DC Comics Co-publisher and CCO Jim Lee gave his analysis on the current conditions of DC’s digital line of comics.
And the prognosis is not that positive.
“[The DC Digital Comics Channel] sales have hit a wall, “Lee explains. “[On] the digital side, I think it’s been pretty flat over the past five years, and I find that very disheartening. [It’s disheartening] because everyone talks about digital being the future. If there’s anything that should continue to grow year-in and year-out, it should be that channel.”
Since The New 52, the company had seen old fans leave, so there is the general consensus to factor in to this bleak outlook. Jim Lee thought by starting the line from Issue 1 with new stories and less backstory would be a booster shot DC needed. In retrospect, however, it had the reverse effect. It was also during this time that DC Digital launched. Both old and new stories were made available on your choice of smartphone or tablet for a monthly subscription. Analysis: The option of reading classic DC stories online as well as new is great, but what’s the point when that history has been wiped away?
What’s the point?
Although DC Rebirth solved that problem with the influx of legacy, what should be a progressive evolution of a comic subscription has still seen a dip in profits. Jim attributes the need for creativity to develop the brand. With platforms like ComiXology and even public libraries hosting their own digital comics service, it’s becoming a market that demands innovation.
“We need to reinvent what we’re doing digitally, ” Jim declares. “The subscription service on the DC Universe platform is part of that. We just have to get better at marketing to people that know our characters, love our characters, but aren’t buying comics.”
Innovation and Inclusion Moving Forward
The comics legend went on to emphasize his optimism for the platform’s performance thus far with regards to its inclusive nature. To his mind there is still a demand for the output that DC Digital provides, albeit in need of a different approach. Its strength lies in making the act of logging on and reading a communal, interactive experience.
“We really have nothing like it, so creating something that is the place were all DC fans can come together, read, enjoy, connect, communicate with or share community with one another is vital and important. We’re still going to have original content going through, but the slate is still being worked on. There’ll be announcements going forward.”
Lee refused to comment on that whether that plan included the live-action DC Universe shows Doom Patrol and Titans. These are the only survivors of DC’s streaming service following the cancellation of Swamp Thing.