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  1. #1
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    Default Tilting at Windmills - Aug 16, 2012

    Almost a year in, Brian Hibbs examines the sales impact of DC Comics' New 52 -- not just on DC's titles, but the entire comics market as a whole -- and likes what he sees.


    Full article here.

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    I'd be interested in seeing how the New 52 trades sell, particularly for some of the lower selling monthly titles like Frankenstein or JL Dark. Or is the popularity of a series monthly issues consistent with how its trades sell? As in, are the titles at the lower end of the monthly sales chart also selling the least amount of trades?

  3. #3
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    I completely agree that 52 comics a month is too much. At $3 a pop that comes to $156 per month. If they cut their line down to 20 comics, then it would only be $60 per month, which is equivalent to buying a new video game every month. I bet a lot more people would buy every book they published every month because it would be easier to keep up with the whole universe. This would be easier for fans, but I don't know if they'd make more money doing this.

    I do think that Marvel is pretty bloated right now in terms of publishing redundant books, they have a ton of Avengers books, X-Men books, Spider-Man derivative character books, and Hulk derivative books; it would be pretty easy for them to shrink their line. I think DC is a little more diverse right now, (I know they still have like 5 Batman books a month, but other than that they seem to have a varied range of characters). Ideally, for me at least, Marvel and DC would each publish around 20 books a month, of which I'd probably get around 10 from each of them.

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    I think there are some skewed numbers here. Instead of comparing the last month of sales of the "old" books, you should have gone back to the previous September. By August of last year everyone knew that the change was coming and sales numbers were already declining for the "old" books. The last few issues of some of the re-vamped titles were filler type stories and pointless wrap-ups. We all knew they were ending and some had already dropped those titles.
    To get a more accurate representation of sales you would go back to the same month, a year earlier, before anyone knew the books were ending or being revamped.

  5. #5
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    I also agree about 52 books being way too many. I'm not a DC reader and never have been, but had they come out with the "new 12" or something I very likely would have checked out the whole line. As it was, there was no way I was going to try any of those books - one large reason being the inevitable cross-over that would have *definitely* crossed over into something I wasn't already buying.

    I have dropped many titles over the years due to something I was reading crossing over with some book I couldn't have cared less about. My pull list is now down to a single title from either of the Big 2 universes... I was reading (and really enjoying) Remenders Punisher book, but I dropped it as soon as the Dark Wolverine cross-over was announced. That was the last specific example of that that I can recall b/c that's basically when I dropped out of the MU completely thanks to all their crazy mega-events and super-crossovers. It's great that characters exist in the context of a larger universe, but I'd like to just pick the specifc things I want to read. Guest stars? Yes, please. But don't make me buy The Punisher and Avenging Spider-Man just to, more-or-less, tell a Daredevil story that could have easily been contained in the main title.
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  6. #6
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    Does it matter that the New 52 creative is 99% terrible? Dull, redundant and offensive stories permeate the line. DC did a final push here to get older or long-time readers out of their universe. The 1986 reboot was the exact opposite, bringing in exciting creators with verve and personal vision. It didn't alienate most long-term readers (just some) and it brought the characters into the modern world without losing their decency and heroism. They have forgotten those lessons and presented modern readers with nihilists and two-dimensional wonders by Rob Liefeld, J.T. Krul and Scott Lobdell.

    Sales are up, so, seriously, does it matter if the art and stories are bad if the comics sell? I miss the DC Universe, but I have 70 years worth of stories to read about it. Honestly, I think it was a mistake to let the people who broke DC try and fix it. Now it's even worse than it was before. But sales are up. Weird.

  7. #7
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    I totally respect your retailer perspective, Brian, but DC has it right when they have 52 titles on the market. The problem with going down to "26" or even "12" titles is basic buying behavior: even if you were going to go down to 12 titles, over time there would be a few winners, a few stinkers, and a whole lot of average. It's just the nature of the media business: not every title is going to be a winner, so you need to establish a farm system that allows you to find up-and-coming storytelling talent, while managing your existing portfolio of books.

    Crossovers are important because they introduce people to new books that they are more likely to be predisposed to. But mammoth cross-overs aren't the only way to do this: DC could easily take a page from the "Crimson Corsair" and every month, feature a two page original story (a la Wednesdays Comics) of one of the 52 titles, and have that appear across the line. The downside of that approach, of course, is that with paper costs so high, it is really hard to justify any kind of increase in pages if it doesn't pay its own weight.

  8. #8

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    For Jerry Smith, I'm sorry that you find 99% of the DCU "terrible." Mathematically, you must think that only one feature in the $3.99 comics is better than terrible (and I'd genuinely be interested in knowing which one it is). You have the right to your opinion, but the market says that you're being unreasonably harsh. My personal evaluation is that none of the DC comics are great, but many of them are quite good. I would rate the "line average quality" of the DCU much higher than the Marvel Universe these days, and I don't believe that "Marvel Now!" will alter that significantly.

    PreacherCain asked about TPBs and their commercial relationship to the magazines. At Electric City Comics, the new 52 trades have been a tremendous success. We have not carried everything (unlike Comix Experience, we are still more of a magazine store than a bookstore), but every title that we've brought in has sold at least one copy, which includes DEMON KNIGHTS (admittedly, that was a pre-sold customer request). At the top end, we've sold five copies of BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS and four copies of JUSTICE LEAGUE: ORIGIN, both of which is great for reprint collections for us, so there is a positive correlation between magazine sales and book sales (though GREEN LANTERN: SINESTRO has been lagging). I assume that the national figures follow approximately the same curve, but maybe Brian can tell us more about that in February's column.

    Yes, there should absolutely be fewer DCU titles, Marvel comics, and offerings from IDW, just to name three of the prime over-producers. If DC cut the bottom third, it wouldn't change the top third sales much, but I think that it would increase the sales and profitability of a chunk of the middle third.
    Last edited by Alan 59; 08-17-2012 at 08:36 AM. Reason: Got cut off

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan 59 View Post
    For Jerry Smith, I'm sorry that you find 99% of the DCU "terrible." Mathematically, you must think that only one feature in the $3.99 comics is better than terrible (and I'd genuinely be interested in knowing which one it is). You have the right to your opinion, but the market says that you're being unreasonably harsh. My personal evaluation is that none of the DC comics are great, but many of them are quite good. I would rate the "line average quality" of the DCU much higher than the Marvel Universe these days, and I don't believe that "Marvel Now!" will alter that significantly.
    Thanks for asking, Alan. I tried around 12 of the New 52, skimmed through the rest or knew they weren't for me. Currently I buy Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Aquaman. I enjoy each title, but wouldn't miss them if they were gone. I guess that is disliking around 90% of the 52, so I stand corrected. Before last year I couldn't imagine a world where I didn't buy at least one Batman title. But while Snyder's Batman isn't terrible, it is boring and too stuffed with owls. Meanwhile, Nightwing is dull, I,Vampire is awful, the Superman books are incredibly bad and Wonder Woman is tawdry. I'm looking for a jumping-off point and it looks like the 0 issues are it. I buy five or six Marvel books in a given month.

    I'll never not buy comics, but I am repulsed by most of the new 52. Just my opinion.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Smith View Post
    Before last year I couldn't imagine a world where I didn't buy at least one Batman title. But while Snyder's Batman isn't terrible, it is boring and too stuffed with owls.
    Jerry, you may want to try Batman:The Dark Knight. The new writer who just came on board is quite good.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sdhun View Post
    Jerry, you may want to try Batman:The Dark Knight. The new writer who just came on board is quite good.
    Thanks, I'll check out the next issue!

  12. #12

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    I've been a long time reader of DC (almost 25 years) and it hit me when reading the latest solicits that I wasn't really excited for anything. This DC isn't totally for me. So, after the #0 issues I might peel off the band aid, and any books that I hear are or look good in the interim, I will get in TPB form. I've already told my comic book store that I'll be cutting down on books so he won't get stuck with anything.

    I do also agree about the crossover thing. For example: Swamp Thing and Animal Man are two of my favorite New 52 books. No real interest in Frankenstein. But now, I could wait and get a trade for virtually the same price as buying all three books in the crossover books. That "Culling" crossover that led into Ravagers made me drop Superboy; I had already dropped Legion Lost. Also don't know why we need four Green Lantern related titles and two Legion books.

    I'm curious if others are dropping off in the same way.

  13. #13
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    I disagree with those who think 52 books were too many. Yes, thirteen books a week are too many for most customers, but trying to sell every book to every customer is more a Marvel thing than DC. The larger line gives DC room to experiment with greater variety; they want enough of a range that there is something for almost anyone, even for people with mutually exclusive tastes. It also provides "shelf impact." A smaller line would produce less visual impact when someone enters the store and sees all the new comics.

    Tastes are another factor, I generally get about 10-15 DC books a month, plus a few Image and Dynamite, but it's only recently that Marvel has managed to put out anything I've found worth reading.
    Anyone who thinks DC is bringing back the Silver Age doesn't know what the Silver Age is.

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  14. #14
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    I think it sucks that a book can sell 20,000 books a month, but won't be carried by stores because they each won't sell enough to justify carrying it. I wish there was a better system for customers to buy these long tail books. I'd love it if a print on demand system existed where I could go into a shop (or their online store), say I want a book, and have Diamond print and ship a book to the store the next week. Instead, I'm stuck having to know what I want three months early to make sure the store knows to order it so I actually have a chance to buy it.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtigan View Post
    I think there are some skewed numbers here. Instead of comparing the last month of sales of the "old" books, you should have gone back to the previous September. By August of last year everyone knew that the change was coming and sales numbers were already declining for the "old" books. The last few issues of some of the re-vamped titles were filler type stories and pointless wrap-ups. We all knew they were ending and some had already dropped those titles.
    To get a more accurate representation of sales you would go back to the same month, a year earlier, before anyone knew the books were ending or being revamped.
    Yeah, good point. I'd be more interested in a "summer 2010 vs. summer 2012" comparison. The trick would be to compare "normal" (non-crossover, non-anniversary) issues of the same titles over the years.

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