So yesterday I received some good news from DC Comics. They had previously told me one of my favorite titles "Aquaman" (yes, that Aquaman) would no longer be available for subscription, meaning I'd have to go the comic store, or in my case my iPad, to pick it up. Yesterday, I received a letter stating the "Aquaman" subscription was back (I imagine because enough people complained), and "as a small token of our [DC's] appreciation", my subscription was extended by one extra issue. This is a major relief because Aquaman kicks butt. You'd be surprised what good writing can do for the guy who can talk to fish in the Justice League.
Subscriptions are an interesting creature in the comic book industry. You would think comic book companies would want to go completely digital, saving on the cost of printing and mailing. But while that day may not be far off, there's another factor which needs consideration. Over the last twenty years, comic books have moved from the grocery stores and gas stations to the comic book retailers. As a result, subscriptions are the best and sometimes only way for people to get single issue comics if they don't live close to a comic book store.
The problem with subscription is, while you're only out $20 per title, you're on the line for an entire year - and creative teams undergo changes all the time. If you really like Batman or X-Men, you might find a completely different team writing and drawing the book when your first issue arrives in 8-14 weeks. One of the reasons I like "Aquaman" is its written by Geoff Johns - who relaunched "Green Lantern" way back in 2004 - and is still writing the title! On the Marvel side, I also subscribe to "X-Factor", which has been written by Peter David for the past 238 issues, not counting the previous X-Factor series he did back in the 90's, which ran for 149 issues! Creators like this are a safe bet for subscribers.
On the other hand, it's not necessarily a bad thing if your book is announced as no longer available for subscription. If you are already subscribed to the book in question, the comic book publisher will redeem your remaining issues in another title (usually one with similar characters). It's actually a good way to get interested in new titles. For instance, Marvel scrapped my "Deadpool" subscription, so I received "Uncanny X-Force" instead (which also features Deadpool). As a result, I'm totally hooked on the new team book, and currently catching up on writer Rick Remender's run on "Venom".
Bottom line: subscriptions are still an integral part of the comic book industry. I'm glad DC responded the way they did with "Aquaman" - it shows they are listening to their fans. While I'm sure we'll soon see digital comics delivers directly to iPads and Kindle Fires, the ground rules are the same, forcing readers to pay attention to their favorite creators, and publishers to pay attention to their favorite fans.
(That's it for this rant. Check out new Blue Yonder Wednesday!)