In recent years, schedules have emerged as vitally important cogs in my everyday life, personal and professional. Routine is key in childrearing, so we have a schedule to which my wife and I adhere pretty closely every day, every week. My boss laments the monthly scheduling of staff in the newsroom, but without that complicated labor, some of the myriad of tasks and assignments that need to be done daily would no doubt slip through the cracks. I have to keep an eye on the schedule to ensure my usual duties haven’t been trumped by a fill-in shift of some kind, covering for one editor or another.
In publishing, keeping to the schedule keeps the business going. Deadlines exist for a reason. There are penalties for missing press times at the printers. If one thing goes amiss, the whole endeavor can fall flat. But when it comes to scheduling, the release of the first volley in DC Comics’ latest rebranding and relaunch demonstrates the publisher has completely missed the point of the benefits of good timing and the pitfalls of bad timing.
Action Comics #41, the first issue in a new, T-shirt-driven direction for Superman, is, alphabetically speaking anyway, DC’s first foot forward in this new era dubbed DCYou. Instead, I was left with the impression that DCBlewIt. Footnotes in the comic tell the reader the story takes place after the as-yet-unreleased Superman #41 and refer the audience to a key development in Superman #42. I don’t have an issue with linked continuity. I don’t even have a problem with some retroactive continuity. But premature continuity? Strikes me as a bit messy.
Did it not occur to anyone to hold off on the release of Action #41 until after Superman #41 hit the stands? Just to switch or stagger the releases of those two titles for a month or two? Isn’t that a simple solution?
Action #41 is, in part, a bit of a road-trip story, and the same holds true for another Super-title that hit the stands this week: Bizarro #1. I was eagerly anticipating this new title (which, sadly, is pegged as the first of a limited six-issue run), as it shows DC’s genuine commitment to diversify its line and to reach a wider audience. Bizarro‘s a delightful humor comic that casts off the shackles of continuity to deliver a weird but charming all-ages story.
But when one looks at the other titles DC debuted this week, it begs the question: why pull the same stunt twice in the same week?
DC also released the first issue of its new Bat-Mite title (again, set for a limited six-issue stint). Like Bizarro, it fulfills the promise of a less gritty super-hero genre story, is appropriate for a wider age range and celebrates humor. With so many similarities, I can’t help but wonder why the comics publisher didn’t separate the two by a couple of weeks in its publishing schedule? I would imagine retailers would like someone who dug Bizarro to return a couple of weeks later for another fix of goofy super-hero fun. They want return customers, not someone who gets all of his or her shopping done in one shot. There are other quirky, unconventional titles coming from DC later this month, but they don’t appear to be as light and as appropriate for as wide an audience. I just don’t get why the Powers That Be at DC would opt to lump these two books together in the same week.
Mind you, this is hardly a new development. DC’s made such missteps before, just as its main competitor, Marvel Entertainment, has. Their customers notice these gaffes, and therein lies the danger of poor scheduling. Comics enthusiasts may turn to others to fill slots in their own reading schedules.
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