It was announced recently that DC Comics will be canceling six more titles in May. The titles are Deathstroke, The Fury of Firestorm, The Ravagers, Savage Hawkman, Sword of Sorcery, and Team 7. While it is too bad that comics are being cancelled due to low readership, it may be sending a message to DC and other corporate comic publishers. My guess at what that message is this, there are too many books being published by the main companies. This is directed mainly at DC and Marvel, so Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, and Boom are off the hook for this post. Marvel and DC are both publishing incredible numbers of books every month, and it seems to be coming to a head, at least for DC.
When a company that is building a full fantasy universe tries to put it in 40+ volumes a month, there is sure to be some lack of popularity with certain books. Most people probably wont drop the $2.99 or $3.99 to read some character they have never heard of. If they do, they had better be engrossed right away because who would make a monthly commitment to something they weren't that interested in? Enter DC comics who a year and a half ago launched 52 new titles in the same month. Now, there are plenty of mainstream comics out there like any of the four Batman books, or the two Superman titles, but DC was clearly trying to get people interested in a variety of books, hence breaking them down into categories. The problem is that not everyone will be interested in those characters even after a reboot, and there are only so many good comic creators to go around. DC put the good ones to use, but many books were left with mediocre creators thus disappointing the established fan base while failing to hook new readers. It was not long before, and not very surprising, that DC began canceling series almost immediately. However, instead of licking their wounds and dedicating their time to their still in print books, they created new series to fill the void. They did this a couple of times which leads us up to now where six books are being cancelled.
Now, perhaps DC had solid intentions of creating a universe that would revitalize their comic sales and readership. But, it is hard to understand their logic. Instead of building gradually by starting with a few big sellers leading to branching series, DC thought they could skip the development and go straight to big profit not realizing that comics with little known characters and bad stories do not sell well, I don't have the marketing info, but neither do they apparently. We shall see where DC goes after this round of cancelations. I hope they consolidate drastically and focus on building a name of quality in their monthly books.
On a side note, I feel the need to pick on Marvel a little. Marvel is currently going through a reboot light phase with "Marvel Now". Books seem to be a bit better than those of DC, but that is completely subjective. Marvel certainly seems to be pushing the $3.99 price tag a lot, and I can't help but notice a strong favoring of the characters making big bucks for Marvel/Disney at the box office (see Avengers Vs. X-Men). All that aside Marvel seems to be in a better spot than DC, but I wouldn't mind seeing the number of new titles slowing down.