DC, Marvel, and the other publishers who find a good portion of its readers in dedicated, mostly independent comic book shops and its older-skewing demographic are always looking for new and younger readers to cultivate its next generation of customers. DC's latest effort to reach readers early is called My First Comics, a program that is launching in 500 participating North American stores of the retail giant Walmart and Walmart.com.
Citing the fact graphic novels are among the fastest-growing categories in book sales - Captain Underpants creator Dav Pilkey's latest popular Dog Man volume, Mothering Heights, has sold over 900k copies in just four months of release according to Bookscan - the new products aim to reach readers ages six through nine, through stories geared towards that demos reading and learning skills.
In addition to stories featuring DC and Warner Bros. characters, each 48-page "flipbook" will also include kids-geared activity pages including mazes and puzzles.
Two volumes will launch the program - My First Comic – Batman, featuring DC's most popular and often most ubiquitous character, of course, and My First Comic – Space Jam: A New Legacy tying into Warner Bros. recent live-action/animated hybrid sequel.
The former will mostly feature stories from DC's Batman Adventures series, told in the style and set in the continuity of the classic animated series Batman: The Animated series.
Stories in the debut issue include 'No Asylum' by writer Ty Templeton and artists Rick Burchett, Terry Beatty, and Lee Loughridge; 'Who Am I' by writer Dan Slott with art by Templeton, Beatty, and Loughridge; 'Fowl Play' by Beatty and Templeton with colors by Zylonol; and 'Free Man' by Templeton, Burchett, Beatty, and Loughridge.
Check out a preview here:
My First Comic – Space Jam: A New Legacy features three original stories, including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck take on the roles of Batman and Superman in 'Bat-Bunny vs. Superduck' (which seems like a take-off of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) by writer Sholly Fisch and artists Phillip Murphy and Carrie Strachan; 'Welcome Home' starring the comedic adversaries Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner by writer Derek Fridolfs and artists Robert Pope, Scott McRae, and Mohan Sivakami; and Derek Fridolfs, Pope, McRae, and Silvana Brys team to pit Bugs Bunny against Marvin the Martian and Space Jam: A New Legacy’s Al G. Rhythm in 'Spaced Out.'
The issue also features a preview of the Space Jam: A New Legacy original graphic novel.
Check out a preview here:
DC says the My First Comic program aims to extend awareness and interest in DC characters to a new audience just learning to read hoping it serves as a gateway into other age-appropriate DC content like its growing middle grade graphic novel line and it hopes the mass-market audience DC reaches via the retail giant reaches through its Walmart four-pack bundled comics and 100-page Giants can "share the DC Super Hero experience with their children."
With the size of the market of dedicated comic book shops (called the Direct Market) static or contracting as well as the collapse of mainstream retail bookstore chains over the last decade, finding new readers continues to be a challenge for publishers like Marvel and DC.
Time will tell if DC's My First Comic program will make a dent.
Speaking of comic books that kids read, check out the most popular comics checked out from libraries worldwide for kids and adults.