BIG NEWS : DC Aquires North American Publishing Rights For 2000AD[Story source : Newsarama]
DC today announced that it has acquired the North American publishing rights to all existing and future comic material from the UK’s Rebellion, publisher of 2000AD as well as Judge Dredd Megazine and others.
“There’s been a level of respect for what 2000 AD has accomplished over the years for a long, long time within DC,” DC’s VP of Sales & Marketing Bob Wayne said. “To some extent, seeing people’s work in 2000AD is one of the things that helped bring about the British Invasion of comics, as 2000AD and the other publications that grew up after it gave a lot of people their first prominence in comics.”
The new arrangement came about as a result of ongoing conversations between DC and Rebellion which began shortly after they purchased 2000AD and its character library in 2000. “Various ideas were exchanged, which led us to this,” Wayne said. “There’s not really any one starting point, where you can say DC discovered 2000AD in a reverse Christopher Columbus type of thing.”
The relationship grants DC access to the full library of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine material, including well-known (but rarely seen in the US) works by Garth Ennis, Simon Bisley, Frank Quitely, Mark Millar, Chris Weston, Sean Phillips, Glenn Fabry, and others.
The relationship calls for a schedule that breaks down to having DC publish three volumes of Rebellion material a month. “We’re going to start with two a month, for the first four months, which will be September through December, and then we’re going to go to three books a month starting in January, and there may be a couple of special books here or there,” said Georg Brewer, VP — Design & Retail Product Development. “At least that’s our plan going out the door. We’re going to start the launch with a reissue of our Batman/Judge Dredd Files, which collects those team-ups. That will be in regular comics format in terms of trim size. The 2000AD material will be in trim size similar to the Humanoids books…7 3/8 by 10 and 3/16th inches.”
The new volumes will carry a “2000AD” trade dress on the front, while the spine will have a shared branding of 2000AD/DC Comics, according to Brewer, whose department will be handling the cover design. “It’s very exciting to be given an opportunity to work on such a wide variety of material, as we’ve been exposed to so many, especially in the editorial design side – it’s a new flavor – it’s a new challenge creatively to design and position this so that it will appeal to the widest possible market.”
Multi-volume stories will be consecutively numbered, but Wayne said, there will be no effort madder to number the entire libraries of some character’s stories, such as Judge Dredd, where a “Volume 1 of 76” may drive readers away, rather than attract them.
Covers for the new volumes, according to Brewer, will be pulled from existing material. “The conversation has come up, but given that they have such a wide selection of cover material available, we’ll probably, from the outset, just be picking up existing covers and reformatting them.”
Likewise, stories will be reproduced in their original format, which means volumes will be published in a variety of both black and white and color. “We’ve no plans to go in and color any of the material that was originally presented in black and white – we don’t want to change the original vision,” Wayne said.
The full September ship list stands as: The Batman/Judge Dredd Files, written by John Wagner and Alan Grant, with art by Simon Bisley, Carl Critchlow, Dermot Power, Glenn Fabry, Jim Murray, and Jason Brashill; and Sinister Dexter: Gunshark Vacation, written by Dan Abnett, with art by David Millgate, Anthony Williams, Charles Gillespie, Simon Davis, and Henry Flint.
Books currently on the radar for future release include:
Devlin Waugh: Swimming in Blood, written by John Smith, with art by Sean Phillips, Siku, and Michael Gaydos; Red Razors, written by Mark Millar, with art by Steve Yeowell and Nigel Dobbyn; Judge Dredd: Judgment Day, written by Garth Ennis, with art by Peter Doherty, Dean Ormston, Carlos Ezquerra, and Chris Halls; Nikolai Dante: The Romanov Dynasty, written by Robbie Morrison, with art by Simon Fraser, Chris Weston, Charlie Adlard, and Henry Flint; Robo-Hunter: Verdus, written by John Wagner, with art by Ian Gibson; and Shimura, written by Robbie Morrison, with art by Frank Quitely, Colin MacNeil, Robert McCallum and Fraser.
While both Wayne and Brewer said that DC staffers have favorites among the 2000AD material, DC and Rebellion are working together to work up a selection of material for publication by DC.
“Basically, we went through their library and selected some titles, and have been going back and forth with them to try and find a nice balance that would suit everybody’s needs,” Brewer said. “Looking at some of the material that we might have gravitated toward initially is still part of the Titan reprints, so we’ll be touching on some of that stuff later.”
“This is seen as possibly being the start of a long-running relationship between us and 2000AD, so we’ll be ramping up and then we’ll be hitting our stride on that, but we look forward to bringing people on for years to come,” Wayne added.
As Brewer said, DC will focus on materials not recently collected and reprinted by Titan, the former license holder of the 2000AD and Judge Dredd rights.
Current plans call for just comics, despite the fact that 2000AD characters have been in toy lines before, and DC does have DC Direct cranking out action figures on a monthly basis.
“Certainly the type of close cooperation between all of us in doing all this has led us to think about other things as well,” Wayne said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we were to have chats about that, but so far we haven’t spoken about it, really.”
Together with the recent deal announced between DC and Humanoids, as well as DC’s forthcoming manga line, tentatively titled CMX, the deal with Rebellion could be seen as one to further globalize its offerings to the North American audience.
Wayne doesn’t have a problem with people seeing it that way. “It’s safe to say that DC continues to have a very wide definition of what’s a comic book, and what’s an entertaining way to tell comic book stories. And we’re willing to go all over the planet to bring those different visions, and that diversity to the comic book market, just to make things available to the readers that have been with us for a long time, and to show them that there are other flavors of comics, much in the same way that we have the DCU, with Vertigo, and Wildstorm.
“The deals with Rebellion and Humanoids will allow for a place for people who want to see how the Rebellion folks handle 2000AD and Judge Dredd, and how the Humanoids folks handle those types of stories and anything else.”
Brewer: “This is a way that DC will be able to continue to grow and prosper and spread its wings, as well as increase our real estate on the shelves of bookstores and in comic book stores. We’re always looking for other ways to build out that area and to bring in a different flavor that we don’t necessarily have in one of our four lines. Also, as Bob mentioned, this will expose new and old readers to a variety of different types of storytelling and sensibilities and styles.”
As with the Humanoids deal, it could be seen that the new deal with Rebellion is a move by DC to counter the influx of material coming from the East that’s been cited by many as taking up more and more space on bookstore shelves: manga.
As for that view, Wayne doesn’t quite agree. “DC’s sales of book-form storytelling, collected editions, original graphic novels, hardcover archives – our sales have grown year by year in the direct marketplace, and they’ve also continued to grow year by year in the mass market channels of book distribution,” Wayne said. “So we’re having constant growth in those, and it’s not a feeling that our market is dwindling when we’re seeing increased sales, and more and more titles coming out from our book program every year – it’s really more a matter of wanting to take advantage of the skills we’ve already learned in growing to that size of a book publishing program.
“Manga publishing in North America has reached the point where it’s helping to bring people in for the first time into the experience of reading comics material, and as long as new people are coming in, we’re happy to have them coming in no matter what the entry point. We’re always encouraged to have more than one or two publishers publishing comics material. We’d like to have a large variety of comics publishers publishing comic book material, all of them healthy and making money and putting out interesting books, so it makes it a tough choice for people to figure out which great thing to read next.”
As for what the deal means for retailers, Wayne was quick to point out the benefits. “I think retailers and consumers will both benefit from DC’s skill set in terms of having the books available and having the backlist available,” Wayne said. “As long as the book is selling at a reasonable pace, we’ll make it so it will be as uninterrupted a flow as possible, so retailers will be able to have just in time reorder availability. By doing that, it makes it almost invisible to consumers that there’s ever a problem in getting the books that they want. And by the books being part of our structure in regards to discounts and terms, it gives retailers one of the best sets of tools to be able to maximize their profits as well as to bring this variety of material to customers in their stores.”