice and a weird manga riff called something like Ami-Comi....yeah, those were produced with a larger audience in mind.

    I'm not sure if they were successfully *written* for a different audience....largely just fell into the usual comic book narrative format and structure from what I remember. Except maybe Ami-Comi, that was pretty off kilter, and might've been written for a different audience (I don't know enough about manga to say).

    Not a bad start, I suppose, as I recall some of those books seemed popular at the time. But not something I'd say achieved the format's full potential. I figure if you can take four weekly issues, print them and sell them like a regular floppy, you're not using the digital art format properly. You can do stuff in that format you can't do elsewhere, that wouldn't translate to print. When DC's digital first books are doing that, they'll be doing it right. Man, I can't believe I forgot all about those things....
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

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  13. #418
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Not a bad start, I suppose, as I recall some of those books seemed popular at the time. But not something I'd say achieved the format's full potential. I figure if you can take four weekly issues, print them and sell them like a regular floppy, you're not using the digital art format properly. You can do stuff in that format you can't do elsewhere, that wouldn't translate to print. When DC's digital first books are doing that, they'll be doing it right. Man, I can't believe I forgot all about those things....
    I think the content being non-convertible to print isn't the hallmark of a good digital content publishing strategy. Rather, I think such an idea is an over-correction to your observation that DC's previous attempts at digital-first publishing has been indistinguishable from its print publishing, and that contributed to its failure to reach new readers.

    Rather, I think of webcomics as the return of the old newspaper strips. Stuff like Dilbert effortlessly moved from print to digital. There has been a shift with the move to digital (colour of course, focus on "Sunday pages" rather than strips, and so on), but you can still see the roots of the old form. Even the extremely long-form serial storytelling in, say, Girl Genius can draw antecedents from stuff like Prince Valiant.

    Digital comics can of course do some technical stuff that paper doesn't. But I think the real shift towards digital will be in how creators approach and tell the story. Stuff like pacing, a strong focus on characterisation, how humour is used, and so on. Creators being page-centric rather than issue-centric.
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  14. #419
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Oh yeah. I half forgot some of those books were digital first and not same day digital. Stupid brain.

    Yeah, they were released weekly, and cost a buck right? We had Arrow and Injustice and a weird manga riff called something like Ami-Comi....yeah, those were produced with a larger audience in mind.

    I'm not sure if they were successfully *written* for a different audience....largely just fell into the usual comic book narrative format and structure from what I remember. Except maybe Ami-Comi, that was pretty off kilter, and might've been written for a different audience (I don't know enough about manga to say).

    Not a bad start, I suppose, as I recall some of those books seemed popular at the time. But not something I'd say achieved the format's full potential. I figure if you can take four weekly issues, print them and sell them like a regular floppy, you're not using the digital art format properly. You can do stuff in that format you can't do elsewhere, that wouldn't translate to print. When DC's digital first books are doing that, they'll be doing it right. Man, I can't believe I forgot all about those things....
    There have been a ton of digital firsts but I'm hereby going to blank on most of them.

    Two that come to mind:

    The Adventures of Supergirl - based on the TV show version. Was going to go from digital straight to trade, but then they decided to release as a floppy before the trade.

    RWBY - Either has just finished up the mini-series, or almost

    Both of those - well, the artists do add some pizazz to the panel designs, mostly with diagonal shapes and some overlays. I find that the short but wide pages do restrict what the artist can do vs. the portrait format.

    On the plus side, the page dimensions are perfect for reading on a tablet in landscape, or on a "modern" widescreen monitor, vs. a standard print comic page that has to be read in portrait mode to take it all in.

    The digital comics are never going to have "double-splash" pages (or pages with some content that crosses the "staple") that require landscape to see entirely. But in a sense, every page is a double-spash page.

    So - digital first format is optimally viewed on a landscape wide-screen digital device, and print with same-day digital is optimized for traditional portrait-shaped books.

    It's not just the same content delivered differently. The artwork is altered to suit the intended primary medium and doesn't look optimal on the other medium.

    DC's Prestige Plus books are a hybrid - wide enough that they require some adaptation of drawing style, but tall enough that the panel designs aren't constrained. And I bet there are people here who hate the Prestige Plus book format. And people who love it. Maybe the people who hate it just avoid Prestige Plus books. (Maybe people hate their price, or hate that none, so far, have been in continuity, but those are different matters.)

    Golden Age books were much bigger than today's comics, and Silver Age somewhat bigger. And now Prestige Plus books are wider. So even in print, it's true that art has adapted over the years. But a switch to pure landscape would be a much bigger change.

    Currently, writing for digital-first is also different - "issues" have all been delivered in 2 parts, so they are always written with a cliff-hanger right in the middle. Each "issue" is typically 24 digital "pages," and each of these gets printed on 12 pages, so each printed comic is typically 24 printed pages long comprising the 2 digital parts with the cliffhanger right in the middle.

    Stories have to be written to hit that rhythm. Writers have to conform.

    Editorially, DC currently handles digital first books from a different office and with a different team.

    Of course that's simply the way DC structures digital first books today, and it could change in the future.

    Meanwhile, the Kids and YA books (formerly Zoom and Ink) continue to be formatted in portrait mode, like print comics. And I can't see that changing any time soon. Only some books for toddlers are printed in landscape mode.

    It's fine, print and digital today are just different. Writers and artists, and readers, who don't love the format will move on to something else. It's just not fair to say it's the same content, delivered differently and read on a device rather than paper.
    Last edited by ohfellow; 04-15-2020 at 02:51 AM.

  15. #420
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I think the content being non-convertible to print isn't the hallmark of a good digital content publishing strategy. Rather, I think such an idea is an over-correction to your observation that DC's previous attempts at digital-first publishing has been indistinguishable from its print publishing, and that contributed to its failure to reach new readers.
    Yeah, maybe you're right and I'm over-correcting on this.

    Quote Originally Posted by ohfellow View Post
    It's fine, print and digital today are just different. Writers and artists, and readers, who don't love the format will move on to something else. It's just not fair to say it's the same content, delivered differently and read on a device rather than paper.
    You're right that the content is adjusted, at least to a degree, but I'm thinking less about the constraints of the format (page dimensions, etc) and more....like the narrative itself, I guess? Sorry, still drinking my morning coffee so brain isn't brain-ing just yet. I feel like most of those digital first books, while the art layout was designed for a screen instead of a page and writers paced stories for cliffhangers in the proper places, were still written for us, and not the audience/s most likely to embrace digital.

    DC's OGN and YA stuff seems to have adapted to their audience and format much more smoothly though. Things like that YA Raven book or Harley's Glass Ceiling (or is it Breaking Glass Ceilings?), from what I've seen, are really well designed to appeal to people outside the LCS in a way digital-first didn't manage.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

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