Saturday, August 13, 2011

Three Month Window, Algorithm & the Fate of DCU

As we stand on the precipice of the scary DC Comics relaunch, I figured I would delve into things a bit more. It has been two months since I wrote the initial blog post about this, covering my thoughts on the 52 initial relaunch books. Since then, we have learned many things:

  • There will also be six additional mini-series to be launched later, starting in October featuring the Shade (from Starman), the Huntress, the Penguin, the Legion of Super-Heroes and more
  • More ongoings will be announced to begin in November, such as the return of Astro City
  • We have already seen additional artists come in on books such as Action Comics and Batman: the Dark Knight, assumingly to make sure they meet their advertised release dates
  • DC has said that when these stories get collected, their will be very few hardcovers and they will tier them out so there are not 52 new trade paperbacks on sale the same month.
  • DC has also said that all these books will be given the opportunity to succeed but every book has a sales number they must reach or beat to get that opportunity
And that's where this blog came to my mind. This past week at the comic chop and my retailer was stating when ordering the new DC number ones, it was fun seeing all these books but now that he is ordering the issue twos, some of the fun has gone away. DC is pushing many of their issue threes (which we should see the solicits for this Tuesday) with their new villain initiative, but he stated the issue two solicits feel like the same old, same old, just with lower numbers.

I'm still as excited for the new books, even adding a few new titles (Animal Man and Nightwing) to my pull list, but those comments got me thinking, if many people look at this as the same old stories, will the give them a try and will they keep reading them.

The September numbers will be big, that's almost a given. This could be the first month that DC wins the market share over Marvel in quite some time. They have even been closing that gap in the last three months, thanks in part to the buzz of the relaunch, but also the continued strength of the Green Lantern and Batman titles.

But what about October? And November? Especially December, a record low sales month for comic books with the holidays and all.

DC has many books currently published with what some may consider low sales. We are long past the days where X-Men #1 sells over a million copies, but where is the ceiling and where is the floor for many of my favorite characters.

In my mind, DC Corporate has a dry erase board in some office somewhere with all 52 books written on with the following algorithm for each book:

X (writer) + Y (artist) + Z (title or property) = minimum amount of sales

What I mean by this is Justice League is positioned to be the number one selling book. DC's top writer (Geoff Johns) plus one of the most popular artists in comics (Jim Lee) on the super team that has Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern et al should sell like gang busters. But what is the lowest this book could sell before they have to cancel it?

Now, let's take Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, which is spinning out of the 13 Flashpoint miniseries, written by Jeff Lamire (Sweet Tooth, Superboy) with art by Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier, Godzilla for IDW). I choose this book as one of the Flashpoint miniseries, it was the one that had the biggest drop off from issue one to issue two. What is the lowest this book can sell and still be "safe"?

As mentioned before, it will be several months, possibly early 2012, before we see the real effects of the relaunch. What book do you think will be the first to fall?

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