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Open Discussion: DC’s Wednesday Comics

Yesterday DC Comics launched their weekly Wednesday Comics – a 12-issue weekly anthology series that is printed in broadsheet format – much like the old time Sunday comics. The first issue premiered in USA Today. Did anyone pick it up? What’s your impressions?

Community Comments

#1 Rick Tuma
July/9/2009
@ 12:45 pm

I’m excited by the concept of scratching a couple of itches all at once. Though I love the glossy pages in today’s comics, as well as the greater permanence and durability of said comics, I grew up in the days of newsprint pages and primitive inking options, so my affection for the concept is pretty strong.

Second, I’ve always wished for big, bold comic art and now here it is! I’m a Marvel guy through and through but I plan to support this concept and purchase the entire comic book store set. I’m not planning on buying the more limited one page USA Today sets.

Two thumbs up from this guy.

#2 Wiley Miller
July/9/2009
@ 1:44 pm

I’m hoping that it will show editors the powerful draw comics have and reawaken them to their use in marketing the newspaper to the people who AREN’T readers right now.

As I’ve said all too many times here, that’s precisely why comics were created in the first place… by editors and publishers!

Wouldn’t that be wonderfully ironic if this paper that doesn’t carry comics would be the one that led to the rebirth of a new golden age of comics?

#3 Jeff Pert
July/9/2009
@ 1:45 pm

I love it. I haven’t read all the strips yet, but the format is fantastic. Now I know what it must have been like to read the Sunday comics back in the ’30s. The art in these strips is gorgeous. Highly recommended.

#4 Jeff Pert
July/9/2009
@ 1:47 pm

BTW, Alan, why is this entry listed under “Children’s Books”?

#5 Alan Gardner
July/9/2009
@ 1:57 pm

@jeff Pert Because the button for “Children’s Books” is too close to “Comic Books” – which is what it has now been updated to. Thanks for catching that.

#6 J Read
July/9/2009
@ 2:36 pm

Much to their credit, DC chose artists whose work is first class. It was a blast, holding the big, Sunday-comics-style pages in my hands. And no off-register color! I’m onboard for all 12!

You know, I’d pay $3.99 each week for just such an offering of syndicated comic strips. With newspapers crapping out almost every week, maybe somebody should jump on this.

Hmmmm…

#7 Stacy Curtis
July/9/2009
@ 4:01 pm

Didn’t that no-good, jerkwad Bill Watterson suggest something very similar to this 20 years ago at Ohio State University’s Festival of Cartoon Art?

I’m going to try to find one of these.

#8 Barry Edwards
July/9/2009
@ 4:17 pm

Just picked up the paper yesterday and love the format. It does hearken back to another time for printed comics. Just seeing this beautiful artwork at this size was worth the sticker price. I hope this catches on and we can see this kind of thing on every newsstand.

#9 John Read
July/9/2009
@ 5:50 pm

Okay, Barry’s remark prompts another “Hmmmm” from a guy who would absolutely LOVE to add something like that to his publishing line.

I have to ask, how many of you WOULD be willing to pay $3.99 a week ($12 – $15 monthly?) for such a publication featuring a line-up of syndicated comics? I suppose the success of such a publication would depend on WHICH strips were featured, aye?

#10 Shane Davis
July/9/2009
@ 9:50 pm

“Didnâ??t that no-good, jerkwad Bill Watterson suggest something very similar to this 20 years ago at Ohio State Universityâ??s Festival of Cartoon Art?”

Yeah, but he went away after only about 10 years.

And since Hagar the Horrible and Blondie have both been around for a combined 287 years and are still going strong in their boring, safe postage stamp format, they obvisouly knew something Bill didn’t.

“Where have you gone, Mr. Watterson?
The funnies turn their lonely eyes to you,
oooh oooh oooh..”

#11 Tad Martindale
July/10/2009
@ 12:13 am

I would DEFINATELY pay for that. I really like reading comic strips when they come out in book collections more so than in the papers, anyways– especially ones that are more serialized like Pooch Cafe and Cul De Sac. To get a weekly comic book filled with a weeks worth of material from different strips— that would be something I’d be all over.
I wonder if this could be a possible avenue for comic strips in the near future– alongside the traditional newspaper outlets?

#12 Nate Fakes
July/10/2009
@ 7:18 am

I can’t believe I missed this! I’ll have to go dig for that USA Today. That’s great news. I hope this will really open publishers eyes about the powerful impact of comics, and maybe give them a second rebirth to the splendor that they once were in the papers. They need this. It’s something you can’t get online (so it sounds – I really need to see this for myself).

#13 Mark Tatulli
July/10/2009
@ 8:33 am

How is one freebie insert in USA TODAY going to “really open publishers eyes about the powerful impact of comics”. How will the impact be measured? Did Wednesday’s USA TODAY outsell the usual by a significant margin? Who ever knew about this? I didn’t know about it until Alan reported it here, a day after it happened. Who, besides USA TODAY, even reported this? I would love to see this catch on, love it, but I don’t see how this means anything beyond DC doing a one-time giveaway.

#14 Ted Dawson
July/10/2009
@ 8:52 am

I guess the comic book companies were too stupid to realize that it would be pointless to ask a newspaper to run full-page comics. They’d never go for that, especially USA Today!

It’s not a bad comic. But I think a newspaper cartoonist could have done better. The colors are washed out and the detail doesn’t hold up. The story isn’t interesting. People who haven’t seen a Superman comic book in years are gonna say, “Who the hell is that?” But it’s big, splashy, and it’s there on a full newspaper page.

Meanwhile, I grab a copy of our local rag, which I haven’t seen in years. My ten-year-old son opens it up to the comics page and says, “My gosh! They’re T-I-N-Y! These idiots! Some of them are pretty funny, but they’re missing one or two panels.”

Hats off to USA Today for doing what every newspaper cartoonist and syndicate knows a newspaper would never do, and to DC for not knowing any better.

#15 Ted Dawson
July/10/2009
@ 8:54 am

BTW, it’s not an insert. It’s a full page comic. I see now it’s a promotion. At the top of the page, it says, “DC Comics unveils a 12-week series of newspaper-size comic strips today. Find DC’s “Wednesday Comics,” including all 15 serials, every Wednesday at comic book stores.”

#16 John Read
July/10/2009
@ 10:20 am

Nate and Mark, it’s not the promo thing that came in the USA Today to which we’re referring. (I never even saw that.) The day before yesterday, in comic shops all across this great land of ours, DC Comics premiered its new Wednesday Comics (for $3.99), which looks remarkably like the Sunday comics sections many of use remember from the “good ole days.” It’s a 12-week experiment.

#17 Jason Nocera
July/10/2009
@ 11:26 am

John – to answer your question, I would *not* spend $3.99 a week for a bunch of syndicated comic strips. I would rather save the money and buy the collections of only the comic strips I wanted to read.

#18 Andrew Shaffer
July/10/2009
@ 11:48 am

The color reproduction is better than I expected (except for the muddy Teen Titans). It is a grabbag, but the quality of the writing and artwork is top-notch–there was only one that didn’t read, mainly because the font wasn’t too friendly (Wonder Woman). I would rather pay $3.99 for DC’s Wednesday Comics than for any one of DC’s regular monthly comics. I’m looking forward to where this goes, over the 12 weeks and also in the future.

#19 Ted Dawson
July/10/2009
@ 12:27 pm

$3.99 a week for a similar offering of syndicated strips? With the current state of the funnies, I’m not even willing to pay $1.50 to buy the Sunday paper.

#20 Brian Ridgway
July/10/2009
@ 4:25 pm

I went to my local comic shop yesterday to pick up a copy, and they were already SOLD OUT! The shop owner would re-order, and seemed to like the format and overall product. He received positive word from his customers. I have little money to spend on comics right now (after an 18-month layoff), but thought I could find a single copy. Maybe this is the kind of product that forces people to slow down a bit and appreciate the finer aspects of comic artwork. The trip wasn’t a complete waste – I picked up a $.40 LUKE CAGE from the 1970’s for only a couple bucks. At least with that one, I KNEW I would get some entertaining reading for my money – unlike most comics today that take 8 minutes to read.

#21 Wiley Miller
July/11/2009
@ 6:23 am

“I went to my local comic shop yesterday to pick up a copy, and they were already SOLD OUT!”

Now if we could only get newspaper editors and publishers to see this, and comprehend it, then things could turn around quickly.

#22 Ted Dawson
July/11/2009
@ 8:53 am

I think it could create a window, if things are done in a way that make sense to newspaper editors. We did a series of weekly half-page comics a while back for newspapers. With a regular blitz of specialized comics, maybe it could eventually affect the regular comics pages.

It’s worth trying some new things. What would happen if this DC project is a big success? Would we see comic books move into newspapers and start eroding the space of comic strips?

There will be a big buzz about this at Comicon in a couple of weeks. Comic strippers don’t have an equivelent resource. Comic book people can take things right to the readers. How can comic strippers do that?

#23 Wiley Miller
July/11/2009
@ 9:40 am

I don’t expect newspapers to copy the idea and do full page comics, although that would be nice. I meant that I’d like for editors and publishers to take note of just how popular comics are and that it can be used to bring back readership…. which, of course, is why comics were created in the first place 100 years ago. If they gave comics their due respect and run them with the same interest newspapers did 50-60 years ago, they might find renewed interest in their product, resulting in increased readership. Hell, what do they have to lose at this point?

#24 RS Davis
July/11/2009
@ 2:13 pm

“Hell, what do they have to lose at this point?”

Truly. Just from an outsider’s observation, it seems newspapers have been fighting a battle of delaying tactics and losing. Instead of ‘hitting the beaches’ with an aggressive offense of offering new features or moving away from their ingrown political ideology, they’ve been pulling a slow motion ‘Dunkirk’ retreat instead.

It seems they’re saying “Well, we’re losing readership, so we can’t do anything new that might lose us more readership, so let’s play it safe and keep doing what’s causing us to lose readership so we don’t lose readership.”

Again, just an outsider here, but as one always has read newpapers, they seem to be the one industry that refuses to change anything about their game plan. It’s like they think the 1st Amendment makes them immune from market forces.

I bet if just one large daily newspaper that delivered on a large regional level, say The Dallas Morning News (which goes all over the south) were to reinvent itself with better features, hugh comics, more appealing color photography, etc., it would take off like a shot. Kind of a regional ‘USA Today’ focused on it’s local domain but with tradional newspaper features only expanded and improved.

I know I’d subscribe. You just can’t sit quitely at a Starbucks or at the breakfast table and silently peruse a Kindle or alaptop they way you can a paper…you can just FEEL it as you read.

Nothing like it. I wish at least one paper would realize that and cash in, ’cause Heaven knows there’s no competition right now.

#25 Ted Dawson
July/11/2009
@ 2:19 pm

I agree. I guess the trick is how to convince them that they have something to gain. They’ve forgotten the power behind comics.

#26 RS Davis
July/11/2009
@ 2:42 pm

It should not be hard to convince them have something to lose..they already doing that.

Just have them look at circulation numbers from say 1995 through today.

Yeeesh.

#27 Mike Peterson
July/12/2009
@ 4:41 am

Good luck with that.

Independent thinking disappeared about a decade ago. If someone else hasn’t done it, nobody is going to try it. And if someone else has done it, you need to have 20 meetings to talk about trying it, during which time you’ll get distracted by some other ideas that you also will never get around to implementing.

(Don’t mind me. The paper that canned me six weeks ago just went Chapter 7. Which would make me feel good except that it means a lot of unemployed friends and the end of my health insurance.)

#28 Tom Wood
July/12/2009
@ 8:55 am

A return to paper? Why? When these, and similar, are just around the corner:

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/07/04/crunchpad-prototype-coming-this-month-be-available-asap/

TW

#29 Wiley Miller
July/12/2009
@ 9:07 am

Because print is more enjoyable to read.

#30 Tom Wood
July/12/2009
@ 10:03 am

“Enjoyable” is subjective though.

I used to be an avid newspaper reader. But now, I hate buying newspapers and throwing away all those ad inserts and the sections I don’t need just to read one small part. Which, truth be told, I haven’t had to do in years because of the intertube thingy. (So they mail me the ad inserts, which is more efficient on my end because I don’t even have to sort them before throwing them away.) There isn’t any ‘news’ in newspapers anymore anyway, because the medium is too slow. Craigslist, eBay, and monster.com provide a better service for those needs. What’s left?

I grew up with paper, but my kids didn’t. They’re supposed to suddenly change attitude and start buying all that useless paper just to get some comics? Not going to happen. The battle is over, paper lost.

#31 John Read
July/12/2009
@ 10:34 am

“There isnâ??t any â??newsâ?? in newspapers anymore anyway, because the medium is too slow. Craigslist, eBay, and monster.com provide a better service for those needs.”

Say what?! What news are you getting from those sources, Tom?

Aside from that strange assertion, do you really find it more enjoyable to read comics (which is what we’re talking about here, not news) on a monitor than on paper?

#32 Tom Wood
July/12/2009
@ 11:14 am

I’m not getting news from those sources. I’m just saying that in addition to -not- providing news, the newspapers don’t provide any other useful services either – like what used to be provided in the classifieds.

If they make those tablets as interactive as the iPhone screen, then reading -anything- on them will be way better than paper. It’ll just take some getting used to. Big full color comics on a tablet that I can flick and zoom? Sign me up.

But even better, imagine the easter eggs that can be implanted into the comic storylines. Or the ability to zoom in to multiple layers of story, like a fractal. (Even Rall’s panels will become legible again.) Multiple endings, characters that wander off and walk into other comic strips…lot’s of possibilities.

#33 Nelson Dewey
July/12/2009
@ 1:54 pm

This sounds similar to something tried in 1967 — the “Wham-O Giant Comic Book”.
( http://booksteveslibrary.blogspot.com/2006/07/wham-o-giant-comics.html )
It was basically a huge “Sunday color comics”, with dozens of eclectic features literally thrown together. (I had a couple pages there.)
It was a cool concept, but never went beyond the first issue.

Being an old fart, I’d pay a few dollars today to get a “comics supplement” — especially if it contained new, unsyndicated material and was receptive to reader feedback.

#34 Alan Gardner
July/12/2009
@ 2:16 pm

While I think comics have potential to sell papers, I don’t believe the current slate of syndicated features can. The problem with modern papers is that a good chunk of their content (comics included) can be found in most other papers and the internet. There is no longer any uniqueness to a community paper.

“Cul de Sac” ran exclusively in the Washington Post as a local comic for years and the only way to read the comic was to pay for the paper or visit their ad-supported website. Now it’s a nationally syndicated strip everyone can read it on several websites for free. The Post lost something that was unique to them and their readers.

If editors were smart, they wouldn’t buy more syndicated comics, they’d find artists and build a following around features that have a unique voice within their own communities much like Richard’s did in D.C. – and hope the feature doesn’t go into syndication :)

#35 Shane Davis
July/12/2009
@ 3:49 pm

Mr. WOod said kid won’t buy papers because they can get what they want from different sources. Simply put, they don’t want newpapers.

TODAY’S newpapers. Which is all they have to compare to their techno-junk wizardry. And I don’t blame them considering the pathetic shape of most papers today.

But if what Alan and I said happened, one very large newpaper that is a monster in it’s pwn regional market, were to break the mold and offer a trend breaking paper with recent news stories (as of say 12a-1a the previous morning), exquisite colored photography (and large enough to really look at), and a host of cool features INCLUDING eye popping comics along DC’s Wednesday project…well I can’t see how it would fail.

I don’t believe there is NO market for newpapers. That’s bunk. There’s just a shrinking market for TODAY’S newpapers.

I know I’m getting long winded, but let me use an example. From the 19-teens to 1988 the pickup truck was a utilitarian device found on farms, ranches and in vehicle fleets. I was a cheap bench seat with a metal open bed in back. One of the cheapest vehicles around to buy but was CRUSHED by cars in terms of sales.

In 1988 GM reinvented the pickup truck and began offering them with captain’s chairs, leather seats, stereo cassette, etc. They turned them into essentially large cargo hauling Buicks. And they sold like gangbusters.

Folks who didn’t NEED one bought one anyway because they were cool, even if they really practically weren’t doing anymore than they did before. And folks who only wanted one vehicle (not a second pickup) bought the pickup as that primary vehicle when it started offering four doors.

OK, OK not a perfect analogy, but it illustrates that if you sit on your @$$ and wait for a market to develop around you, your’e toast on a stick, muerto, dead, in the past tense totally.

But if you go aggressively get your own $%&# danged market you can succeed big! Newpapers are waiting for readers to ‘come back’ to the same sad product – ain’t going to happen. Hasta la vista.

But if they chased down new readers with something unique, attractive, relevant, unbiased and entertaining they would score – I just know it.

Mainly because every single person in my orbit (which is a lot and many are that cash crop demographic of 18-30 or so), when I ask them about newpapers don’t say “Ah, nah. I read my laptop or CNN, or I’m considering a Kindle.”

No they essentially say “That thing’s boring.”

To end on the car analogy. GM’s last big money maker WAS the pickup (& the SUV which was a branch off of the pickup market) – their truck strategy was brillant.

But their car market paralleled the thinking of newspapers. “Ah, they’ll keep selling, we’ve always done well, this is only a market dip, they’ll come back” and kept offering the same tired, boring crap.

And the Japanese and Germans (and even Koreans!) offered esentially the same product that did the same as GM’s – gave you 2 or 4 doors, and engine and a way to drive around.

But their products were perceived to be much cooler, more relevant and the options within them and the service behind them just shredded GM.

Someone needs to tell newpapers editors that they are GM and they need to be Toyota or BMW.

Now.

#36 Tom Wood
July/12/2009
@ 4:34 pm

The Michael Jackson story broke on TMZ, an online celebrity gossip site. So many people turned to the internet that it brought down several sites. Google thought they were under a cyber-attack. The Iran protests had most of their initial coverage via Twitter. Twitter.

If you were a venture capitalist with the choice of either investing in a newspaper or an online social network, which would you choose?

“But Mr. Investor, if we put comics in the newspaper people will forget all about that internet thing.”

There’s a reason why Murdoch is conspiring to charge for content, online.

#37 Shane Davis
July/12/2009
@ 4:55 pm

Your assumption is that people are looking for newpapers for breaking news. They are not.

Folks aren’t stupid. They know papers only recap the news, which is fine and a good enough reason to exist.

If a person wanted a detailed recap of a huge significant event, what would most prefer to do?

Stare at a monitor for 30 minutes clicking on ‘enlarge’ to see the photos then click back to the text?

Or sit in a Starbucks or at home in your recliner or table and read through the event. Heck, you even get to save the paper if it strikes you as really important. How many people click ‘File>Save As’ on a website?

You’re right that newpapers can’t compete with the Internet for instant news. They have to make the case they can do for the reader what the Internet can’t and in ways it can’t. No one said comics alone are going to save papers, but as one element in a new format they could be very important.

#38 Wiley Miller
July/12/2009
@ 5:38 pm

“If editors were smart, they wouldnâ??t buy more syndicated comics, theyâ??d find artists and build a following around features that have a unique voice within their own communities much like Richardâ??s did in D.C. – and hope the feature doesnâ??t go into syndication :)”

Ah, yes… the caveat, “if editors were smart”…

Anyway, what you described there was the very thing that made comics so popular to begin with. Syndication came later because those comics were so popular in individual newspapers, so they could be seen in smaller papers across the country that couldn’t afford to hire their own cartoonists. It would be great if a major newspaper went back to that, getting rid of their syndication package (or maybe keeping a few) and focused instead of giving more room for one or two cartoonists who work exclusively for them. And those comics shouldn’t be online, or have them on a long delayed basis.

This is a pipe dream,though, as no editor or publisher today has the stones to do something so dramatically intelligent.

#39 Anne Hambrock
July/12/2009
@ 6:58 pm

“I grew up with paper but my kids didn’t”

You’ve hit on something very important there. I would bet your kids didn’t grow up on paper because you didn’t provide one for them. Papers lost this battle for younger readers – not in the last 10 years – but in the last 30. While John and I are avid print newspaper readers, a huge percentage of our friends in their 30’s and younger are not. Our kids DO read the paper. Avidly. Just this morning all 5 of us (kids 10, 15, 18) were in the living room swapping the various sections as we worked our way through. We’ve never forced our kids to read the newspaper – they just like it.

As far as breaking news goes – I have never gotten the newspaper for that – I watch News Hour and listen to NPR and other radio stations for that. I get the local newspaper so that I know what’s going on in my community and also because I like their selection of features. Including syndicated columnists and comics.

I agree with Wiley that, while comics may not bring readers to print who don’t wish to be there anyway, they are still valuable as a draw for one paper over another and papers need to realize this. As more and more papers add comics to their online versions, it will be interesting to see what effect this has on their CPM numbers. Once there are many choices of newspaper online that provide the same quality level of content as in the old days, including comics, people may very well go back to reading their local paper even if it’s online instead of in print.

#40 Ted Dawson
July/12/2009
@ 9:51 pm

(Wiley) “Because print is more enjoyable to read.”

Yes! When it’s at a decent size, anyway.

(Adam) “While I think comics have potential to sell papers, I donâ??t believe the current slate of syndicated features can.”

Absolutely correct. Newspapers should start running unique comics, experiment, and when one catches on, syndicate it themselves. That’s how it all started. There’s a formula there that worked.

#41 Ted Dawson
July/12/2009
@ 9:51 pm

Sorry, I meant “Alan.”

#42 Mike Peterson
July/13/2009
@ 4:15 am

“I would bet your kids didnâ??t grow up on paper because you didnâ??t provide one for them. Papers lost this battle for younger readers – not in the last 10 years – but in the last 30. While John and I are avid print newspaper readers, a huge percentage of our friends in their 30â??s and younger are not.”

Very true. We always had a paper in my house when I was growing up and I didn’t read it often — except the Sunday funnies — but it was there and I saw my parents spend time with it. When I went to college, I began reading the paper in the morning for sports coverage, but also because there was this little shindig in Southeast Asia that my high school friends were attending. We all read the paper throughout college, largely to follow national and international politics. (Comics were pretty lame in the late 60s. That’s when Zap! and others emerged to fill THAT gap.)

But the generation behind us did not. My kids are newspaper readers, but many of their contemporaries aren’t. When I was in Newspapers-in-Education, we could readily get kids interested in the paper, but their teachers didn’t understand how the paper worked — they weren’t familiar with its structure and did not “get it.” I thought the newspaper was extremely instinctual but apparently it is not. The industry missed an entire generation, which is why otherwise intelligent young adults talk about “dead trees” and the “MSM” with a confidence that can only come from ignorance.

#43 Tom Wood
July/13/2009
@ 9:13 am

Here’s the Apple version of the tablet:

http://gizmodo.com/5313266/re+rumor-apple-tablet-coming-in-october-priced-at-800

There have been attempts to ‘paint’ an interactive screen on a flexible fabric, but that’s a version that is still in development.

#44 patric lewandowski
July/13/2009
@ 12:06 pm

i enjoyed it, for the most part. I think the best efforts were the Metamorpho and Supergirl bits. They felt like the gave me enough information to satisfy me now and make me want more next time. Batman was a good storytelling bit. I really enjoyed that. Green lantern was fun, but not really about GL.

Teen Titans and Wonder Woman were the worst of the bunch. Still, I’m all on-board for this week’s batch of comics!

#45 Jeff Pert
July/13/2009
@ 1:52 pm

Re: Tom at #43

Interesting technology, but too steep a price. Like anything, though, it could catch on and the price drop to a more reasonable level as its popularity increases. And as a Mac fan, I’d love a gizmo like this.

That said, myself, I just can’t read comics onscreen for any length of time. And anything that’s the size of those glorious DC Wednesday Comics pages, unless you plug them into a large screen TV, what’s the point? You have to scroll and scroll and scroll, losing the effect of just following the flow of the story w/ your eyes.

I’m not saying that digital WON’T someday totally overtake paper as far as comics are concerned, but I think the art of comics will be the lesser for it.

#46 Tom Wood
July/14/2009
@ 10:34 am

Morgan Stanley Intern Says Teens Donâ??t Twitter, Prefer Events

“Newspapers and other print media are â??irrelevant,â? while movies and music concerts remain popular and are one of the â??few beneficiaries of payment,â? the report said.”

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aG2UIb23pNQ0

Just passing on what I see being reported…

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