After years of industry concern over the rising cost of periodical comics and competition for kids' attention from videogames, DC Comics is taking steps to attract them by offering affordable, quality comics material in book format. DC Comics is launching Showcase Presents, a reprint series offering classic comics in black and white, packaged in 500-page trade paperbacks.

Showcase Presents will launch in September with a collection of Superman material originally published from 1958 to 1960, featuring the work by artist Curt Swan; and Green Lantern comics published from 1959 to 1961, featuring the work of Gil Kane, another renowned DC Comics artist. These initial volumes will debut at $9.99. Subsequent volumes featuring the characters Metamorpho, Jonah Hex and the Justice League of America will sell for $16.99. The books will also include work that has never been published.

DC comics is betting that the price, material and the newfound importance of the book trade for selling graphic novels will attract young readers often more interested in other forms of pop entertainment. But it is uncertain whether classic material--originally published in color--re-released in black and white will appeal to kids brought up on full-color, high-resolution graphics. In fact, the books may do well--but with their original audience: baby boomers who have grown up.

Nevertheless, said Stephanie Fierman, senior v-p, sales and marketing at DC Comics, "This is an effort to introduce DC's rich and deep library of material to new readers. And it's particularly exciting to make it accessible through the book trade."