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.

11 Responses to “The New 32.”

  • Don’t sell yourself short, Mike — you’ve got plenty of hap! Hap to spare. Hap for days!

  • philfromgermany says:

    The youth of today buys MAD Magazine? There might be hope afterall.

  • Brad says:

    philfromgermany, you may remember a few years back MAD published a “Mad for Kids” version, which proved superfluous.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    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.)

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    You know that there will be people reading this who have no idea who Lucy and Ethyl are.

  • Chris T says:

    I think the twice monthly comic release would be fine it means those titles will be compiled into trades sooner, satisfying both regular comic shop partrons and more casual trade waiters..

    Speaking as one of the latter, however, the quality has to be pretty high for me to spend my hard earned.

    It is a bit of a worry though when Johns says stuff like “This is definitely for comic book readers more than it is for casual readers.”

  • philip says:

    I have to imagine that the execs at Warner Bros. are either happy enough with or clueless enough about with the people running their comic-book division but it strikes me as odd that there has not been an executive shakeup/culling/right-sizing at DC Entertainment. Maybe they have a really long leash or maybe this is their last chance or maybe nobody is paying attention, but the constant re-jiggering strikes me as a brand with a terminal identity crisis (no pun intended). But what I don’t know about business could fill a warehouse, so maybe I should shush.

  • Andrew L says:

    After watching the Geoff Johns videos and reading articles I’m cautiously optimistic of Rebirth. Hopeful more like with some characters. And as far as my wallet is concerned I only see possibly 1 extra title to add to my pull when the event kicks off.

  • Pal Cully says:

    Hi Mike.I don’t really have a normal way to reach you, but I figure you read this stuff once in a while. I miss you, mister. I hope the shop is doing well. Believe it or not, I’ve never read Cerebus. I started this week and I’m enjoying it tremendously. I had to share that with you. Have Fun!

  • GE says:

    “Keep it thrifty at $3.50?”

  • Andrew Leal says:

    I buy Archie digests more than the others for two reasons. One, I still find them at supermarket check outs. Lately I’ve seen the newer ones occasionally at a CVS or such and not just Barnes & Noble (and almost bought one solely for the Miz Beazley background cameo; some of the kids, I had to guess who was who, but she was instantly recognizable).

    Two, the digests, as mostly reprints, have more variety. I thumb through to see if they have 40s-70s stories, vintage Josie, and so on. I bought one on the basis that it had three Hot Dog stories.