By Todd Allen
Over at Newsarama, Vaneta Rogers gets some new information out of DC’s dynamic press junket duo of John Rood and Bob Wayne. It seems that “holding the line at $2.99” is getting a more politically nuanced definition. Batman and Detective Comics will both be making the jump to $3.99 and getting a few more pages.
A cynical man might say Batman is their #2 seller and Detective is their #5 seller, so the real surprise is that Green Lantern (#4 seller) _isn’t_ going to $3.99 to join Justice League and Action Comics and have the same higher price for all 5 top titles. Which would be a very Marvel way to price, except for the extra pages.
Wayne: The reason for adding the story pages is for the story and the editorial content. I think that when you find out what we’re doing with those extra story pages, it will all make perfectly good sense.
One hopes it’s comics pages and not an extra dollar for text pages and sketches. “Editorial content” doesn’t necessarily mean comics pages. Personally, I find it interesting that they’re expanding Batman and Detective, but not the Batman: The Dark Knight title (which appears to be DC’s #7 book — the Batman titles are performing pretty well right now). Are Batman and Detective going to be linked more closely than Dark Knight? I expect we’ll hear a bit more on that shortly.
Back to the pricing topic, Rood says he wants to keep 32 page titles at $2.99, but he appears open to having more 40 page titles.
Rood: I think we want to partner with the retailer on the optimal solution. One of the dialogues at [the] ComicsPRO [annual meeting] on February 9th is going to be, just being candid about how to be profitable as a publisher, how to be profitable as a retailer, and what’s the product mix that they want?
We’ll be talking about adult titles as opposed to kids’ titles. We’ll talk about format and price point.
And if we still get a strong consensus to draw the line, we’ll draw the line. And if we get some consensus that there are some titles or stories across DC Comics, Vertigo and MAD that are worth different price points, I want to consider it. I want to leave nothing unconsidered.
There’s nothing wrong with talking about it, but most people acknowledge DC’s last move to 40 pages and back-ups (no, I’m not going to call them “co-features”) was a big dud, with most fans not particularly happy with the new features and the higher prices. It will be interesting to see what the retailers have to say about selectively bumping the size and price of more books.
Rood also acknowledges his much earlier comments about cancelling a few titles at issue 8 and that a few titles may be nearing their end.
Rood: Fifty two is not a mandate. I’m pleased, and as far as I know, the co-pubs and the executive editor have been talking more about whether there are quality stories to be told beyond what’s been put out there so far.
So it’s been a magical number for us, but it’s not a leg irons that are going to make us put out substandard quality.
I mentioned issue #8 because at the Road Show when we were announcing the New 52 last summer, we were talking about looking at it after issue #5. So that’s an exponential success to go this long without talking about replacements.
Nrama: Are there some titles that are being reviewed for cancellations?
Rood: Sure. That’s a safe assumption. And there will be announcements in the new year about how to enhance the universe. But no announcements today.
Rood goes on to acknowledge while the top block of books seems to be holding on the audience, the lower rung is dropping down to what you’d expect to see prior to the relaunch. Not exactly surprising, but nice to get a confirmation on.
Figure we’re not too far off from a little pruning of the line and a block of new titles being announced. Perhaps that Robinson/Scott Justice Society title that’s supposed to be in the works?
Better question: if there is an Event/cross-over behind this Pandora character, will that happen before any additions/subtractions to the line?
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.