With print in trouble, comic shops in trouble, and distribution in trouble, online is the only way to read new DC comics just now.
With the comics industry in a spiral, DC has ramped up its online presence with the launch of DC Essential Reads, a site that offers the first issues of some of their most popular titles ever including Watchmen and Sandman.
These books are free for a limited time period, till June 8th, and the current climate is no doubt the perfect time for the company to test the popularity of such a site.
Along with this platform, DC is also releasing digital versions of new comics on the DC Digital First platform. Previously this was used to provide content that supports their characters in other mediums such as gaming and the CW TV shows. However, new titles Superman: The Man of Tomorrow, Batman: Gotham Nights, Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace, Aquaman: Deep Dives, Flash: Fastest Man Alive, Swamp Thing: New Roots and DC Superhero Girls: Infinite Frenemies will all be available, seemingly made up from the material that originally appeared in the 100-page comics that were produced for sale in Walmart, that had a new story to open the book, and then recent reprints from other titles to make up the page count.
It is worth noting that in a statement recently released DC stress that “regularly scheduled and solicited print comics, traditionally available on Wednesdays, will continue to be available day-and-date digitally on Tuesdays moving forward.”
How this will affect the industry moving forward remains to be seen, but the push in digital does imply that DC know that there may come a time when digital sales may be the way forward for them, and the COVID pandemic may have pushed them to act ahead of their corporate schedule.
However digital sales could mean bad news for already struggling comic shops that rely on the weekly sales of new comics to keep themselves in business. It is unlikely that customers will purchase both a hard copy and online version of the same material, and for many collectors, they may consider this a jumping-off point for physical collections.
With DC moving forward with their online presence, it would be fair to assume that Marvel may not be far behind.
In an environment that nobody could have foreseen, and a pop culture close down unlike anything that has preceded it, it is hard to predict the way forward for the industry, but as digital appears to be the way forward for printed comics, the writing may already be on the wall.
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Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.