As the first full day of Comic-Con unfolded in San Diego, one of the biggest stories is the continuing push, from publishers, to release more diverse material for a wider audience.
Following its corporate relocation from New York to Burbank, DC Comics has not only moved geographically, it's also moving in new directions with a line-up of books that appeals to both new and returning readers. Co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee discussed their new direction—promoted under the DC You label—at a press breakfast on Thursday.
It’s all part of what DiDio called a three-pronged approach that’s influenced by DC Entertainment publisher Diane Nelson’s vision for the company. The focus is on new takes of old characters and new creators, all meant to appeal to new readers who may be enticed by DC’s growing media properties. Diversity—both on the page and behind it—is also key, with more female-led and focused books becoming bestsellers, including Harley Quinn and Batgirl. Finally, there’s an emphasis on greater distribution for comics, whether expanding in traditional comics shops and bookstores, or finding new ways to market books, such as packaging DVDs with related comics.
Asked about the growing number of female readers and characters, DiDio said for him it’s more about the recent influx of female creators. “In the past it was harder to find people, but now we’re able to put some of the best people on our books,” he said. “And the sensibility comes from their vision.”
Also moving forward, DC announced a slate of 12 new books from Vertigo, the house's more experimental line which has published such classics as Sandman and Fables. The new books include The Twilight Children by Gilbert Hernandez with art by Darwyn Cooke; Survivors’ Club by South African novelist Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen with art by Ryan Kelly; and Clean Room by Gail Simone with art by Jon Davis-Hunt. Other creators involved include Shaun Simon, Michael Allred, Holly Black, Tom King, Simon Oliver and Rufus Dayglo. The first titles will debut in October.
“This is a groundbreaking rollout for Vertigo and all 12 new titles represent the imprint at its core: smart and irreverent stories that will take you someplace stranger," said Shelly Bond, executive editor of Vertigo.
"When Shelly Bond offered me an opportunity to launch something new at Vertigo, I took that as a chance to fast talk her into collaborating with Gilbert Hernandez, one of the world's great cartoonists," said Cooke. "The Twilight Children has me excited in a way I haven't felt since I started work on Parker. To enter Gilbert's world and help him bring this remarkable story to Vertigo and our readers...well, I'm gushing, it's an honor."
Elsewhere at Comic-Con, the news flew fast and furious. Grant Morrison is continuing his storyline based on Indian mythology begun in 18 Days with Avatar X, published by Graphic India. The story is debuting as part of a Humble Bundle spotlighting "Graphic India" that just went on sale.It's Morrison's first original digital comics.
Reflecting the overall growth of the category, B&N announced that it is doubling the size of the Graphic Novels and Manga sections in all its stores. GNs are one of the top three categories for the book chain, and the move reflects a demand that has been growing over the last few years.
The B&N expansion reflects the same trend that DC is seeing: new readers drawn by greater diversity, new distribution channels, social media buzz and a growing female readership which has made titles like Ms. Marvel, The Walking Dead and Saga best sellers.