For the second year in a row, plastics are helping DC Comics superheroes in their fight against crime.
In September, DC will release 41 special issues of their comics with lenticular 3-D motion covers made from amorphous PET film. The event is part of DC's Futures End promotion, which takes the storylines of characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman five years into the future.
Of those 41 covers, 31 are being made for DC by National Graphics Inc., a Waukesha, Wis.-based firm that also made similar covers for last year's Villains Month promotion from DC. The success of last year's event — in which many of the lenticular-cover issues sold out at comics retailers — led to this year's return.
The 2014 covers will be more dramatic, showing major scene changes instead of partial movement as last year's covers did. Last year's covers also were the first commercial products made using a 200-line lenticular lens designed by National. The covers are printed in China before being sent to Canada to be placed around the comics.
Despite the line using six to eight layers of images, the plastic covers aren't much thicker than typical cover stock. When viewed from different angles, the covers will give the appearance of depth and movement. The lenticular process often is used in advertisements or on cups or promotional items.
The first wave of issues with the amorphous PET covers will arrive in comic shops Sept. 3. Lenticular covers coming out that week feature Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow and Swamp Thing.
Earlier this year, DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio told the Newsarama comics news site that “the images [on the 3-D covers] change and show the transformation going on. There's a level of change that is taking place with our characters during the course of this story."
The 2014 covers will use the same basic technology as the 2013 editions, National spokeswoman Devonne O'Gorman said in an Aug. 22 phone interview, but will have an added “flip effect.”
Using the 200-line lenticular lens on DC's comics last year has created other business opportunities for National as well, she added. “This is a really great opportunity for us to work with a large company like DC,” O'Gorman said.
National also worked with DC late last year to create a 3-D dust jacket for DC New 52 Villains Omnibus, a 1,184-page volume that collected all of the issues from Villains Month. In 2012, the two firms worked together on a 3-D cover for The Last Days of Krypton — a Superman-based novel by Kevin J. Anderson.
National Graphics bills itself as the world leader in lenticular technology. The firm was founded in 1976 by Donald Krause to produce color separations for local printers in the Milwaukee area. In the mid-1990s, the firm's engineering and development team created its patented Extreme Vision software. National then made the move from color separations to lenticular production.