§ June 9th, 2009 § Filed under all star batman Comments Off on Bat-talk.

So I had a few responses to yesterday’s post about Batman and Robin, All Star Batman, and so on, and I thought I’d respond to a few of them here rather than hiding them away in the comments section.

  • First off is Dean, who sez:

    “I’ve never quite understood the logic of marketing something like ‘All-Star Batman and Robin’ as a periodical in the first place. […] The individual floppies were priced around $3 to start, so in essence DC was offering 264 pages of Miller-Lee for $36. Is there any chance that it wouldn’t have sold 100,000 copies had it been released straight-to-trade at that price?”

    Probably not, but all things being equal here, we’d still be waiting for that theoretical Miller/Lee All Star Batman book to come out, for the reasons Dean gives later in his comment. And given that the book is, shall we say, a bit challenging to a typical reader’s expectations for a Batman story, word of mouth reviews, from those less enlightened than All Star Batfans like you and me, may prevent some folks from picking up a $25 book, who may otherwise have sampled a $2.99 issue.

    There are pros and cons for both sides here, but I don’t think DC would ever have seriously considered releasing ASB as a book from the get-go, given it would probably turn into a much talked-about no-show like Miller’s theoretical Holy Terror Batman story.

    If the industry was a little further along in its transition from a periodical-based model to a book-based one, it could be we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But to have a new, ongoing Batman book by Frank! Miller! and Jim! Lee! on the stands is too much of an ongoing potential sales/publicity coup for DC to resist, potential delays aside.

  • Your Obedient Serpent (say, I’ve always wanted one of those!) says a thing or two about a thing or two:

    “So much of comic sales come from stores with subscribers and hold lists that there really ISN’T anything resembling consequences for late books. Bad books, sure; if something starts to stink, I’ll cross it off my list. If I have a budget crunch, I’ll start whittling away at the titles that are least-impressive. […] If a book is late or erratic, people are going to be MORE prone to keeping it on their hold list, because they know it’ll slip right by them if they DON’T.”

    That is true in the case of comic savers that the lists tend to remain fairly stable, and that lateness rarely plays into said savers dropping books. (Though it did result in more than one subscriber asking me why I didn’t pull Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #1 and #2 for them after seeing #3 in their box. “I pulled those for you three years ago,” I’d tell them.)

    However, in this case I was still referring to rack sales. We do get a lot of walk-in traffic, so our percentage of new comic sales to comic savers isn’t as large as you’d expect. Like I said, Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk still sold well, and when All Star Batman does deign to come out, it’s usually our top selling comic (or close to) for the month. I think this is more an artifact of the modern comics business and customer expectations…after so many significant delays on high profile books, people have just become used to them. It’s Business as Usual.

  • Matthew (who’s recently sent me a couple of awesome logo banners that I’ll be using soon!) wonders the following:

    “I’m curious to know if folks who liked THE DARK KNIGHT film are coming in and checking out the Bat-books. If someone really dug that movie, or BEGINS, and decided to see what the comics were like I would imagine it would be a bit jarring to find out Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman right now. Or do you just recommend trades to those people (if they even exist. I’m assuming a lot here)?”

    I know a couple of people have already answered this in the comments, and I’m mostly in agreement with them. Dark Knight didn’t really create increased demand for Batman comics. Batman is just one of those characters there’s always demand for, regardless. You do bring up a good point that perhaps someone new to comics may be thrown off a bit by someone else in the costume, but…well, as Cole said in response to you later in the comments, there have been enough different interpretations of Batman over the years that anyone interested enough in the character to actually sample a comic can probably catch on pretty quick. The premise that Batman’s former sidekick Robin has taken over for his mentor is a simple one to grasp, even for people only vaguely familiar with the character.

    But as Matthew implies, if people want Batman Classic, it’s not as if there’s not 70+ years’ worth of previously-published adventures to choose from!

  • I’ve already covered a few things Cole mentions in the previous response, but he also sez

    “…Based on things Mike and others have said over the years, the connection between movies and serialized monthly comics doesn’t seem to be anywhere near as strong as it is for discrete works like Watchmen.”

    The other part of it seems to be that if there’s a bump at all, it’s usually 1) for the first film in a series (i.e. Spider-Man 2 and 3 didn’t help comic sales any) and 2) almost exclusively prior to the film’s release. So by default, the Watchmen movie would be the “first” in a “series” (oh God, let’s hope that’s not the case), thus bumping sales on the book. If there were a Watchmen 2: Seymour Rising (for example) I wouldn’t expect sales on the comic to experience anywhere close to the same bump.

    That said…sales on Watchmen at our shop have pretty much dried up. Used to be, for the last couple of decades, I’d have to order copies every week. Haven’t had to order one in a few months. Like since, oh, I think, around the time the film came out. Funny, we sell a lot of books here.

  • Bill D. notes

    “…There are plenty of people out there who consider themselves Batman fans without ever coming into contact with the comics. I saw a contestant on Jeopardy’s Teen Tournament a year or two back who talked about being a huge Batman fan, and was obsessed with the movies, the cartoons, the games, and the toys. When Alex asked him about the comics, the kid said he didn’t have any of the comics, and that they actually held no interest for him at all.”

    I encounter that a lot at the shop, actually. Lots of “big fans” of Wonder Woman, or Silver Surfer, or Superman, looking for stuff with those characters…but not the comics. The iconography of the figures is what’s attractive for those people, and, you know, that’s fine.

    Wonder Woman in particular is a popular favorite for this type of collector. We try to order WW merchandise whenever we can, because that stuff is like printing money, honey.

  • My longtime customer Jo comments that she didn’t care for Batman and Robin specifically because of the character filling the Robin role. And I can see that…he can be a bit offputting, but that’s what I’m liking about the particular dynamic here. It actually reminds me a bit of the portrayal of the Batman and Robin team in All Star Batman, with an antagonistic sidekick constantly giving grief to Bats.

    Of course, you’re not supposed to like this new Robin…he’s a nasty little jerk, he’s rude to Alfred (and nobody’s rude to Alfred), and he’s clearly going to get some sense knocked into him along the course of this storyline. So, Jo, if you don’t like him, keep reading…he’ll get his comeuppance!

  • JBS says

    “Judd Winick and Ed Benes – a solid creative team? huh?”

    I knew someone would say something about that. And, yeah…it’s a solid creative team featuring talents that are competent and proven sellers. I know people gripe about them online, but those folks generally don’t represent actual real world comic sales. As pal Dorian says in his following comment, this comic functions as “counterprogramming” — if you don’t like that Batman book, maybe you’ll like this one. If you don’t care for Morrison and Quitely’s take, you can have this more traditional version by Winick and Benes.

    Plus, Winick’s previous run on the Bat-books was well-received and a good seller, so I’m looking forward to his return to the title. (Yeah, yeah, I know…”well-received? Huh?” Don’t you start with me.)

  • Chris T wraps it up with

    “I never knew Rick Veitch had a blog. Thanks for tip!”

    You’re welcome! Rick Veitch’s weblog is awesome, and everyone should check it out every day. SO SAYS MIKE.

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