Sunday, August 5, 2018

Passing the Blame: DC Comics, Over-saturation and Dan Didio

Just this past week, Dan Didio and Jim Lee addressed the cold, hard fact that comic book sales are on the decline.  Of course, they are going to look at it through their own lens of DC Comics, but it is obvious that everyone in the industry is worried about the industry as a whole.  In an interview with ICv2 at San Diego Comic-Con, DiDio said he fears the decline is due to “an over-saturation of product.”

"My fear is that there's probably an over‑saturation of product.  If you're looking at the numbers, you're looking at 400 new periodicals a month.  I can't even imagine the number of collections that come out a month.  It's overwhelming."

An over-saturation of product?  Now, he does go on to tell ICv2 that one of the "problems" is that new startup comic companies are coming out of the gate running and since they are producing such strong products right away, comic shop owners are having problems deciding what books to stock.  Okay...I am not a comic shop owner, but I think there has to be a bit of a hierarchy when ordering and stocking the shelf and sitting on top are the Big Two, DC and Marvel.  If sales are down overall, that's an industry problem.  If sales at DC are down, that's a DC problem.  I do think Dan Didio is on to something, there is an oversaturation of product and you better start looking at yourself in the mirror!

THE DC UNIVERSE JUST GOT BIGGER! Starting in January, DC introduces a bold new line of comics starring a thrilling array of heroes— some you already know, some you may have glimpsed in the pages of DARK NIGHTS: METAL.

It really seemed like DC learned one big lesson from the New 52...stop being so cross-over heavy.  Sure, things are slipping back towards that direction and one-shot tie-ins are the new black, but ask any Green Lantern fan about the New 52 and you will no doubt hear horror stories about the cross-over horrors they had to suffer through.  No, DC is all about new imprints.  Lots and lots of new imprints.  Young Animal, The Wild Storm, Black Label, DC Zoom, DC Ink, Vertigo, New Age of DC Heroes, Brian Micheal Bendis' Jinxworld (which he brought with him), Milestone and probably some I have forgotten or haven't heard of yet.  It's like DC is giving out new imprints like candy and every day is Holloween!  I'm pretty sure that the imprints are the dangling carrot to get top writers to sign exclusive contracts with DC, but please, this madness has to end sometime!  But remember, Dan Didio thinks the oversaturation is from all these new, startups crowding the shelves.

"We’ve tried to be fairly judicious in doing retailer exclusive covers, and really have tried to put programs methodology to the variant covers that we do." - Jim Lee

Of course, another thing that takes up shelf space and over-saturates the market is variant covers.  Jim Lee says DC is being "fairly jusicious"?  I hate to see someone who isn't being judicious at all!  How many variants where there for Action Comics 1000?  Over 50 including Color, B&W and Virgin variants of the variants.  I know all of those aren't at every store, but I am not sure I'd call that "fairly judicious".  I understand that Action Comics was a big event and that Marvel (and other companies) do this as well, but what about Batman #50?  Did that end up being the event that we thought?  Did any of that stop DC from putting out over 50 variant covers?  Is there a slight possibility that these variants (and the multiple ones that come with "special issues" and new #1s) are crowding the shelves and oversaturating the market?  Hey, with sales down the way they are, I understand that DC is trying to get the easy buck now and again, but people in glass houses...

So, is Dan Didio right?  In some ways, yes.  Does he come off as a bully who turns the tables and blames the little guys for problems he has a big hand in?  I certainly think so.  Is there something else going on that he cares to ignore.  You bet!  The sales of most DC Comics are down right now and oversaturation might be the problem...oversaturation of uninteresting to downright bad stories.  DC put a pin on the Doomsday Clock and its eventual ending as what all the books were heading towards.  Then Doomsday Clock was delayed.  Big time delayed.  While DC has scrambled to fill in the blanks, most of the books seemed to lose forward momentum and we are suddenly getting an issue worth of story taking four issues to tell.  I think I am being generous with some of them.  Good products sell.  Fans love their favorite characters and most will stick it out through the good and the bad, but lately, the times they are a-changin'. People are dropping their favorites from their pull lists and many tell me there is nothing on the horizon from DC Comics that interests them at all.  I don't agree with that since I have been through these peaks and valleys enough to know that there is always something coming up that will make me happy, but I sometimes tell them to check out some other companies, maybe read an indie book or two.  When they do, I wonder if Dan Didio will be right and they will have a ton of indie books to page through or will they be staring at a wall full of unsold Batman #50 variants.


  1. Fantastic piece! Preach Brother Jim! Preach! Unfortunately, just like everyother top-heavy corporation, they'll only throw money at the problems and never consider quality control.

    1. yep...i hope things change soon for the better!

    2. Just overthrow Dan Didiot and Jim Flea. Those two have done enough damage to DC as it is. People who point fingers to get the blame off their backs are the most dangerous and incompetent.

  2. I found a simple solution to over-saturation of a comic book market. After Batman #50 I droppad all comics published by DC.

  3. Yeah I dropped all new comics about 3 months ago...I only buy in aftermarket where the publisher will not see any of that $. You can get a ton more content like that.

    In the past 2 months I have started supporting multiple indie books using crowdfunding. If it's apolitical and has decent art there is a good chance I will support it. I do my crowdfunding comic purchases on Wednesdays now...for sentimental reasons I suppose.