DC Comics: Reboot Places Them At Apple’s Mercy

The news was all over the Internet yesterday. DC is revamping most of their comics and wiping their numbering slate clean, starting most of their books with an “Issue #1” stamp.

This is the best post I’ve seen about why:

DC Comics Number One Stunna: The Ballsiest Move of the Decade

Make no mistake, this entire endeavor is focused on the digital market. DC isn’t dumb. They know print is dying. They know they have no chance at beating Marvel in the print market, as years and years of examples have proven. Rejuvenating the characters (literally) and providing a fresh start all across the line isn’t about a quick sales bump in the direct market; it isn’t about the direct market at all. It’s so that people logging into comiXology to check out these digital DC comics they’ve heard about don’t see an issue number in the 900s after Action Comics and throw up their hands.

Emphasis in the original.

And this is just not good:

With all the hubbub around Apple’s digital distribution in-store purchase requirements, not to mention their infamous morality police, DC is placing their future in the hands of a notoriously difficult partner.

Indeed, they’ll have essentially supplanted the Jell-O hand of the Comics Code Authority with the actual iron hand of Apple’s content restrictions. One of the theoretical benefits of digital distribution should be decreasing overhead time; by working through Apple, they’re just going to make things worse.

Emphasis in the original.

So DC Comics will be muttering “Do you think Apple will allow that?” in their editorial meetings soon.

A travesty.


Filed under Apple: The Company, Digital Overthrow, Digital Periodicals, Marketing

7 responses to “DC Comics: Reboot Places Them At Apple’s Mercy

  1. Ravi

    Eh? Unless DC is criminally stupid, they have the upper hand in a censorship fight, not Apple.

    They need only do three things:
    1. Hedge their bets with other platforms (they have an Android app, I believe they have desktop and PlayBook support via Flash; webOS, WP7, … apps would be good, too – in other words try to be as ubiquitous as Amazon).
    2. Have a fallback web app for iOS users already launched (or, at worst, ready-to-go).
    3. In the event of a confrontation, publish everywhere but iOS (where they wouldn’t be able to) on schedule.

    How does such a confrontation play as anything other than “Control-freak Apple wants to be the new Comics Code Authority”? Don’t iOS users who are DC readers get mad at Apple, not DC? Wouldn’t a web app be a “good enough” alternative for iOS users, at least in the short run?

    Apple might not back down, but I’d be very surprised if DC lost customers over that kind of fight. In fact, given the history of censorship in comics (not to mention the generally DC-positive publicity a confrontation would generate) I’d wouldn’t be surprised to find out that DC ended up gaining customers after a censorship fight.

    • mikecane

      You don’t know the history of Apple and its first banning was of a comic book!

      • Wes

        Yeah, but Apple *lost* several rounds in that fight. They banned “Ulysses” but retreated on that days later. They also banned Mark Fiore before retreating on that. It’s no given Apple will win against Time Warner/DC Comics — especially if they know to use the megaphone that is the press, or the muscle that is its other entertainment content. Heck, they can even point out how Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder of a company (Disney) that owns its biggest competitor (Marvel). The FTC, and DOJ are still uncomfortable with Apple’s dominance in the market.

        Anyway, if DC is going to go all in on tablets, they have to be prepared to fight some battles with the gatekeepers.

      • mikecane

        I know about the ones you cited — and more. I’ve done a ton of posts about this since the first incident.

        I’d forgotten that Marvel->Disney->Jobs connection, even though I did a post about it at the time.

  2. Pingback: DC Comics: Reboot Places Them At Apple’s Mercy | The Digital Reader

  3. And yet publishers cling to Steve Jobs as their savior against the big bad Amazon! I don’t see that much difference, myself.

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