Who got that dollar share? DC got that dollar share! Who got that dollar share? DC got that dollar share!
Festivities aside, now would be a good time to talk about how to keep that momentum going, no? And so I bring you…the ten things I want from DC Comics in 2011.
Cassandra Cain as Batgirl—in comics and out. So many people have blogged about this that I am not even going to bother delving into it here. Long story short, this character needs a comeback.
A Tales from the Multiverse series. I know what you’re thinking. Why the hell would we need a book like that? You need it for the times when that writer you so desperately want to keep happy has an idea for a prominent DC character that is brilliant but will surely destroy the brand that you have spent decades cultivating. That’s why. Toss it in another universe and publish it. You’re happy, the writer is happy, and that fan out in Topeka who is a supreme stickler for continuity will be happy. However, this title is not just a place for you to churn out stories pulled from some dusty pitch pile. This book ain’t for everybody. Only the sexy famous people. The title should be exclusive—top tier writers and artists only. Let them know exactly how special they are. If Neil Gaiman has a story about Wonder Woman in the Victorian era? It goes here. William Gibson thinks it might be fun to write a Batgirl one-shot? Bingo. This is not the book for Fill-in Schlub #453 (although Fill-in Schlub #453 can be very important to a company when a book is late). I see the book as a series of miniseries, not an ongoing series. In fact, you could even collect shorter stories from various creators in one book as a theme (noir, good girl, horror). And with all those popular creators, themes, and self-contained stories, the material would be just perfect to release in big, expensive hardcover trades, no?
A new Young Justice series penned by Adam Warren. We’ve talked about this, but I’m bringing it up again because…well, I really want this, damn it. Plus, I think it’s important to rebuild the popularity of neglected characters like Static, Batgirl, and Blue Beetle in a team ongoing with a strong writer who has a great ear/eye for youth culture. There’s strength in numbers. You can’t just toss these characters back out into the solo spotlight without a little nurturing (though it seems like that’s exactly what you plan to do). A strong, consistent team book can provide that nurturing. And given how poisoned and erratic the Titans brand has been of late, it’s best to use a title that can provide these characters with a fresh start while capitalizing a bit on nostalgia and stealing a wee bit of shine from the competition (Young Avengers).
A little less Blonde Ambition. Are you not embarrassed by the fact that nearly all of your prominent young heroines look and act the same? Are you not embarrassed to be embracing the most obvious of Mattel’s failures by placing all of your eggs in one genetic basket? You need to fix this. Now. Let me make it easy for you. Cassandra replaces Steph as the main Batgirl of the DC universe. One down. But I’d still dye Cassandra’s hair red and give her a cute Rihannaesque cut as a fun counter to the adorable nostalgic images of Babs all over t-shirts and other memorabilia. America will happily accept an Asian Batgirl, but my guess is that it still expects its Batgirl to be a redhead. (Keeping the red hair color will help make the rebranding process a bit easier.) Mia is slowly morphed into a nice strawberry blonde. Supergirl is kept the same. Don’t muck about with icons. Wonder Girl goes brunette and very short to keep her from looking like a clone of Donna. And for the love of God, put some of your non-white heroines front and center. If you don’t have enough, make up some!
Logos for your ladies—and the second tier. People I know who don’t even read comics still own and wear Batman and Superman t-shirts. The symbol stands for a myth that is widely known. The symbol becomes a substitute for an archetype. DC has more recognizable symbols than Marvel and this is something that you really need to capitalize on and strengthen when it comes to second-tier characters. By the time the Wonder Woman television show rolls around I hope that DC will finally decide on a decent Wonder Woman logo and push it heavily as a symbol of female empowerment. In fact, the following characters should have easily identifiable symbols associated with them: Wonder Woman (female empowerment), Power Girl (cheesecake with a big helping of irony), Black Lightning (nostalgic Blaxploitation), and Batgirl (the cutting digital edge). I’m just picking random themes, but you should really hold a meeting about this and decide what would be profitable and popular for the long term. And not only should these characters have symbols, but those symbols should stand for something. With enough repetition in a particular context it should conjure up an image or feeling in the viewer’s mind. Logos are important. Take your time with them and make sure that they are distinct.
Expand upon your houses. I’ve always seen the Marvel universe as a group of friends and the DC universe as a group of families. Unfortunately, only two families get any real attention—which leads to a universe that feels very bland and repetitive. What has been done with the Green Lantern characters needs to be repeated on a smaller scale with other sectors of the DC universe. Other families need to be fleshed out. The House of Adam (Black Adam). The House of Wonder (Wonder Woman). The House of Lightning (Black Lightning). Develop stories to make these houses a cohesive unit. You don’t need a plethora of miniseries. The ground work can be done within existing books through character interaction and development.
A Grand Theft Auto miniseries. I know that Wildstorm was once the place for comics starring IPs from popular games. Wildstorm is gone now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sneak one last comic in. GTA V, a guaranteed moneymaker, is coming down the pike. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have a one-shot that could be pushed right along with it in stores? Perhaps a comic by the same artist doing the artwork for the promotional material? And wouldn’t it be fun to have cheat codes (phone numbers) hidden right within the stories?
DC characters embedded in different forms of entertainment. My friend, who is way more of a basketball fan than he is a comic fan, showed me the promotional work Marvel did a while back for ESPN. What a wonderful and sneaky way to get your characters in front of a new audience! Contact Glamour about doing a fun Power Girl photoshoot. Get a custom Batman cycle made by American Chopper. Get one of your youngbloods on MTV’s True Life: I’m an Intern. Have a cake made for some character’s anniversary and showcase it on the Food Network. Get out there!
Popular entertainers embedded in DC Comics. This is pretty much the inverse of the preceding category. Create a vanity project for a famous singer before Bluewater can churn out of crappy one. Let a famous actor co-write an issue of a comic that could use a small sales boost. Do a one-shot set to the lyrics of famous rap songs.
Romance. Look, I need romantic angst and scandalous affairs. Now, I can easily get that from General Hospital. However, watching General Hospital (which I started doing around the same time I stopped reading most comics) and tweeting about this show with Kalinara (also occurring about the same time I stopped reading most comics) isn’t making you one bit of money or helping to keep the names of your characters circulating in nerd circles. A romance one-shot might be a nice way to reach out to the fans who need to see a kiss or two after every three kicks to the face. Start off with mainstream superhero characters to test the waters and try a straight up romance anthology later on. How much could two comics hurt your bottom line? If it doesn’t pan out? No harm, no foul.
Next up? I’ll try and list the ten things I’d like from Marvel. No promises though.