DC Comics Month-to-Month sales: November 2006

by Marc-Oliver Frisch

Usually, DC Comics releases around 70 new comic books in a given month, not counting reprints, magazines and titles published through its Johnny DC imprint. In November 2006, the number rose to 88, due to a slew of late-shipping issues from past months and new series launches overlapping with the final issues of a number of failed titles. As a result of the 25% increase in the publisher’s output, there are some drastic shifts in the month’s Top 300, as the additional books pushed everything else down the chart, leaving room in the Top 100 for a measly four books not from Marvel or DC, all of them by Dark Horse Comics.

That aside, DC’s November line-up was fairly low-key, in terms of new launches. Notable releases were the first issues of new ongoing title Superman Confidential and limited series Guy Gardner: Collateral Damage and Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood, as well as the one-shot special Batman/The Spirit in its mainstream superhero line; the debut of the Vertigo imprint’s latest monthly addition, Crossing Midnight; and, from WildStorm, the launch of limited series Astro City: The Dark Age/Book Two and Red Menace, ongoing WildStorm Universe titles The Midnighter and StormWatch: PHD and the film adaptation Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com’s estimates can be found here.


11/2003: JLA #90            --  60,093 
11/2004: JLA #108           --  63,355 
11/2005: JLA #122           --  80,866 (+  2.5%)
12/2005: JLA #123           --  76,899 (-  4.9%)
01/2006: JLA #124           --  74,069 (-  3.7%)
02/2006: JLA #125           --  74,341 (+  0.4%)
03/2006: --
04/2006: --
05/2006: --
06/2006: --
07/2006: Justice League #0  -- 162,378 (+118.4%) [169,199]
08/2006: Justice League #1  -- 212,581 (+ 30.9%) [238,353]
09/2006: Justice League #2  -- 143,412 (- 32.5%) [154,923]
10/2006: --
11/2006: Justice League #3  -- 140,939 (-  1.7%)
6 months:  n.a.
1 year  : + 74.3%
2 years : +122.5%

Three issues in, writer Brad Meltzer and artist Ed Benes’ Justice League of America already seems to have found its sales niche, and it’s a very comfortable one. The book was promoted with a variant cover scheme (retailers had to order ten copies of the regular edition to buy one with a variant cover), but so were previous issues, so that’s not a relevant factor here.

Issue #1 sold another 3,500 units in November, meanwhile, issue #2 another 3,595. These are very good sales, all told. The book appears to be connecting with its target audience.

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Links of many kinds

Manga Blog interviews KURT HASSLER!

MB: How did your personal tastes affect your choices? KH: I like everything. The way I’m characterized online, I’m the manga guy, but I love comics in general. It’s funny, because Rich Johnson would come over to my house and see all the superhero stuff lining the bookcases and then go back and hear I’m the manga guy. People think the role of a buyer is to push their own likes and dislikes, and that’s not what we do. It’s to stock the shelves, to be a consumer advocate at some level. If I have a particular insight into one area of the market that is underrepresented, then maybe that was the edge I had over someone else.

Later Hassler talks about the plans for Yen press, the Hachette GN imprint he and Rich Johnson have launched.

Everybody wants us to come out and say “This is a done deal” and “These are the licenses we have.” A lot of publishers, their goal is to put out an announcement every couple of weeks. We are waiting until we have something pertinent to say. There are certainly venues for that sort of thing. Comicon is coming up. We’ll be there.

John K. eulogizes Joe Barbera:

I went on, like an idiot to tell him I hated Scooby Doo and all modern cartoons, and Joe said “Me too kid. I’ve never understood why the networks keep ordering more episodes of it. What is there to it? A big dumb dog and some teenagers. Every show is the same Goddamn story! It doesn’t make sense to me but they can have it as long they want it.”

MacGuffin compares their best selling Gns to Diamonds.

#1: V for Vendetta (Diamond – 30,600) vs. Fables Vol. 1 Legends in Exile (MacGuffin) These are both older titles that topped the sales charts due to marketing tie-ins. V for Vendetta, obviously bolstered by the release of the film, dominated Diamond’s sales charts, selling 1/3 more units than its closest competitor. Add to this the fact that DC offered a consignment program wherein a store could order as many copies as it would like and return them if unsold, paying only freight both ways. In fact, I wasn’t able to determine if the numbers listed by Diamond for February and March 2006 included those consignment copies or only copies ordered non-returnable since I would venture to guess that at least some stores took advantage of the opportunity to return unsold copies (MacGuffin was not one of these since we did very well with V for Vendetta and had no copies ordered on consignment to return).

C.H.U.D. wonders if 2007 will be the year the floppy dies

But thanks to late books I have been trained to not expect a comic story that continues every 30 days. In the long run there’s no difference between waiting four or five months between issues and waiting six to twelve months for a trade. Even if I do have a hard time waiting, there’s always the internet – and I’m not just talking about piracy (confession: I did, for a time, download comic book torrents. However the quality of comics being produced on a monthly basis is so low that I couldn’t even bring myself to read these pirated comics half the time. I just went back to buying the trades of comics I liked, or from creators I trusted). You can follow the events of most mainstream titles on internet message boards, especially if you’re interested in a big event like Civil War or DC’s 52. There’s no need to drop three bucks on a pamphlet when you can get the basic details online, especially when – like with 52 – it’s total dick anyway.

RIP: Colantuoni, Schaefer, Durkee

A trio of deaths to start the year.

Comics Reporter mention the death yesterday of Italian artist, Tiberio Colantuoni, who created the Italian feature Bongo and worked for Disney and many other publishers.

Colantuoni was trained as a ceramics painter and worked in that field as a teacher before moving into comics in the mid-1950s, initially attending a separate school in Milan to help enable that transition and learning some of the technical basics from Benito Jacovitti. Turning down a position working in ceramics art, in 1954 Colantuoni enjoyed the professional breakthrough that led to his long career.

Mark Evanier reports the death of Robert Schaefer, an extremely prolific TV and comics writer:

Their first sale was a teleplay for The Gene Autry Show and they soon followed it up with sales to The Adventures of Kit Carson, Tales of the Texas Rangers, Maverick, Whirlybirds, Texas John Slaughter, Zorro, 77 Sunset Strip, The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Jr and many more. It was through their Gene Autry connection that Schaefer and Freiwald hooked up with Western Publishing Company and began writing at first the Gene Autry comic books, then comics of all kinds, including the Dell Comics versions of most of the TV shows on which they were concurrently working. Between 1957 and 1965, they wrote approximately a comic book per week for Western, including many issues of Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Maverick, Zorro, Laramie, Lassie, The Real McCoys, The Restless Gun, Roy Rogers, Sea Hunt, Sugarfoot, Spin and Marty, Wagon Train, Ricky Nelson, Rin Tin Tin, Wyatt Earp and many more. They authored many of the comic book adaptations of Disney movies (The Parent Trap, The Shaggy Dog, The Absent-Minded Professor, etc.) and even dabbled occasionally in scripts for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Several of the early issues of the classic Magnus, Robot Fighter comic book were authored by Schaefer and Freiwald.

ICv2 has a brief report on the death of long-time retailer Clyde Durkee.

Leni Riefenstahl would have loved this — UPDATED

George Lucas was the Grand Marshal of yesterday’s Rose Bowl Tournament Parade, and some 200 members of the 501st Legion — the guys who dress as Stormtroopers — marched proudly in the parade.

Lucas took the opportunity of the attention he got surrounding the parade to announce that filming on the long-awaited INDIANA JONES IV movie will begin in ’07 with an eye for an ’08 release. The film involves the now-60-year-old Indy attempting to deliver a shipment of Excedrin Arthritis Formula and Cialis to the Country Manor Rest Home while fighting his own bout with Restless Leg Syndrome.

UPDATE: Beat Spy Evelyn Tremble made this video in honor of the occasion:

The Beat’s Annual Year End Survey, 2007 edition, part 2

More picks and pans on the past and future from comicdom assembled:

Mark Millar, Marvel Civil War, Ultimates 2, 1985, Kick-Ass

What was the biggest story in comics in 2006? Modesty forbids me to say my hopeful little Civil War project as it was probably a little too art-house for The Beat’s very mainstream audience to have noticed.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2007? All the upheavals happened in 2006 and everything seems nicely set up for 2007 for a period of consolidation. I don’t think there’s going to be anything especially surprising at the big two (and I say this kind of cheating as I know all the plans), but I think sales will continue to climb healthily every month and the rewards for all the hard work this past year become evident. 2007 is a great year to open a comic store. If I were a retailer I’d be pretty damn excited.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2007? ?The guiltiest pleasure of all: Loads of time off.

200701020051Max Allan Collins,
A KILLING IN COMICS is the first in a new mystery series set against the world of comic strips and comic books, post-WW 2. The first one has to do with the creators of the first superhero superstar falling out badly with their bosses, one of whom becomes a murder victim. My longtime collaborator Terry Beatty has done some comic art for the book, with panels at the start of each prose chapter and the second-to-last chapter in comics form, challenging the reader (Ellery Queen-style) with a reprise of all the clues and suspects. This will be a trade paperback from Berkley Prime Crime in May. And the first ever prose Ms. Tree novel will be published late in ’07 by HardCase Crime with a Terry Beatty cover.

What was the biggest story in comics in 2006? The failure of a strong SUPERMAN movie to generate the kind of excitement among general moviegoers and comics fans that might well be expected. Though some people cite shortcomings in the film (certainly no bigger problems than the first Tim Burton BATMAN or even the original Richard Donner SUPERMAN), the troubling aspect is the positive, good-hearted Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent (and Lois and Jimmy) losing their relevance in this bleak new century. That CASINO ROYALE, the much darker James Bond reboot, did so well delights me, because of its return to Ian Fleming roots; but it may not speak well of our national (and international) mood.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2007? My triumphant return to the field, if anybody hires me to do anything.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2007? ?I’m guilty about it only because of the money I spend, but continuing to buy DVD boxed sets of movies and TV shows, with an emphasis on British stuff. First up: the eighth and final season of the British girls-in-prison series BAD GIRLS, which with sister show FOOTBALLERS WIVES is the most hilarious (and certainly knowing) satire of genre fiction around. FOOTBALLERS and its spin-off EXTRA TIME have both been cancelled, but will probably air over here on the BBC cable channel, where they’re several seasons behind. Any fans of movies or TV who haven’t sprung for all-regions, PAL-busting DVD players are missing out (cheap on e-bay). I spend more money with Amazon UK than with the American original.

DeanhaspielDean Haspiel, IMMORTAL [Billy Dogma], American Splendor

What was the biggest story in comics in 2006? 1] Alison Bechdel’s FUN HOME. The best graphic novel of 2006.

2] ACT-I-VATE: a virtual comix studio/anthology that delivers free daily comix. All online ~ all the time.

3] Web-comix cartoonists signing contracts with formidable book publishers. Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman’s SHOOTING WAR launched online [at Smith magazine] only to snag a comparable book deal [from Hachette] before its debut completed, proving that the internet is as powerful a poaching ground for auteur-oriented fare as Hollywood is to franchise comix.

What will be the biggest story in comics in 2007? 1] More online comix anthologies and cyber studios will form in the spirit of ACT-I-VATE and take command of their collective destiny, cutting out the middle man that agents goods between creator and reader while growing the comix auteur cum book packager. Publishing deals, guerilla marketing, and distribution, will be greatly affected to accommodate grassroots efforts. Franchise characters will be put to a test. Some will find more lucrative homes away from the comix medium. Some will pick up the digital comix gauntlet [see point #2]. Other’s will surely die.

2] Traditional comic book pamphlets will begin to diminish and serialized franchise comics will succumb to the digital comix model. There may be a surge of cheap downloads until everybody realizes they still dig holding dead-tree and they’ll “wait for the trade.” Eventually, only popular story arc collections, original graphic novels, specials, and anthologies, will be available in print. Bye-bye 22pp for $3.

3] iPodable comix. ‘Nuff said.

4] More comix writers will be tapped to write my favorite TV shows and more TV show writers will try to write comix and realize it’s too much work for too little pay.

5] Frank Miller will sneeze on a bar napkin and an adjacent movie producer will turn it into a blockbuster.

What guilty pleasure (of any kind) are you looking forward to in 2007? ?1] The second half of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.

2] Steve Ditko’s BLUE BEETLE and Jack Kirby’s FOURTH WORLD collected in color hardcover editions.

3] The finale to Warren Ellis & John Cassaday’s perfect PLANETARY.

4] FEAR, MY DEAR — the sequel to IMMORTAL [you read it here first – folks], my free Billy Dogma web-comic at ACT-I-VATE.

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Sexy superheroines advertise Mexican department store

Ai caramba!

Back to the grindstone!

Holidays are over, now the real work has begun. Unfortunately, we’re under the weather with the chest-crushing virus we’ve been avoiding for months and months. So posting will remain feeble for the next while.

In the meantime, thanks for the great 2006, everyone. It was a HUGE year for The Beat, what with the move from Comicon to Publishers Weekly. Thanks to John Vaccaro, Laura Ciporen, Cevin Bryerman and everyone else at Reed who made it such a smooth transition. JOhn left Reed a few weeks ago, but he was a huge help in getting this off the ground, and we wish him all the best in the future. Thanks also to Ron Croudy and his team for the design, and of course Sara Nelson, Karen Holt and the irreplaceable Calvin Reid.

And on the personal front, thanks to the home team: Zena, Ben, Amy, Sara, Dino, Sara 2, Trish, Elim, Ken R. (cat watcher extraordinaire, whose tireless duties made my travel possible), Jimmy, Amanda, Nelson, Frank 3, Scummy, Nick B., Dan, Lilly, Charles, Rick, Jah Furry, and the rest of the crew. Special thanks to Cindy the intern for not running away in horror. I am sure I am forgetting many people, so I’ll stop before I forget anyone else.

2006 had some sad moments, but I did get to meet Les Claypool, Amon Tobin and Gerard Butler within one four week period, so it wasn’t all bad. I traveled to places as exotic as Kansas City and Dublin, and saw Toronto and Charlotte for the first time. I survived the New York Comic-con for the first time and San Diego for the 20-somethingth.

We’ll be back after we’ve eaten more tom yung goong, with some thoughts on 2006 and what 2007 might bring.

[Image via DataJunkie]