There's been quite a few problems within the comic book industry over the past decade. Sales are falling, and a majority of the reason is because of two very different reasons: disinterested readers and people downloading comic books illegally. It's no secret that things aren't doing as good as they should be. The system needs to be fixed before it's too late, and DC comics took a HUGE risk by revamping all of their books in order to bring new readers.
August 31st was a landmark day for comic books and DC comics. Justice League #1, the first book of the new 52 revamped DC books, was released and hit some record numbers. The new 52 took heavy criticism from press and fans alike, but the actual release of the book has made the vast majority of naysayers come around. How big was this launch, and how did it affect retailers?
Today, DC's The Source released some more info and numbers on Justice League's impact on the world of comic books. Not only was Justice League #1 the best selling book of August, it was the best selling book (so far) of 2011:
With a first printing exceeding 200,000 copies, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 was the highest first printing of any DC Comics’ title since 2006′s JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA # 1 by NEW YORK TIMES bestselling writer Brad Meltzer, Ed Benes and Sandra Hope.
Not only that, but it's the first book to break the 200,000 with a first printing since Amazing Spider-Man #583, according to the numbers on The Comics Chronicles, and that needed the power of an Obama fist-bump to get people to buy it. The second printing on this book is also already sold out, and now, the third printing is on sale.
Justice League is one of ten books to have first prints of more than 100,000 copies, and aside from that, there's more sell out news:
All 13 of the Week 3 titles from DC Comics: The New 52 have sold out from Diamond in advance of publication and are going back to press, including BATMAN AND ROBIN, BATWOMAN, DEATHSTROKE, DEMON KNIGHTS, FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E., GREEN LANTERN, GRIFTER, LEGION LOST, MISTER TERRIFIC, RED LANTERNS, RESURRECTION MAN, SUICIDE SQUAD and SUPERBOY.
Right off the bat, this seems like a HUGE step in the right direction. From personal experience, working at the comic book store, it's been pretty awesome. When the boxes of Justice League issues came in, I thought that there was no way we were going to sell as many copies as we ordered, but when the comic went on sale, it was a madhouse, and we ended up selling out of the book.
It wasn't just dedicated DC fans picking up the book. Marvel and Indy fans gave it a shot, and they liked it, but more importantly, the book brought in new and old readers alike. I saw fathers, who haven't read Justice League in years, bringing in their sons, who haven't read Justice League ever, pick up copies. Mothers brought in their daughters. Guys who told me they'd never read a DC comic, ever, picked it up. It was this really cool moment, as a retailer, to see people excited for comics again.
Honestly, I haven't seen non-comic readers this excited for a book since the Amazing Spider-Man/Obama issue, and before that was the death of Captain America. It's been a really cool moment for fans of comic books, and the industry. Sure, it may be too soon to say this is great for the industry, but look at what the new 52 has done so far.
It's got people talking about comics again, and it's not just about someone's death. Sure, we've seen two iconic characters "die" in the past 10 years that really got people talking, Captain America and Batman, but after the death, no one cared anymore. People bought the single issue and left it at that. The new 52 may have be able to keep those new readers on the books. After Justice League came out, the next weekend, I saw those same people trying out Action Comics and Detective Comics. It may be true that not every new reader did it, but we are seeing repeat customers who haven't stepped foot in a comic book store in over a decade.
Aside from the new readers, the new books are extremely solid. There is a great variety of stories and genres to choose from, and in my opinion, the majority of them are great reads. Standing above all of them is Swamp Thing and Batwing. Sure, I enjoyed Action Comics, Stormwatch, Justice League and a few others, but Swamp Thing and Batwing truly stood out as books that were enjoyable and refreshing to the comic book industry. As a comic book reader and fan, as disappointed I was, at first, they were doing this, I am 100% behind the cause and loving what is going on at DC right now.
Whether you're a DC or Marvel fan, you have to admit that this is the "kick in the butt" that the comic book industry needed. Between reader disinterest and online thieves, watching the industry was like watching the best apple tree in town slowly wither because everyone forgot to water it. The new 52 is doing exactly what DC hoped it would do "bring new readers in." While I cannot say the "comic book revival is here," it seems like a start in the right direction, and frankly, DC is doing something, while others remain stale. Hopefully, it has lasting effects, and it keeps people interested for a long time as well. Do you guys think the new 52 is the start a new comic book revival?