DC sold a lot of comics — so many that they actually sent out a press release about it; even Diane Nelson, previously silent on the relaunch, now thinks it was a great idea. Selling five million comics in 6 weeks is indeed a sizable number; however, what augurs the best for the comics industry is that sales across the board were up. Marvel had its best September in a while, as did Image. We’re not talking a return to 1993 — as some retailers think — but more like a return to 2003. Which is still great.
It’s fairly obvious that customers were waiting for something exciting to happen in order to go back into stores; these disenchanted readers — Dan DiDio’s much-loved “lapsed readers” — have now discovered that comics are still fun. But will they stay that way?
Launched in a normal fashion, all but a handful of these new 52 books would have been hard-pressed to get 30K in orders; some would have considered 25K a giant success. Now they’re selling five million? How is that possible?
The surge in retailer confidence is really the success story here for the future.
DC Comics – the home of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman – is experiencing its best comic books sales in more than 20 years, following a historic renumbering of all DC Comics titles with 52 all-new first issues. With sales of more than 5 million copies in only six weeks, the first issues of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 are generating international headlines and bringing fans back into comic book stores across the country.
“We are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response from retailers, fans and the creative community to DC Comics — The New 52,” said DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson. “This was a bold publishing initiative that is reinvigorating and growing the industry and medium we love.”
“We did more than just change Superman’s costume and renumber the entire line. We took a huge risk and it’s paying off,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and artist of JUSTICE LEAGUE. “Comic book retailers are seeing returning fans and as well as new readers flock to their stores.”
Earlier this year, and before DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched on August 31st, the industry’s bestselling comic book title typically sold about 100,000 copies. In contrast:
· JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 has sold more than 250,000 copies.
· ACTION COMICS #1 and BATMAN #1 have both sold more than 200,000 copies.
· DETECTIVE COMICS #1, THE FLASH #1, GREEN LANTERN #1 and SUPERMAN #1 have all sold more than 150,000 copies.
· AQUAMAN #1, BATGIRL #1, BATMAN AND ROBIN #1, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #1, GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1 and WONDER WOMAN #1 have all sold more than 100,000 copies.
So, just how many comic books are we talking about? With New York Comic Con kicking off this week, let’s look to some of New York’s famous landmarks for some visual context. It takes (approximately):
· 2,090,880 comic books laid end to end to stretch from one end of New York State to the other. We’ve sold enough DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 first issues to span New York State in its entirety two times over.
· 174,480 comic books stacked on top of each other to reach the top of the Empire State Building. That’s every copy of GREEN LANTERN #1—with issues to spare.
· 36,600 comic books stacked in a pile to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty. That means copies of WONDER WOMAN #1 could reach the top of Lady Liberty almost three times.
Oh, and 5 million copies sold? That’s enough copies of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 to lay out and span the distance from New York to Chicago – with some left over. “People are buying, reading and talking about a line of comic books in a way they haven’t in years,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “We’re thrilled to see the passionate response fans have had, but this is just Step One for us. Now our plan is to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going.”
“When DC Entertainment was created almost two years ago, we committed to an environment of ‘no fear’ when it came to creative and business risks,” said Nelson. “I couldn’t be more proud of our Publishing team for embracing this mantra and delivering in a way that is growing the genre, our partners’ businesses and our fan base, while helping to fuel the creative engine that drives so many Warner Bros.’ content businesses.”
In addition to debuting all-new first issues in comic shops, DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched same-day digital publishing, with DC Entertainment becoming the first major comic book publisher to release their entire line of ongoing titles same-day digital.
“Our digital sales have been better than we could have imagined and we are pleased that these sales are additive to traditional publishing sales in the comic book stores,” said John Rood, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. “We’re not migrating readers from print to digital. We’re adding more new readers into the mix.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.