DC's Dan DiDio On The Double-Edged Success Of Reprinting Old Comics

Robin faces mortal peril in the Facsimile release cover art of Batman #232. (Image: Neal Adams, DC Comics)

We live in an era where making access to high-quality versions of retro comics easy is easier than ever. That can only be a good thing, right? Not exactly, at least according to DC Comics’ co-publisher, Dan DiDio.

According to Newsarama, while speaking to fans at the DC Meet the Publishers panel at San Diego Comic-Con, DiDio polled the audience over just how many people in the room read DC’s Facsimile Editions — reprints of classic storylines from the companies’ long history in their entirety, right down to the original adverts these issues ran with.

The publisher got on board with the train earlier this year, following in the footsteps of Marvel, who have been doing a similar thing for a while to this point, and to great success.

It’s worked well for DC too, but interestingly DiDio went on to express that it isn’t necessarily something he’s entirely pleased with:

We do these Facsimile Editions where we reprint older issues of comics including all the old ads and stuff… and in some cases these are selling more than the new comics with these characters. People are more interested in buying the stories from 30 or 40 years ago than the contemporary stories, and that’s a failure on us.

We should be focused on moving things forward, always pushing the boundaries and finding new stories to tell. That’s how we’ll survive and grow this industry.

Given all the current shake ups at DC, as it tries to realigned its current comics output, it makes sense that DiDio would at least like to see fans more invigorated by the current creative output instead of flocking to reprinted classics.

But as more and more readers of all ages come into comics for the first time, having easier access to iconic stories from across a publisher’s back catalogue is a valuable gateway to the legacy history behind those current characters.

However, DiDio’s right in that it isn’t the only thing a publisher can focus on — there has to be new books and series to keep it all going. If people aren’t onboarding to the current books on offer as enthusiastically as they are going back to old ones? That’s a problem DC needs to deal with.

Maybe announce fewer Joker books? Only so many problems can be solved by throwing Batman and Batman-adjacent things at them.


Comments

    In other words they are starting to realise that many of the modern stories being told aren't well liked or engaging. I enjoy most of DC's books true, but there are some I don't bother with because the writing just isn't something I enjoy.

    Marvel is much the same. Some enjoyable stories but a lot of writers that just aren't that good. there are reasons for this. not going to get into them as you can't really go more than a few searches down a a google attempt without stumbling on why modern comics aren't very good. hint: it's much like a lot of news medias issues as well.

    Perhaps hiring writers that will actually tell new stories in the way the old stories were told would actually see success.

      I was going to comment along the same lines. It shows that their new stories aren't resonating with people in the same way their old ones were. I think a lot of that stems from the character changes. I'm a long time Superman fan, and they literally lost me as a customer with "the new 52" where they changed Superman from a beacon of hope and a character to aspire to into a marginalised outsider who had the police after him. I'm sure other characters have suffered similar changes with similar results.

      Changing the core values *might* get some new readers but it alienates a lot of the older ones. And you'll notice the "might" there. I suspect a younger reader isn't going to look for Superman if they're wanting a comic about an edgy young outsider. Largely because even the most casual comics reader is going to know at least a little about such an iconic character.

      I'd much rather they left long standing, original characters alone and came up with some new ones. Or maybe pulled some forgotten characters out of the vaults and spruced them up.

        Well rebirth has been great for a lot of characters. in fact up until Bendis came to Supes it's been exactly what you could expect from a superman comic. in fact prior to the last 6 or so monthes, most of the comics I've read were great. Aquaman rebirth and Flash rebirth have really been entertaining to me.

        Pretty much rebirth brought back focus on the original character traits and sales picked up because of it.

          I must admit their more recent Superman has been back on target but over all I'm not sure they're on the right track. I feel like they're trying to do "world spanning" events all the damned time now. And some of them seem a bit nonsensical (even in comics). "The Metal" event for one, Doomsday Clock for another (gotta suck for Alan Moore to see his characters used that way).

    If people are liking the older reprints more than the current stuff that should make it immediately obvious that the current stuff is crap.

    The fact the current stuff isn't selling well and people are flocking to Manga instead should make it even more obvious.

    #GWGB

    1. Kids are less likely to buy comic books these days, especially when they can just watch the movies.
    2. The older people who stuck with it, arent enjoying the stories as much, will prefer to go back and maybe read stories they missed.
    3. Nostalgia.
    4. Maybe the #wokeness to some people. But i think its less impactful than the change of generation that generally buy comics or nostalgia.

      The new comics are aimed at an audience that does really buy comics in the first place, While also driving away their existing customer.

      Yet they still wonder why people flock to the old stuff.

      I think there is a problem too, with so much content becoming digital while maintaining the same high prices. I feel like I'm being gouged when I buy a comic for $6 as it is. When you buy it digitally it's even worse because you don't even have the physical item that you can lend/sell at a later date.

      I don't know whether it's changed, but Comixology had a subscription based deal that seemed pretty good, until you realised not everything was available. So you still had to pay extra to read the most recent comics.

      As a kid, I bought my first comics from the book exchange (remember those) for 10c - 20c each. They were often ratty, dog-eared and sometimes missing pages. But they were cheap and *real*. As a result I'd keep my favourites and trade in the others for more comics. That's something that's missing for kids now.

    I think that, whilst being formulted to give new readers a point to jump on, the constant reboots and soft-reboots are a turn off. Me personlly, I wound down from DC after New 52 as it was kinda jarring following this whole continuity since 1986 and then having it disrupted by a Flash miniseries that created a "Crisis" event with little build-up (when compared to previous Crises) and things like a Rob Liefeld take on Green Arrow. I know DC ironed a lot of shit out since then, but it's still not the world I invested in and it diminishes some fo the stories that came before.
    Basically, their conitnuity is a mess of contrivances and it makes one long for the earlier days.

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