MAKING AN IMPRINT1 of 12
This week, DC Comics announced a pair of new YA-focused imprints titled DC Zoom and DC Ink that will cater to middle school and young adult audiences, respectively.
DC has made similar moves in the past, but Zoom and Ink are poised to tap into the increasingly lucrative bookstore and book fair market.
We're hoping they stick around a while - the projects lined up are all intriguing - and if Ink and Zoom live up to their potential, they could stick around more than some of these other defunct DC lines.
CMX2 of 12DC's attempt to get into the manga market, CMX lasted six years despite initial controversy when it was revealed that material such as Tenjho Tenge was being edited so that it would be able to marketed to a wider audience.
Signature Book: Likely Tenjho Tenge, if only for the amount of attention its editing received. Alternately, Fred Gallagher's Megatokyo, a webcomic that CMX collected in print editions.
Lasting Legacy: Sadly, none of the CMX titles remain in print at DC Comics, although Viz picked up Tenjho Tenge (uncensored) and Dark horse has Megatokyo now.
MINX3 of 12
A line aimed at teenage girls that lasted a little over a year (ahead of its time?), Minx is these days relatively unsung despite putting out some great Young Adult graphic novels, including work by the likes of Glory's Sophie Campbell, X-Men: Legacy's Mike Carey, and Brian Wood.
Signature Book: The Plain Janes, Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg's imprint-launching graphic novel and the only series in the line to get a second volume before Minx was closed down.
Lasting Legacy: Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly's The New York Four moved over to Vertigo for its follow-up, the sensibly-titled New York Five.
PIRANHA4 of 12
DC's first attempt at a mature readers line, Piranha was founded in 1987 and made it through to 1994 (before being overhauled and reborn as Paradox Press, which lasted until 2001). Despite putting out some amazing work including Marc Hempel's Gregory and Epicurus the Sage by William Messner-Loebs and Sam Kieth the line never really found enough of an audience, or an identity, as can be evidenced by the fact that it also published not one but two comics about Prince. Yes, the late musician.
Signature Book:Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children, an ongoing anthology by Dave Louapre and Dan Sweetman that established the tone for the line.
Lasting Legacy: Piranha's best-selling (and most well-remembered) title was Why I Hate Saturn, launching Kyle Baker's solo career and setting a bar for the line that very few other titles even came close to reaching.
FOCUS5 of 12
One of DC's irregular attempts to provide alternatives to the traditional superhero, Focus (or DC Focus, as it was alternatively called) offered stories of people with super powers that didn't involve costumes or even fighting crime. That clearly wasn't something that the readers of 2004 wanted, though. Despite four strong titles, the imprint was dead by mid-2005.
Signature Book: Steve Gerber, Mary Skenes, and Brian Hurtt's Hard Time, about a teen in jail as his psychic powers emerge, managed to survive the imprint and get a second series as a "DC Comics"-branded title, as well as a recent collected edition.
Lasting Legacy:Hard Time's continued for a time under the main DC brand.
FIRST WAVE6 of 12
First Wave was DC's short-lived attempt to bring a pulp-era edge to its line with stories that brought together a Golden Age-style gun-toting Batman along with versions of Doc Savage and Will Eisner's Spirit.
The imprint didn't last long - it launched in 2010 and was cancelled in 2011, with DC relinquishing its rights to Doc Savage and the Spirit in December 2012.
Signature Book: Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales' titular First Wave mini-series is really the only example of what a more fleshed out First Wave line may have looked liked. It was preceded by a Batman/Doc Savage one-shot, but First Wave (the series) brought in numerous secondary and tertiary pulp characters (and pulp versions of DC characters).
Lasting Legacy: Most of the pulp-era characters included here are now licensed by Dynamite Entertainment, including Doc Savage and The Spirit. DC and Dynamite have teamed up for a pair of mini-series pairing Batman and the Shadow, another pulp-era hero, though those stories have no connection to First Wave.
IMPACT!7 of 12
By 1991, comics may not have been just for kids anymore, but there weren't that many comics for kids at DC, either. Hence the creation of Impact! Comics, a superhero line aimed at younger readers and using the licensed Red Circle characters from Archie Comics. Sales weren't where they were supposed to be, sadly, and an attempt to relaunch the line with the miniseries Crucible (featuring work by Mark Waid and Joe Quesada) sadly ended up as the imprint's swan song.
Signature Book: The Comet, Impact!'s longest-running series, started off as a straightforward superhero title but as cancellation loomed, creators Mark Waid and Tom Lyle decided to go crazy, assuming they had nothing to lose, and the end result was some inspired lunacy.
Lasting Legacy: Despite a more recent attempt to use the Red Circle characters by DC in 2008, all of the Impact! books are out of print and many of the characters have been given new titles through Archie Comics, including a recent revival of Mighty Crusaders.
HELIX8 of 12
An attempt to do for science-fiction what Vertigo had done for horror, the Helix imprint only lasted two years. But what a run: The line featured new work by Garth Ennis, Howard Chaykin, Warren Ellis, Walt Simonson and Chris Weston among many others, during its short tenure before being folded into Vertigo.
Signature Book: Warren Ellis' and Darick Robertson's Transmetropolitan, which moved to Vertigo when Helix ended.
Lasting Legacy: If Transmet isn't enough (and it is), Michael Moorcock's Multiverse series and Garth Ennis and Carlos Ezquerra's Bloody Mary both got collected editions under the Vertigo brand.
ZUDA9 of 12
DC entered the world of webcomics with 2007's Zuda Comics, which not only saw the publisher offer all-new webcomics, but also invite submissions from new creators to join the site. Zuda lasted until 2010, when DC began to release titles digitally through comiXology and shuttered the imprint to focus on digital releases instead of webcomics.
Signature Book: Jeremy Love's award-winning Bayou, a magical realist take on the myths and horrors of the American South in the 1930s.
Lasting Legacy:Bayou along with another series, High Moon, continued as digital releases for some time after the closing of Zuda, and print collections of both series remain available through outside publishers.
ALL-STAR10 of 12
DC's answer to Marvel's Ultimate line offered big-name creators providing out-of-continuity takes on big-name characters... at least, in theory. Only two of the four announced series - All-Star Superman and All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder actually saw print, and of those two, only one actually managed to reach completion, with the second being promised new branding and a completion that never materialized.
Signature Book: For the spectacle and unexpected craziness alone, it could only be Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All-Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. Love it or hate it, it was a title that demanded a response.
Lasting Legacy: All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's love letter to the Man of Steel, remains a high-water mark for not only the character in recent decades, but also the creators themselves. Now that DC returned to Frank Miller’s Batman continuity with The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race, it seems less likely than ever that All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder will see conclusion - however, the line returned in spirit as part of DC Rebirth with Scott Snyder's now ended All-Star Batman.
ELSEWORLDS11 of 12
One of DC's most iconic imprints, Elseworlds was unique in that its titles focused on core DC characters (particularly Batman and Superman) imagined in totally - and sometimes outrageous - contexts.
Elseworlds officially started with 1989's Gotham by Gaslight, the first title to bear the brand, but it harkened back to the tradition of "imaginary stories" in many of DC's Silver Age titles. Elseworlds lasted 20 years - the last published title under the longrunning imprint was a three issue series titled Superman: The Last Family of Krypton - but many of its stories remain part of DC's multiverse as alternate Earths.
Signature Book: Kingdom Come is perhaps the most definitive example of the Elseworlds format. Arguments could be made for many now classic titles, but Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come, which envisioned a superhero dystopia where people had lost faith in heroes, reinvented the DC Universe wholesale and inspired sequels, spin-offs, and a host of attempts to capture the same sort of fully-realized potential future seen in its pages.
Lasting Legacy: Elseworlds remains, sadly, defunct - however DC regularly publishes alternate continuity stories that would be right at home in the brand, despite the publisher's reluctance to apply it.
Many classic Elseworlds stories provide the basis for DC's ongoing line of animated films, and Warner Bros. may even be adopting an Elseworlds-esque approach to its DC Films projects, with multiple versions of the same character potentially appearing in different films.
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