Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Return of DC Treasury Comics?

sgI posted this exciting bit of news tonight over on The Aquaman Shrine (h/t Newsarama):

At a time when many newspapers are cutting back on their comics sections, DC Comics is looking to remind readers of the fun and excitement a full Sunday-sized comics section can offer.

Except they're going to do it on Wednesdays.

The publisher today officially announced Wednesday Comics, a new 12-part weekly series launching this summer that will be presented in a 14" x 20" broadsheet format and will have to be unfolded and opened to be read. The "Wednesday" part of the title refers to the fact new comic books go on sale at comic book stores nationwide every Wednesday.

"The concept is that we are trying to recapture the spirit, format, and sense of enjoyment that people had form reading the Sunday comics that arrive in newspapers every week," DC Sr VP and Executive Editor Dan DiDio explained to Newsarama. "So, for this 12 week period, we're creating 16 weekly strips that will be presented in newspaper format, which will feature some of our primary characters, as well as some of the premiere creators in the business."

DiDio credits DC Art Director Mark Chiarello's passion and persistence for the project seeing the light of day.

"Mark really championed and fought for this," DiDio said. "He has a real sense for putting together some of the more commercial projects we do, as well as some of the most eclectic and critically successful things we've done as well. He was instrumental in pairing Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on Batman: Hush, he put together the teams on all the Batman: Black and White projects, and created the concept of the Solo series, which allowed some of comics best creators to come to a comic and do, literally whatever they wanted to do. Mark has an incredibly keen eye for story and art, and from the start was very passionate about this format--and how the stories would play out, and the art would be almost larger than life for the reader."
Characters coming up in the pages of Wednesday Comics include: Hawkman (already linked to creator Kyle Baker art for which can be seen [above]), Batman, Adam Strange, Metamorpho (linked to Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred), Catwoman, Demon, Deadman, Kamandi, Superman, Sgt. Rock, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Teen Titans, Supergirl, Flash and the Metal Men. Each story will have its own full-page installment each week for the 12 issues. The stories may be standalone stories with each installment, or a 12-part serial--the choice was left up to the creators.

DiDio listed off names of some of the other creators joining Baker, Gaiman and Allred on Wednesday Comics: Brian Azzarello, Paul Pope, Walt Simonson, Dave Bullock, Dave Gibbons, Ryan Sook, John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Joe Kubert, Ben Caldwell, Kurt Busiek, Eddie Berganza, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Karl Kerschel. More will be announced at a later date, along with an official pairing of creators and characters.

"Mark had creators in mind that he wanted to work with, and he approached them and asked what they wanted to do and work on. We didn't want to have any redundancies, so we shot for the widest breadth of storytelling we could, and I think we got it," DiDio said.

Finally, DiDio stated that the stories in Wednesday Comics will not take place in current DC Comics' continuity, but rather will be accessible by any and all readers. "All the creators are working to make sure that these stories are being created from the standpoint that the readers is someone who has never seen or read anything with the character before," DiDio said, "And really capture both the essence of the character as well as the magic of comics."

I posted most of my thoughts over on the Shrine, but obviously it warrants attention here--after all, we are talking about the return of giant-size comics, and from DC no less!

Sure, they're not classic treasuries, per se--they're going to be 14x20", folded in half, like the classic Sunday Comics pages of old. But they're trying to capture that same spirit of excitement that made the original treasuries so compelling.

My #1 worry is the price-point: I know that people like Neil Gaiman, Kyle Baker, Joe Kubert, etc. don't come cheap (and there's no reason they should), but I can only hope DC has found a way to produce these books at a price that might attract the non-die-hard comics fan. Think more Archie digests ($3.29) than their recently-scrapped digest line ($9.99).

I've heard more than one recent story about how comics distributors (all one of them) have been incredibly unsupportive--if not downright hostile--towards any new book in the treasury format (Jeff Smith Rasl, Geoff Grogan's Look Out!! Monsters!), so I'm doubly-appreciative that DC is willing to buck this trend. I always figured if the format was ever going to come back in a big way, it would have to have the muscle of a DC or Marvel behind it.

Simply said, I cannot wait to get a look at these books.

And I thank DC for putting this together. Nice job, National Periodical Publications!

1 comment:

Devlin Thompson said...

So Mark Chiarello convinced DC that they should do their own version of KRAMER'S ERGOT #7, then? Incidentally, I'd suggest that KE7 probably qualifies for a listing, even if it is a hardcover.