Monday, September 28, 2015

Sales Review: August 2015

A couple of weeks ago, the news was released that DC was cancelling five titles and changing the creative team of another. Included in that list was Justice League United, a book headlined by Jeff Parker and bringing a classic 'team-up' feel to a DC book. Also in that list were recent DCYou offerings Doomed and Omega Men. (I am pretty sure I called Doomed and Omega Men being short lived titles when I lamented the cancelleation of Supergirl.)

That news was followed up with the usual coverage of comic sales over on ICv2. Here is a link looking at the top 300 comics for August:

In what is becoming so common that it isn't news anymore, Marvel dominated the market. But looking at the numbers, it might explain, at least a little, some of DC's decisions. Still, I worry about the quick axe for some of these more experimental titles. There was little time for buzz to build. 

Looking at the Superman books, all seemed to get a modest bump in sales last month. I wonder how much of that might have been secondary to Bombshell variants. Those covers all sold out at my local store. Still, Superman #43 was the issue where we saw Lois' reveal Clark's identity. I wonder if that brought some new readers or some new orders from comic stores.

 Superman sold just under 50000 units, a number I don't think it has reached in a long time.

And Action Comics, my favorite of the bunch, sold just under 42000, a bump from the usual mid-30s I have seen the book languish in for a while. This is orders, not sales, so I have to think the Bombshell stuff has to factor in here.

I was a big fan of the Justice League United concept from the beginning. While I worried about idea that Supergirl was a 'bull-headed loner', Jeff Lemire won me over with the inclusion of Silver Age characters as well as bringing back a true Legion of Super-Heroes.

Lemire left and Jeff Parker took over and had the brilliant idea of combining a core team of heroes with rotating guests. I mean, this is probably the only place a new DC reader (do those exist) would meet Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, and the Doom Patrol.

A mere three issues into the new direction, DC pulled the plug. Surprisingly, the book was still selling over 24000. This reminds me of the cancellation of Supergirl. Here was a book that was selling solidly if not prolifically. And yet, the plug was pulled.

The only place we can get a Supergirl these days is in Justice League 3001.

And given the cancellations and murmurs of a rebranding close after the DCYou rebranding, I am worried.

JL3001 sold just under 19000.

That is a scary number.

Knowing DC, they'll blame Supergirl for the sales.

I am not a comic business person. I don't have inside knowledge of the economics. But I am confused by the apparent lack of direction of DC right now. It feels rudderless.


Uncle Screensaver said...

One of the few times DC has listened to fans (and creators), Omega Men is not being cancelled now.

Those orders for JL3001 is so poor; it really is scary. If they don't blame Supergirl, they'll blame that it's not grimdark enough.

Really? ANOTHER rebranding? WOW! If that's the case, DC truly has no clue. Of course, when people are buying every Batman and Harley Quinn title out there, at the price of comic books today, it's not surprising that titles which aren't marketed well to begin with may not succeed the way they want them to. Not to mention if a comic reader is also trying to also buy Marvel books. I also think that with how Marvel is doing things that maybe it's time DC realizes that they need to do something similar. Of course, being a part of the Disney universe, as it were, helps, but still, Marvel is relaunching books with a diversity and more all-ages feel than DC is doing and I think that may play a part. Imagine if DC put out a rebranding how Marvel is doing right now, and showed a TV related Supergirl ... then again, DC doesn't have family friendly movies making billions of dollars but I'm just rambling, so I'll shut up.

Anonymous said...

"Rudderless" is certainly the most polite way I would put it. DC is definitely getting a reputation, though.

I'm not sure the (somewhat) higher sales for the Superman books is sustainable, or even notable. There's some curiosity due to this latest deconstruction of the Superman mythos (Lois' "betrayal"... thanks for marketing it that way, DC). Talk about a story line inspired by marketing potential. Despite everything, though, the Superman books have always lingered in the 40000+ range for years. The most recent sales peak for Superman books seem to have come during the New Krypton arc, a time when DC tried to build upon Superman's mythos.

Superman's the star of two series, the co-star of two others, and a prominent member of the multiple Justice League series, not to mention the out-of-continuity series. Unless the writers have a lot of stories to tell (and after 77 years...), why not start cutting back?

DC really needs some new blood, both creatively and in their comics. There's not enough diversity on paper, and they need to start to treat their female characters better. (The fact that even the main Wonder Woman comic is under the auspices of the "Superman office" at DC is concerning, if not outright blood-boiling.) And frankly, they have to rebuild their readership patiently, earnestly, and naturally with no more micromanagement.

As for JL 3001, I'm saddened to see it floundering. Will DC blame it on Supergirl? Perhaps before the positive reaction to the TV show. Now, they'll likely blame it on it being too weird and not being "meat-and-potatoes" enough. If I'm Giffen, though, I'm petitioning it to become "SUPERGIRL (and the Justice League of 3002)"... if JL 3001 survives long enough to become the planned all-female Justice League. I guarantee a sales boost of about 10000 with Supergirl being the headliner, maybe more if the TV series really takes off (here's hoping!).

Biggedy said...

I'm not sure if I agree with your assessment that DC is is rudderless. These offerings of new and fresh titles has been a really bold step. We should be worried that these new titles are being cancelled because the DCYou initiative is DC giving the fans what they've been clamoring for: diverse, different titles that aren't bogged down in continuity or crossovers. DC easily has more titles that cater to very different groups (from all-ages to horror to political titles) than Marvel does, and Marvel is doing the same old thing. And yet DCYou is failing.

I don't agree that DC should follow suit to what Marvel is doing now... mainly because DC already did the same thing (with a riskier gamble) with the new 52.

As a business, I can see why DC would start cancelling titles that aren't working. The numbers don't lie, and there's no money coming in from the risk DC put into DCYou. I find it strange that readers aren't supporting these titles, because I'm actually reading even more DC books than ever before.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Supergirl in comics and now TV, TV fans are salivating over a Supergirl TV-comic tie-in, and what does DC give them, a reprint of New 52 Supergirl #1? Talk about rudderless (and most likely clueless)!

Anj said...

I feel like DC is basically flailing a bit, trying to find something that is a creative darling and sells well. That isn't easy.

So first we get all grim and dark. Then we get all Burnside-y. Then we get innovative. But these sweeping company wide approaches seem flawed.

Why not have some dark, some Burnside-y, some innovative, and some ... dare I say it ... meat and potatoes.

But the reboots and reimaginings seem reactionary. Rudderless works for me.