Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Publishing | February brought a noteworthy, if unwanted, record for the direct market: The lowest-ever top title on record. Green Lantern #62 led Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 300 with an estimated 71,500 copies, 18,400 less than the previous record holder. Chart watcher John Jackson Miller writes, “For the first time, we probably cannot say that when all reorders and newsstand sales are added, the total will be above 100,000 — although we certainly would expect its eventual readership to go above that mark given reprint editions (to say nothing of digital).”
DC’s $29.99 Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne deluxe hardcover helped to push year-over-year dollars sales up 6.92 percent, offsetting a slight decline in periodicals to and nudging combined sales up .94 percent. “Sales of those ‘long tail’ titles below the Top 300 masked a weakness at the top of the list,” ICv2 notes. “Unit numbers at the top of both the periodical and graphic novel lists were some of the lowest since ICv2 has been tracking comic sales.” [ICv2.com]
Retailing | Borders Group began liquidation sales over the weekend at 200 stores, discounting items 20 percent to 40 percent. As Publishers Weekly and Blogcritics chart the 40-year rise and fall of the retailer, PW’s Jim Milliot looks at the effects the bookseller’s bankruptcy will have on the publishing industry: “The trickle-down impact will affect everyone from manufacturers to agents. Borders accounted for about 8% of overall industry sales, a higher percentage in some categories. A downsized Borders means publishers are likely to receive smaller orders and in turn place smaller first printings, resulting in less business for printers. The likelihood of lower print sales, one publisher said, means that books acquired one or two years ago when Borders was much bigger will have a more difficult time earning the advance back and that less shelf space could mean lower advances.” [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | Tracey Taylor has details of retailer Jack Rems’ plans to resurrect Berkeley, Calif., institution Comic Relief as a new store called The Escapist — a nod to the Michael Chabon character — possibly at the same location. [Berkeleyside]
Passings | Perry Moore, executive producer of The Chronicles of Narnia movie franchise and author of Hero, was found dead Thursday in his New York City apartment after an apparent overdose. He was 39. A longtime comics fan, Moore wrote the acclaimed 2007 young-adult novel Hero, about the world’s first gay teen superhero. At one point he and Stan Lee were developing the book as a series for Showtime, but the cable network ultimately passed.
Moore was outspoken about the portrayal of gay characters in mainstream superhero comics, releasing in 2007 a “Women in Refrigerators”-inspired list of ignored, mistreated or retconned LGBT heroes. He also appeared at Comic-Con International in 2008 and 2009 on the gays in comics panels. [New York Daily News]
Retailing | Struggling bookseller Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, told shaken publishers it’s developing a long-term plan to “reposition itself,” even as it released a list of some 200 stores set to close by the end of April. The closings include 35 locations in California and 15 in metropolitan Chicago. On a website dedicated to the reorganization, the retailer — the second-largest book chain in the United States — assures customers that “Borders’ Business Operations Continue As Normal.”
In its bankruptcy filing, the company listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets. It owes $272 million to its 30 largest unsecured creditors, including $41.1 million to Penguin Group. Diamond Book Publishers, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is on the hook for $3.9 million. [The New York Times]
Retailing | Meanwhile, REDgroup Retail, which owns the Australian booksellers Borders (owned independently of the U.S. chain) and Angus & Robertson, has entered into administration. Angus & Robertson is the country’s largest book chain, with more than 180 stores nationwide. [The Australian, Guardian]
Retailing | Borders Group, the second-largest book chain in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection this morning, announcing plans to close about 192 of its 639 Borders, Waldenbooks, Borders Express and Borders Outlet locations over the next several weeks. It’s unclear how many of the company’s 6,100 full-time and 11,400 part-time employees will be affected by the closings. Borders, which listed $1.29 billion in debt and $1.27 billion in assets, plans to continue to operate through the court process with the help of $505 million in financing from lenders led by G.E. Capital.
The likelihood of bankruptcy has loomed for the past several weeks as the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based bookseller pushed unsuccessfully for publishers and distributors to convert late payments into $125 million in loans. That concession was critical to Borders securing $550 million in refinancing from G.E. Capital. Publishers like Penguin Group, Hatchette, Simon & Schuster, Random House and HarperCollins are now, in Publishers Weekly‘s words, on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. Diamond Book Distributors, which stopped shipping to Borders last month, is owed $3.9 million. [Bloomberg, The New York Times]
Passings | As Comic Book Resources reported, Joanne Siegel, wife of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel and the model for Lois Lane, passed away Monday in California. She was 93. Although news of her death first circulated online via Brad Meltzer’s Twitter account, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Michael Sangiacomo had the first official report, only hours after he wrote about the installation of signs bearing the honorary street names “Joe Shuster Lane” and “Lois Lane” in the Cleveland neighborhood where Siegel and Shuster created the Man of Steel. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with Meltzer, who met Joanne Siegel while researching his novel The Book of Lies. Heidi MacDonald, meanwhile, has reaction from Bradley Ricca, who’s working on a documentary about the Siegel family. The Hollywood Reporter and The Superman Super Site also have obituaries. More will certainly appear throughout the day. [Comic Book Resources]
Publishing | Acclaimed cartoonist Alison Bechdel (Fun Home, Dykes to Watch Out For) has been named the guest editor of the 2011 edition of The Best American Comics, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. [Shelf Life]
Publishing | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson spotlights the “quiet revolution” at Archie Comics that finds the publisher expanding into graphic novels and digital delivery, further diversifying its characters and tackling more topical issues. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Prolific colorist Adrienne Roy, who was a fixture of DC Comics for more than two decades, passed away on Dec. 14 following a year-long battle with cancer. She was 57. Although Roy’s work appeared in countless DC titles, from Green Lantern and Superman to Warlord and Wonder Woman, she’s best known for her extensive runs on Batman, Detective Comics and The New Teen Titans. Mark Evanier notes that “Her long tenure on Batman (more than 600 issues of various comics featuring the character) meant that her credit appeared on more tales of the Caped Crusader than anyone else except for Bob Kane.” CBGExtra posts an obituary written by her husband Anthony Tollin. [News from ME]
Publishing | Rich Johnston reports on rumored contract changes at DC Comics that would affect all new creator-owned titles in the DC Universe and Vertigo imprints. [Bleeding Cool]
Publishing | Storm Lion, the Singapore-based multimedia studio behind the 2008 Radical Publishing miniseries Freedom Formula, has closed on the heels the summer layoff of 30 employees in Singapore and Los Angeles. The closing leaves a planned movie adaptation, to be produced by Bryan Singer, “in limbo.” [The Straits Times]