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Greater than a hecto-villain, but nowhere close to a yotta-villain.

§ October 9th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, swamp thing § 5 Comments

So I was digging through a few boxes of old comics promo materials when I found this, a 16 page black and white book of DC’s publishing plans for 1989-1990 that was given to retailers:


I only scanned half of the “cover” there, but you can see they were pushing the Batman movie pretty hard, as you might imagine. No, no, don’t worry, I’m not doing another round of Bat-talk just yet (though I did find a couple of relevant Bat-items that I may showcase here in the near future), but there are couple of interesting items of note inside.

First ,there’s this blurb for the sadly never-finished Swamp Thing: Deja Vu mini-series that would have reunited Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson:


Wrightson only drew a handful of pages before deciding the project wasn’t for him, and Wein’s attempt to get another artist to complete the book was met with the reaction of “not interested unless Wrightson was doing it” from the powers-that-were. (I believe I read about that particular bit of business in the Swampmen, which is where you can see some of the pages Wrightson did draw for the project.)

And then there was this story on the last page of the booklet:


Games being the Marv Wolfman/George Perez “final hurrah” as a team on the Teen Titans, which didn’t come out in 1990 as planned…and in fact didn’t actually show up until 2011, over twenty years later! Wolfman writes about what happened here.

But what I wanted to talk about was this:


…a big crossover event series planned for this publishing period, which I couldn’t recall ever having heard of. At first glance, I thought maybe it was a working title for some other event, but reading the synopsis, it didn’t sound like any crossover thingie DC had published. (Though, funnily enough, it reminds me a bit of the “children of the Justice League” storyline currently running in, er, Justice League.)

Did a little Googling, and there’s not much on the series to be found, as you might imagine. Turns out, according to Roger Stern, mentioned in the article as one of the writers involved, it never really got too far past “hey, here’s an idea.”

CLICK TO EXPAND MIGHTILY

And this excerpt from American Comic Book Chronicles that turned up on Google Books ties us back yet again to the Bat-Burton film:


And yes, I got screenshots as well as links there, as there’s nothing like sorting out dead links in decade-old blog posts to make one appreciate the mercurial state of the World Wide Web.

Anyway, what I find of interest in this article is how much is promised regarding this series, given that, as Stern says, it didn’t really get that far along in the creative process. A “new mega-villain” is probably a given for a big event like this, and “new characters,” I guess, so that’s a gimme. The format of the series, with increasing page-counts for each subsequent pair of issues, is…a little weird, and I don’t recall that specific idea being implemented any time later. I mean, sure, last issues of crossover comics can be double-sized or whatever, but that’s not exactly the same as what’s being described.

Now I realize what the world probably doesn’t need is yet another superhero crossover event on the books, but I am intrigued enough by this premise, and by the proposed writing team of Stern and John Ostrander utilizing DC’s major characters, and by the new characters that would have come out of it that I wouldn’t have minded seeing it. But it feels just a little weird, to find out now there’s a missing event series, a comics ghost flickering in and out of existence behind all the Batmania.

NOTE: Official stance of this website is that girls are NOT — repeat NOT — yucky.

§ June 26th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, brat finks, dc comics, wonder woman § 9 Comments

So I took in a fairly sizable collection of comics, ranging from the 1960s to the far-flung future of circa 2005, and therein was a copy of Brave and the Bold #63 from 1966:


…which, in the decades I’ve been at this, have only actually seen in person a relative handful of times. On the Twitters, I suggested I’ve seen a copy of this comic only about once a decade, and I don’t think that’s too far off. I’ve seen lots of copies of Brave and the Bold issues around it, but not this specific one. Not sure why…just fewer copies out there in the wild, I guess, at least in our general area. I don’t know if people are just holding onto them in their collections, or maybe the actual issue just didn’t sell well at the time. I mean, maybe some (not all…some) young boys looking at the shelves trying to find something to read would pass on the comic that stars a couple of yucky ol’ girls, so is that a reason for reduced availability now? I’m not sure.

At any rate, I don’t see this issue very often, but I’ve been wanting to read the darn thing for years, so I took it home to peruse prior to putting it back out for sale. Hey, look, I gets my perks where I can. And, as a professional funnybook handler, I can flip through this periodical without any significant reduction in condition or resale value.

Okay, I’m writing this post instead of reading the comic, but I’ll get to it. I did flip through it long enough to find the thesis statement for this visual essay:


…so I’m looking forward to what is almost certainly going to be a whirlwind experience. At the very least, let’s look at that cover…I love how huge and eye-catching those logos for Supergirl and Wonder Woman are, even with their disembodied, worried-looking faces hanging out at the edges there. This must have been something else to see brand new on the rack, which that shiny red background behind the logos glaring out at you.

The issue was also filled with those quarter-to-half page house ads for DC Comics, including one for the very comic we’re looking at right here:


…and boy, did 1960s DC like the word “chicks.” And the phrasing that they’re teamed up in “the super-est romance of all time” — well, “Suffering Sappho!” I guess.

Here’s an ad for Jimmy Olsen getting up to his usual weird-ass stuff in his own comic:


Was James Bond really known for being boastful? Sardonic, maybe, but I never thought he was that much of a braggart. But then it does say Jimmy is more boastful, so I guess Bond doesn’t really have to be so much.

I don’t really have much to say about this ad except it’s for Ultra the Multi-Alien, who is, of course, awesome:


…and well-played on the “you’ll be drawn to his magnetic force!” blurb.

There’s a lot going on in this Fox and the Crow ad, ballyhooing the debut of Stanley and His Monster:


and if you want to learn more about the Brat Finks, why friends, you find yourself on probably the only comics blog in the world with a “brat finks” category you can click on and enjoy.

“I remember you…!”

§ June 14th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics § 4 Comments

So I’ve been hanging onto this “Zero Month” promo video tape for years:

…with the intention over the last decade or so of digitizing the content and uploading to the Yootletubers for all to enjoy.

We didn’t have a TV in the store back in 1994, but all of us traded the tape around and got a kick out of it, seeing interviews with DC Comics folks (like Mike Carlin, Johanna‘s husband KC, Denny O’Neil, the apparently-ageless Dan Jurgens, and many others), all hosted by Evil Hal Jordan. I remember searching YouTube before to see if anyone had uploaded it and not finding it, but I guess it’s been a while since I did so as someone did put it up a few years back. So, here it is, in all its amazing glory:

About 16 minutes after I posted the link to this on my Twitter, it popped up on Metafilter, so you may have already seen this, but I had to have this on my site. I love this ol’ VHS tape.

Now I just need to digitize this Hero Illustrated promo tape I’ve got sitting around….

Of reprints and Patreons.

§ April 26th, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, legion of super-heroes, publishing, self-promotion § 6 Comments

So a while back on the Twitterers I complained that a joke I had planned for an End of Civilization post was undone by the fact the publisher actually didn’t mess up something I thought they had messed up. I’ve been meaning to get around to telling the one or two of you who might remember that and still care just what I was talking about. And what I was talking about was the Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes hardcover volume one, as solicited in the March 2017 Diamond Previews:


That’s the image they’re using to solicit the collection, but obviously not the actual, final cover since that’s a pic of the Legion treasury edition the book will be including.

Anyway, my assumption is that there were going to be some issues skipped between the last of the DC Archives reprintings of the Legion of Super-Heroes and this volume, which picks up in the 1970s. However, to my surprise, this new book picks up exactly where the Archive editions left off, so for those of us depending on DC’s reprint program to gather up all those classic Legion stories in chronological order, like I know I was, that’s good news. Of course, this new format won’t have as many stories per volume, but also it won’t be $75 like that Archives generally were near the end there, so at least there’s that.

Like I mentioned, the treasury edition, featuring the wedding of Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad (hey, stop snickering, this is a big deal) is in this book, and I was greatly anticipating its appearance in the never-forthcoming Legion Archives Volume 14. At some point, around, I don’t know, 2008, I even passed up on a copy of the treasury because I figured I would eventually get that story in the archive series. Well, took a little longer than expected, but it’s finally on its way. Hopefully. Assuming it isn’t cancelled or postponed.

Now if we can get DC to pick up reprinting Sugar and Spike where that last archive edition left off….

• • •

And now, for a brief commercial message…as mentioned just the other day, plans are continuing apace for the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, my attempt at reviewing every Swamp Thing comic, that will be an exclusive, at least for a time, for Patreon supporters. I finally updated my Patreon page to include that reward tier in the sidebar.

Since I have the reward tier set at the lowest level (I mean, I don’t think you can contribute less than a dollar a month, can you?), anyone who supports my Patreon at any level will get access to the Swamp Thing-a-Thon posts. If you’re already a supporter, you’ll get access. If you click the “Become a Patreon” button and donate that generous $150 a month I know you want to, you’ll get access. You don’t have to click on that $1 Reward button to get access, that just makes it easier for you to chip in. If you’re contributing at all, you’re in.

Like I’ve said…the content there will make it over to this site eventually, but not for a while. If you can provide support, that’s great, but if you can’t or don’t want to, that’s perfectly okay too, and you’ll get to see that stuff anyway, if you don’t mind waiting a bit.

Thanks to you folks out there who still read this “comics” “blog” after all this time. I appreciate all the support and readership you’ve given me for so many years.

When Dr. Manhattan does finally appear, he’s totally going to be wearing pants.

§ April 21st, 2017 § Filed under batman, buttons, dc comics, retailing, this week's comics, watchmen § 4 Comments

[Some minor SPOILERS for Batman #21 ahead.]

The lentincular covers are back on the shelves this week, thanks to DC’s first installment in the “We’re Finally Getting Around to That Whole Watchmen Thing” storyline running through Batman and Flash for the next few issues. Ah, the long-missed “zzzzzip-zzzzzip” sounds of those covers sliding against each other as customers pull their copies off the rack. Actually, I’m surprised it took DC this long to get back to doing these fancy movin’ picture covers, since they certainly grab attention (even if they’re hard to stack on the rack in any sizable quantity if you don’t have anything at the front of the shelf to keep them from toppling over and falling off, since they don’t exactly lay flat). I mean, I can understand why they don’t, given the extra lead time it takes to get these printed after taking in orders, so saving them for special occasions like this, where it’s worth the extra hassle, makes sense.

However, I will note that I’m getting lots of requests for the non-lenticular variants on this issue, as compared to the newsstand editions of the lenticular covers the last time we did this which mostly just kinda sat there and stared back at me from the rack with their sad little eyes.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the actual content, which is the first storyline to actually revolve around the connection between the DC Universe and the Watchmen since that DC Universe Rebirth special from last year. Yes, there have been references here and there to “something bigger” going on behind the various reality-changing shenanigans going on, most notably in the recent “Superman Reborn” series of comics, as well as the occasional mention in Flash and either Titans or Teen Titans or maybe both…I’m specifically thinking of whatever one had the old Flash villain Abra Kadabra. The whole “Dr. Oz” thing that’s been in the Superman books had been assumed by some folks to be Ozymandias from Watchmen, though that seems a little too on-the-nose and obvious (which doesn’t rule it out, I do realize). He is involved somehow in the whole Watchmen event, but I feel like there’ll be a different reveal than “Gasp! It’s Ozymandias!” Maybe it’s Bubastis. Or an in-his-fightin’-trim Seymour.

Anyway, we don’t get a whole lot regarding any actual Watchmen characters yet, aside from what we can assume is an off-screen Dr. Manhattan doing away with the villain. There’s also a bit of business where the Comedian’s button reacts to the Psycho Pirate’s mask…a reference to (and likely a plot point based on) the conclusion of the now-30-year-old Crisis on Infinite Earths, which left Psycho Pirate as the one character who remembered the pre-Crisis multiverse…well, aside from everyone else who remembered it. (That situation was more-or-less twisted back into its original intent later in Animal Man.) And on top of all that, the comic is laid out in the 9-panel-grid in which Watchmen was largely presented.

I’m not 100% convinced we’re going to see any Watchmen characters in this particular story, honestly, beyond maybe a fleeting glimpse…I mean, we’ll find out within the next three weeks, of course. There’s more to come, too…the Batman issue I just placed orders for is already following up on the events in this storyline, so my guess is whatever big reveal we’re getting now is going to be “huh, there’s a multiverse and this button is from another universe and someone from said universe is futzing around with us.” Okay, I think the characters knew most of that already, but my point is that the full-on “Naked Blue Man Versus the DC Universe” is waiting for a Big Event Crossover Thingie down the line, and not happening in this Batman/Flash crossover that’s running now. Like I said, we’ll find out how right or wrong I am soon enough.

The DC Comics Hardcover/Softcover Plan: The End of the Thrillogy.

§ March 22nd, 2017 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, retailing § 3 Comments

Okay, it’s the third post regarding this particular publishing plan of DC’s from waaaay back in the ancient times of the 1980s. If you’re just joining us, you can read just exactly what the hardcover/softcover thing is in these two posts. If you’ve been here for the whole exciting saga, you’ll be glad to know that, as promised, I did ask my old boss Ralph about sales on the New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes comics during that period.

As it turns out, sales in Ralph’s shop were pretty much as you’d expect. The new printing-on-fancy-Baxter-paper direct sales only series sold great, and their newsstand counterparts still sold quite well as long as they continued presenting new stories. Once the newsstand versions started to reprint the stories from the new direct-sales series, sales on the newsstand series plummeted. They did still sell a handful of copies, so either someone was still following the series in the cheaper format, or just completing the run, or it was simply random, non-consistent purchases from walk-ins not necessarily following the comics but just wanted something to read.

Ralph didn’t recall if there were any holdouts who didn’t want to spring for the extra cost of the newer series, but instead waited for those stories to be reprinted in the less-expensive partner series. However, some readers left comments saying they did just that, based on wanting to get the maximum comics bang for their bucks with the limited amount of financial resources at hand. So, you know, I would guess that this particular buying strategy was a tad more common than I assumed.

I also asked Ralph if there was any grumbling from his regulars about now having to buy two series of, say, New Teen Titans a month, instead of the normal one. He didn’t really recall any, as it seemed to him at the time customers were excited about the new higher-quality Baxter-format comics, even at the higher price. Plus, DC picked a couple of series with strong enough fanbases that the prospect of more material available each month was generally welcome. …Man, that was a long time ago.

Personally, I dutifully bought both versions of New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes, up until the newsstand books went into reprints (except for the initial Titans one, since that reprinted the first appearance, which I didn’t have at the time, and a story from a DC digest which I did already have, but didn’t mind having in the full-sized format). I suspect, for readers who had the scratch and were within hopping, skipping and/or jumping distance of a devoted funnybook store, that was usually, but not always, the case.

Reader Michael likened this to Marvel’s 1990s experiment with direct sales/newsstand editions of some of their books, like X-Men and Wolverine. However, the wait time between releases was only a couple of weeks or so, and the pricier, fancier version came out first, with the less expensive version on the less fancy paper coming afterwards. As I recall, the plan was to see which format would sell better in the direct market, and, as Michael notes, of course the fancier one sold better because people didn’t want to wait even that short of a time to keep up with these particular titles. My main memory of these was, when restocking the back issue bins, having to keep track which issue numbers of which titles had the two different formats, and making sure both were represented in the old comics boxes.

…This all seems so quaint, compared to the modern practice of “here’s a new number #1 for a character/franchise that’s already had multiple new #1s in recent memory, some of which are still going.” I often thought at the time that future price guides and collectors would have a hard time puzzling out the different permutations Titans, Legion and Outsiders went through trying to satisfy two different retail markets. Little did I know what was coming.

Showing their true metal.

§ August 17th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics § 2 Comments

Speaking of the Metal Men comics I received at my shop recently, I noticed something on them that I don’t think I’d paid much attention to before:

metalmenartcredita

metalmenartcreditb
I hadn’t noticed signatures on DC’s Silver Age books before with an affixed “ART:” or “ART BY” credit. These particular examples are from Metal Men #2 (1963) and #11 (1964/5), telling one and all that these swell cartoon robots were delineated by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Just seemed a little odd to me, though perhaps inspired by the increased realization of the marketability of specific creators as the Silver Age progressed, particularly with Marvel’s “we’re all your pals here!” editorial emphasis and cutesy nicknames, making sure you knew which comics were by “King” Kirby and “Jazzy” John Romita.

Anyway, whatever the reason, these sure look neat blown up nice an’ big like that.

In other Metal Men news, I continue this current semi-obsession in asking a related question of the War Rocket Ajax fellas, at around the 1 hour 22 minute mark, more or less.

If I were in charge of DC, those characters would absolutely appear in Scooby-Doo Team-Up.

§ June 3rd, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 7 Comments

So when I’m not answering your questions, foolin’ around on Twitter, or allowing comic creators to vent in my comments, I’m running a comic shop, and of late I’ve been worrying about sales on the whole DC Rebirth thing.

batrebirthMy initial thought was that, like Marvel’s multiple reboots/restarts on their titles, the number of sales I can expect to receive on yet another round of first issues was not necessarily going to be very much. This wasn’t going to be like the New 52 relaunch from five years ago, where it was a month full of new #1s in a newly-formed (and, frankly, not quite done cooking) continuity all thrown at us at once, and the sheer novelty of it translated to big sales, even for the titles that traditionally didn’t do very well. Of course, sales atrophied on the New 52 eventually, with Batman and Justice League still doing respectable numbers, but everything else mostly just slowly fading.

DC’s “Rebirth,” by contrast, was going to be spread out over several months, with most titles effectively getting two first issues (a “Rebirth” one-shot, to sort of reestablish the characters vis-à-vis where they left off prior to the start of the “Rebirth” event, and an actual #1 to kick off the new thread of adventures, presumably). Add to the fact that most people weren’t 100% clear on what “Rebirth” was actually going to be (most of my customers seemed to assume it was another full-on reboot)…well, I had a hard time figuring how this was going to sell.

To DC’s credit, they probably assumed everyone was going to feel that way, so the early issues are returnable, which eases the burden on poor ol’ retailers like me a bit. That doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m going to order a thousand of everything to make darned sure I have enough to go around…I still have a budget, I still have other comics to order, and I don’t really want to tie up that much money in product for, likely, months while I wait for the go-ahead to send ’em back. So I ordered about what I estimated what I thought I could sell, plus a little more for good measure, and hoped for the best.

And then the DC Universe: Rebirth came out a couple of weeks ago.

Now, on that book, the 80-page, bargain priced one shot that was kicking off the whole thing, I ordered a ton. I ordered numbers on that book specifically so that I’d have it around for the next couple of months, as all the new “Rebirth”-branded relaunched books came out and people asked “so what’s this all about, hah?” I could hand them a copy of the 80-pagers and tell them “all the answers you seek are in here, my son.”

It, of course, sold out by the weekend.

Now, a second printing and a third printing have been announced, with the 2nd print due in stores next week (and at the more reasonable-for-the-publisher price of $5.99). That part didn’t worry me…I figured another printing would be rushed out. What did worry me was how many of those I sold, and how quickly. The first wave of new Rebirth comics were coming next week, Mike of Last Week thought, and judging by demand for that one-shot, does that mean I’m going to have crazy demand for all the Rebirth comics? Maybe I ordered too low! Can I get reorders in on time? Am I panicking? IS THIS THE END OF MIKE?

garebirthI worried mostly for naught, because for the four Rebirth titles that launched this week, I appear to have ordered more or less correctly. I probably could have used more Batman, but that wasn’t entirely my fault, as a portion of the order arrived damaged, with replacements hopefully arriving next Wednesday (and more copies heading my way, thanks to an early reorder). But even still, I appear to have had enough to meet demand. This wasn’t a New 52-scale epic rush on the stands to grab handfuls of books, but what I sold was certainly far above what I’d been selling on these titles…even Batman, which had been a strong seller prior to this Rebirth hoohar. Now that I have an idea of how Rebirth will be received, that helps me judge orders for future weeks, and it’s certainly a load off my mind after worrying about how these were going to do.

One question I’ve been getting since last week’s DC Universe Rebirth one-shot came out was “where are the plot threads introduced in that book going to play out?” I think everyone was expecting “BATMAN VS. [REDACTED]” in his first issue, or that there would be some central “Rebirth” mini-series where that stuff would be addressed. From what I understand, we’ll be seeing elements from that one-shot in the DC books over the next couple of years, but if it doesn’t culminate in a series of “DC Character Versus [REDACTED] Character” one-shots, followed by a big DC Universe Rebirth: Omega giant-size special to wrap it all up, I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Honestly, people, like, ran to the new comics rack.

§ February 22nd, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 2 Comments

Adam asks

“What do you think about the three-month rollout of new titles? I would guess that’s a better system than dumping all 32 new titles, with Rebirth special issues, on the market all at once like they did with the New52. Could that make the ordering a little easier? Or could June be like those Secret Wars months when people are missing their regular books? (Assuming, maybe erroneously, that everything DCU not ‘Rebirth’ is ending in May.)”

The thing about the New 52’s month-long onslaught of new first issues is that it felt like a Big Event, nearly unprecedented in the comics industry. DC didn’t even restart everything after Crisis on Infinite Earths, when it would have been totally justified. The excitement over this weeks-long parade of #1s just kind of fueled itself, and I think I remember mentioning at the time that, when we opened the doors each Wednesday for new comics day, people literally rushed to the funnybook wall to get their hands on the latest DC debuts. People I’d never seen before, people who told me “I heard about all these new first issues on the news and wanted to see what was goin’ on” – the immediacy of all these new comics appearing on the stands more or less at the same time got people in the doors.

Of course, keeping them coming back was the real trick, which, um, didn’t work out so well, as New 52 sales eventually dwindled down to pretty much where things were before. And then Marvel attempted their own rollout of new #1 relaunches, but spreading them out over several months, with some titles ending in the midst of others starting and not having a clearly specified line of “everything before this point is old, everything after this point is new” like DC did with the new Justice League #1…well, that didn’t quite build the same kind of buzz.

And in the meantime we’ve had more relaunches and new #1s from both Marvel and DC and it’s all just business as usual, so I don’t imagine we’re going to have anything close to the same sort of excitement with this new batch of DCs. Which isn’t what you’re asking, Adam, I realize, but it’s just something I’m pondering as I think about what I may do in regards to ordering. Yes, rolling ’em out over a few months instead of dumping them all at once is probably the better strategy this time ’round, especially since this is aimed at growing readership out of a market that already exists, rather than trying to attract new readers from outside the market via a big splashy “TONS OF NEW TITLES, JOIN IN ON THE FUN” New 52-esque carnival. I mean, yes, obviously DC would love to get those new readers into the marketplace, but the concern right now is having a solid base of reasonably-selling periodicals in the direct market as it exists, and hoping to attract new readers with other projects and their trade program and what have you.

I don’t think we’re going to have a Convergence (or Secret Wars) style dearth of sales, where folks just kinda skip over these side mini-series while they’re waiting for the regular titles to return. These are the “in-continuity” books, so Superman readers will likely continue getting Superman, etc., assuming people don’t use these as “jumping-off” points (which some readers invariably do). Now, I have no idea what the actual directions/content of these new line of DC books will entail, and whatever is actually in the books will naturally affect that transition of readers from the old series to the new ones.

I probably should look a little more closely at what the actual plans are, but it’s my understanding that 1) the old series end, and then 2) the one-shots and new series come out over the next couple of months. But during this time, DC will surely still be releasing their Vertigo books, they’ve got those relaunched Hanna-Barbera books, they’ve got Dark Knight III (speaking of comics bringing in non-traditional comic readers!) and their other minis, so they’ll still have plenty of books on the shelves for their customers.

So ultimately, Adam, ordering is still going to be a real bear, but I’m not expecting any wild fluctuations in sales numbers. Unless there’s some mind-blowing stuff going on in these new launches, it’ll probably just keep on keeping on, with a slight improvement in profit coming from DC paring down their line to titles that are more or less proven sellers (with one or two titles in the new line-up that just feel like they’re doomed from the start, but we’ll see).

In conclusion: there’s still no new Swamp Thing series listed, so phooey.

The New 32.

§ February 19th, 2016 § Filed under dc comics, retailing § 11 Comments

Brad asked, in response to my Archie comments in yesterday’s post:

“Why do kids buy Archie Digests but avoid the same material in pamphlet or trade form?”

My guess is perceived value…digests may cost more, but contain a lot more content, and are closer to books than to periodicals in format. Just a matter of preferred packaging, I suppose.

“What DO kids buy these days anyway? The Disney titles from IDW? My Little Pony? Transformers? Manga? Captain Underpants?”

Yes to most of the above, as well as Sonic the Hedgehog (which is an Archie publication, so there’s that), Simpsons, Avatar the Last Airbender, Star Wars, Mad Magazine, Deadpool if the parents say “yes” — there’s a wide variety of comics to choose from, and kids’ tastes run the gamut.

rebirthcurtainSpeaking of comics, as I usually do here making that a fairly redundant transition, DC Comics announced yesterday just what they were gettin’ at with that image they’d been posting in social media here and there for the last few weeks. As it turns out, it is another linewide relaunch, rejiggering the DC superhero line-up to snap the company out of the publishing doldrums it’d fallen into after the massive New 52 debut sales back in 2011 had since faded away into a distant memory. Marvel’s had line-relaunches for their own books since then, initially goaded on by DC’s success, and have had scattered relaunches of several of their titles before their most recent sorta-post Secret Wars first-issue fest which we are still in the midst of. Basically what I’m saying is that this was a swell time to open a new shop, where I have to make some wild guesses as to how a bunch of new #1s are going to sell.

You can see the list of what DC’s planning to unleash right here, and on one hand, yes, good, they’re standardizing cover prices at $2.99, kinda of like a few years back when they were promising to “hold the line at $2.99” until stuff got pushed up to $3.99 anyway, and well, what can you do. It’d be nice if maybe that would pressure Marvel to follow suit, but it’s more likely the DCs will creep back up to $3.99 before Marvel does any extensive price-drops.

On the other hand, about half those titles are planned to be biweekly, so instead of spending a pocketbook-punching $3.99 on a new issue of Action Comics every month, you’ll be spending the incredibly low price of $5.98 each month for two issues of Action, so, um. But on the other other hand, instead of 52 monthly titles, there will be only 32, and it’s not likely you were going to buy Every Single Title DC was going to publish anyway, so maybe it’ll be at least a wash, or perhaps even a small savings for you. Costwise, $6 a month for 40 pages is a better deal than $4 for 20 pages, if you want to look at it that way. And that’s assuming the format will still include 20 pages of story.

I suspect the schedules are not set in stone…if there’s enough resistance to these selected titles double-dipping each month, DC can scale things back. I’m also concerned about maintaining that cover price…DC cut a couple of pages from the books during that original “hold the line at $2.99” push, so I’m wondering if more page cuts are possible. I would certainly hope not…I would prefer a price increase to that, and hopefully DC will remember that “$3.50” is a possible price point as well.

On the whole though, I do like that the number of titles have been scaled back to a reasonable amount, so that even if readers do decide to follow the double-shipping series, it won’t be as much of an impact at it would appear at first glance. For example, looking at what I’m likely to continue reading after “Rebirth,” it amounts to four biweekly titles, one monthly title, and maybe two or three other of the new monthly titles, depending on just what the actual contents are since all I’m going by is the name (like whatever The Super-Man is). That works about to about 9 to 12 comics a month, which isn’t too bad.

Of course, this is just the main DC Superhero Universe line of ongoing books. This doesn’t count mini-series and special event books and all those Hanna-Barbera relaunches and Vertigo and whatever else.

I saw a lot of comments online about how we should wait and see the creative teams/contents before giving the People’s Eyebrow to DC’s latest publishing endeavor, but I don’t think that’s entirely necessary. The idea of making half your line biweekly is a challenging one, particularly in this marketplace where consumers are looking to spend less money. And, especially after Marvel’s oddball scheduling issues over the last few years (ranging from “every two or three weeks or whatever” to “maybe we’ll see another issue again someday”), the last thing anyone wants is to feel like Lucy and Ethyl staring down that conveyor belt feeding them more candies than they could ever hope to wrap. I mean, yes, maybe the teams on these books will be so amazing that we’ll wish they were weekly, but I don’t think we should judge if someone finds, just from purely physical/economic response, the new DC plans to be a tad intimidating.

For me, the hapless retailer, the trick is figuring the numbers to order. Now, when DC did their linewide New 52 relaunch, that was fairly unprecedented, and received a lot of attention, and sales, not just from the initiated but from non-traditional consumers as well, driven to comic shops for the very first time to check out what was going on. As noted, there have been several attempts at relaunches/reboots from both companies since then, with diminishing returns, so the crowds that turned out for the New 52 aren’t likely to rematerialize. But if this stokes the excitement of the folks already coming to shops, well, that wouldn’t hurt. I expect a small bump in sales, and if the books are any good, and hopefully they are, maybe we can get some medium-to-strong-ish consistent sales on the ones that survive. That alone would be a welcome improvement.

The most unexpected announcement was that Detective and Action would revert back to their old pre-New 52 numbering. Good…I despaired of ever seeing an Action Comics #1000, and it looks like my weird prayers have been answered.

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