Robot 6

Tom Brevoort, Defender of DC

look for Tom Brevoort to become an honorary member of the Justice League this September

look for Tom Brevoort to become an honorary member of the Justice League this September

Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso joked around. Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis worried about retailers. Talent guru C.B. Cebulski said he was “excited” as a reader, “terrified” as a pro, and interpreted the promised creative shake-ups as vote of no confidence by DC in their own creators. Yes, plenty of prominent Marvel staffers reacted publicly to DC’s big announcement of a simultaneous line-wide relaunch and day-and-date digital comics program on Tuesday, but one of them emerged as one of the move’s most prominent defenders: Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort. On his Twitter and Formspring accounts, Brevoort repeatedly praised the Distinguished Competiton’s move as a smart, gutsy maneuver that’s precisely what the publisher needed to do to attract a larger readership.

Here are a few choice quotes from Brevoort on the topic, edited slightly for clarity; click the links for full context.

“Just to be clear, for all of the irate DC readers out there, I genuinely think this is the kind of bold and daring thing that DC needs to do. I can sense the hand of my old boss Bob Harras in it, among others. And I’d never bet against a JL book by @GeoffJohns0 and @jimlee00.”

(from Twitter)

“I think it’s actually a smart play….This is all-or-nothing time for DC. They’ll give this their best hit.”

(from Twitter, in response to reader tweets)

[Reader question:] Do you feel DC now has Marvel in a stranglehold or did they just jump off a cliff?

[Brevoort:]I don’t think the reality is either. I think doing something like this where they can make a big splash is absolutely necessary for them at this point. It feels very much like an “all-or-nothing” gambit to me. But it’s not like Marvel is jst going to curl up and die; we’re going to continue to publish all of the great stuff that we have been, and all of the great stuff that we’ve got planned. And anything that pulls more people into the stores is a good thing. I’ll happily take DC on on the racks.

(from Formspring)

[Reader comment:] DC Comics just made it 100% certain I’ll never pick up another book anytime soon. I hope I never have to see such a desperate move from Marvel. Rebooting/Revamping the DC line since the first crisis has only led to terrible things. Make mine Marvel!

[Brevoort:] I’m happy you feel that way, but I don’t really agree. At this point, doing something massive like this is the smartest thing that DC can do in order to try to capture a large audience and get them to check out their books.

(from Formspring)

[Reader question:] How do you feel about what looks to be the end of DC comics?

[Brevoort:] This is hardly the end of DC Comics. It’s just a change–the same kind of change that DC’s gone through three or four times in the last three decades. It’s all good–and might help to reinvigorate both their line and the industry as a whole.

(from Formspring)

[Reader question:] What DC is doing is mystifying. I can’t without any certainty claim that it is a publicity stunt but lean towards this as an act of desperation on their part. A company rich in tradition shouldn’t turn their backs on their exisiting fan base. Your view?

[Brevoort:] I don’t think that DC is turning their backs on their existing audience, I do think they’re trying to appeal to a wider audience, though. This isn’t just a publicity stunt, though it may well be a desperation ploy–only time will tell on the latter. But this isn’t about disrespecting the existing, dwindling DC audience, it’s clearly about trying to get enough additional people through the door to insure that they’ll still be a DC Comics in five or ten years.

(from Formspring)

Obviously, Brevoort’s allowing for the possibility of failure here. Elsewhere, he criticizes the new Justice League’s lack of diversity, and questions (and jokes about) whether or not the books DC will release between now and September will be ignored by readers because they “don’t count.” Still, his admonitions against labeling the move a stunt, his repeated dismissal of the notion that the move represents a betrayal of fandom that will end the DC Universe as we know it, and his guarded optimism about the plan’s prospects for successfully attracting new readers to both DC and the industry at large comprise one of the more sustained defenses of the move I’ve seen so far, and from an unlikely source who could just as easily have stuck to critiques and jokes or said nothing at all.



“…I genuinely think this is the kind of bold and daring thing that DC needs…”

He couldn’t have referred to it as “bold and brave”?

Either way this goes will be bad for Marvel.

If it is a huge hit, then DC gets a huge first mover advantage in digital. Marvel has been living on the decision to pioneer the direct market for decades. They have been a runner-up in the bookstore market forever. That is effectively gone as of today and Marvel has to be thinking about life as #2 for the first time since the ’60s.

If it is a huge flop, then DC will implode and probably take the direct market with it. Marvel will be left trying to peddle its wares in a digital market that has proven to not be viable.

There is not much middle ground.

But, they didn’t post the interaction I had with Tom Brevoort on Twitter. It was pretty epic for a second. Check it out if you want. I’m @jfx316 on Twitter.

Simon DelMonte

June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Uh oh. Breevort approves. That is not a good sign.

I don’t know, Dean. Marvel has got Disney in its corner now, and they’ve got pockets as deep as Time Warner’s. Both probably won’t have their little IP farms go out of business or off the (digital) racks in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, though I agree DC going under/stumbling horribly with this move would be a blow for the industry, and hence Marvel, but if this move turns out to be an unqualified, phenomenal success I don’t see Marvel playing second fiddle just because they’d be the second company to fully enter the digital market. Thanks to its movies, more of Marvel’s characters are very well-known and popular (here in the Netherlands I see young kids rocking Spider-Man clothes, toys and apparel *all the time*), plus Marvel has a much deeper bench of talented artists and writers and I believe new digital readers too will go for the better-drawn, better-written books (of which Marvel has quite a few more than DC). Finally, neither of these scenarios will likely come to pass, since they’re both extremes: instead, I predict modest growth and gradual change will follow from DC’s plans, not apocalyptic collapse or manna from heaven.

Preacher Cain

June 2, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Here’s an idea for DC (if such a thing is even possible): on every movie ticket for Green Lantern – and later for Batman, Superman etc. – have a code for the moviegoer to go home and download a free issue of whichever character’s film they just saw. If they want to bring in new readers, they’re going to have to come up with new ways to promote their comics.

Ultimately, I think this is a good move for DC. They needed to shake things up. Marvel will be watching them closely and if things work out for DC, they’ll jump right on to the day-and-date digital and start competing.

All in all, this should be good for all comic book readers.

I’ll give DC ONE chance on this one. Just like I gave Disney one chance when they bought Marvel two years ago. Both have one thing in common: either of them messes up, they’ll be hearing from ME, BIG TIME.

I like Preacher Cain’s idea! Kind of reminds me of the Pokemon movies – each ticket would come with a special card for the card game. A little pamphlet with a free download code (and/or some sort of “exchange this at your local comic shop for a free comic” scheme) would be nifty beyond nifty.

Hey Preacher and Angelica booth are good ideas but I get the feeling their is a thin line between advertisement and desperation. I think to bring in new readers one would need to advertise the unique quality inherent to the enjoyment of this less passive medium or just try to force people to fill in the blanks in a movie’s story by forcing them to read comics. Even if the latter works they are not sticking and may feel burned when the following movie comes out.

Me, I think we should associate comics with uniqueness, like having a digital comic written by a popular literary author on the special edition DVD. The fans that will get all the references may become new fans after said author express his or her feelings on comics.

See I don’t think the public is ignorant of comics everybody knows these are comicbook superhero movies. However, the problem may be that people just don’t see a value in opting for a comic. And, these are adults we are talking about not kids. Kids will only follow adults once they feel like they are missing out on something.

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