By Todd Allen
You never know where the next round of cuts is going to come from. DC appears to have been cutting titles from their subscription program, not based on overall sales, but based on how many subscriptions they’re getting. Which is to say, while Aquaman, which has caused much head scratching over it’s omission from the subscription list while being a top 10 Diamond seller, may be more of a Direct Market title than a mainstream title.
If we head over to DC’s Subscription Page, this is what we see left from the “New 52”:
- Action Comics
- Detective Comics
- Justice League
- Batman and Robin
- Batman: The Dark Knight
- Catwoman T+
- The Flash
- Green Arrow
- Green Lantern
- Green Lantern Corps
- Teen Titans
- Wonder Woman
Dan DiDio is reported as having said on Facebook
Unfortunately we are cancelling certain subscriptions that don’t do not get enough mail orders to justify the subscription service. A best selling book does not always translate to a high selling subscription and there is very little relation between the two.
Well, given some feedback, you might say that we reviewed the list and Aquaman might be “off the hook”.
So roughly 2/3 of the New 52 is deemed to have done too poorly via (print) subscription to be deemed worth offering the option. Not exactly something you often hear from the world of periodicals. On the other hand, I expect there are a few retailers quite happy that you can’t get Aquaman (unless there really is a change of heart) or Batwoman directly from the publisher. That channel conflict is probably alive and well.
Apparently, there have been a few letters going out to titles whose subscriptions have been cancelled, attempting to switch the subscribers to another book. Swamp Thing subscribers would theoretically switched over to Batman (Scott Snyder writes both, but I’m not sure that’s a one-to-one mapping — Wonder Woman might be a little closer in tone); Justice League International subscribers will be switched over to Superman (not sure what the rationale for this one is — possibly most of the JLI subscribers weren’t already subscribed to Superman?); Aquaman subscribers will be switched over to Justice League (this makes more sense, Aquaman being in the JL and DC’s doing the right thing and offering to eat the difference in cover price). Justice League Dark subscribers are being switched over to… Batman: The Dark Knight?!? (Not a clue what the reasoning here is. The most horror-oriented title still available by subscription is Wonder Woman.)
Now, you may note that the Cartoon Network line is still intact for subscriptions. I’ve never seen DC’s subscription numbers, but I have seen the circulation audits for Marvel’s, a couple years back. Marvel always did well with the Marvel Adventures line and would top 10,000 subscribers for Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. It would not surprise me if the Cartoon Network books had more subscribers than Direct Market orders.
Still, it’s just strange to have circulation-based cancellations on subscriptions. That’s a clear indicator DC is being cost-conscious.
The other big DC announcement of the week is their new web store: http://www.shopdcentertainment.com/. Speaking of channel conflict, this web store isn’t all that different from http://www.marvelstore.com. It’s mostly toys, clothes and merchandising. No monthly comics. No subscription link. There is, however, a graphic novel page. There are only 14 books listed. Some Batman, Green Lantern and Superman books, plus the first volume of Sandman, two editions of Watchmen and that hardcover compilation of the New 52 first issues. For the most part, it’s very movie-franchise oriented. It’s also a little unusual to see DC (or Marvel for that matter) selling the actual comics directly to the public. It’s even stranger that they’ll sell a graphic novel off this site, but not a subscription or even a link to the digital comics. An oversight or a deliberate plan with a metric ton of nuance? That I cannot tell you. We’ll see how long the graphic novels stay up or if they add some more formats.
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.