The Inevitable DC ColumnA column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage
And so, here it comes, the big DC Realignment. Call it what you will: "Crisis on 52 Earths", "Wackest Plight", etc. but big things are happening.
In fact, frankly, I have trouble keeping track of everything that's going on because it's still developing. A cover here, an announcement there, etc. Between this site, BleedingCool, and a few other sites I'd be lost. Well, further lost.
The best summary I can give is that DC is renumbering its lines, with a not-quite reboot, tighter designs and focus, more continuity, and more e-comics strategy. This is producing everything from panic to curiosity, or in the case of old geeks like me, a mixture of indifference and analysis because we’ve seen it all – but won’t stop talking about it..
And here's my take, because this is not something we could analyze, this is something we must analyze. This is big, this is a change, and this will affect comics and this affects your professional plan.
THIS IS INEVITABLE: Surprised? You shouldn't be. Comics are changing as an industry (and as I often argue "comics are not about comics"). Someone was going to do something radical out of the Big Two, and this is it. Why was it going to be done? It was going to be done because . . .
THE MARKET IS CHANGING: Comics are not once they were (here I go again), they are now accessible via economics, they are the bases of big films, and they are a more acceptable lit form due to aging geeks and manga. How do you make your core comic line work when your ideas, plots, and methods are years if not decades old? You change. You have to change to deal with the fact ...
THE MODERN MEDIA AGE IS A DIFFERENT AGE: We are not only through the looking glass, we’re so far gone we can't see it in the rear-view mirror. Digital comics are out, webcomics are profitable, obscure characters gallivant through The Brave and the Bold, Stephen Colbert makes comics hip, and technology is changing rapidly. Comics have to cope with a time of different technologies, expectations, and delivery methods. Companies have to adjust, because the changing market and changing media mean . . .
COMPANIES HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON EXACTLY: Look, I felt comics were getting more popular, and the current age is surprising me. But when you're someone at DC or Marvel or even a smaller house, in a time where Chris Hemsworth and Kevin Branaugh made an unlikely hit and e-comics are on iPads, you have to ask what's going on. You know what? No one is sure. No one knows. We can theorize, we can talk, we can analyze, but I haven't seen anyone say "oh yeah I knew THIS was coming" because probably no one did. This means . . .
CHANGE IS GOING ON AND SOMEONE HAS TO TRY SOMETHING: And this is DC’s turn. They decided to change, aiming for a tighter system of comics, tighter titles, tighter e-distribution, and more coherent policy and teams. It could have been Marvel, or someone else, but it was DC. Very simply, facing the ever-crazy and unpredictable media age, someone was going to do something radical and DC did. Of course now that they did . . .
EVERYONE WILL BE WATCHING: DC just became a giant lab experiment involving people in spandex. What they do and don't do, succeed and fail at, will be watched and analyzed because no one else is doing this. Prepare to have this dissected, studied, and people coming to various (maybe even right) conclusions. See, the thing to remember . . .
THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING: All that change I talked about? This is the start, not the mid-game and certainly not the end game. There's more to come.
So with all that in mind, here's some tips for those of you wanting to work in comics, and facing this.
Ride The Wave - The change is coming, DC's change is inevitable, as are other changes to come. Don't fear them - exploit them. Maybe you take a digital art class to add to your art skills, maybe you wrap your webcomic in an app, maybe you reconsider your store's priorities. Ride it don't fear it - because you can only fear it if you don't ride it.
News Time - If you aren't following technical and publishing news, you're missing out (I recommendwww.techmeme.com and www.mediagazer.com on top of good comics sites). You need to keep up on what's going out there.
Use Your Imagination - Someone had to dream up DC's re-take, someone had to come up with the idea of a novel spinoff of a webcomic (see Girl Genius), so you better get your imagination working. Start taking time to brainstorm and apply your brainstorming, because the idea you thought of may be the way to make your career, comic, or store survive.
Network, Network, Network - You aren't going to make it without friends and allies and loyal customers. It's time to use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more to meet people and connect. In fact, as the world of comics continues it's voyage into experiments that those who succeed will be their own community (divided by money and technical/cultural understanding) - and you want to be part of it.
Take Initiative- Because in a time of change and chaos, initiative is better than overcaution.
Keep watching, keep learning, and keep telling me what you think will happen...