DC Comics announced last weekend that it’s planning to launch two new graphic novel imprints aimed at younger readers: “DC Zoom” and “DC Ink.” Zoom will be aimed at elementary-to-middle-school readers, while Ink is for young adults.
Zoom (as well as Ink) will launch this fall with “Search For Atlantis,” the latest graphic novel in DC’s successful “Super Hero Girls” line of books.
DC Comics’ current downsides for kids
As I’ve written before, the main growth in the comics landscape is coming both from children’s graphic novels and, well, bookstore graphic novel sales period. Graphic novels supposedly sell well at Scholastic book sales in schools.
There’s also that newer readers are more interested in reading comics digitally or in graphic novel format, not as traditional paper floppies. While traditional readers will hold the 22-page pamphlet comic with nostalgia, they’re probably not the best way to attract new readers. They’re too expensive, aren’t designed for modern Big Two-style storytelling, and aren’t as convenient or easy to store like, well, regular books.
Throw in as well that DC’s core superhero comics are as kid-unfriendly as they get. The top two best-selling superhero trades last year in bookstores (according to Bookscan/ICv2) were “The Killing Joke” and “Watchmen.” Some fans apparently can’t get enough of, um, a story written when Ronald Reagan was president about a clown torturing and assaulting a naked woman he’s shot in the spine. However, that’s not exactly a way to lure in future young readers.
Why Zoom and Ink are good things
Zoom and Ink address the above downsides, while playing up what’s currently successful in the graphic novel marketplace:
- They feature all-ages, kid-friendly versions of DC’s popular characters. I’ve read some people fearing kids might be disappointed these aren’t the “real” versions of the characters. However, I’d argue kids won’t care about that; as far as they’re concerned, stuff like CW’s superhero shows or “Teen Titans” are the “real” versions. Or at least, just as legitimate as the core DCU comics.
- Graphic novels appeal to younger readers more than traditional single-issue comics. They’re also much easier to find at libraries, conventional bookstores, etc.
- Zoom and Ink feature a sizable number of women superheroes, including Catwoman, Mera, and Supergirl.
- Zoom and Ink greatly expand DC’s kids’ offerings beyond the current few floppy books they now offer kids: “Looney Tunes,” “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?,” “Scooby-Doo Team-Up,” and “Teen Titans Go.”
- Finally, it makes logical business sense. Why not expand into a profitable growth area? Plus, trying to milk existing fans via expensive variant covers, events, twice-a-month-shipping titles, etc. doesn’t seem good long-term.
DC has a press release listing all of the upcoming Zoom and Ink titles.
It looks like they’re folding “DC Super Hero Girls” into the Zoom imprint, versus standing alone as its own series.
Among the new books is a “Super Sons” title. That suggests Damian Wayne and Jon Kent (the current Robin and Superboy) aren’t going anywhere in the “mainstream” DCU books. DC apparently now considers them viable characters to use in other media.
Gene Yang is writing “Superman Smashes the Klan.” It’s presumably based on the 40s Superman radio show’s famous storyline where Superman tackled a very similar hate group.
Overall, it’s a good thing DC’s launching these lines. Hopefully Zoom and Ink will be successes.