DC Comics has launched a digital comics program, starting with the iPad/iPhone and the Playstation network.

And by launched, I mean launched. As in, you can download the app and buy comics right now.

I’m really looking forward to the day when they expand this to more platforms (desktop PCs, Android and Windows–based tablets, etc) and start reaching into their back catalog. I’ve griped about the lack of Golden Age Flash reprints before, and the Bronze Age is also virtually invisible in reprints (though at least with comics from the 1970s and 1980s, you can usually find the back-issues at a reasonable price).

I haven’t had time to read all the interviews, but I’ll definitely be reading them tonight:

Jim Lee at Microphone at DC Editorial.With Jim Lee so heavily involved in this project, I can’t help but think of a moment at WonderCon this year. Saturday was the day of the iPad launch, and the Apple Store in San Francisco is just a few blocks from the convention center. Jim Lee was conspicuously missing from the DC Editorial panel. He showed up partway through the panel and stood in the Q&A line, where he planted a few questions…and then pulled out the brand-new iPad that he had stood in line for that morning!

Sadly, judging by ComiXology’s new releases, DC hasn’t brought Flash to the iPad just yet. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.

Update: Comics Alliance has another article I won’t have time to read just yet, on why this is a big deal.

Cross-posted at Speed Force

If you went out to the movies in the US during 2009, there’s a good chance you saw a turn-off-your-phone PSA in which a movie about “robots from space” tries to negotiate blowing up Mount Rushmore.

In a case of life imitating art, the National Park Service is currently battling Transformers 3 — a movie about robots from space — over just what they can and can’t do with a national monument!

Okay, you can’t blow up a national monument, but…

Bill Line, Park Service spokesman, said the producers “have asked to do some things that simply are not done on the National Mall,” among them staging a “car race” along the Mall’s gravel paths and flooding it with artificial light in order to shoot at night.

Apparently it’s not unique to Transformers 3, but a fairly frequent battle between the park service and film producers, which means Sprint’s video isn’t just a funny story, but a bit of an in-joke to those familiar with the industry.

Hmm, any chance the new movie will have a chorus singing “Robots from space!” in the background?

DC Comics recently canceled its Minx line of graphic novels aimed at teen girls, leading to much discussion amongst comics bloggers. I don’t want to talk about why the line folded, but why the line existed in the first place. Why did DC create an entirely new brand in order to go after this audience?

A big advantage to creating a new label: no preconceptions. Prospective readers won’t look at the cover, see a DC logo, and wonder where the super-heroes show up and rip off people’s arms. And they won’t see a Vertigo logo and assume that it’s a “mature readers” book. On the downside, a new label has to build its credibility from the ground up, instead of starting with name recognition.

This got me thinking: an established brand associated with customers of one gender creates a new brand in order to target the other half of the population. Where else have I seen this?

I own a jacket labeled Claiborne, which is of course made by the Liz Claiborne company.

Mervyns sells (or used to) H&H Men clothing, which was clearly a variation on their Hillard and Hanson brand.

All the examples I could think of (other than Minx itself) were companies that had traditionally been aimed at women, but were adding lines aimed at men. It made me wonder: is it the names? Do men feel odd buying a product named “Liz,” while women are used to buying brands named after both men and women? (Sara Lee notwithstanding.) Maybe it’s the stigma of a man participating in something perceived as feminine? Sort of like the assumption in children’s TV that boys will only watch shows about boys, while girls will watch shows about girls or boys (so they make shows about boys instead of girls, figuring they’ll get a bigger audience).

Then Katie pointed out LEGO Belville, the line aimed at girls which entirely misses the point of LEGO by making as much of each set prefab as possible. And pink. On the plus side, unlike Claiborne, Belville doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s a LEGO product.

That makes it more like Men’s Vogue, a copy of which is sitting in the lunch room at work. In this case they’d have to call it something different (unlike a clothing line) because it’s not just a brand, but the title of the magazine.

I still think the craziest example of this has to be Men’s Pocky. It’s a cookie. One which I’d hardly consider a “girlie” cookie, but maybe it’s more associated with girls in Japan. I still can’t figure out whether it’s a case of cultural translation or deliberate absurdity.

WatchmenDC Comics has posted a list of 30 Essential Graphic Novels (that are published by DC or one of their imprints).

I’ve read:

  • Watchmen
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen vol. 1 & 2
  • V for Vendetta
  • Sandman vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes
  • Sandman: Endless Nights
  • Fables vol.1: Legends in Exile
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum
  • Batman: The Long Halloween
  • Batman: Dark Victory
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again
  • Kingdom Come
  • Identity Crisis
  • JLA vol.1: New World Order
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths
  • Transmetropolitan vol.1: Back on the Street

I haven’t read:

  • Superman for All Seasons
  • Superman: Birthright (but it’s on my to-read list)
  • Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
  • Batman: Year One
  • Batman: Hush vol.1 & vol.2
  • Green Lantern: Rebirth
  • The Quitter
  • Hellblazer: Original Sins
  • Y: The Last Man vol.1: Unmanned
  • Kamikaze Kaito Jeanne
  • Sword of the Dark Ones
  • Ex Machina vol.1: The First Hundred Days

The list is a bit heavy on Batman at a full 25% of the titles. And since it’s roughly 50/50 super-hero stuff and, well, other stuff, that means half their “essential” super-hero books are Batman. Come on, DC, show people a few more facets of your line!

On the plus side, they’ve chosen just one volume each for series like Transmetropolitan, Fables, etc.—so they can recommend as many different series as possible—and it’s the first volume. Unlike the well-known super-hero books, where the average potential reader probably knows enough to hit the ground running, it helps to start at the beginning, with a book that’s specifically designed to introduce each concept. And many of them are big, long stories. You wouldn’t recommend starting Lord of the Rings with The Two Towers, you’d tell someone to start with Fellowship of the Ring or get a combined edition.

Personally, I’d drop The Dark Knight Strikes Again (does anyone really consider it a “must read?”) and possibly the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Maybe even Endless Nights, though I suppose it represents the overall tone of Sandman better than the first book does. Maybe Dark Victory, since it’s essentially a continuation of The Long Halloween. With the Justice League, I might replace New World Order with Rock of Ages.

I’d add the first Astro City book, no questions asked. For the other space(s), I’d plug in something less well-known, but highly regarded. Maybe some more WildStorm, like Planetary
or The Authority Or how about a another DC hero, like Wonder Woman, Starman, or the Flash?