Paul Levitz on Comics, DC and the State of the Industry
During San Diego Comic-Con, ICv2 conducted a fairly comprehensive interview with DC president/publisher Paul Levitz to chat about the state of the comics industry and the recent past, present and potential future. The interview was broken down into three parts, and each of them has some worthwhile questions and answers from DC’s head honcho.
From Part One, some frame of reference for the decision-making process when it comes to which characters/titles to put the spotlight on:
Some people think that Watchmen is a risky movie for presenting comics to a broad audience because it’s so dark. What are your thoughts on that?
The great successes are always the things that you can’t prove in advance will work or will not work. You get a Superman because it’s a departure from what was there before. There were ancestors of him in the creative process, but it represented a leap forward. And the same reason that my predecessors were nervous about putting him on the cover of every issue of Action Comics for the first few until they got the sales figures in, were the things that in part created the potential for him to be the breakaway at this time. I don’t think there’s a lot of mid-ground for Watchmen. I think it will either be very successful or it will be a passionate cult favorite. Everything we’re seeing so far indicates to me that we have a good shot at it being a breakaway.
From Part Two, an interesting observation of the economic status of what DC believes to be the typical comics buyer:
Do you predict any differences in how sales in the different channels will respond to the economic conditions?
The comic shop owners are still more vulnerable to the high intensity-high value customer. Luckily a high proportion of our customers are in industries that have been doing relatively well—high technology kinds of things tends to pop up fairly frequently in the descriptions of jobs in our field, so hopefully that’ll be sustaining. The bookstore side of the world, I think, is just vulnerable to all of the challenges that book publishing is having now. Even if the graphic novels are a very bright spot in their world, and they seem to be, book publishing is not having an easy time right now.
From Part Three, some insight regarding DC’s plans for webcomics and their Zuda program:
The screen is a powerful method of delivery for a younger generation and it’s going to be part of our business one way or another, hopefully in a very complementary fashion. I think we start doing print stuff on Zuda in early ‘09 in the current schedule. And that will be an interesting test to see how that translates over.