Just Mostly Gross, Funny Fun: An Interview with CHEW Writer John Layman

On the occasion of the German edition of Chew, which recently debuted from Cross Cult Verlag, I had the opportunity to talk to Layman about the series, his prospects in the comics industry and his experiences at WildStorm. An abbreviated and translated version of the interview, which was conducted via e-mail over the course of several weeks, appears in Chew – Bulle mit Biss 1: Leichenschmaus. The book can be purchased here, here or here, among other places. (Disclosure: I’m the translator.)

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: December 2010

by Marc-Oliver Frisch

On the surface, December 2010 was a great month for DC Comics. The company had a bigger share of the market than its main competitor Marvel, if only in terms of dollar value, and took all of the Top 5 spots on the chart, as well as a total 8 out of the Top 10. That doesn’t happen a lot.

Upon closer inspection, though, a less rosy picture emerges: DC’s average comic-book sales in the direct market were slightly down from November, average dollar and unit sales were only slightly up. So, despite big releases like the debut of writer/artist David Finch’s Batman: The Dark Knight and, over in the “Graphic Novel” section, J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman: Earth One book, it turns out December was more or less business as usual, from a commercial vantage point.

Meanwhile, DC’s WildStorm imprint, which the company bought from Jim Lee in 1998 and then proceeded to slowly but determinedly squeeze the life out of, ceased publication in December. Average WildStorm sales sagged below the 5K mark, to the lowest number in history.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: October 2010

The “Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Brightest Day” brands continued to be the driving force behind DC’s periodical output in October. While most of the Batman books were on hiatus, a bunch of one-shots, collectively titled Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, filled the gap. Other October releases include the low-profile miniseries Knight and Squire and JLA/The 99. Consequently, average sales of the DC Universe line remained relatively flat.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: September 2010

September was a fairly low-profile month for DC’s comic-book business. In terms of new releases, there were the debut of the Freedom Fighters series, a Justice Society of America Special and a bunch of one-shots reviving the company’s old war titles. Still, thanks to a handful of returning DC Universe and Vertigo books that had missed their release dates in August, average and overall periodical sales slightly recovered, as expected. WildStorm published a few one-shot specials tying in with the Red film and reviving Wetworks, of all things, with less than spectacular results.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: August 2010

August 2010 wasn’t a great month for the direct market as a whole, and DC Comics was no exception. The current tent-pole title Brightest Day and its tie-in books kept performing solidly overall, but a number of other high-profile books, including Green Lantern, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman and Robin and The Flash missed their August shipping dates, putting a bit of a dent in DC’s periodical performance: Overall dollar sales for new comic books were the lowest since June 2009, and average unit sales dropped to their second-lowest point of the last 12 months.

For the publisher’s Vertigo brand, August was particularly tough, with estimated average unit sales dropping to a new all-time low of 9,094. Again, though, the schedule is the culprit: With American Vampire, Joe the Barbarian and Jack of Fables, some of Vertigo’s best-selling comic-book titles didn’t come out in August. At the WildStorm imprint, average unit sales crashed back to just above 6K, and in this case, the schedule had little to do with it. At this stage, it’s not hard to see why DC is pulling the plug on WildStorm.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: July 2010

The “Brightest Day” and Batman titles continued to be the driving force of DC’s comic-book line in July. The publisher’s overall performance in the periodical direct market remained more or less flat, consequently. The most prominent new release of the mainstream DC Universe line, and maybe a bit of a wildcard for retailers, was the debut of Batman: Odyssey, a six-issue miniseries by writer/artist Neal Adams, who is still something of a high-ticket name, but hasn’t actually produced a substantial comics project in decades.

At Vertigo, overall sales were slightly down in July because Fables, for all intents the imprint’s flagship series, didn’t come out. At WildStorm, the numbers were slightly up because of two new miniseries debuting above the 10K mark.

See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. 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.

Briefs & Boxers! 09/10/10

o “Nothing Dramatically Broken at DC Comics” At Comics Alliance, David Brothers takes the temperature of DC Comics, about half a year into the most recent management shake-up that replaced longtime publisher Paul Levitz with former DC Universe editor-in-chief Dan DiDio and star artist/WildStorm chief Jim Lee, and also left star writer Geoff Johns—in many […]

Briefs & Boxers! 09/01/10

In his “Emanata” column at Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at the promotional efforts for an upcoming Marvel story by Jonathan Hickman, singling out Fantastic Four as a series that particularly finds itself in the shadow of its creators:

“As Lee and Kirby established the FF, their premises are inflexible: they’re a family. They’re explorers. They have adventures together. […] If you stick to those axioms, you’re not just making a Fantastic Four story, you’re making one in the Lee/Kirby tradition […]. If you ignore any of those axioms, then it’s not really the Fantastic Four any more, and the question becomes how, and how quickly, it’s going to get back to being the ‘real’ Fantastic Four.”

Briefs & Boxers! 08/22/10

This week: Kieron Gillen on the prospects of more PHONOGRAM; Axel Alonso on that X-Men crossover with the vampires; and the conclusion of EX MACHINA.

Briefs & Boxers! 08/15/10

o “Batman Can Take It” Grant Morrison talks to Los Angeles Times blogger Geoff Boucher about his plans for Batman: “Supple is the word. It’s really weird. Batman can take anything. You can do comedy Batman, you can do gay Batman … it all works. It something [sic] intrinsic to the character. It’s so strange […]

Briefs & Boxers! 08/08/10

This week: Brevoort and Alonso redefine “distinct”; Kirkman talks turkey; get your very own 2.5′ adamantium souvenir; collections we need; and more.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: June 2010

by Marc-Oliver Frisch After unleashing a deluge of new titles in May, DC Comics’ lineup of major periodicals was fairly restrained in June. There were oversized “milestone” issues of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, the latest Green Arrow relaunch and, following up on a 2008 event, a second wave of Joker’s Asylum one-shots. Average and […]

Briefs & Boxers! 08/01/10

This week: Neil Gaiman and the continuity courtroom; Kurt Busiek on track to get the first good superhero movie made; Frank Miller surrenders; WildStorm’s new publishing niche; and more.

Briefs & Boxers! 07/25/10

This week: Some Dopey Prequels and Sequels to WATCHMEN probably in the pipeline; Vertigo not really about to give up the ghost; veteran comics creator gets by on two hours of sleep and a handful of nuts; and more.

Briefs & Boxers! 07/18/10

This week: Is J. Michael Straczynski tugging on Grant Morrison’s cape? Can you put any old comic on the phone? What’s up with those excited blurbs on your trade paperbacks? Is Newsarama being run by Marvel’s robot receptionist? And more.

DC Month-to-Month Sales: May 2010

by Marc-Oliver Frisch DC Comics’ periodical business had one of its better months in May, thanks to a host of new launches that were received well by retailers. The new arrivals include the DC Universe titles Brightest Day, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Justice League: Generation Lost and Birds of Prey, as well as […]