New DC Comics Publisher Jim Lee discussed the future of the company’s efforts to bring comics to digital platforms in a panel at this year’s WonderCon event.
On behalf of the company, Lee said they viewed digital comics as a completely different product than the printed versions and as such, they want to play to each product’s strengths. He also offered explanation for why we haven’t seen more crossover to mobile devices in lieu of this week’s release of the iPad.
“I think at the end of the day, I have not seen anything on the digital side that is more compelling to me than a printed comic,” said Lee in response to a fan question at the panel. “I’ll use Blackest Night as an example. You open that up and — I don’t want to spoil anything — but there’s a spread inside that’s just amazing. You cannot replicate it on a device with a smaller screen.”
Ultimately, he said it’s why DC hasn’t jumped head first onto the digital bandwagon the way other companies have, such as competitor Marvel Entertainment, which released their own iPhone/iPad application to coincide with Saturday’s debut of Apple’s iPad tablet device.
“There’s no real business model for it, in that, it’s not a big part of anyone’s business right now, regardless of if you’re on the iPad tomorrow or not,” Lee said, adding that even when digital does start to carve out a portion of the industry it won’t cannibalize the printed comics because of all the differences it will end up having.
These differences include advantages like having an entire comic collection in your pocket, Instant access to purchase comics and being about to seek out new comics and new tools that will allow creators to tell stories.
“We have to come up with some really compelling content that plays to the advantage of digital distribution. Once we have something like that, that’s when you’ll really see things start to shift,” Lee said.
However, that doesn’t mean DC isn’t exploring this space seriously — they just want to avoid doing digital comics as just a simple scanned PDF file with artwork on it, according to Lee.
Lee said they are currently talking to several software companies about making that jump to digital and they plan to launch digital comic content on the iPad and other devices “in a meaningful way” this year.
Drive To Become The Top Super-Hero Company
Earlier in the panel, which also featured Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Co-Publisher Dan Didio, there was much discussion of their push to become the number one Super-Hero Company in the world on all levels (sales, audience, and influence) — so I would assume the same could be said for DC’s digital comics strategy. They’ve obviously spoken to great detail about the issue.
“You’re looking at three of the most competitive people in comics sitting side by side right now. It’s great to have this level of support and energy,” Dido said.