Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sales Review: November 2015

The comic market is a tough thing to follow if you are a DC fan. The absolute mega-media-monolith of Marvel has been dominating the market for so long that I think it is time to throw in the towel. There is no defeating the power of Disney, Star Wars, the Marvel movies, the cross-pollination on ABC and ESPN and the Disney channel cartoons. Marvel is everywhere and as a result they are crushing the comic market. And let's face it, the Marvel comic market is the dust on the flea of Disney. But good for them for promoting their stuff and producing good comics and movies.

Meanwhile, DC seems like a lost company. Their talent pool is limited. They don't know what to do with most of their properties. They keep deconstructing Superman, infantilizing Wonder Woman, and trying to be edgy and failing utterly.

This isn't abstract. This is concrete. Every month, ICv2 shows us the sales and just how bad DC is doing. Here is the sales charts from last month:
http://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/33277/top-300-comics-actual-november-2015


Superman #46 had Superman fighting his way through the mythology fight club, finding out where Hordr Root's lab was located, and battling a Sand Superman. There were some parts of this particular issue that were good. But it is still just a chapter in a story that hasn't grabbed the audience.


The book sold just over 42K, the 55th best selling book in the list, and far below characters who are less iconic.

Something is wrong here.

The only thing I am happy to report is that Max Landis' book didn't sell like gangbusters either (41K). I don't want the keys to the Superman universe handed to him.

A more classic version of Superman is available in the Superman:Lois and Clark book written by Dan Jurgens with art by Lee Weeks.

I was wondering if a strong showing by this book might lead to an overhaul in how Superman is presented these days.


The second issue only sold 22K meaning that there wasn't a huge push for this particular version of the book. This is still healthy sales for a mini-series looking at a past incarnation.

Still, I was hoping this would sell better.

And the only book showcasing a quasi-'in continuity' Supergirl? Well that is Justice League 3001, the book all old school DC fans should be reading.

Maybe we all are reading it. Maybe there are only 14K of us left?

I keep fearing this book is going to go away! Don't let this Kara head off to limbo! Please read this book!

Anyways, the solicits show a reversion to a powered Superman in a couple of months. Will sales rebound?

I can only hope!

16 comments:

Silver Age Boy said...

I actually really enjoyed "American Alien" and judging from the online reaction the rest of the world seemed to a agree with me. I would highly recommend the first issue because it's pretty much perfect.

I'm even through I don't think the recent issues were that bad. I'm seriously considering dropping action and superman titles, but I've come this far.Lois and Clark. Bryan Hitch's JLA,and American Alien are the only titles I look forward too.

Dave Mullen said...

A more classic version of Superman is available in the Superman:Lois and Clark book written by Dan Jurgens with art by Lee Weeks.

I was wondering if a strong showing by this book might lead to an overhaul in how Superman is presented these days.

The second issue only sold 22K meaning that there wasn't a huge push for this particular version of the book. This is still healthy sales for a mini-series looking at a past incarnation.

Still, I was hoping this would sell better.


You are not the only one - this, along with Black Canary is about the only DC book I am genuinely enthusiastic about and look forward to. I had thought Lois & Clark would pull in a generous crowd, not least of which because it is a great little book in itself, but if this is all it can do things are bad indeed at DC.
It does not surprise me. I dont think Disney or the movies come into the equation really, Marvel are simply putting out the better books on the whole and maintain a strong cohesive canon. And that makes a big difference to the reading expeience and choices of readers like me. Over the last two years I have noticed a sharp decline at DC in quality, and my buying list has whittled away as a result - I have actually nearly doubled my Marvel/Indie pulllist as a result.
If anything proves the New 52 is a failure then these declining sales say it all... it has nothing to do with Disney etc, it is all about quality and appeal. Marvel has it, DC threw it away.

Anonymous said...

I have recently leaned Superman: Lois and Clark has been dropped from 12 issues to 8 issue per Mr. Jurgens. I am not sure if sales was the drive factor but that is what I got the implication of


-S-

Uncle Screensaver said...

It's been rehashed over and over but it's truth, WB needs to reboot DC's "trinity" of DiDio, Lee, and Johns. Their egos have gotten in the way and there is no direction from the company, other than seemingly to dig the company into the ground.

While I think there is definitely truth that with corporate powerhouse Disney they are able to do a lot more than what WB has to offer DC, I think that DC could do a lot more than what they are doing. WB/ CBS showed what they can do to market Supergirl for TV, and overall the media picks up on certain announcements for both comic book companies, so I think that DC, while never a contender for first place, could help themselves by offering the diversity that Marvel is putting out there. Yes, DC has tried to offer various genres and offer some All Ages content, but they don't have the same family friendly appeal they used to.

Marvel still has super heroes that can smile, and despite a reboot still offers legacy heroes, both of which DC has turned their backs on. There's a lot about Marvel I don't like and disagree with but they are definitely finding an audience. I think why Batgirl has been such a success is because its creators are actually able to understand their audience. Overall DC is completely out of touch.

Uncle Screensaver said...

DC wiped out all marriage because it ages characters, and while Marvel did that with Spider-Man, they haven't been like DC - completely outspoken on the topic.

DC blew it with Batwoman. They had a book that might still be going had customers not left due to what they did with the creators of the book, and more so, denying Kate and Maggie's wedding. While they later said they were "against" all marriage, I think that hurt a lot because DC had built on a progressive character and when that had been a part of the book itself, not just something left over from Pre-Flashpoint, they shot themselves in the foot. Especially because lots of young people get married.

Uncle Screensaver said...

Marvel has embraced diversity. Is it all 100% smooth, no, but they are doing it much better than DC has. When the Justice League was rebooted, they could have included John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan, for example, and not just have Cyborg as their Person of Colour in the main group. While they gave us Mr. Terrific and Static Shock, there was a mix of poor writing, bad art, and editorial interference that caused the books to suffer. They've only just given Cyborg his own book despite pushing that he's every bit an A-Lister.

Right out of the gate there was trouble with Voodoo as she was first seen in her comic book as a stripper, and then not even as a real Black woman. We were given a new Power Girl, seemingly an answer to Ms. Marvel but she's only seen in a Titans book that is far from what appealed to the demographic that was in the Young Justice TV show. We had a strong character in the new Aqualad that wasn't "simply" the same character given a different ethnicity. Wally West was reborn a PoC but was literally in name only. Created by someone unfamiliar with Wally West, he created a character that is criticized of being a stereotype, and even had one blogger, who is Black, throw the comic book at a wall he was so incensed by this character.

Uncle Screensaver said...

Another reason Batgirl has been a success was that the costume design was built on being one that wouldn't offend, as too many artists focus on providing fan service for certain boys. Marvel has done this with Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew, and Ms. Marvel, for example. This is just another example of Marvel reaching out to more than just one demographic. Again, I realize that DC has tried to do that with multiple books and they fail, but when those books are not marketed, or really seen outside the walls of a comic book shop.

Speaking of Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew, we have a strong relationship between the characters that can be traced to their first meeting decades ago. DC erased so much of theirs and only seems to bring them back altered or because there was enough backlash to make them exist again. Back to Batgirl and Black Canary, it's not even the same Black Canary (the New 52 is the Golden Age equivalent) and it isn't the same relationship that was built on for years. Speaking of Supergirl, her relationship to Wonder Woman and Batgirl (or even Wonder Girl) has been erased in DC comic canon despite the popular cartoon shorts and heavy marketing of their friendship on clothes and coins and books and mugs, etc.

Uncle Screensaver said...

DC is so determined to be grimdark and "edgy" it's ridiculous and while that may be popular enough to warrant the sales they have, even Marvel is a more fun, sunnier side of the Omniverse - they can be gritty but also light-hearted - and they manage to do this in a way that doesn't detract from the other books. Marvel is able to have a universe that is connected and yet can produce books that offer a wider arrange of genres and emotions, all under a super hero filled sky.

At first I dismissed it but I do think that comic book sales are slipping like one article I read because "people who wanted a super hero fix had to turn to comic books but now they can just go to a movie or turn on the TV." I also think that when you have 15 Batman books each highly priced, people are not going to go after the other books that barely get any mention in any of the other books. While I think people are getting sick of "The Next Big Event" at Marvel, there is still a cohesive universe and overall interaction with one another. DC's new universe doesn't seem to offer the crossovers they used to.

Children's interests have changed. Toy sales are down because kids would rather have an iPad than a piece of plastic. Even if children want comic books, super heroes in particular, there's far less available or "safe" to read as there used to be. DC may have been number two partly because of the determination to appeal to children while Marvel brought in the college crowd, but I think that the former helped them to be so appealing and iconic through the years. I can't see giving a child a Superman comic today would inspire a child to wear a cape and want to fly.

Uncle Screensaver said...

I think that comic books, at least "floppies" are, sadly, a thing of the past. Gen pop consumers are all about convenience. Even if it's not the best sound, say a song from iTunes, they'd rather buy that and have it available NOW and available whenever they want than having something take up room. Being able to have complete libraries of comic books, not to mention books and music, TV series, and movies, all in one device that is portable, is more essential than the tactile physical copy of something. I read a comment by someone who only ever bought comics digitally and wondered what people who bought physical copies did with them after they were read. "Do you recycle them?" He (also) couldn't fathom someone having space to keep getting them. Living in a world of climate change and ecological nightmares, environmentally books "comic" or otherwise are not looked on as favorably anymore. Still, I think it's a combination of comic book companies quite willing to throw away money by veteran readers who have the money capable of investing in high prices for younger newer readers which do exist, companies who are so busy trying to appeal to new readers that they turn them away by reboots and renumbering and comic books by creators who obviously aren't connected to a diverse amount of fans, gimmicks over content (like opaque polybags), a lack of visibility outside of comic book shops, the high prices, and the technology of today. We live in an age where everyone can have a telephone with them at all times anywhere but are barely used for actual audible talking to one another!

I'm sorry for the rant. I have a problem shutting up when I start talking.

Dave Mullen said...

Speaking of Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew, we have a strong relationship between the characters that can be traced to their first meeting decades ago. DC erased so much of theirs and only seems to bring them back altered or because there was enough backlash to make them exist again. Back to Batgirl and Black Canary, it's not even the same Black Canary (the New 52 is the Golden Age equivalent) and it isn't the same relationship that was built on for years.

Many good points made, but the above observation is a key one for me as it gets to the nib of the problem in reading DC books today. Virtually every character, big and small, outside of the Green Lantern books has been represented as an all-new all different take with fresh backstory and in many cases different personalites than before 2011. And this attempt to reboot everything across its line as if it were 1986 again is a part of the poor judgement going on at the publisher, Dan Didio has admitted that this reboot was an attempt to follow the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the subsequent reboot and recapture that same feel and ambition for newness. The flaw in that thinking of course is that the audience, especially of of the Newstand days, simply isn't there anymore to be drawn in, or replace dissillusioned readers.
So a massive reboot across the line, histories erased, characters altered, with more aggression, but no A-list creators brought in, storylines like Death in the Family that spin out for a dozen issues and more, and in the end it is all too much for readers... the readership that was there in 1986 doesnt exist in 2015. Too much change, too many poor books, a sense of apathy from the people in charage, all of these things are what influences the disinterest of readers today. DC has become superficial and shallow, it is as if they have given up on comics as they recognise television and film is where is is all at now.

Uncle Screensaver said...

@Dave Mullen:
Thanks. The difference in the reboot following Crisis was that for the most part the characters were still recognizable in their personalities. Veteran readers are constantly told we can't accept change but we can if it's done right. Although relationships were destroyed, such as Kal and Kara's, for the most part even they remained solid. I think it was wrong how Wonder Woman was rebooted as if she hadn't been "there" from the start, but aside from Donna Troy, and the founding of the Justice League, Wonder Woman was written with respect and dignity. There were lots wrong with COIE overall and the ramifications afterward but there seemed to be a greater sense of direction back then than now.

I think there were many new readers brought in in both cases, but how many readers were lost in comparison is another thing. I think that with DC rebooting on some level so many times since 1986 they should have learned how to do it right but they didn't, and with social media the way it is, the facts of how much DC hasn't known what they are doing make them take the hits they do. They come off as very unprofessional and amateurish. While Marvel may be putting it out as if they invented the reboot, and while not everything is completely smooth, they are presenting a new Marvel Universe that embraces what makes their company popular and isn't cornering themselves by just making all their characters wear nehru collars and are angry and jerks to one another. Marvel could easily have Ms. Marvel with an angry expression on her face, maybe even glowing red eyes, covered in blood and bitter and angry at how Muslims are treated and lashes out in rage and angst "just like a real teenager in her position," but they don't. Ms. Marvel is often depicted at relishing in her role as a super hero, smiling and happy. It's not a big surprise then that a Batgirl smiling and being positive attracted the attention she did.

TV's Supergirl was embraced by many critics because it wast a hero that was positive and a good role model. Had the only images of smiling Melissa Benoist been ones where she was scowling or looking angry, heat vision on and described as hating humans, I think there would have been a very different set of reviews.

What's scary is that I had looked at a Lady Supreme comic book from the 1990's and the art and the ads in it were virtually the same as what DC presents itself overall now.

In any case, I think that TPTB are comic book apologists and want to be where the action is, so to speak, to feel respected by being at the heart of movies and TV Shows. I also wonder really what having DC move to California is bringing to the comic book or movie industries.

Anj said...

Thanks for great discussion.

I have to agree that part of the underlying problem here is quality and lack of understanding their own properties. That has to be put on the heads of the current regime. Add to that burning their bridges with some excellent creators and you have a recipe for disaster. Rebooting everything, having continuity be rigid only when it suits them, mega-events that fail - it all is troublesome.

But I will add that the DC books I enjoy, I really enjoy - JLA 3001, black canary, Starfire.

Arvin Bautista said...

I've actually really enjoyed the DCYou initiative that's been put forth by DC. There are so many new titles and genres being covered for everybody to read, I thought it'd be a winner for sure. I for one am really tired of the mega-continuity that Marvel keeps getting away with, and love that DC's new structure allows creative teams for much more autonomy.

But from the looks of it, people really don't want the new experimental stuff; people justbwant what's familiar. I was so impressed that DC really went out on a limb with DCYou but they got slapped in the face by their own fans! The all new all different marvel now is a LOT closer to the new 52 reboot (which I liked). DCYou is really doing what the new 52 set out to do.

DCs literally letting people have their cake and eat it too. There's the depowered Superman and pre new 52 Superman, Max Landis Superman and Injustice Superman. After all the complaining, readers can actually pick what they like! I dont see this as a weakness for DC, I see it as a strength. I appreciate new and distinct ideas much more than a tight continuity.

Add in risky books like Bat Mite, Bizarro, Omega men, We are robin, Greyson, Prez (a personal fave), Martian Manhunter, Gotham Academy... Oh man! Its such a great time to be a DC fan! DC has let their creative teams really fire on all cylinders and cover all genres, but apparently, people really do want the same old thing.

Dave Mullen said...

..But from the looks of it, people really don't want the new experimental stuff; people justbwant what's familiar. I was so impressed that DC really went out on a limb with DCYou but they got slapped in the face by their own fans!

No they didn't, they were judged by their own fans/readers.

Since 2011 they have thrown an enormous amount of new material out and in the first year alone readers judged that material and found it lacking. Books like Hawkman, the Firestorms and Hawk & Dove deserved to be cancelled as they were frankly not good. Other books DC launched to much fanfare such as Catwoman's Justice League of America or Superman Unchained were cut short and prematurely ended after a year. Books like The Omega Men and Prez were doomed from the start as neither hs ever sold in the past and anyone with nous recognises there is no call for them today. Not in this market. Even James Robinson on The Shade flopped on the marketplace. Did the Watchmen prequels reach the commercial and critical heights DC were hoping for? Has Green Lantern thrived since the 2011 reboot and Geoff Johns' departure or wilted away? Why is it for the year 2011 DC saw sales on its books between 40 - 90'000 but two years later averaged half of that, and now half of even that?
What your simplistic accusation comes down to is more to do with audience faith in the product, the comanys direction, and their weighing up whether it is worth bothering with. Since the publisher has shown it has no real commitment to sustaining even its pet projects like JLA up above and is utterly disposable in its product and canon why should any old or new reader take a blind faith bet on a quantity like The Omega Men and Prez when the likes of Thor or Batman are a more stable knowable quantity and probobly of a reasonable quality to boot...?

lordciaran said...

First off Thanks for the update Anj. Its sad to see Superman Lois and Clark doing so poorly. I really dig it but like JLU, Smallville, Ani Comi Girls and so many other dc books I enjoy. They get canned to early.

Second off Dave Mullen thank you for saying what you said. It needed ti be said. Dc has not any trust from. So when they try some new and drastic, don't be surprised if I don't try it when I am licking my wounds from the new 52 other horrid mistakes, be it post Geoff Johns Green Lantern where the various corps are being wiped out or shat upon. Or Flash where we rehash the Flash origin from Johns but make it even more stupid and unnecessary. Or their new policy of taking side characters and throwing them under buses just to try and raise sales briefly at the cost of a characters reputation.

Arvin Bautista said...

DC comics will keep publishing comic books to make money. Books get canned early because there are no people supporting it. That's how simple it is. DC's not cancelling books out of spite, lack of commitment or whatever. They're cancelling books because there's no money in it.

What I'm saying is that even in the light of this, DC goes out of their way to try something new. I really don't want a multitude of Thor or Batman books because they are the safe bet. Ugh. Sure they were judged by their fans-with a slap in the face: "we don't want new stuff, I don't know what title that is."

Now, of course not all the new books they release will make money, but there are bound to hits in there somewhere or even ideas for a good hit. I'd rather DC tried something new and fail than regurgitate then same tired old continuity driven garbage.

As a reader, I want to read something new, so I will always give new books a chance and support the ones I like and are good. I won't buy the ones that are bad. That's the only way DC can know loud and clear which books fans want. Yes, it's THAT simple.