EXCL. PREVIEW: Superman Escapes a Black Universe in "Dark Knight III" #5
USA Today reports that Hack/Slash‘s Tim Seeley will begin writing Top Cow’s Witchblade series with issue #151, due Oct. 26. Seeley replaces Ron Marz on the title, who, along with artist Stjepan Sejic, wrap up their run with issue #150.
The report says that Top Cow’s Artifacts crossover series, which ends in October, will bring “lots of changes to the Top Cow universe in its wake.” As a result, Witchblade wielder Sara Pezzini will move to Chicago. “It’s going to give me a chance to give her a new rogues gallery in a new location. My interest in it is more to add to the mythology than to dig up what’s been done already,” Seeley said. Fans will be happy to hear that the price will be dropped to $2.99.
Joining Seeley on the title are artists Diego Bernard and Fred Benes. The stories will be “dark fantasy with a hint of crime noir,” according to the paper, and Seeley also said he plans to continue his work on Hack/Slash.
If you thought some of your recent Marvel Comics purchases seemed a little slimmer than usual in terms of story pages, you aren’t alone. On Wednesday, David Uzumeri at ComicsAlliance noted that several recent Marvel titles priced at $2.99 shipped with 20 pages of story, versus the usual 22, including FF #2, Incredible Hulks #627, Herc #2 and Heroes for Hire #6, among others. It doesn’t seem to be every $2.99 title, Uzumeri notes, as some, like Avengers Academy, are still #2.99 for 22 pages.
The change seems to mirror what DC Comics has done across the board on its comics — offer 20 pages of story for $2.99. DC’s announcement came during the New York Comic Con last October and was followed by comments from Marvel executives that noted the decrease in page counts would be detrimental to creators who get paid by the page.
But Rich Johnston, who noted Marvel would be experimenting with less pages in its $2.99 books back in January, said that “creators won’t lose money on a reduced page count, as Marvel intend to increase twenty page books to thirteen issues or more a year if the creative team can manage it.” Many Marvel books already ship multiple times per month; it seems pretty standard for Hulk and Incredible Hulks, and FF and New Mutants seem to be following suit as well in July … and that’s not even counting the extra issue a year through Marvel’s “Point 1″ initiative.
Marvel hasn’t publicly commented on it just yet, but watch CBR’s Talk to the Hat column tomorrow to see if that changes.
“Let’s put it this way…we lowered our prices and didn’t lie about it.”
–DC Comics Executive Editor Eddie Berganza at C2E2’s “Brightest Day” panel this weekend, responding to a fan who asked if DC was better than Marvel.
You might recall the last time price cuts became a topic for discussion at a Reed Exhibitions comic convention. Back at October’s New York Comic Con, DC announced the initiative that would come to be known as “holding the line at $2.99,” dropping co-features (and two story pages) from all of its ongoing series and pricing them all at $2.99 rather than the then-increasingly-customary $3.99. Not even an hour later, Marvel Senior VP-Sales & Circulation David Gabriel announced that Marvel would be cutting prices too, with new books no longer launching at $3.99 as of January 2011. Though few details were forthcoming, the announcement piggybacked on DC’s in such a way as to lead to “DC and Marvel both cut prices”-style headlines (see here and here for examples). But the price cuts many believed were forthcoming on all new Marvel titles largely failed to materialize, with the new $2.99 titles located almost entirely in the limited-series portion of the company’s offerings. This in turn led Marvel’s then-VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to claim that Gabriel’s statement (and, by extension, seemingly corroborative follow-ups at NYCC by Brevoort and Marvel PR guru Arune Singh) had been “misreported or misconstrued,” which frankly was kind of a stretch given the abundance of comics press outlets who reported the story in more or less exactly the same way. And thus you get Berganza’s pointed pushback.
Of course, Brevoort isn’t the sort to take this lying down. When asked about Berganza’s comments on his Formspring account, here’s how Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing responded:
No, we didn’t lie about it. We’ve been offering more new titles at $2.99, and the $3.99 books stay where they are–we never said any different. (Also, given the pasting they took in dollar share in January and February, much of which was a result of their price reduction, I’d be surprised if they hold to it for the entire year as they said they would. I’m guessing that you’ll see more $3.99 DC books around September.)
Ah, comics: From debates about price points to figuring out whether the Hulk is really “the strongest one there is,” you wouldn’t be the same without semantics.
[Reader 1:] What do you think of DC’s “Drawing the line at $2.99″ pledge?
[Brevoort:] I think that if it works for them, and they can run their business and make their money on that cover price, good for them. But I know for certain that we can’t, so I must assume that they’re still in the traditional DC position of not really having to earn a direct profit in publishing, since they’ll get a credit for all of their licensing and so forth on the Warner’s ledgers. That’s not a luxury that we have–or really, that we want.
[Reader 2:] “…they’ll get a credit for all of their licensing and so forth on the Warner’s ledgers. That’s not a luxury that we have–or really, that we want.” Why not?
[Brevoort:] Because if you’re going to be a publishing division, to want to tell stories and to publish, don’t you want them to be read by people? Don’t you want them to be profitable? Sure, if we had the luxury of not having to make sure that each title earns its keep, we could coast a bit–but that wouldn’t make for better comics, that would just make us lazier and sloppier (and we’re plenty lazy and sloppy as it is.) Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
–In a pair of Formspring posts, newly minted Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort essentially shrugs and says “nice work if you can get it” over DC’s announcement that all their standard-format ongoing series for both the DC Universe and Vertigo lines will run at 20 story pages for $2.99. Whatever the reasoning, Marvel’s own price cutbacks are less extensive. What’s most interesting to me here, actually, isn’t connected to the price-cut debate — it’s Brevoort’s implication that Marvel’s newish status as a Disney subsidiary hasn’t impacted its basic business model.
Wow, DC Comics has returned from the holiday break with a vengeance. On its multiple blogs and here on CBR, the publisher has unleashed a veritable avalanche of announcements and initiatives for 2011.
Topping the list is the announcement, first mentioned by DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and then expanded upon by Jim Lee, that DC will be holding the $2.99 price point across its line for all standard format ongoing series from both the DC Universe and Vertigo.
Meanwhile, PR guru David Hyde unveiled the return of letters pages to DC’s comics, presumably in the place of the current DC Nation column. Letters will be collected from both snail-mail submissions and messages submitted to the publisher’s new DCLettersPage.com website.
Publishing | DC Comics will roll out a marketing campaign next month in support of its new $2.99 price initiative. The campaign, apparently revealed in a communique to retailers, will include online banners, ads in January issues of Comics Buyer’s Guide, Comic Shop News and Wizard, in-book ads, and in-store posters, shelf talkers and cards. [Crimson Monkey]
Libraries | The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation has pledged $250,000 over five years to the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum facility, part of the Sullivant Hall renovation at The Ohio State University. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Broadway | The father of Christopher Tierney, the 31-year-old aerialist who fell a week ago during a performance of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, offers a full account of his son’s injuries: a hairline fracture in his skull, a broken scapula, a broken bone close to his elbow, four broken ribs, a bruised lung and three fractured vertebrae. Timothy Tierney said his son underwent back surgery on Wednesday, and took his first steps on Friday with the aid of a brace and walker. Doctors are “cautiously optimistic” that Christopher Tierney will eventually resume his performing career. [Arts Beat]
Comics | A copy of Detective Comics #27 bought for 10 cents by Robert Irwin in 1939 sold at auction Thursday for $492,937. It’s not a record price for the first appearance of Batman — a CGC-graded 8.0 copy fetched more than $1 million in February — but the $400,000 that the 84-year-old Irwin will make after the commission fee is subtracted will more than pay off the mortgage on his home. [Sacramento Bee]
Digital piracy | The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would grant the Justice Department the right to shut down a website with a court order “if copyright infringement is deemed ‘central to the activity’ of the site — regardless if the website has actually committed a crime.” In short, Wired’s Sam Gustin writes, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act “would allow the federal government to censor the internet without due process.” [Epicenter, AFP]
After nearly a month of online confusion and criticism regarding its announced price rollback, Marvel has clarified what titles may be affected by the policy.
“The pricing structure is that for limited series in the Marvel Universe that we roll out, we will price as many of those as we can for $2.99 for a 32-page book,” David Gabriel, senior vice president of sales & circulation, told The Beat.
He emphasized that the rollback will apply to 32-page limited series in the Marvel Universe, and not licensed titles or the marquee Ultimate line. However, the Incredible Hulk also will see a price reduction, and lose its back-up feature in the process.
“We had it at $3.99 throughout the event that was going on, and a lot of people were getting into the Hulk stuff but the price was becoming sort of a barrier to them staying with it,” Gabriel said. “The back-up features weren’t doing enough to propel enough sales on that or to keep them going. I actually had retailers begging me on that title to reduce the price … but only on that series. We did some math and figured some things out and moved some things around and that’ll be in the February catalog.”
The clarified policy differs significantly from reports coming out of the ICv2 Conference on Comics & Digital at New York Comic Con on Oct. 7, when the initial announcement was made. It had been characterized in several separate articles as a reduction from $3.99 to $2.99 for new titles beginning in January. But Marvel Vice President-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort told Comic Book Resources last week “that people either misreported or misconstrued” Gabriel’s announcement.
The Beat interview with Gabriel and Chief Operating Officer Jim Sokolowski goes beyond the rollback policy to delve into the state of the market, digital comics and more.
The widely circulated news that Marvel would lower prices to $2.99 on new titles was “either misreported or misconstrued,” says Vice President-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort.
The reports stem from remarks made on Oct. 7 by David Gabriel, Marvel’s senior vice president of sales & circulation, at the ICv2 Conference on Comics & Digital at New York Comic Con, less than an hour after DC Comics announced its across-the-board price cut. Gabriel’s announcement, characterized as a reduction from $3.99 to $2.99 for new titles beginning in January, was carried in separate panel reports by Comic Book Resources, Robot 6, The Beat, ICv2.com and other sites.
According to The Beat, Gabriel confirmed the information after the conference. His announcement seemed to be supported the following day in at least two Marvel panels in comments by Brevoort and Arune Singh, manager of sales communications. In the more than three weeks since the conference, Marvel hasn’t issued a press release outlining its pricing policy or clarifying the widespread online reports.
But in the latest “Marvel T&A” interview with Comic Book Resources, Brevoort says there’s been a lot of public confusion about Gabriel’s actual comments.