March 5, 2013

Making Sense of Smallville’s “Haunted” Digital and Print Editions

Category: Flash News — By @ 12:45 pm

For DC Comics’ same-day print-and-digital releases (i.e. most of their line), the print and digital editions line up exactly. But things get a bit confusing with their digital-first comics, because they run smaller weekly chapters online, then collect them together for the print editions.

In the case of Smallville Season 11, currently running a storyline guest-starring Impulse, every three digital chapters are collected in a print issue the following month. Each digital page is the top or bottom of a print page, run landscape to make it easier to read on a desktop screen or a small tablet.

The numbers get a little confusing because, starting with #28, instead of taking one week off each month to keep the print and digital runs in sync, DC started running a side story during those formerly-skip weeks, which is being collected separately.

Here’s how the digital and print chapters of “Haunted” line up.

Digital Chapters Print Issue
Chapters 25-27
Smallville Season 11 Chapter 25
Issue #9
Smallville Season 11 #9
Chapters 29-31
Smallville Season 11 Chapter 29
Issue #10
Smallville Season 11 #10
Chapters 33-35
Smallville Season 11 Chapter 33
Issue #11
Smallville Season 11 #11
Chapters 38-40
Smallville Season 11 Chapter 38
Issue #12
Smallville Season 11 #12

Two things stand out about the different covers that suggest different target audiences:

  • The digital covers by Cat Staggs go for a realistic look and focus more on the TV show’s cast.
  • The print covers by Scott Kolins go for a more stylized, comic book look, and focus more on the guest star and super-heroic elements.

This suggests to me that DC is aiming the digital editions at fans of the TV series and the print editions at more traditional comic book fans. It certainly makes sense — by numbers alone, a lot of people who watched Smallville don’t read comics, and it’s going to be easier to get them to buy online than walk into a comic store. I really wonder what DC’s market research has turned up as far as the digital/print audience breakdown.