BF Awards 2011 - Best Publisher: DC Comics

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Groundbreaking. Bold. Genius. All of those words describe DC Comics’ performance in 2011, and none of it is hyperbole.

The decision to cancel the entire line and re-launch it with 52 new titles that are all available day-and-date digital, as well as in stores, was the biggest move any publisher has ever taken to join the comics industry with modern day sensibilities. Print has been fighting a losing battle for years, and instead of crumbling in the face of adversity, DC took a gamble, and so far it has paid off.

Every character, origin, and costume design received a retooling that made them more accessible. Characters are now younger, origins were cleaned up and streamlined, and costumes lost their dated looks in favor of more contemporary styles. A great deal of credit goes to DC’s Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns. Over the past several years, he took similar steps to revitalize Green Lantern to blockbuster-level success, and now the rest of the DC Universe has received the Johns treatment. He, along with co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan Didio, created a reader-friendly brand that respected the old content while paving the way forward with exciting new content.

The long-term effects of this move are still to be seen, but right now DC is enjoying high sales numbers, huge media attention, and the respect of the industry. Marvel Comics, DC’s largest competitor that has dominated in terms of sales for years, has responded by renumbering some of their titles and slowly going day-and-date digital, but without the industry-shaking hubbub of DC’s New 52. Imitation is the best form of flattery, and the rest of the comics world has been scrambling to make the same changes DC has in order to adapt to today’s market full of digital-savvy readers.

While the re-launch and going digital was a tremendous step forward, it would mean little without producing quality titles. DC rounded up some of the finest writers and artists available to nurture their new line. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman series tells the gripping story of the Court of Owls, a secret organization that has claims on Gotham. Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino created a grisly vampire romance that skips the sparkles and goes right for the throat with I, Vampire. Indy darling Jeff Lemire hit it big with Animal Man, which explores the mysterious Red through the lens of Buddy’s quirky family. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang revamped Wonder Woman with emphasis on the horrifying drama of the Gods, and created a new origin that shook the foundations of her character. All in all, DC’s brand is in good hands.

With every other person walking around with a smart phone, laptop, or tablet device in their pocket, there was never a better time for a comic publisher to go digital line-wide. DC decided to do so in a way that brought incredible positive attention to the medium, something that all publishers will reap the benefits of.

For embracing the times, recreating their image, and taking a giant step forward for the comic industry as a whole, DC earns Broken Frontier’s 2011 Best Publisher by a landslide.

Full list of the 2011 Broken Frontier Award winners

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jan 20, 2012 at 9:57am

    Would have like Nobrow here too, but DC did show guts last year.

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jan 20, 2012 at 11:27am

    Nobrow, Blank Slate, D&Q, Fantagraphics, Myriad, Archaia, Com.x and so many others (largely) outside of super-heroes had mine.

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