In what has to be a first for the comic book industry, a high-ranking comic book executive is upset at comic book readers… for purchasing the company's comics?! DC Comics publisher Dan Didio complained at the Meet the Publishers panel at San Diego Comic-Con that too many people are buying DC's facsimile edition reprints. According to a report from Newsarama, Didio asked panel attendees if they read the facsimile edition comics they purchased and when no one applauded, Didio was relieved, saying:
We do these Facsimile Editions where we reprint older issues of comics including all the old ads and stuff…and in some cases these are selling more than the new comics with these characters. People are more interested in buying the stories from 30 or 40 years ago than the contemporary stories, and that's a failure on us. We should be focused on moving things forward, always pushing the boundaries and finding new stories to tell. That's how we'll survive and grow this industry.
At least Didio recognizes that people being more interested in stories from 30 or 40 years ago is DC's own fault, though there are a lot of reasons why people might prefer reprints of older comics. For one thing, modern decompression techniques, which space out events that could have occurred in a single comic into 5 or 6 issue story arcs, combined with price increases that exceed the rate of inflation, simply make modern comics less valuable in terms of pure story portion per dollar spent. Additionally, many of these classic comics represent the original versions of stories that comic book publishers like Marvel and DC have spent decades rehashing over and over with watered down, nostalgia-fueled callbacks, rather than, as Didio says, "pushing the boundaries and finding new stories to tell." These are problems not with DC alone, but with their biggest competitor, Marvel, as well. And let's not even get into the constant need for reboots, #1 issue relaunches, super-mega-crossover events, and variant cover gimmicks that make collecting and reading comics more confusing and frustrating for potential readers, in addition to the high barrier of entry due to cost and limited availability in specialty shops.
Our opinion, of course. Your mileage may vary.
Author Joe Hill had another take on the reason people might prefer facsimile editions at the panel, saying:
The reason they sell so well is, if you're an older reader who has kids who are going crazy for comics, you're gonna buy the Facsimile Edition because those are the stories you knew and loved as a kid. So for people who didn't know them, they're not 'new', but they are new.
Wait, kids are supposed to read comics? Somebody tell that to Tom King!