DC Brings Back Letter Pages

As part of the price drop to $2.99 DC is promoting heavily this year, they announced that their books’ content would go from 22 to 20 pages. Now we know what’s going into those pages — the company announced today that they are bringing back letter columns.

Now, some have already criticized this move as a way to fill space cheaply by having fans write their content, but if done right, I welcome the text. It gives a chance to find out more about the book and be part of a conversational community. The internet is nice, but when you’re reading a back issue years later, you’re not going to easily find comments about an earlier issue there, and I like a place where a good writer or editor puts work in context or reminds us of key history moments related to the story or characters.

There is so much you can do with a letters page! Marvel’s been publishing some good examples lately, with letters “answered” by characters in the comics, and I have fond memories of classic DC lettercol events like voting for The Legion of Super-Heroes president (already brought back online). Of course, a letter page is only as good as the person assembling and responding. I hope that they remember the most important rule of writing letter columns: you get what you run. If you want thoughtful, well-written letters with something significant to say, that’s what you need to select for publication.

DC has set up for letters to be sent either in print or online, with some rules: They reserve the right to edit you (which may mean, at an extreme, as with one of my few moments in print, they take out all the criticisms and just leave the praise) and publish your content “in any medium.” And you only get 500 words, so no epics, please.

According to this Washington Post article, DC’s last lettercol was in 2002 — my goodness, really, that long ago?

10 Responses to “DC Brings Back Letter Pages”

  1. Marc-Oliver Frisch Says:

    Here’s your great chance to be edited by DC Comics, folks.

  2. On the other hand, the Gladstone albums came with those cool trading cards. Says:

    […] (Johanna has additional commentary.) […]

  3. Dwight Williams Says:

    Pity about that 500-word limit. Some of those “epics” were pretty darned constructive and entertaining back in the day, as you and I both remember.

  4. Sigma7 Says:

    Fantastic. Wonder if Paul Levitz will do the lettercol for LSH again…that was one of my favorite parts of the classic ’80s run. It was a pleasantly dense, thoughtful look at the 30th century that really fostered a sense of community. It was…dessert.

  5. Lee Says:

    I’m of two minds regarding this announcement.

    One part of me thinks it is great that publishers are looking for additional ways to interact with fans, and as pointed out, lettercols are a way of doing so that is a permanent, fun way of accomplishing that.

    Another part of me thinks it is yet another way publishers are trying to appeal to the nostalgia of older fans, rather than figure out ways to find newer ones. This seems to be looking backward, not forward.

  6. Johanna Says:

    You’re right, I think, that there is a nostalgic component to this, but I’m not sure that’s a horrible thing in this case. Letter columns were a good thing of the past — why not introduce new readers to them as a way of building loyalty?

  7. Grant Says:

    I love when comics have a letters page. And I think that, like Johanna says, it’s a good way to reach out to new readers but it’s also a great way to continue reaching out to an older demographic who grew up interacting with a letters page. After all, we’re still buying comics and we love nostalgia.

  8. James Schee Says:

    I always enjoyed reading good letter columns. I’m currently re-reading LSH V4 that I just purchased the entirety of. Reading the letter columns in these are great ways to see how fans were reacting to certain stories, characters or directions. Without all the useless name calling, bullying and general snarkiness comment sections have.

    Plus, as a former letter hack myself, its a cool thing for a fan to see their name and missive in a comic book. My first printed letter was in Resurrection Man, a rather forgettable series in and of itself. Yet it’ll always be something I smile at.

    I don’t follow individual issues these days, but if I ever get an IPad, I could see myself downloading some comics for it. Who knows something may move me to write even if that happens.

  9. Jim Perreault Says:

    I’ve head letters edited that way as well. Although there was one instance where the editing made the letter better.

    The Buffy comic had a pretty decent letters page. And they even print some epics.

  10. Dwight Williams Says:

    Here’s a question for debate: What are some of the better lettercols currently in operation?




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