07-JUNE-2011 There’s a lot of hub-bub because of the DC Comics relaunch news. This is a good thing. Getting people talking about comics is exciting! This is mainly an exercise in proving the diversity in comics but I’ve added a few thoughts stemming from the DC relaunch news about bringing in new readers.

One of the points of contention is that the new series being relaunched or introduced for the first time will be comics spanning genres and including “diversity.” I’m rather sick of the overuse of the word “diversity” in this context. X-MEN launched in the 1960s and you don’t really get more diverse than that. Let’s stay grounded in reality here. There are diverse comic book titles and characters. You have to be an educated consumer and know what to look for and know which titles fit your tastes. If you don’t know you can find out! Talk to the people inside the comic shop or hell, even on Twitter. If you tweet, “I like westerns. Are there any western comics?” I bet you’ll get a good amount of replies provided you have a following of comics fans in your feed.

By no means is this meant to be a fully comprehensive list. It’s just examples that there is genre-diversity now. And I intentionally left out real life stories like FUN HOME, BLANKETS, and CUBA: MY REVOLUTION. Let’s have a breakdown by genre of existing books for people that don’t have to wait until September for #goodreads:

SUPERHERO
* LOVE AND CAPES (IDW)
* FRESHMEN (TOP COW)
* THE LAST PHANTOM (DYNAMITE)
* G.I. JOE (IDW)
* B.P.R.D. (DARK HORSE)
* Tons of titles from the X-MEN line (MARVEL)
* AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (MARVEL)
* Let’s face it, there hundreds of current DC titles to choose from with superheroes.

COMEDY
* PvP
* DR. BLINK, SUPERHERO SHRINK (trades available)
* SUBCULTURE (trades available)

KIDS
* BONE (SCHOLASTIC)
* TINY TITANS (DC)
* MARVEL ADVENTURES (MARVEL)
* REED GUNTHER (IMAGE)
* TRANSFORMERS (IDW)
* BATMAN THE BRAVE & THE BOLD (DC)
* PIXAR franchises including CARS, FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES (BOOM)

WESTERN
* THE LONE RANGER & TONTO (DYNAMITE)
* ZORRO (RIDES AGAIN), OR THE LONE RANGER & THE DEATH OF ZORRO (DYNAMITE)
* GUNS OF SHADOW VALLEY (online & free!)
* THE SIXTH GUN
* JONAH HEX (DC)
* ZEKE DEADWOOD (SLAVE LABOR GRAPHICS)
* SCALPED
* HIGH MOON (DC)
* WEIRD WESTERN TALES (DC)

HORROR
* GREAT ZOMBIES IN HISTORY (ELEVATOR PITCH PRESS)
* LIVING CORPSE (coming to DYNAMITE in August)
* THE WALKING DEAD (IMAGE)
* HACK/SLASH (DDP)
* TRUE BLOOD (IDW)
* AMERICAN VAMPIRE (VERIGO/DC)

CRIME NOIR/PULP
* WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? (IMAGE)
* GREEN HORNET: YEAR ONE (DYNAMITE)
* KATO: ORIGINS (DYNAMITE)
* FIVE DAYS TO DIE (IDW)
* DARWYN COOKE’S RICHARD STARK’S PARKER (graphic novels IDW)

FANTASY/SCI-FI
* BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (DARK HORSE)
* ANGEL (formerly IDW relaunching at DARK HORSE)
* S.H.I.E.L.D. (Marvel)
* QUEEN SONJA and RED SONJA (DYNAMITE)
* SAVAGE TALES (DYNAMITE)
* WARLORD OF MARS and DEJAH THORIS (DYNAMITE)
* STAR WARS (DARK HORSE)
* HOUSE OF MYSTERY (VERTIGO/DC)
* DOCTOR WHO (IDW)
* FALLEN ANGEL (IDW)
* FABLES (VERTIGO/DC)

POPULAR NOVEL ADAPTATIONS
* STEPHEN KING’S THE STAND (MARVEL)
* STEPHEN KING’S THE GUNSLINGER REBORN (MARVEL)
* ORSON SCOTT CARD’S ENDER’S GAME and ENDER’S SHADOW (MARVEL)

So, you see diversity in comics exists NOW. You do not need to wait until September to find something which would appeal to a new reader especially considering that the comics market is vibrant with paperback and hardcover collections.

** As for those that say it’s the merchandising of franchising that makes DC money to even allow them to make comics, from a local retailer level this also does not help us. All that DARK KNIGHT merch sits and collects dust. IRON MAN – same thing. The movie franchises might sell a lot of toys and t-shirts in places like Wal-Mart and Toys R Us but not in a comic shop. As for online sale, I’m not certain how many sales are lost to specialized pop culture retailers like Stylin’ Online or SuperheroStuff. But movies only bring in a few people to the shop and generally, they come to only look around and get excited… for the movie. They don’t say, “Hey, look – COMICS!

*** DC is stating that they want the relaunch to bring in new readers. Consumers today, especially the younger crowd, are not going want to wait a month between issues. They are reading novels of 800+ pages in a week. It’s like telling them that they can download a digital album but they can only listen to one song each month. If they want to hear more than one song, they have to buy “the Emo band 1 album” and “the Emo band 2 album” and “the Emo band 3 album” (using albums as a musical analog of comic titles). When this generation is used to reading such opuses like TWILIGHT and HARRY POTTER, I cannot fathom that they will be satisfied reading 20 pages per month of a title. Marketing to that crowd makes more sense on a graphic novel level, not individual issues at $2.99.

Don’t forget you can hear  the discussion with some of the Comic Geek Speak cast members on Episode 1085.