Quietly in the night, with no fanfare, coming in on little cat feet, DC Comics has launched an application for iPhone and iPad. The app was developed by comiXology, which also launched the Marvel and BOOM! comics apps, and the DC version has a similar interface.
Initial offerings include free comics: several stories from BATMAN BLACK & WHITE, including one by Ted McKeever, BAYOU from Zuda, and a preview of today’s SUPERMAN #700. Paid offerings — priced at the Marvel standard of $1.99 — include the first issues of SANDMAN, UNWRITTEN, FABLES, and THE LOSERS, issues of FRINGE, and a bunch of DCU issues, including all four issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST — the first three issues are priced at $1.99, while issue 4 — arriving in stores today — is priced at the cover price of $2.99.
The move is no surprise — DC has been teasing an entry into the digital space for some time — but its ninja entrance is. Only a few days ago, DC Co-publisher Jim Lee told CBR, “I don’t want people to misinterpret our silence as indifference or as a sign of inactivity. All I can say is that we’ve got great plans afoot, and we’ll share them with everybody soon.” He went on to say:
The last shape of what that business is going to be a year from now, three years from now, five years from now…it’ll be very different from what it is now, and no one can fully predict what it’ll evolve into. What I think the hopes for digital distribution are, is that we as an industry will be able to reach new kinds of readers that we haven’t been as successful reaching in the past. Some of the stuff that we’ve done in the past has been including free comics as a download on our website for Vertigo first issues or kids issues. You see some interesting trends now, and based on those trends, we see some interesting choices for what our digital business will be once we dive into that and what it’ll grow into. I think people will really start to see that it’s not about converting print buyers into digital buyers. I think it’s a much bigger picture than that, and I think our digital slate – when it’s announced, when it happens – will reflect our expectations for what that market will grow into.
Soon meaning this week!
A quick look at the bestsellers, as available in the app store, show SANDMAN leading for now, followed by the brand new JUSTICE LEAGUE: GENERATION LOST #4.
Bonus: Now we can finally read Zuda comics without that horrible Flash interface, since Flash is to Apple mobile devices what garlic is to vampires.
With DC the biggest comics player who had not gotten into the digital space, this is obviously an highly symbolic moment as some of the world’s most iconic and beloved characters are legally available for mobile devices for the first time. The fact that the app launched with a day and date release shows that the game is changing even more rapidly than we expected.
Developing and how.
UPDATE: Comics Alliance has the debut interview with Jim Lee and lots more details, including two very important things: a retailer advisory committee, and plans to use some of the digital money to provide services for retailers and a creator incentive plan, i.e., digital royalties:
CA: One detail that jumped out was the inclusion of a creator incentive program in your digital plans; how exactly is that going to function for both creators or new and old material?
JL: One of the key components of our digital strategy is making sure that the talent who created these awesome stories that comprise our backlist are compensated fairly. It’s calculated slightly differently, and not to get into specifics, but the amounts that will be paid are commensurate to our traditional royalty plan for comics in print. Basically, we want to make sure that the creative teams behind our books would be fairly compensated, even though this is a brand new channel, and we wanted to have that figured out before we announced.
More details here, including DC Comics available on the PSP gaming system.
UPDATE UPDATE: And CBR sits down with Lee and DC EVP, Sales, Marketing and Business Development John Rood, who talks more about the “Direct Market Affiliate Program” and how it developed:
Rood: Well, they certainly entered into our discussions. They’re a valued organization, but they aren’t absolutely representative of our retailer audience. So we’re talking to ComicsPRO members and non-ComicsPRO members alike, and certainly they’ve been valued partners in helping us figure out what listening to the retailer means when figuring out digital publishing. What would make a retailer program more than just lip service? Because I’ve seen a lot of lip service to date. So we’re excited to be working with folks to really craft something that feels additive and feels like it has the future of the comic book store in mind – and again, not just as a showcase for our publishing but as a showcase for all of DC Entertainment in all its manifestations from film to television to merchandising and interactive entertainment.
AAAAND, here’s the official PR:
DC Comics, publisher of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Fables, is partnering with comiXology and PlayStation®Network for two separate digital comics distribution deals launching today, Wednesday, June 23. In addition, a DC Comics App for the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch is available allowing consumers an easy way to access DC Comics’ content. The announcement was made jointly today by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution.
“At DC Comics, it has been a top priority that DC forges a meaningful, forward-looking digital strategy,” said Jim Lee, Co-Publisher, DC Comics. “As both a comic book creator and Co-Publisher, it was incredibly important that our plan includes not only creator incentive payments, but also an innovative component that supports comic shop owners. We see digital as an opportunity to grow our entire business.”
Both the comiXology and the PlayStation Network Digital Comics launch offerings will include classic titles from DC Comics, Vertigo and WildStorm, such as Batman: Hush, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Fables: Legends in Exiles and Planetary: All Over the World and Other Stories. Both programs will share a tiered pricing format, with digital comics priced from $.99 to $2.99 per issue. The Justice League: Generation Lost mini-series will be available through both platforms day and date with each issue’s print edition on-sale date, with both the digital and print editions priced at $2.99. Several comics will be available for free at launch, including the first installment of the ZUDA series Bayou and select stories from Batman: Black & White.
To further promote today’s announcement, DC Comics is offering a free 10-page preview of the 700th issue of Superman available through both platforms, day and date with the issue going on sale in comic book stores. The 10 page story is a prelude to writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Eddy Barrows’ highly anticipated “Grounded” storyline that will be published in Superman which will examine how Superman sees America, and how America sees Superman.
“Grounded is a major turning point in the history of Superman,” said Dan DiDio, Co-Publisher of DC Comics. “This storyline has the potential to generate national headlines and bring new readers the series.”
About the comiXology program: The comiXology program will launch with over 100 issues, from DC Comics, Vertigo and WildStorm, including the first issue of All Star Superman. Beginning with launch, one issue of Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed Sandman will be available digitally exclusively through comiXology each week and over 100 additional issues from the company’s diverse imprints will be made available through the comiXology program each month. The digital comics, priced from $.99 to $2.99 per issue, will be available through:
· DC Comics app for the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch;
· DC Comics-branded storefront, located in the Comics by comiXology app for the iPhone®, iPad® and iPod® Touch;
· DC Comics-branded storefront on the web at Comics.comiXology.com.
· www.dccomics.com, later this year.
“Once readers download an issue, they will be able to read it on all DC Comics-branded Comics by comiXology-supported platforms,” said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology. “DC’s taking a bold approach to platform convergence, and we’re thrilled to be their solution of choice.”
Staying true to comiXology’s support of comic retailers, DC’s partnership with comiXology also includes a first-of-its-kind Retailer Affiliate Program, which will collect a portion of digital revenues to be invested back to and on behalf of comic book retailers in a variety of initiatives.
“The ComicsPRO Board of Directors is looking forward to continuing our dialog with DC Comics to figure out how their digital strategy can lead to new customers for storefront retailers,” said Joe Field, owner/operator of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, an Eisner-Award winning comic book shop in Concord, California. “We’re pleased to be part of this important conversation about the future of the comics business.”
About PlayStation Network Digital Comics: The PlayStation® program will launch with over 80 issues from DC Comics, Vertigo and WildStorm, including the first 25 issues of Superman/Batman. Comic book titles based on videogame properties, including Free Realms, God of War and Resistance, will be made available digitally exclusively on PlayStation®Store for the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. Over 50 additional issues will be made available each month, priced from $0.99 to $2.99 per issue, available through PlayStation Network.
“With the PlayStation Network digital comics available for all PSP models, the user is able to explore a huge range of more than 1600 comics and we look forward to working with DC Comics to continue to add even more titles,” said Susan Panico, senior director, PlayStation Network, Sony Computer Entertainment America. “PlayStation Network is the premiere entertainment destination and we are excited to provide users with exclusive content and continue to expand our growing library of comics.”
About the DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution partnership:
DC Comics is working with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to leverage its global digital platform expertise and key partner relationships with companies such as Apple, Microsoft and other online distributors. Through these efforts WBDD will help DC Comics grow their digital publishing business.
“We’re very pleased to be working with the exceptionally talented team at DC Comics to help bring digital comics to consumers,” said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. “This innovative offering breaks new ground, and makes some truly great works available in digital form for the first time.”
“Today’s launch provides an additional opportunity to convert new readers and recapture lapsed readers while serving existing fans,” said John Rood, Executive Vice President, DC Entertainment. “We look forward to working with our partners in the industry—the creators, the retailers and the fans—as we experiment with our digital strategy, in a manner that remains additive to our traditional business models.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.