DC Debuts New DC SQUARED Digital Initiatives

Credit: DC Digital
Credit: DC Entertainment

DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson introduced a new exhibit in New York called "The Future of Storytelling," while also focusing on DC Digital's current initiatives.

"Our approach follows three basic innovations," Nelson said. Starting with their "First-Class Content," Nelson said they've had incredible, rapid growth since their first digital offerings in 2010.

"It was a bit of an experimental phase, so we could see what reader response was." Nelson said DC Comics "changes the game" when they launched their same-day-digital program with the launch of The New 52, offering all new titles digitally the day they were released in print. Digital-first titles were the next step, and they now have one running every day of the week, including partnerships with Warner Bros. Interactive and Warner Bros. TV for titles based on games and television shows.

Credit: DC Entertainment

There are more than 300 digital-first chapters that have been published, and DC Entertainment says 30 percent of all digital-first readers are new to comics.

"A great example of all this is the Injustice Phenomenon." The comic book tie-in to the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game is digital-first, and dominates sales charts across Kindle, comiXology, iBookstore, and Nook. The first chapter sold more downloads in April, when the game came out, than in its month of release in January. Injustice has lifted overall digital sales 10-20 precent each time a new chapter is released, as well.

Credit: DC Entertainment

The next tenet is "Broad Distribution," with releases across multiple devices and popular online stores.

125 percent digital sales growth from 2011 to 2012 includes more than one million digital downloads per month. A 35 percent growth from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013 shows a continued growth that DC Entertainment is happy about.

Today, the third tenet, "Storytelling Innovation," introduces DC2 (pronounced "DC Squared") and DC2 Multiverse. Jim Lee, co-publisher of DC Comics, took the podium to introduce the innovation.

Credit: DC Entertainment

"DC2 will redefine what a modern day comic book looks like going forward," Lee promised, saying it's an "evolutionary step" in DC's digital offerings.

The first title demonstrated was Batman '66, the new series coming from writer Jeff Parker and various artists including Jonathan Case.

"Each tap of the screen actively advances the next element of the story, whether it's the next panel or individual art elements on the page," Lee said.

If this sounds familiar, it's because indie creators like Reilly Brown have already been presenting stories in this format, plus Marvel Comics has a similar line of projects called Infinite Comics.

Multiverse Sequence
Multiverse Sequence
Credit: DC Digital

However, DC2 Multiverse, as demoed with Batman: Arkham Origins (a new series based on the game, both expected fall 2013), unlocks new story branches and different parts of story that can be explored. Along with limited motion elements and sound effects, the reader is actively progressing the story — at one point, they can choose to follow Batman or Catwoman's part of the story, and selected Batman. It's very much like a choose-your-own-adventure book, but as a motion comic.

"There is limited animation, there's sound effects and soundtrack, but it's all reader-directed, making it an active reading process," Lee said. There's no voiceover like in most motion comics, requiring the reader to still read the captions and word balloons as usual.

Multiverse Sequence
Multiverse Sequence
Credit: DC Digital

"There's a unique readability factor, you can go back and choose a different option from the option tree," Lee said, giving you a new side or version to the story. There will also be digital rewards for people who make the right choices in the game/comic.

These new innovations are meant to bring in the "casual fan market," from TV, Movies and Games.

"We have thousands of DC fans out there who aren't reading comic books," said Jim Lee, and they're "casting the widest net possible" to show fans what's possible "when you combine words with pictures."

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