DC Execs Want Everyone To Read Their Books: Just Not Women, Children, Teens, or Anyone Over 34

DC Senior VP Sales, Bob Wayne, was in his home turf yesterday, as DC Comics took a road trip to Dallas to talk to retailers about the upcoming relaunch.

At the show, DC told retailers that they have a seven figure marketing budget to spend on the Relaunch, which includes everything from the previously Bleeding Cooled TV ad campaign, including the Cartoon Network ads to USA Today, Facebook, movie theaters ads, conventions and promotional materials. The target audience are men age 18 to 34 though they do realize that they have readers in other demographics.

They do realize that they have readers in other demographics. They just don’t want us. Even though we make up the majority of the population and would make for fiercely loyal readers.

They only want more of the same demographic they’ve been trying and failing to attract for years. They want “new readers” but only certain kinds of readers. The kind that wants Harley Quinn stripped of her clothing and recast as a “death-row super villain”, apparently.


Sue of DC Women Kicking Ass responds:

DC Comics to female readers: we’re just not that into you

DC Comics, which has seen its market size and readership totals shrink over the years, has finally figured out how they are going to increase its sales.

It’s going to try and sell more to the same people. They are out on their DCnU roadshow and are saying that “new readers” they are targeting are males 18-34. The same readers they have been trying to sell to for the last decade with diminishing success.

Good luck with that strategy.

Do they know that by the time most males are 18 anyone who is inclined to be reading comics are long past the on-ramp and are pumping cash into video games and other leisure activities? Oh wait, I do know one dude who got into comics at 18. My nephew. You know who got him into them? Me.

And as they pursue this strategy, female readers seem to be shoved off into the category of “other”, i.e. the “nice to have but we don’t give shit about them” category. By the way, the biggest consumers of digital content, where everyone agrees the future of comics is. Women.

And not only that, I want to point out something else.

Despite the fact that DC doesn’t lift a finger to market to females;

Despite the fact that DC publishes artwork of female characters that regularly crosses the line from cheesecake to embarrassing;

Despite the fact that female characters are often treated like crap in comparison to male characters AND that being treated like crap is still better than some of the other things that have been done to them;

DC still has many, many loyal female customers. Passionate customers. Customers who will overlook the way female characters are treated, the titastic and asstastic artwork, a distribution system that is limited and can be not particularly welcoming to females AND still buy their products.

And not just buy comics, but engage with others about them. And celebrate them through artwork and cos-play. And recommend them to others. And not just to other women. Men, too. My mailbox is filled up every week with men asking me what they should buy to get started in DC.

In business, that’s called a customer base. And it’s valuable. But it doesn’t appear to be to DC.

Over the last week some of that base has had concerns with this new “DC”, I outlined mine last week. But still there was a sense of “wait and see.”

And now, I see.

Apparently my money, which has been steadily pouring into DC Comics for the past decades, isn’t as good as the money from some dude who may or may not buy more than one issue of a comic.

I’m not stupid. I don’t believe that female readers alone are going to save the company. But it would be nice to hear that they are considered valuable. Important. That DC actually cares if women buy their content.

When expanding a business, it’s a good rule to not piss off the old customers, the base, when you don’t have any new ones yet to replace them. And by identifying their core market combined with the treatment that female characters have received in this reboot, DC has done that.

I’m pissed off (and I’ve heard from many others today who feel the same way). I think it’s time to consider whether the money I spend on DC is best spent with a company more into me. What do you think?

It’s not about new readers. It was never about new readers. It’s about Dan Didio getting his dream of rebooting the DC universe in his own image and Jim Lee trying to revive the failed 1990s Image ideas of his youth. The spectre of falling sales was merely an opportunity for them to force their vision upon everyone.

Bob Harras: I can’t speak to the other resets, because I wasn’t here for that. But this one comes from us saying, “We’ve got great stuff here, and an amazing cast of characters” and we want people to come join us at this one, particular point. It all comes from the fact that these characters are amazing, and we’ve got a lot of great writers and artists, and we’re giving people an invitation to jump in at this one point. We really are using the terminology that this is a party, and we want people to come. This time, it’s a way to give a shock to the system and shout out that, hey, we’ve got great stuff here!

Eddie Berganza: I think Bob and I like using the “party” line, or party analogy, if you will. We had created a party that was very exclusive. We weren’t letting a lot of people in.

What we’re saying is that we’re opening the doors really wide. We want everybody to come in. We want to everybody who wants to read periodicals, or wants to read a story on their iPod or iPad — everybody. (Source: Newsarama)

Everyone who’s male aged 18-34, that is. Preferably white, straight and able-bodied. (The tiny number of black and Hispanic male characters getting books isn’t anything to brag about.)

Hey DC: I’ve got a male aged 18-34 in my life. Guess who got him hooked on your books? Me. When you cancelled all my favourite books, you cancelled his too. He loves the female characters. Thinks Power Girl punching someone and then kicking back with Atlee is just the best thing ever. He wants to read comics that are fun. Nothing about this relaunch nonsense appeals to him. I was the one considering Mr. Terrific, Static, Blue Beetle, Voodoo, Batwoman, and Supergirl. But apparently you don’t want my money. I’m not a worthy target audience for you. You don’t want to publish stories that appeal to me. Or my boyfriend, it turns out.

I’m seriously reconsidering what I’ll buy from DC come September. I don’t think Supergirl will be on the list. Do I really want to support a company who claims publically to want everyone to read their books but then tells retailers another story? It’s up to the creators to convince me now, and I’ve just become a very hard sell. One way or another I will be writing DC a real dead tree letter because that’s the only thing they’ll hear.

I’m giving Marvel a serious look. There’s some really fun looking stuff there and a host of great female characters to check out. I already have a couple titles I want to buy. Guess who found them for me? My boyfriend. How’s that winning new readers coming along for you DC?

Michelle loves comics and code. Her fansites can be found at michellebacon.com.

8 thoughts on “DC Execs Want Everyone To Read Their Books: Just Not Women, Children, Teens, or Anyone Over 34

  1. I’m so torn! I’m not very familiar with Mr. Terrific, Static, BB or Voodoo I won’t know whether they’re being handled right. And if I like them, I’ll want to buy their back list, and then how will I feel?

    It feels so much easier just to dive into Marvel head first. Digital subscriptions! Lots of trades! Teams with lots of female characters! And unlike DC, they’re not afraid to be goofy and silly.

    (ETA: Also Marvel characters change their costumes all the time without having to be rebooted. None of this BS sticking to an unpopular costume for 5 years just because marketing says so. *looks at Supergirl*)

    1. Wait. Wait wait wait wait. Have you not read Jaime Reyes’ series?

      Consider this comment me holding an intervention. As a friend, okay, I think it is necessary for you to look at some of the choices you’ve made in this life, but it is okay, there is still time.

      (Also Static and Voodoo are Milestone, so at least you won’t have to feel obliged to DC?)

      1. *hangs head* I wasn’t buying as many comics when it started and I heard good buzz about it near the end, and then it got cancelled and…I’m rationalizing aren’t I? Oh god, I need help.

        Guess this means I gotta add the trades to my Chapters shopping list, huh? :) I still can’t get over that Leverage’s John Rogers co-wrote it. I love that guy. But comics? So weird.

        (Am going to pick up Static and BB for sure, but isn’t Voodoo from Wildstorm? I’m kinda ehh about her background.)

        1. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, Michelle. I’m not saying it’s going to be *easy* now, but it’s going to be okay.

          Srsly, though. You will love that book.

          (And yeah, I was getting confused with Xombi. Because I am the BEST COMICS FAN. Aside: I really, really enjoyed v2 and v3 of WILDCATS, but Voodoo and Grifter were some of the least interesting characters. So of course they are the ones getting their own series. Also, man, incorporating Wildstorm characters into the DCU is such a bad idea, it is a good thing I have so little caring left.)

  2. Eddie Berganza: I think Bob and I like using the “party” line, or party analogy, if you will. We had created a party that was very exclusive. We weren’t letting a lot of people in.

    The problem was that you guys did not promote your “party” well enough and neglected to send enough invitations at the right opportunities to bring more people in. Tossing out the people partying in the Stephanie Brown and Karen Starr suites (among others) has undermined the buzz this new party would have brought.

    On the Marvel front I highly recommend the Dan Slott’s She Hulk series, the recent She-Hulks mini (trade comes out in a few weeks), Black Widow and the Marvel Girls, and Ed Brubaker’s Captain America series for its strong portrayal of Sharon Carter and Black Widow.

    1. I am a huge fan of She-Hulk, have trades 1-6 and would have the rest but they went out of print! You have good taste. Will look into the others. I just bought a bunch of Deadpool comics today, and Fear Itself: Fearsome Four and Youth In Revolt.

      I like your party riff :) When I talked to my LCS owner today, he said that very few people who’d had most of their series cancelled, like me, were picking up new series for September. Gotta feeling no one’s gonna show for the big party.

  3. And yet again, DC foils my attempt to branch out much past ‘Legion of Superheroes’ because of cancelled books. I’m definitely going to pick up the first issues of Supergirl and Blue Beetle- hopefully they’ll be good. I don’t know about any of the others, though.

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