ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This is a BIG DAY for GEEKS! DC Comics MIDNIGHT MADNESS Release Party

I count myself among them-- tonight at MIDNIGHT DC Comics relaunches their line of books re-starting at Issue #1.  It's a bold move to re-invigorate readership which has dwindled among younger and new fans.

Picture this-- you grew up not reading comics, or not reading comics other than Sonic or Jughead and you get through with Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT and realize that Batman is more than Adam West's POW BANG comedy hero of the 1960s TV series so you decide to check out his comic book title.  Calling 1-888-COMIC BOOK lets you know that there are two comic shops in your area and you head into one of them to grab an issue.

Only to find out that Batman appears in no less than a dozen books each month-- including special editions, one shots, trade paperback collections, graphic novels, several ongoing monthly titles as well as team books like JLA.  Where do you start?  How do you jump on?

I'm sympathetic for a couple of reasons-- I don't read regular monthly comics because of this very reason-- I don't want to follow multiple titles AND frankly the shorelines seem pretty tired to me.  But Dan Didio-- co-publisher of DC Comics reminds me a lot of Stan Lee in his heyday-- excited, behind the idea of a relaunch and it got me to check out FLASHPOINT which is an interesting WHAT IF? type series of books-- the Batman one featured Thomas Wayne out to avenge the death of his young son Bruce at the hands of a mugger by dressing up like a Bat-- yup, I said THOMAS WAYNE.    That'd be Bruce Wayne's dad-- a re-imagining of Batman's origin with nearly the same outcome.  There are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting and although I thought the 3rd part of the 3 part series was the weakest, it still held my interest.

Second, and certainly easier for me to empathize with, I don't watch Doctor Who-- I've tried.  I think the 70s episodes I saw were idiotic and the newer version with Matt Smith has much better special effects and an interesting cast-- and even though I struggled through two episodes the other night I'm still not convinced this show is for me-- there was just too much backstory, too much I had missed and too many other places for me to get my entertainment jolt.

Sounds like the predicament the comic book industry is in, at least among the big publishers.  See what happens is in the old days-- when comics sold about two million issues each big characters like Superman and Batman only appeared in three titles a month.  A reader could follow along-- nowadays if a character becomes popular they spin off another book and then another and another.

WAY back in the late 90s I had this discussion with a prominent DC Editor and proposed they started all over again and limited the number of titles a character appeared in.  They said they'd never go for it.  Shortly afterwards Marvel Comics did something kind of like it with the Ultra-verse-- but not to the level that DC is doing it this time.  I'm not trying to take credit here by any means-- just saying I thought it was a good idea then and I think it's a good idea now.

Here's the deal-- at Midnight Tonight DC is releasing JLA #1-- the first title in the relaunch-- and to celebrate it many comic shops are having midnight parties tonight-- my two local favorites That's Entertainment in Worcester and Friendly Comics in Bellingham are both taking part.  Offering films and other events to fill the night.  Friendly is even offering free pizza and cookies for the countdown as well as a marathon showing of Justice League cartoons.

The story has made the NEW YORK TIMES.

In New York City-- which for was the homebase of the industry-- Mid Town Comics is hosting the "Official" Party which will include characters in costume as well as DC Co-publisher Jim Lee and Creative director Geoff Johns.

Here's the controversial part of the new program-- DC is also releasing these titles DIGITALLY at the same time the print books are released.  DC has taken extensive steps to re-enforce it's relationship with retailers who recognize that they could be made irrelevant by a digital age of reading entertainment.

Diamond Distributors has been working on a program to keep retailers involved in the delivery process, and it's been met with tepid responses from the retailer community.  Adaption, is the key here folks.

But tonight belongs to the geeks-- if you haven't been in a comic shop in sometime this is a good time to give it a try.