Begin Rant: Gotham Central

This is the kind of thing that I really shouldn't get into but after a conversation with a few customers I couldn't keep my mouth shut.

Those of you who read Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column likely read about the printing error in the latest Gotham Central trade (it's about 3/4 down the page). Basically there's some missing dialogue which is annoying. Unfortunately, there's really no solution other than simply to accept it, yet another unfortunate misstep in DC's handling of what was an excellent series, beginning with the decision to wait several years to collect these stories in the first place. There are pros and cons to both rushing out a trade collection and in waiting months to a year to collect a story originally published in single issues. I tend to find it better to err on the side of sooner rather than later, however, since the only real benefit to waiting is to avoid the "wait for the trade mentality" hurting the sale of the single issues. Two problems there though. First, it's WAY too late in the game to change people's minds on waiting for the trade. There's just too much good material out there for readers to worry that they're going to miss a story if they don't buy it as singles. Something else will fill that void in their life. Second problem is that, once a title settles into a regular sales pattern, not a whole lot of new readers are going to suddenly jump in. While releasing trades quicker might erode a bit of the sales on the single issues, it opens the book up to a whole other category of potential readers.

Still, that decision was made several years ago and is water long since under the bridge. Sales on the trades may not even have warranted continuing to collect them, though the fact that we're no seeing DC go back and do so tends to indicate otherwise to me.

That's all beside the point, though, because DC gave the series much more of a shot than its sales probably deserved and once Brubaker jumped ship to Marvel, Rucka ended it on his own terms. Unfortunately, now he essentially advocates buying the incorrect version now to get the first print run sold through and then returning it for the correct version once DC does a new printing (assuming the book sells well enough to warrant another printing in the first place). Except, if the customer is buying that first printing from a direct market comic shop then returning it to the same shop for the corrected copy at a later date, they're sticking their retailer with a non-returnable defective version of the book, which means the retailer pays for DC's mistake.

End rant.


Blogger Joe Willy said...

It sort of makes me wonder who was at fault for the goof. I remember a story perhaps a year ago where a long-time editor at DC got sacked for a mistake in one of the classic reprint volumes (I think it was Hawkman though I never heard what the error was so I don't how major or minor compared to this incident). Will anyone get fired for this? Did they know of the error in time to put in an erratum slip or provide some other sort of correction/alert to the reader? Perhaps they could at least offer a corrected version online for readers to download?

I also think it's silly to suggest this book can be returned later- if DC wasn't willing to pull it at this point then why would they replace copies in another year or two or three? Plus, this is yet another black mark that likely reduces the chances that the volume will sell enough copies to warrant a reprint.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Kevin Huxford said...

Being one of the customers who discussed this with you, I'm glad you took the time to rant about it here. Rucka really opened his mouth and put his foot in it. I'd like to hope he just didn't think through all the ramifications, but it was really a very short-sighted idea.

4:51 AM  

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