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DC Announces Digital Comic App, PSP Plans

Posted by Luke Brown On June - 23 - 2010

Shocking pretty much everyone in the industry, DC Comics unveiled their digital comic reader on the iTunes marketplace in the wee hours of the morning today. The official press release also included plans for the PSP reader, and talked up the company’s plans in great detail.

Partnering with ComiXology on the iPad/iPhone/iPod, the DC Comics app bursts onto the scene with a litany of releases both new and old, including Planetary, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Batman, and a day and date release of Justice League: Generation Lost #4. There will of course be the customary free comics, ranging from Bayou and Mirror’s Edge to a 10-page preview of the debut of J. Michael Straczynski on Superman with issue #700. Though the publisher may have been a little late to the digital party, Jim Lee assures that it’s because DC wanted to get it right, not only for the customer, but for the creators as well. “As both a comic book creator and Co-Publisher,  it was incredibly important that our plan includes not only creator incentive payments,” stated Lee. “”But also an innovative component that supports comic shop owners.” What that means is in addition to the writers and artists making royalties on the sale of the digital versions of comics, brick and mortar retailers will also see benefits thanks in large part to a retailer affiliate program, which sees a portion of the digital profits reinvested back into your local shops.

What’s more, the PlayStation Store will see DC comics arrive this week with a huge assortment of more than 80 comics on day one. The PSP will be the exclusive home to any and all of DC’s Sony-based comic properties like God of War and Resistance, which is both a good thing, and a slightly disappointing thing. I understand the need for such an exclusivity deal to exist, but sequestering part of your audience is never a good idea. On the bright side, at least fifty new DC comics will be made available each month, which should put the publisher neck and neck with Marvel as far as library strength is concerned on the PSP.

I’ve made it clear that the lack of DC’s involvement in the digital comics frontier was disappointing, but now that I see why it took so long, and what they’ve got planned, it seems to me that DC is poised to take the reins of digital comics, and blaze a new path that will benefit readers, retailers, and creators.

You can check out the complete, and highly detailed, official press release below. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some comics to download.

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.”



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