Robot 6

Comics A.M. | Eight months in, New 52 isn’t sales ‘game-changer’

DC Comics

Publishing | Eight months after the launch of DC Comics’ New 52, Marc-Oliver Frisch takes a look at the reboot and concludes that it is not the “game-changer” it was touted to be. After an initial burst of sales when the series was launched, DC’s monthly numbers have settled down to about half the September sales, above the previous year’s levels but best described, as Frisch puts it, as “solid but not spectacular.” [Comiks Debris]

Digital comics | Anthony Ha looks at the success of the Pocket God comic, which is marketed alongside the game; more than 200,000 copies of the first issue have been sold, and sales for the whole series total 600,000. Dave Castelnuovo of Bolt Creative thinks the strong sales are due in part to the 99-cent cover price: “Meanwhile, the traditional publishers don’t want to undercut their print prices, so they’re usually charging $2.99 or $3.99 for new issues. (Some older comics are available for considerably less.) Castelnuovo says that’s ‘just too expensive’ for digital comics, especially when they’re competing with something like Angry Birds, which offers more content for just 99 cents. And although Marvel and DC are sell digital collections, Castelnuovo argues that they should be doing more to bundle dozens or even hundreds of issues together, so that readers can ‘blaze through them’ the way that they will consume entire seasons of Mad Men or Game of Thrones.” [TechCrunch]

Retailing | Tacoma, Washington’s Comic Book Ink is closing its doors after a 10-year run that included a benefit campaign to keep it from going under. [The Beat]

Conferences | Ryan Standfest files the most complete report yet on the Comics: Philosophy & Practice conference at the University of Chicago, which featured in-depth discussions of the medium by such comics luminaries as Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb and Alison Bechdel. [The Comics Journal]

Stan Lee

Creators | Stan Lee talks about Comikaze, Stan’s Rants and his World of Heroes YouTube channel. [MTV Geek]

Creators | Part Two of Deb Aoki’s interview with Empowered creator Adam Warren focuses on his female characters — why he finds women more interesting than men, and how he deals with specific characters. [About.com]

Creators | Paul Gravett posts the text he wrote for the Posy Simmonds retrospective at the Belgian Comic Strip Centre in Brussels; the texts and the accompanying art are an excellent introduction to the work of the creator of Tamara Drewe. [Paul Gravett]

Comics | Tom Spurgeon looks back on DC Comics’ Thriller, the short-lived 1980s series created by Robert Loren Fleming and Trevor Von Eeden. [The Comics Reporter]

Criticism | Noah Berlatsky looks at Roy Lichtenstein’s appropriation of comics art — and other images — in his paintings. [The Hooded Utilitarian]

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40 Comments

“DC’s monthly numbers have settled down to about half the September sales, above the previous year’s levels but best described, as Frisch puts it, as “solid but not spectacular.””

Anyone who was around for Heroes Reborn saw this coming a mile away.

Given, good on DC for getting their numbers up, even for a little while.

Had the feeling that this New 52 would run out of gas and come back down to earth. And this time next year the powers that be will fire those who concieved this. And reboot it back to the old 52.

“Had the feeling that this New 52 would run out of gas and come back down to earth. And this time next year the powers that be will fire those who concieved this. And reboot it back to the old 52.”

First part no, second part probably.

There’s no reason to fire them as New 52 was a massive success all things considered. Nobody in their right mind should have expected the sales bump to be sustainable, but the fact they were able to steal some market share for a while and get some of their lesser selling titles (Aquaman anybody) up in sales makes it a worthwhile endeavor.

That said, I have little doubt that they’re re-reboot to Pre-Flashpoint continuity sooner or later for the next big sales bump.

Typical short-term ‘fix’ mentality.

Nu52 was a gimmick that was never necessary; hire high-profile creative teams, tell timeless stories appealing to all ages, and promote properly. Readers will come if you give them something worth reading, not books that look and feel like cancelled Wildstorm titles from 15 years ago.

Oh well, on to the next stunt (zero issues…. how original).

If DC wants to reach new readers they should do a few things: 1) give a tonne of books away to school aged kids as part of a literacy initiative, 2) non-traditional advertising for comic books (why not more tv commercials).

I still laugh out loud when DC advertises their other books in a DC book—I am reading your books–I already know what else is out there–oh, and everyone has this thing called the Internet now–so we knew about the new books months before the ad.

I seriously doubt they will go back to pre Nu52 ever again or at least anytime soon. I also don’t think Nu52 was a gimmick either. Some of their roster were just too convaluted and too unwieldly to get readers interested. I have always been a Marvel guy, only reading Green Lantern before the Nu52, but I picked up at least 8 of the Nu52 and have stuck with 5 of them. The characters were more accessible and far more interesting than before.

Who Cares N. E. Way

June 5, 2012 at 8:25 am

Before the “New 52″ I was buying Superman, Wonder Woman, JSA, Jonah Hex, Birds of Prey and Green lantern. I dont buy any of those titles now. I did at first. At first I was buying 32 of the new 52. But now that the dust has settled:

I buy Aquaman.

I dont like the changing origins, de-powering characters, de-aging characters, and changing of characters to the point of being completely un-recognizable while telling me it’s “better”, more diverse, and hipper.

In another 8 months: when all the newbs take a hike, the ploys for quick sales spikes are over, and all the former (pre New 52) supporters of DC are gone….they will fall right back under Marvel’s heels. Despite the fact that Marvel’s treatment of many of their characters is just as big a train wreck as much of the New 52.

It’s better for somebody….but not me. Over and out.

And yet retailers are loving it. Goes to show that all that fake number crunching means squat when you don’t have to put it into practice. Those that do, and have to make a living off the numbers, are telling a much different story: http://www.newsarama.com/comics/one-year-later-retailer-asess-the-new-52.html

Animals Like Earthquakes

June 5, 2012 at 8:42 am

Before the “New 52″ I was buying Superman, Action Comics, Superboy, Supergirl, Superman / Batman, JSA, Justice League America, Teen Titans, Titans, Flash, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, Booster Gold, Adventure Comics, and Legion of Superheroes.

I tried about 30 of the new 52 for at least 4 issues.

Now I read Aquaman and Supergirl.

To DC: If you change everything back to the way it was before Flashpoint I will forgive you. Also, we can talk about how many DC titles I buy a month.

Until then…Make Mine Marvel!!!

Seriously, I’ve always been a DC person so when I dropped the majority of my DC titles I gave several Marvel books a try and I have to say I’m pleased with what I’m seeing. Daredevil and the Punisher are incredible and I’m also enjoying Ultimate Spider-man and Secret Avengers a lot too.

ICare DoucheBags

June 5, 2012 at 8:54 am

I followed DC for almost 30 years. Yes the old DC was great but the last 5 years it seemed out dated. The characters had the same costumes for 50+ years and the stories were re-written dozens of times.

Finally DC comes out with something new and fresh. Face it comic book readers… WE are old and everytime I go into my LCBS i see old people in there.

Im sure DC doesnt want to die with our generation so they will do what they have to do in order to drive sales and attract new customers.

Things and life change, get over it…. I will continue to buy my favorite DC comics and I will try to support them along with Marvel, Image and so on…. I just dont give up on something because it changed. If that was true, I would still be driving my old 98 dodge neon and watching movies from my old Betamax player.

CardinalsFanInTX

June 5, 2012 at 8:56 am

I agree with everyone! I’ve quit reading many of my favorites because trying to introduce.iconic characters takes me back to “Again? I already know this!” I feel like many of the old DC story arcs will be introduced again and it will be the same stories hashed out. Need a sales boost? Change a characters sexual preference! Need another sales boost? Introduce another game changer (Blackest Night, Brightest Day, flashpoint). Trying to reinvent the wheel wasn’t the best idea. No way they are going back. A wonderful idea turned bad.

- I have been in one version of retail sales or marketing for 30 years. (Old….and geeky)….and, I don’t mind change, but I do dislike change for change’s sake. The bump that happened in DC sales did not re-align the industry, it did not change the industries fate from a slowly dwindling, fracturing market that is pricing out new readers. It gave a bump via PR, and rode that buzz to sell a few more issues.

While I disagree with the above comment that says DC needs to do TV (- talk about a fractured market), they do need to think outside of their current market, and focus on widening it, not just fleecing the remaining customers they have.

Pardon me, while I go yell at some kids to get off my lawn…

Bicycle-Repairman

June 5, 2012 at 9:12 am

DC can only rewrite continuity so many times before the DCU becomes a confusing, impenetrable mess. I thought DC did a pretty good job modernizing and simplifying the DCU post-“Crisis on Infinite Earths”, but a few decisions (e.g. making Wonder Woman and the Katar Hol Hawkman recent arrivals, erasing Superboy and Supergirl from history) resulted in continuity errors. Attempts to explain those errors just made things more complicated. Now any sense of continuity in the DCU has been abandoned. It seems like each writer is just doing whatever they want without thinking about how it affects other stories.

I think DC/Warner Bros need to fire everyone at the top of their media/movies division. They’re simply too dumb to run that company.

Animals Like Earthquakes

June 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

I think I have finally just reached that point as a grumpy old comics fan where I have no problem admitting that what I want out of comics are stories that reference the stories I’ve been reading for the past 20 years. I don’t even particularly care if they’re that good or not.

The reboot or refresh was definitely needed.

As a comic book fan, friends would ask me what books to read if they wanted to start getting into DC Comics. Honestly, I didn’t know what to tell them.

The New 52 took more of a lesson from The Marvel Ultimate Universe more than anything. With new titles beginning and everything being collected into Trades, new readers will now have a very easy way to jump into the DC Universe. This absolutely had to happen to attract new readers while not overwhelming them.

Were there some duds in The New 52? Absolutely and I read them … in fact, I read them all.

Have there been some enjoyable books? Absolutely! I am loving Wonder Woman, Flash, All of the Green Lantern titles, almost all of the Bat titles, Superboy, Supergirl, All Star Western, Frankenstein, Justice League Dark, I Vampire, Action Comics, Earth 2, Worlds Finest, Aquaman and there are others that I can’t think of at the moment .

Though the change probably isn’t great for those of us who have been reading DC Comics for the past x amount of years … I will say that I have enjoyed it more than not … it is good for new readers and that provides the opportunity for growth. That growth can keep our hobby alive.

In a talk with the owner of a local comic book store, he stated that people who were coming in for the New 52 were also leaving with Marvel titles. The reboot helped more than one company. It became a bit of a gateway drug for other great titles like Manhattan Projects and Saga.

I am definitely pro New 52.

“nd yet retailers are loving it. Goes to show that all that fake number crunching means squat when you don’t have to put it into practice. ”

Hard Statistics > Anecdotal evidence almost every time out. Some retailers in a limited survey may have gotten bumps, but the overall numbers show that it’s not a sustainable concept.

I love that you throw out the concept of “fake number crunching” while citing a survey as anything worth consideration. Surveys are MUCH easier to skew than hard statistics.

Well, with the new 52, I am now buying Wonder Woman (and Spaceman, but that will wrap up soon.) Oh, and Superman Family Adventures, but I had been buying Tiny Titans anyways, so I think it’s more about the creators than the content.

AND I agree DC needed the reboot/relaunch, even though the majority of books have not jibbed with me personally.

(I was buying OMAC, but that was cancelled — nuts!)

Who Cares N. E. Way

June 5, 2012 at 10:26 am

Crisis on Flash Earths (Flashpoint) was unnecessary. I didn’t agree with Joe Quesada at first (dont agree with much he says in fact) ~~but DC did actually burn the house down because a few rooms needed dusting. Sales will continue to drag and slump until it goes back to normal. I give it another 8 months tops.

Look at some of the “darlings of the day” books. Was a re-boot necessary?

Animal Man….didnt need Flashpoint. Could’ve been launched without a re-boot.
Swamp Thing: the book is following right where Brightest Day left off. No re-boot required
Batgirl: she couldn’t receive her “miracle” in the pages of a mini series?
Green Lantern: no re-boot required
Suicide Squad: no re-boot required
Aquaman: same as Swamp Thing
The Batman Family of books: no re-boot required. Not even for the god awful changing of Mr. Freeze’s origin.
Shazam, I, Vampire, and many others could’ve been addressed just by installing creative folks for the titles.

I think the thing that turned me off the most about the New 52 was the radical changes of Wonder Woman and Superman. Then there’s the entire Earth 2 and erasing of years of history and legacy.

I have always voted with my dollars. I am done supporting books that I dont like simply out of brand loyalty. New 52 started out strong, and I was excited for it even though I am an older fan. But 9 months in and its droll.

Don’t even get me started on the Question being some kind of godlike being now. Vic Sage was a detective…not a New God. They probably merged him with Orion from the fourth world or Lucifer from Vertigo. Yeah—because thats new and edgy….it’s what the public wants! Heck, it would’ve been better just to keep the “diverse” Renee Montoya after Vic’s death than this. At least she was the gist of the character. A detective that uses the no face gimmick while questioning their place in the world. No magic. No meta, no mutant.

Flash’s mother must’ve been a Braniac, a new God, or a totem of “the gray”, or a nefarious white martian to have changed the origins of Wonder Woman, the appearance of her pantheon of “gods” (Birthday cake head Hades—belongs in Giffen’s JLI or Ambush Bug), the sexual identity and age of Alan Scott, the powers of Superman, and completely screw Firestorm and the Teen Titans up beyond all recognition.

It started out a good idea (like the Ultimate Universe). It’s starting to wane. But Marvel’s entire bank roll isn’t on the Ultimate Universe. they have 616 to rely on. DC doesn’t (at this point anyway).

But as I am currently liquidating the majority of my New 52 stuff on ebay—-I really don’t care anymore. Enjoy the rabbit pie.

Make mine Dynamite Publishing at this point,lol.

Nu52 is what Marvel should have done during Age of Apocalypse. Cancel all the books (Avenger Line, X-line, FF, etc.) and reimaged them until the end of AoA Omega. With that being said, Nu52 will eventually go back to pre Flashpoint with some characters keeping their Nu52 history like Aquaman, Superboy etc.

Judge Fred MANSON

June 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

Before the DC NEW 52, I was reading WW, PG and Secret Six. That’s all.

Since the DC NEW 52, I am reading ALL the Dark/GL/Edge lines comic books (except Deathstroke), almost all of the JL line, all from the DC Comics line.

And I just have added ALL the Batman line titles, plus of course, all the BW.

So, for a 4.1 old geek, I think that DC has done a great job for new/old/grumpy readers. It was a risky move, but it was done and a successful one (despite all the Cassandras with their charts/pies and all!!!).

Comic book is not an exact science and will never be.

A title is good? Perfect. A title is bad? Why? How to rise its sales? Etc. Is it still bad? To be canceled in the next Wave. Excellent politic from an excellent publisher.

It was clear that the “New 52″ wouldn’t be able to sustain sales from the get go. Because DC was using more “90s” gimmicks to sell books rather than understanding that people just want good, quality, intelligent writing. They could have taken all the money they spent on 52 titles, only half of which would last a year,and spent it on getting fresh, talented creative teams that would take risks and re-vitalize DC’s “core” roster of about 20 books. Most comic readers at this point are 30+ years of age. We don’t want stories geared towards children. We want creatively complex stories that children could appreciate, but have more intelligence and depth of character in them. New logo’s, new covers, re-boots, and gimmicks don’t make good books. Talented writers and artists do. Jim lee should know this by now, he watched the early image titlesturm from a revolution in the medium to a joke because of sloppy writing. It’s about time that this industry learned from the mistakes of the past and tried to solve something without a reboot or chromium cover…

So a lot of people tried their comics and didn’t like them so don’t buy them anymore.

Maybe if the quality was better, they could have kept more readers. Titles like Animal Man are still selling well and retaining their readership. Most of their mid-low tier titles are crashing.

What DC could try and do is encourage new talent and treat them well so they provide them with better stories and art. For example, if someone creates a million-selling title that goes to to consistently sell for the next 20 years, they could maybe NOT fuck those creators over for a quick buck.

Just an idea. It’s never really been tried before by Marvel or DC. I think they should give it a go. The other way hasn’t been working out very well for them in the long run.

PreacherCain is right. If this industry is going to survive, it’s going to be new talent that puts it over. Publishers, (particularly Marvel and DC) are going to need to create an environment that fosters creators, not takes advantage of them for quick profit. This should be an industry that literally cultivates new creators and encourages them to develop these stories freely and fully, to reach their full potential. I want to see decades long, evolving, sprawling epics of modern myth, not monthly books that constantly change creative teams because of what the publisher thinks will sell that week. Being a comic book writer should be the greatest job on earth, and your only concern is just how intricate, crazy, and detailed you can write your stories, not stressing about paying your monthly bills and having your publisher screw you over for rights. This industry needs a new dynamic.

The new 52 was a new start for me. I had not collected much for the last 5 years. 26 out of 52 titles bought and tried for a few issues. now 9 issues in the comics that I enjoyed and kept up on are the ones that just neede a good entry point and more focused storytelling.

Green Lantern family of tiltes ingaging and focussed storytelling. Not too wieghed down by too much history. the only history required so far is story specific and explained as part of the plotting. Excellant.

Batman books are fun. I had to quit because too much batman to take in every month. I want variety.

Animal man and Swamp Thing a good books. Slowly building thier respected storylines. Thier pacing is off for ongoing superhero books, but perfect if you think of them as independant or Vertigo series.

Aqua Man is good because it adds more layers to the character instead of completely reinventing the character.

Wonder Woman is great and epic. previous versions of the character left me cold. most of the credit goes to the creators, not the epic history of the character.

Suicide Squad, Frankenstein, Catwoman, Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds Of Prey are readable because you don’t need to know every character in DC comics universe. Linear Storytelling. no reboot needed

FIRESTORM, stunk. GREEN ARROW has no direction and a character with no motivation. BLACKHAWKS pointless.

I also thank the NEW 52 for sparking my interest, making discover some great series from MARVEL. HULK, Thunderbolts, Avengers Academy, Deadpool, Winter Soldier, Etc.

I don’t think DC will unboot.

I liked a lot of DC’s titles but fell behind on some and didn’t know where to jump back in. Nu52 helped that.

The sales are leveling off now but I’m still buying most of their stuff. Love Aquaman, Action, the GL & Bat titles, JL, Hex, I Vampire, etc

Trevor Campbell

June 5, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I’m loving all 52 titles

There was no need to reboot.

I read some titles before and tried a lot after Flashpoint. I currently buy 0 monthly DC titles.

Dave Anderson

June 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I agree that a change in story telling approach was ultimately more important than rebooting the continuity.

There are several great books where there is a different take on the characters, but they seem to fit into pre-existing continuity: All-Star Western, Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, Batman & Robin, Batwoman, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, I Vampire, and Swamp Thing.

There are other very good books that would fit except for very small and easily overlooked continuity changes like Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Frankenstein, Justice League Dark, Nightwing, Supergirl, and World’s Finest

There are a few otherwise great books that are also frustrating because the dramatic changes in continuity sometimes cause the stories to trip over themselves: Action Comics, Flash, and Wonder Woman.

Then there are the train wrecks, such as Green Arrow, Teen Titans, Stormwatch, and Superman. For the current books to exist, hundreds of far superior stories have to be disregarded.

In a way, the worst offenders might be the ones that aren’t even spectacular failures. They’re just bland or mediocre. That’s most of the rest. They didn’t really make anything out of the opportunity.

Throw me in the “no need for a reboot” camp. They threw the baby out with the bath water, and now the baby is dying.

I wouldn’t have read anything in the old DCU that wasn’t by Lemire, Snyder, Azzarello, Rucka or Morrison. I checked out everything in the DCnU for at least an issue, and have stuck with everything by not just those guys but also AS Western, Aquaman, Batman & Robin, Batwing, Catwoman, Dial H, I Vampire, JL Dark, Resurrection Man and I’ve stuck with Batwoman even though Rucka has gone.

That’s a lot of extra books, especially considering they lost 20% of the writers I was interested in without bringing in anyone that could replace him for me. If the same teams had just taken over without the reboot, I would probably stuck with Batwoman and maybe given Batman & Robin a go, but that’s it.

IMO a few great things came out of he New 52: Action Comics, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Swamp Thing. I don’t mention Batman and GL cause they were always solid and still are. Overall this wasn’t a bad thing, but I would rather have seen the entire kit and caboodle rebooted from scratch. No “well this happened, but that didn’t nonsense”. And that means GL and Batman too. I would loved to have seen Johns’ take on a continuity free Green Lantern. There was some real opportunity here, and to an extent that opportunity was squandered. Honestly the folks runnin’ that place are missing something. Their comic sales dwindle yet again, and they still can’t get a character besides Batman or Superman into the mainstream (and honestly those two characters have 70+ years of cultural integration behind them, so to me those don’t count anymore than Spiderman) and yet, in terms of iconic images, DC’s characters are top notch. So I don’t know.

Oh and by mainstream, I mean cinematically. How is it that Thor and Iron Man are multi-million dollar successes but Green Lantern and Wonder Woman aren’t. And my other gripe (since I’m here) is the blatant non-use of the Milestone characters. You want diversity on the JL, how about ICON or Hardware? In a comic universe where Icon, Apollo, Mr. Majestic, Superman, Martian Manhunter and Shazam are all owned by the same people, there is immense possibility here. I’m just saying. With 3 universes in one, there’s opportunity for some really unique teams. And I’m done.

I think DC plans to fix it by gaying up Green Lantern.

Which is another gimmick. They didn’t write in green lantern as homosexual because it fit the story or served as a vehicle to make it more personal, they did it to get attention, get people talking and try and boost sales. DC, stop trying so desperately to figure out the next gimmick and just HIRE GOOD WRITERS! It’s not that hard. You’ve been doing it with vertigo for years.

Too much earnest arguing here. I tried a lot of DC books with the new 52. That got me into a frame of mind where I was willing to try a lot of other books. Image. Boom. Avatar. Dark Horse. Etc. My personal market share has shifted greatly to new creator owned tiles. Several weeks in the past two months I’ve brought home more Image comics than anything else. Most just ended up being better reads. I just wouldn’t have done this without the new 52 forcing me to rethink my pull list. I don’t care so much if DC benefited, was a success, beat Marvel and so on. This is not what comic readers should be arguing about. We should be talking about books that are great reads, not market share. So I’ll start with DC…Batman is awesome. Shade has been great too. Other books I love and you should try: Rachael Rising, BPRD/Hellboy, Morning Glories. Prophet. Ferals, Snarked. Adventure Time, No Place Like Home, Bulletproof Coffin, Manhattan Projects. Fatale.

Remember, when you try new books…they don’t have to be published by DC *or* Marvel. Dropping a Marvel book for a DC book or vice versa isn’t really trying anything new.

The most saddening comment here is the one where the guy very honestly admits to only really wanting stories that reference the continuity he knows even if they aren’t too good. I respect that honesty but please…try something new! There are so many good stories to be told that have nothing to do with established continuity at the big two. A lot of them are being told in books that your shop doesn’t even carry or if they do your eyes just glance over them without registering. Stop and look at the weird junk you normally ignore. My advice: Buy the weirdest one!

Enjoy!

To be a game changer, you have to have big names and all they had was Jim Lee. Also just making the characters younger was not the most compelling hook. We already are ovetaken by boring tween everywhere in movies.

To the guy who stated that he likes books that reference 20 year old comic continuity… I respect your honesty. That’s what I think a lot of fans want too. Not me. I’m looking for good original stories, so I’m not so worried about continuity. But I think a big chunk of the 30 + fandom is a nostalgia driven fandom looking back towards their childhood and constantly up in rails when something deviates from “established continuity”. Me, I’m just looking for a good tale, and good art, and if it means a new take on a old established character, so be it. But I’m looking for good stories in ANY medium, not just comics. I’m a book reader, a movie watcher, so comics is just another medium for me no more important than the others. I don’t care that Hawkeye doesn’t have his classic costume anymore or Wonder Woman has a father now… just tell me a good story.

Jake Earlewine

June 6, 2012 at 11:26 am

I can’t remember… does DC stand for Destroyed Continuity? or Didio’s Catastrophe?

Chris N, Amen brother!
There’s too many incredible stories and hardworking creators to just suffer through mediocre tales just because they’re from “the big 2.”
If you liked Hellboy and BPRD, check out “Dylan dog”, one of the most famous Italian comics, it was a huge influence on mike mignola, and inspired a lot of themes that he continually plays with in hellboy.
And I can’t recommend planetary enough. Seriously.

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