Read DC Axed

By | Friday, January 08, 2021 Leave a Comment
The dumb-as-fuck-looking Johnny DC mascot from the 1960s. Did DC *ever* know how to market itself?
I got an email yesterday announcing that the DC Digital Comics Shop (, formerly will be shutting down on January 14. They're not splitting from the comiXology platform as a whole; they just won't be maintaining a separate DC-specific site. Any comics you purchased through the site will still be available to you on

I can't findd specific dates, but I believe both Marvel and DC launched brand-specific portals for their digital comics in 2012. Marvel dropped theirs in early 2020, instead pushing their Marvel Unlimited "subscription" program. I'm certainly not privvy to their sales info, but I wouldn't be surprised if they make more money on Marvel Unlimited than they ever did with individual digital comics sales. It's not a program that makes sense for me personally any more, but I can see the appeal for readers here as well. DC, as far as I know, has never had a similar program where readers can pay a monthly fee for access to their entire library.

And that obliquely points to one of DC's problems: they still don't know what they're doing online, despite running a company website of some sort since 1994. Back in 2014, I talked about how they seemed to approach their whole online presence with no sense of strategy, like they were just copying what other companies are doing without understanding why. But even so, they seem to be deliberately holding one hand behind their back in their approach to digital comics.

Their digital comics site, as a whole, has retained its original design since launch, despite comiXology and Marvel redesiging their sites to better accomodate cell phones, which have seen increasing usage online. (As a point of reference, when DC launched its digital comics portal, the hottest phone available was the iPhone 4.) While Marvel released digital comics for free on an almost weekly basis -- running the gamut of titles, and often tying in with whatever news or movie was most popular at the time -- DC released almost nothing. Mostly just promotional newsletters and, in the past year or so, every other issue of the Teen Titans cartoon book.

I recall that they had a number of issues with Zuda Comics as well. Here's what I wrote about Zuda, when it closed in 2010...
I also heard out-of-school tales that former DC President Paul Levitz didn't really like, or even really understand, Zuda. And while he's not in charge any more, that attitude would have certainly permeated much of the culture at "DC-proper" and has likely continued. That essentially put Zuda behind the 8-ball from Day One and, in that respect, I'm surprised they survived this long. I suppose that's largely because, despite DC's worst efforts, Zuda was still quite successful. Especially if the TPB sales from Bayou and High Moon are any indication. I wrote some time back that, "The Zuda folks are the red-headed, bastard step-child with only one arm, a club foot and Asperger's as far as DC is concerned" and I think that has remained valid. It's only now that DC has got their crap together enough with comiXology that they've been able to kill Zuda off without raising too much holy hell from their fanbase...

Frankly, I'm not at all surprised Zuda has closed. It was almost inevitable. Not because Zuda was doing anything so wrong, but because office politics and "this is the way we've always done it" stood in its way. Zuda was always "not-DC" within the DC offices, and it's likely that DC Comics getting folded into DC Entertainment and Diane Nelson's subsequent appointment as President last year is what's kept Zuda alive this long. (Not infrequently, an incoming leader likes to take some time to survey the status quo before making significant changes.)
Honestly, I don't see anything different now, ten years later. Digital comics aren't part of "DC-proper" and they're given the short shrift. Which is mind-boggling to me! I can almost guarantee that Marvel is making tons more money than DC when it comes to digital comics, because they've given digital comics some measure of consideration and have a strategy around them. They don't have an also-ran "well, we've got the files digitally to send to the printer anyway" approach.

I get that, in the broader picture of Warner Brothers, digital comics sales aren't even a blip on the radar compared to Wonder Woman 84 or whatever, but you'd think somebody in the publishing division wouldn't continue to approach the web as if it's some strange new thing that no one has figured out how to monetize yet. DC's management has changed several times since 1994 but they don't seem to have altered their thinking about the web since then.
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