Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lesser-noticed 21st century changes at DC Comics

It's easy to find out the first comics to feature a superhero's new costume or to sport a new DC Comics logo (there have been three since 2005). Now it's even easy to find out the first comics to include Bill Finger in the official Batman credit.

But when did DC Comics…

…add its URL to its covers?
…drop letter columns from its comics?
…drop page numbers from its comics?
…switch interiors of monthly books from newsprint to glossy paper?
…add a rating to its covers?
…stop running ads for products unrelated to comics?

1st URL on cover: 2000

JLA #39, 3/00
(backup verification: JSA #8, 3/00)
dropped letter column: 2002

JSA #36, 6/02
JLA #71, early 11/02

Letter columns fleetingly returned in 2011 just in time to be killed off again with the New 52 reboot.

dropped page numbers: 2003

JSA #51, 10/03
H-E-R-O #8, 11/03

1st glossy interior paper: 2005

JSA #72, 6/05

1st rating on cover: 2011

Justice League of America #56, 6/11
(backup verification: Secret Six #32, 6/11)

stop running ads for non-comics: unconfirmed but circa 2014

This is the hardest of the bunch to ascertain and the answer won't be a fixed month or even year like the previous elements; it may vary from title to title and fluctuate depending on various factors. By my admittedly limited examination, it seems that by 2014, ads for chips and cars (yes, cars!) were mostly of the past and ads were almost always for comics or comics-related products/events (video games, shows, cons). Of course this is not because comics began turning away advertisers but rather because advertisers began to turn their backs on print comics as the world turned digital.

By the way, I vote for reinstating page numbers. Makes things easier to reference! I believe that numbering was ditched so as not to remind readers how short an average comic book is…but fans are fine with it and have been for decades. A good story is a good story whether told in 22 or 222 pages.

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