Friday, July 4, 2008

Before You Subscribe...

While nothing quite beats the rush you get on Wednesday at the local comic shop, there's something to be said for being able to walk to the mailbox and have that latest issue of your favorite book waiting for you. In a perfect world, you'd walk out to your mailbox on Wednesday and find that same hot-off-the-presses issue waiting for you that others are pushing through crowds to get. Does it work that way in real life? Sometimes.

Marvel Comics has the hands-down best subscription service on Earth. Without fail, the same Wednesday an issue hits the stands (and sometimes a day or two before), that same issue is waiting in my mailbox. It is only on a very rare occasion that I'll be a few days behind, and never more than a week. It is for this reason that I carry so many subscriptions through Marvel. They treat their readers well.

Then we come to DC...

Don't get me wrong: I don't hate DC. As a matter of fact, there are several DC titles I love each month and really think they've finally started treating Booster Gold right. But their subscription service is the worst you've ever seen. Issues arrive out of order, and most of the time they're months behind.

Take "52" for example. It looked like a cool series, so I subscribed. I went with the whole pre-order package DC was offering at the time of getting all the issues for $150, and was ready for a new installment every week. If you remember correctly, each issue was plainly numbered on the cover and was meant to be read in order to keep up with where it was all going. Six weeks went by, no issue. Finally, issue 4 showed up, followed a few days later by issue 3. Two weeks later I got issues 1, 2, and 7 all on the same day. Issue 5 came the next week, followed by 6, 8, and 9 the next week. This carried on for the entire run of the series. Wizard Magazine would have high points of the series and I wouldn't even have read those issues yet. I even gave them another chance with the "Countdown" series, but wisely stuck to 12 issues at a time. After 12 issues of the same scattershot mailings, I ended the subscription.

It wasn't just the weekly series either (though those were the worst). Subscriptions to "Nightwing", "The Flash", and "Detective Comics" all brought the same way-behind mailing system. I am down to 2 subscriptions of DC now, and they are both months behind the comic shops.

Here's my theory as to why Marvel is so much better. They only print what is ordered by shops or subscribers. It does let them run out of issues more often (especially if a series suddenly becomes popular) and plays havoc with the poor comic shop owner trying to place an order months in advance. But then again Marvel is really good about putting out second printings of issues with new covers. DC on the other hand floods the shops, and I think they wait until the comic shops start sending stuff back or until they see what they have left over in house before they send stuff to the subscribers. We are the guaranteed and prepaid audience, so they know ahead of time they always have us to fall back on for the overstock.

So how do you beat the DC slump? Subscribe through your local comic shop if possible. Let them know ahead of time to order those issues you're going to definitely want to follow, then you can pick them up on the day they come out. This helps the owner have a better grip on what to order as well (my local guy wasn't going to follow the new "Booster Gold" series until I subscribed through him). It's a win-win situation for you both. Comic shops need the support!

While nothing beats the convenience of getting your books in the mail, if you want to stay current with DC you're going to have to figure something else out.


Rick said...

I had problems with DC years ago. Over the course of a year subscription to Power of the Atom I only got 3 books. After many letters demanding the issues or my money back they finally sent most of the issues.
With one of their Superman titles I was getting the books but a month later then the book stores. I told them I wasnt happy with this & cancel my subscription & got my money back. I haven't subscribed to a comic book since.

Brian Reaves said...

I don't know why DC does such a horrible job on subscriptions. They should really work on that area because they're just hurting the fans and killing their reputation even further.

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