I can now confirm Walmart is restocking their exclusive comics from DC.
Yesterday, Matthew Halteman mentioned in the comment section:
Found one copy each of the Batman and JLA books. Haven’t found any more at any Walmarts I’ve checked. Went back today (which is the day I was told they are restocked) and was told that they were restocked, but every copy was bought by one person immediately.
Today, the Beat’s Joe Grunenwald came across a restock at his Walmart. Two copies each of all four titles.
Are the restocks that full set of five Batman / five Justice League / four Superman / two Teen Titans or just two each?
We have insufficient information, but if anybody has seen a full set… or three copies of something, I suppose… speak up.
What does all this mean? A bi-weekly restock isn’t going to get your numbers up to resemble a Direct Market hit, but it makes sense when you figure that the publishing schedule moving forward is two new comics every two weeks.
So lets do the math here and get a little better idea on the print runs, assuming roughly 3,000 participating Walmarts as per the initial announcement.
If it’s a two copy restock across the board, we’re looking at a total possible circulation of:
Teen Titans: 4 copies/store ~12K total
Superman: 6 copies/store ~18K total
Justice League: 7 copies/store ~21K total
Batman: 7 copies/store ~21K total
That would put Teen Titans roughly on par with Hellblazer’s June DM numbers, Superman somewhere between Red Hood and Damage, and Justice League & Batman somewhere between New Challengers and Green Arrow. Nothing awe inspiring, but there are sales totals in that ball park. It’s not necessarily weird relative to the current strength of the DM.
If it’s a full restock, then we’re looking at:
Teen Titans: 4 copies/store ~12K total
Superman: 8 copies/store ~24K total
Justice League: 10 copies/store ~30K total
Batman: 10 copies/store ~30K total
Teen Titans would still be at the lower edges of DCU circulation, but not the lowest by a few thousand. Superman would selling a similar number to Aquaman or Green Lanterns. Justice League and Batman would be selling similar to how Harley Quinn sold in June. Mid-list to upper mid-list relative to the DM. Assuming there aren’t returns filed on these, which seems somewhat unlikely, but possible.
With one full restock per month, this program makes a lot more sense. Now, whether this is really getting a lot of copies into the hands of new readers is an open question. It sounds like their are a lot of speculators at work here, although that might go down a little as the restocks hit and these comics become perhaps a little less scarce. These also aren’t being shelved in a particularly high traffic or visible area of the stores.
Now, last week Dan DiDio spoke about some of this on the DC All Access show.
Here he says the new features ARE for existing fans, so that conspiracy theory about this being built to have DM fans prop up the Walmart sell-through just got a little stronger.
Given the sellouts, DC / Walmart can always increase the print runs. 15 copies per store gets you to 45K, but I’m not sure how many more copies they can fit in one of those boxes at at the same time. Probably 7 or 8 would fit in the lower slots, but probably not the upper ones. They’re not taking up a very large footprint right now and there’s a very real question of whether these comics keep selling at the current vector if the perceived scarcity (and resale value that comes with it) takes a hit.
From a very pragmatic standpoint, this looks like it will be a balancing act between collector demand from DM readers who want the new material and then whatever audience they can find organically from withing the Walmart customer base. That Walmart audience can’t be found until the collector incursions are satisfied and there are shelf copies left. And better store placement sure wouldn’t hurt matters any.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.