DC Entertainment Launches New Online Comics Platforms

After being the first comic publisher to offer digital comics day and date, DC Entertainment is launching two new digital initiatives it hopes will keep the company flying at Superman-level altitude.

The company is launching DC2, which plays on the company name and stands for “Dynamic Canvas,” and adds interactive layers to digital comics panels.

It’s also putting into motion DC2 Multiverse, which puts a “Choose Your Own Adventure” spin on a digital comics and allows readers to select characters, storylines and plot and navigate multiple outcomes.

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The first comic unveiled with DC2 will be Batman ’66, based on the 1960s TV show. For the Multiverse stream, Batman: Arkham Origins, based on the upcoming video game from WB Interactive, will lead the charge.

Both titles are based on properties slightly outside the core comics realm and on IP that is popular in other mediums. That is by design. DC hopes that launching the initiatives will broaden readership and bring in new fans.

"We think we have a deep relationship with our core fans, but different consumers are looking for different experiences. The casual fans, the fans from other media, are those that may be most interested in purchasing digital stories,” DC president Diane Nelson told THR.

DC not only offers its comics digitally day-and-date as the hard copies, but it also has a “digital first” business plan where specific stories are published for the digital sphere and only sometimes collected in printed collections.

The new initiatives follow surprisingly strong numbers on the digital side. That side of the business grew 125% from 2011 to 2012, the company said, and so far this year digital sales are up 35% over the first quarter of last year.

And the initial fears that digital would cannibalize brick-and-mortar retail sales don't seem to have borne out, as the industry is healthier than is has been in years.

“At this point it’s a nonissue,” said DC co-publisher Jim Lee.

Lee said the comics chosen for the initiatives will be those that play to the strengths of interactivity. The 1960s Batman show was punctuated by word balloons, sound effects and colors, so it was a natural choice.

“It will be a symphony of notes that panels can play on top of each other,” said Lee.