DC’s Digital Problem

You know, sometimes I wonder if I’ve been unfair to DC. I mean, I didn’t just jump ship. I pulled an Olympic style dive off the boat, swam as fast as I could, and pulled myself onto the joint cruise ship of Image and Marvel and told them to step on the gas.

But y’know, there are still characters I care about at DC. Granted, not really anyone in the New 52, but there are plenty of properties I fell in love with at DC.

Properties that DC doesn’t want anyone to read digitally, apparently.

No, that's not what I want.

No, that’s not what I want.

I had never really noticed this on Comixology until recently. I mostly buy Marvel and Image comics on the site and the delay on digital trades for those two can run the gamut between “none at all” to “a few months.” However, considering how behind I am on New 52 Batwoman, I thought I would check to see what they had available to put on my wish list.

They had the first three volumes of her New 52 run, but I noticed that Elegy, her first full story at DC, wasn’t available on Comixology except for the single issues. Curious, I got to looking at some of my favorite series from DC that I don’t own in trade to see if they were available in digital trade.

Gotham Central, Greg Rucka’s fantastic crime comic that started Renee Montoya’s transformation into The Question? Single issues, no trades.

Jaime Reyes’ first Blue Beetle series? Single issues, no trades.

Bryan Q. Miller’s totally fun and adorable Batgirl series that is mostly out of print? Single issues, no trades.

52, the critically acclaimed weekly comic series that ran for a year? Well, you get the idea.

Like a lot of New 52 rage, this particular post was inspired by Stephanie Brown. [comicsmastersonline.com]

Like a lot of New 52 rage, this particular post was inspired by Stephanie Brown. [comicsmastersonline.com]

Yep, that’s right. Minus some major event comics such as Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, digital trades of a lot of DC’s pre-New 52 comics are non-existent. To give you an idea of how stupid this is, Marvel’s major event from 2006 that ran at the same time as 52 was Civil War. Every possible collected edition of the comics related to Civil War are available on Comixology. 

If you want a trade of New 52 though? No problem. DC is here to compile the terribleness for you.

I just have to wonder why though.

DC must be aware of the fact that there are people out there who want to read their non-event trades. That there are people who like those stories and would love to have them on digital. Who would love not to pay $57 for a used trade of Batgirl: Batgirl Rising because DC doesn’t want to print it again.

However, I’m sure those people are being silenced by the editors who insist on pushing the New 52 and forgetting that the old comics exist. Critical praise be damned!

Which just makes me wonder if the same people realize how short sighted and alienating that is? If the company is only focusing on New 52 and not selling the old stories in digital, it really does make it seem as if they really do not give a shit about fans of the old material. Which, again, they haven’t really proven otherwise since the changeover.

“But Ashley,” I’m sure some of you are asking, “Why not just buy the single issues? Those are available, right? And cheap, right?”

Uh, not really. It actually adds up a lot if you aren’t careful.

Stand back, I'm about to use math.

Stand back, I’m about to use math.

The whole idea of a trade paperback is to compile the comic all into one place. Often times for a bit cheaper on the whole than buying each individual issue. For example, the regular The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys trade paperback from Dark Horse that is releasing in May is running for an SRP of $19.99. Including sales tax, I paid about $25.86 total for the six individual issues over the course of 2013.

Now, at this point, it might actually be cheaper to buy each digital issue of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl than it would be to find the trades used and price gouged, but let’s use the more readily accessible 52 as an example. If I bought each issue individually on Comixology, it would cost me $103.48. While that is slightly cheaper than the $150 hardcover 52 omnibus, it would be way cheaper if DC offered the four volumes at $11.99 each on digital. Like… $55.52 cheaper in the long run.

DC, if you’re going to continue to be a player in this game, you need to figure out how to be more accessible and cost effective to your audiences that may not necessarily want your short-term goals. Because your current formula on Comixology is not it.

edit: I was informed by a friend of mine that DC made an exclusive deal with Amazon to release their graphic novels through Kindle, which would probably explain why I couldn’t find some of them. I apologize for that mistake in not researching the issue thoroughly.

However, upon further searching of Amazon and DC’s own digital store, I discovered that most of the comics mentioned in this article are still unavailable in digital trade. Perhaps it’s more fair to say that DC has a digital comics problem in general.