DC Talks about the Sept. Re-Launch to Comic Retailers in LA

In case you didn't know, DC has started meeting with Comic Book retailers and are holding several events across the country. Last week they met with retailers in the LA area and are meeting with more retailers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area today. Representing DC and Warner Brs. at the meeting were Bob Wayne Jim Lee, Dan Didio, Diane Nelson, Hank Kanalz and John Rood. In the audience there was probably close to 50 people, who represented about 20 different Comic Book stores. There was information disclosed at the meeting that DC advised is not to be made public, but here are some of the highlights of what I was able to find out.

This is what seemed the most important to me as a DC reader: Action Comics and Justice League are set in the past, the Green Lantern, Batman and LSH books are all continuing without a reboot. DCU Presents, Green Arrow and Hawkman are picking up where Brightest Day left off. But for everything else, yes, it will be more of a reboot/restart. They are keeping the books and continuity for the titles that are financially successful and revamping or rebooting everything else.

The event started with Didio and Jim Lee trying to sell the idea of a relaunch to everyone. They said the DC executive team took a look at the comic book marketplace and there was no doubt that it was shrinking. No titles are selling 100,000 copies and they decided to do something bold to try and bring growth back to the marketplace. The solution according to Didio was to quit doing boring. I think a large number of readers will agree that across all publishers, there are a lot of average stories out there and great or even good stories are harder to come by. Didio talked about “following the examples set by Jim Lee and his previous work.” (aka Image/Wildstorm). They really made it clear that they want to be the market leader in comics and are pushing digital content hard. Digital and Print will be released on the same day (9am EST for didital) and are guaranteeing titles will be on time.

It looks like two different audiences are being targeted. Print makes up over 90% of DC's sales and they made it clear they are targeting a different audience for the digital releases than those people currently buying print comics. It sounds like digital releases might be how they hope to lure in new or former comic book readers. Both Jim Lee and Bob Wayne made it clear that it was the job of retailers to make their stores worth going to. Lee commented that print comics are about collectability and the experience of going to a comic shop to “talk to real people about comics” and not casual reading.

A large number of retailers let it known that they were upset that they were losing sales on current titles because people stopped reading new DC books after the relaunch was announced. One person suggested DC start a returnability plan to help retailers absorb some of the losses they are seeing on current titles because DC didn’t reveal their plans earlier. DC Co-Publisher Dan Didio apparently got a little worked up and Jim Lee had to jump in to calm things down. Bob Wayne’s response was: "it’s your job as retailers to keep fans excited about these books and if you’re losing sales it might be because you aren’t doing enough to 'evangelize' the books."

Some of the creative teams on current DC titles were setup with the upcoming reboot in mind. The DC Retroactive material was set up to keep the publishing schedule full so people didn't notice a lot of the key creative teams were “missing” and using the time to get books for the reboot done in advance. It was also set up as part of an initiative to pull in readers who might not be purchasing current DC titles. The Flashpoint titles are being done by teams not being used in the reboot to help give the reboot creative teams more time to get things ready.

Probably won't interest most of you, but below is some information that is good for store owners:

DC is giving retailers an additional 30% kickback if they set up a DC Digital portal on their web sites. They are also allowing retailers to pay for print orders of comics in two installments and are giving them twice as long to pay for half of the order. They had previously announced a 10% return fee on the relaunch titles in September, but that is now being replaced by a 20 cents per copy return fee, which is cheaper than a 10% return fee on both $2.99 and $3.99 titles. There was also talk at a percentage of kickbacks being given to store owners who really push certain titles (rumored to be around 15%).

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