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DC Digital: More Day & Date Comics, Android App to Come [NYCC]

Led by new Senior Vice President of Digital Comics, Hank Kanalz, DC Comics’ final panel of New York Comic Con 2010 spotlighted the publisher’s various initiatives in the emerging digital comics market, including an upcoming DC Android application and some teases about more simultaneous digital and print releases.Also on the panel were DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee, former Zuda mastermind and current “online presence” guy Ron Perazza, and David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology, developer of the official DC Comics app for Apple’s iOS devices like iPad.

The panel began with a listing of recent and upcoming digital titles, including “Red,” “Trick ‘r Treat,” “Power Girl,” “Justice Society of America,” “Starman,” “The Kingdom,” “Lightning Saga,” “Batman: The Long Halloween,” “Green Lantern Corps” and a full run of “Hellblazer” that will be exclusive to comiXology’s platforms. DC’s other digital comics partner, Sony PSP, will feature a “Ratchet and Clank” series.

Afterward those announcements, a lively Q&A session ensued, involving bundles of digital comics, the future of comics storytelling, and DC staffers’ preferred method of reading digital comics.

On ANDROID – Jim Lee said DC is working on an Android solution, saying not providing an Android app would make no sense.

On WILDSTORM – The current DC Digital team is being formed from a nucleus of WildStorm members and staffers moving to Burbank, CA from both La Jolla and the east coast. Lee said that WildStorm was always DC’s “go-to” team for new initiatives like “DC Universe Online.” As a result, they are now basically DC’s official forward-thinking department.

On GUIDED VIEW – Jim Lee feels that, on the iPad, comiXology’s Guided View format, whereby readers can enjoy a comic book one blown-up panel at a time as well as page-by-page, can have an adverse effect on artwork not created with the technology in mind. For instance, a background face in “Batman: Hush” that only had a shadow of a nose but looked fine in print, but when blown up to full-size iPad Guided View slide, it doesn’t look right. However, according to Kanalz, as many as 50% of DC Digital staffers prefer Guided View, even on the iPad.

On DIGITIZING OLD COMICS – Kanalz discussed how much work is necessary to convert older comics into new digital formats, saying, “We have 75 years worth of different file formats.” Lee said he’d love to see versions of “Action Comics” #1 where you could swap between a scan of the paper copy with yellowed pages, tears and the ads, and a clean, restored digital file.

On MOTION COMICS – Jim Lee said nobody’s really gotten the concept right yet, but that there must be some way to have a dynamic comics experience without it just being bad animation.

On DIGITAL-ONLY MATERIAL – Lee said DC would only ever do this with books that couldn’t perform in the DM, and that it doesn’t make good business sense to not put out a product in a venue where it would sell. He cited products like TV tie-ins.

On DAY-AND-DATE PUBLISHING- DC will be experimenting with this more next year, but retailers were already very nervous after the “Generation Lost” pilot project, While direct market sellers are less nervous than they were, DC said it still needs to be careful rolling these products out.

On “CONSUMABILITY” – Lee said that print comics are collectibles while digital comics are consumables, like newspapers and magazines.

On GRAPHIC NOVELS – DC’s considering it, but still trying to work out the pricing, especially since Apple only offers pricing in 99-cent increments through its App Store infrastructure.

On DISCOUNTS FOR BUNDLED DIGITAL COMICS – The panelists said they’d consider it, but added that because digital comics are already $2 each, for them to be priced even lower would make the bundled digital books so much less expensive than the paper trade paperbacks that it’d hurt retailers through both the direct and bookstore markets.

On COMPLETE DIGITAL STORYLINES – Alongside the bundling question, DC is looking at linking and ordering issues across titles so that a story can be read in its proper order.

After a drawing for an iPad with a Jim Lee sketch of Green Lantern on the back (Lee complimented the iPad as a drawing surface), DC’s panel – and convention programming – ended.

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