In answer to all the questions that retailers — and a few readers and certainly Beat readers have — DC has sent out an FAQ on the relaunch/reboot/September to their retailer accounts, with a cover letter by Bob Wayne. It shows great insight into what people are squawking about and gives a good fact sheet on returnability, pricing, digital, and so on. Well be back later with analysis of all this.
THE NEW 52 AND YOU
· “DC Comics – The New 52” is the DC Entertainment publishing initiative that is an aggressive undertaking of launching the entire line of 52 DC Comics character series with all-new #1 first issues in September, accessible to both new and current readers.
· The lead book is Justice League, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, in-stores August 31st.
· Timely delivery of our books – top titles, week in and week out – is paramount to this new publishing initiative.
· As partners, our goal is to provide brick-and-mortar retailers with world-class product (books with innovative stories and artwork that feature iconic characters) and world-class service (unrivaled marketing support, the industry’s only co-op program, personal account service, etc.), and that is what we’re going to continue to do.
· 48 of the 52 titles in September are $2.99, the standard price for a 20 story-page art & editorial book, showing our unrivaled commitment to making comics affordable for new and existing readers alike.
· DC Entertainment is diversifying its distribution platform by being the first major publisher to launch same-day digital – making periodical titles available digitally the same day as print, at the same price, beginning August 31st.
* Why do it? There is a lot of speculation out there, are you “rebooting” the titles?
This is an epic and ambitious initiative that ushers in a new generation of comics for DC Comics and will set the tone for storylines and characters for years to come. With all of the titles starting at #1, our creative teams have the ability to take a more modern approach – not only with each character, but with how the characters interact with one another and the universe as a whole, and focus on the earlier part of the careers of each of our iconic characters. A time when they didn’t have as much experience defeating all their nemeses. A time when they weren’t as sure of their abilities. A time when they haven’t saved the world countless times. It’s this period that is rich with creative opportunity as we show why these characters are so amazing, so iconic and so special.
We think fans will be excited by this approach and The New 52 will provide DC Entertainment an opportunity to aggressively reach the widest possible audience worldwide, through captivating stories and an accessible entry point. We see great opportunities to tell new, contemporary, cutting edge stories building off the best known, classic stories that make up each of the title’s back histories.
* DC Comics has had a number of reboots, what makes this one different?
This is not a reboot, it’s a launch. This is a historic initiative for DC Entertainment and the DC Comics characters – and a first in the company’s publishing history. This next era of DC Comics characters will see 52 all-new #1 issues of its super hero titles at the same time AND same-day digital across the board. In addition to the number changes, our talented creative teams are working behind the scenes to create compelling storylines and new costume designs for many of our iconic DC Comics characters.
* Why not call it a reboot?
It’s not a reboot. A reboot is typically a restart of the story or character that jettisons away everything that happened previously.
This is a new beginning which builds off the best of the past. For the stories launching as new #1s in September, we have carefully hand-selected the most powerful and pertinent moments in these characters’ lives and stories to remain in the mythology and lore. And then we’ve asked the best creators in the industry to modernize, update and enhance the books with new and exciting tales. The result is that we retained the good stuff, and then make it better.
* Does The New 52 undo events or continuity that I’ve been reading?
Some yes, some no. But many of the great stories remain. For example – Batgirl. The Killing Joke still happened and she was Oracle. Now she will go through physical rehabilitation and become a more seasoned and nuanced character because she had these incredible and diverse experiences.
* So will all titles be entry points or will you need to know back-story for some?
Each title will read as a #1 issue that will make jumping into the story extremely accessible for all types of readers. The stories are designed in a way that new fans will be able to pick up a book and immediately be drawn into the story, while at the same time existing fans will be engrossed by the new and epic moments that take place.
* Do the new #1s mean that the previous stories didn’t take place?
Our creative teams have a firm understanding of the storied heritage of characters and titles. The new #1 issues will introduce readers to a more modern, diverse universe of DC Comics characters, with some character variations in appearance, origin and age. All stories will be grounded in each character’s legend – but will map to real world situations, interactions, tragedies and triumphs.
Overall, DC Entertainment is focused on putting out the most innovative storylines, featuring the most iconic characters, created by the most creative minds within the industry.
* Might you just introduce a new DC “Ultimate” line and give it the spotlight for a few months, then have the opportunity to bring back the other continuity? Will this all be put back to “normal” after a few months?
No – this is the new universe of DC Comics characters. This is an epic and ambitious initiative that ushers in the next era of the DC Comics characters and will set the tone for storylines and characters for years to come. This is not an “event,” because events expire.
* Why are you changing the costumes?
DC Entertainment is led by some of the biggest fans of comics out there. We know that if Geoff and Jim are excited about the stories and artwork, we’re on to something big. While there may be some naysayers, when we thought about starting the entire DC Comics universe line of comics with #1/first issues we looked at the benefits for the long haul, not just a year or two. Our goal is to create a watershed moment for DC Entertainment – and the industry as a whole – where fans will remember this as a time of innovation while maintaining DC Entertainment’s commitment to creating entertaining and masterfully created stories.
* Do you not care about your company’s history? If you do this right, what do you want your legacy to be 75 years from now?
The legacy of DC Entertainment, and DC Comics before it, is based on the creativity of our editors and our creative talent, and our commitment to the best storytelling possible. DC has always been about character development and growth.
Take Batman for example. In the early days he was a vigilante who brandished a gun. Then he morphed into a whimsical character and then in the 1960’s he became more of the gritty, grim avenger of the night. We can all agree that we are glad Batman evolved.
Our goal is to create a watershed moment for DC Entertainment – and the industry as a whole – where fans will remember this as a time of innovation while maintaining DC Entertainment’s commitment to creating entertaining and masterfully created stories.
* Specifically why end Action and Detective before they reach their 1,000th issues? Action Comics is the longest running American comic book, followed closely by Detective Comics, the company’s namesake. Isn’t renumbering these series actually a retreat from the love of “comics as comics”?
Our Co-Publishers and editors thought long and hard about this. It was an extremely important decision that was not taken lightly. But executing this unprecedented event meant taking creative risks on every level and pushing forward with big, new ideas. A partial renumbering would not have had the impact we needed to showcase the amazing changes and direction we have planned for the new DC Comics universe of characters. Counting issue numbers is focusing on the past, not the future.
* Can this event fix/undo an event I don’t like from the past?/ Can this event bring back a character from the past that I miss?/ Does this event change the status of (insert pretty much any character here)? What would you say to someone whose favorite superhero no longer exists?
Characters are always evolving in the DC universe and part of the evolution means that characters come and go. While not all current characters will be part of the new DC Comics line of books, we are confident the ambitious plan we are creating will introduce a new generation of protagonists and antagonists that will captivate readers.
We are kicking things off with our best and brightest characters and what makes them so compelling and great. Simply because you don’t see a personal favorite in the September launches doesn’t mean your favorites are gone. This is just the beginning.
* What about returnability?
We are backing up our commitment to you and this launch, by putting our copies where are mouths are. We will be offering 100% returnability on 41 titles. Returnability on nearly 80 percent of the line allows retailers to order more boldly on these titles giving the books their best opportunity to reach new and existing consumers.
To qualify for returnability, your total post-FOC September orders (including Justice League #1) in retail dollars for DC periodicals must be 125% or more of your May post-FOC orders for DC periodicals. On retailer invoices dated 7/13/2011, retailers will receive their returnability target number. It will appear on the parent account invoice as: MAY118215 DC THE NEW 52 RETURNABILITY TARGET NUMBER (NET). We’re working with Diamond to establish a tracking system so that retailers can monitor their progress towards reaching their target number.
Retailers will be required to return stripped covers from the returnable issues along with an affidavit of destruction to Diamond Comic Distributors at a date to be named later. The return fee will be $.20 per cover. Also returnability will start one month after the date the issue goes on sale, but will be valid through mid-December 2011.
Graphic novels and DC Direct purchases are not included in the target.
The 41 titles eligible for returnability during the months of September, October and November are:
* ALL STAR WESTERN
* ANIMAL MAN
* BATMAN AND ROBIN
* BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT
* BIRDS OF PREY
* BLUE BEETLE
* CAPTAIN ATOM
* DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS
* DEMON KNIGHTS
* DETECTIVE COMICS
* FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.A.D.E.
* THE FURY OF FIRESTORM
* GREEN ARROW
* GREEN LANTERN CORPS
* HAWK AND DOVE
* I, VAMPIRE
* JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
* JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
* LEGION LOST
* LEGION OF SUPER HEROES
* MEN OF WAR
* MISTER TERRIFIC
* RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS
* RED LANTERNS
* RESURRECTION MAN
* THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN
* STATIC SHOCK
* SUICIDE SQUAD
* What are the incentives for the other 11 titles?
For variants, we chose our core iconic titles, the ones that you tell us your consumers want most. And of course, we sought out those titles with the most compelling visuals. This variant program will continue for September, October, and November at least. We will be offering variants on five different titles, effectively one each week. Some specifics so far:
JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 VARIANT EDITIONS
· For every 25 copies of the Standard Edition ordered, you may order 1 Variant Edition with a cover by David Finch
· For every 200 copies of the Standard Edition ordered, you may order 1 Variant Edition with a pencil cover by David Finch
One title featuring a variant cover edition each week in September (plus a 1 in 200 pencil version). The quantity of variant editions you may order will be determined by your lowest ordered of title of The New 52 on FOC in the same week:
· ACTION COMICS #1 VARIANT EDITION
Cover by Jim Lee and Scott Williams
· BATMAN #1 VARIANT EDITION
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver
· GREEN LANTERN #1 VARIANT EDITION
Cover by Greg Capullo
· THE FLASH #1 VARIANT EDITION
Cover by Ivan Reis and Tim Townsend
For deeper discounts, we chose those break-out titles which can help you focus your staff and customers. Books that have real potential that is arguably hidden potential to-date, a real compelling creator, a real obvious jumping-on point for your readers, etc. We will be offering an additional 15% discount on six different titles. This deep discounting will continue for September, October, and November at least.
· BATWOMAN #1
· GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1
· STORMWATCH #1
· SWAMP THING #1
· TEEN TITANS #1
· WONDER WOMAN #1
* Which of the 52 titles are not $2.99?
Four of The New 52 are $3.99 with additional pages of content. They are:
· JUSTICE LEAGUE
· ACTION COMICS
· ALL STAR WESTERN
· MEN OF WAR
* Why didn’t you tell us about this earlier this year at the ComicsPro meeting in Dallas, at the Diamond Retailer Seminar in Chicago or anytime prior to when the news broke?
Our plans have been evolving all year, and most of our planning occurred after both of those meetings. Once our idea developed, we didn’t want to spoil the surprises we have planned. In order to make sure we can tell the best stories possible, we needed to keep initial details under wraps. We value the relationships we have with our retailers and we’ll be sure to continue working as partners over the course of the launch, and beyond. You’ll be getting news in advance moving forward, as you should.
* Isn’t there now a “dead stock” issue on all previous comics and books that are made stale by this move?
We feel consumers buy and look for quality. That means the backlist that was and is popular will continue to be so. And that the best new stories will get readers excited about reading and finding all the great stories and comics which preceded September. The months leading up to September are the set up for the incredible changes we have planned. We feel readers will want to see how the current stories conclude and new stories play out as we ready the pipeline for the best to come. Retailers who believe their customers will skip some of our titles prior to The New 52 have the option of reducing their orders pre-FOC.
* Will DC Entertainment be able to get comics to us on-time for Wednesday sales on 9/07, the Wednesday after Labor Day?
We are working with Diamond to insure timely delivery of our comics that week. We hope to have details to you pre-FOC.
* Any way we can read copies of the comics earlier?
In today’s digital world it is extremely difficult to release advance copies of books because of piracy issues. We have seen advance copies get immediately scanned and released wide on the Internet – which in the end only decreases your ability to sell hardcopies. In the past we have sent advance black and white issues, but that was in the pre-digital era.
We are speaking with Diamond about previewing technology that gives retailers a secure first-look at comics. We will provide you more information as soon as we have it.
* What concrete plans are there to promote this to the general public?
With the launch of this epic event, DC Entertainment is implementing a proportionally ambitious marketing plan to share this news with current fans, lapsed fans and non-fans (what we consider “fans-to-be”).
You’ve seen part of this initiative at work with all the media coverage that has been generated since the announcement was made earlier this month. In addition, we’re going to be implementing an aggressive paid advertising campaign and word-of-mouth program to ensure we’re sharing the excitement we have over this news with the rest of the world.
Also our 75%-reimbursement co-op program will help retailers use new contemporary ways to market their stores and our books locally.
Related marketing content and promotional information will be packaged and highlighted in millions of Warner Home Video DVDs will be going out 4th quarter.
We have a lot of exciting plans in the works so you’ll definitely be hearing from us leading up to September.
* How is DC Entertainment going to market their September books for new readers?
DC Entertainment is going to position September as the best jumping on point to read monthly comics in a generation. With comics at the forefront of pop culture right now, we believe there are tens of thousands of consumers waiting for this moment.
* Which advertising channels will we use to promote the September books?
Since we are seeking a multi-tiered, multi-faceted audience, we will be using a variety of marketing channels to spread our message. We have already seen the enormous publicity response to The New 52 and how that has driven consumer awareness; we anticipate that will continue through launch. On the advertising side, we will be using a mixture of television advertising (both targeted network placement and co-op), Facebook advertising and targeted Search Engine Buys to seek out specific stripes of consumers. Hugely important as well are our on-line efforts, as we use the growing strength of social networking to build a new fan base for our books. Each of these platforms allows us to focus on consumers with specific pop culture and reading preferences.
* When will the logos for all of The New 52 be available for promotional use?
The logos will be posted to the DC Entertainment retailer page on diamondcomics.com on July 13th.
* Will we be able to order extra copies of the promotional book for The New 52 that’s going to arrive at retail on July 20th?
Retailers will receive copies of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52! # 1 PREVIEW BOOK on July 20 in quantities equal to five times orders at FOC on FLASHPOINT #1, providing you ordered at least five (5) copies of FLASHPOINT. These copies will be provided to retailers at no charge by DC Entertainment. (Retailers will be responsible for the cost of freight.) Additional copies will be available for reorder in limited quantities at a price of $.25 US net. These copies will only be available for reorder after the initial free allocation arrives in-stores on 7/20.
* When will co-op materials for The New 52 be available?
The co-op materials will begin being posted to the DC Entertainment retailer page on diamondcomics.com on July 13th. The page will be updated as additional items are completed.
* What type of co-op ads is DC Entertainment doing to support the launch of The New 52?
o Website / Banner
o Movie Theatre
o Newsletter (print and digital)
o Large vinyl banners and standees (new and exclusive to Sept)
* Will we be able to have a midnight sale for JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 and FLASHPOINT #5?
Yes, we’ll offer a sale that begins at 12:01am (your local time) on 8/31. We’ll be announcing further details on this soon. This will be open to all accounts currently receiving comics on Tuesday for Wednesday on-sale.
UK retailers please note: Due to the Monday, August 29 Summer Bank Holiday, the midnight sale option will not be available to UK retailers.
* What has the press said about The New 52 so far?
“Epic” – USA Today
“Audacious” – New York Times
“Audacious…Seismic” – LA Times’ Hero Complex
“Fascinating” – NPR’s Monkey See
“Unprecedented” – Gawker’s io9
“Tantalizing” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Game-changing” – Big Shiny Robot
“Bold” – Popmatters
“Can’t wait” – ScreenRant
“Sets a precedent” – Blastr
“Historic” – PSFK
“Radical…bold move” – Publishers Weekly
“The ballsiest move of the decade” – Comics Alliance
“Dramatic” – The Onion AV Club
“The comic book world is a-buzzin'” – Ain’t It Cool News
* Why are you going to same-day digital if digital is just “dental floss”?
To recall the analogy, same-day digital is dental floss compared to a sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper representing brick-and-mortar (i.e. over 95% of our business now and in the foreseeable future). Our goal is to expand both the size of the paper and the floss.
We believe the excitement we build through our marketing and promotional campaign benefits greatly from having immediate access to our content from every kind of reader. This exposure will benefit the sheet of paper more than the dental floss, so to speak.
For decades, the industry has bemoaned the fact we are not striving to bring in new readers. We feel day and date will bring the level of online chatter and excitement about storylines and books to new highs and having same-day digital titles will allow every kind of fan to participate in that excitement. In the end, more readers of comics whether in print or digital benefits the entire industry.
* What time will same-day digital releases go on sale? Will they be available to consumers before my store opens?
We are working with ComiXology to change our “go live” time each Wednesday to 2:00pm ET/11:00am PT. We expect to be able to make this adjustment prior to the 8/31 in-store date for Justice League #1 with ComiXology and the DC App. Apple sets their own release times for the iTunes stores, as does Sony for their PlayStation Network. We will attempt to have their release times in harmony with the ComiXology release times, but that may not be possible.
* When comics are delayed due to snow and ice/road conditions, will the release of the same-day digital titles also be delayed? If not, will all of my purchases that week be returnable since DC Entertainment was unable to maintain the same day digital schedule?
If the delay is system-wide, for example if no comics were shipped out on the scheduled day from our printer to Diamond, we would attempt to delay the digital release to match. If the delay is regional, we would not have a way to delay digital releases for only one region of the country.
* When comics have a scheduled delay due to holiday shipping delays, and DC Entertainment and/or Diamond announce that Thursday will be the in-store day, will the release of the same-day digital titles also be delayed?
* Will the $4.99 JUSTICE LEAGUE polybagged combo have the same cover as the standard edition or will it have a variant cover?
The cover on the polybagged Justice League will feature the same art as the standard edition, however it will have a different color scheme and a color burst calling out the digital code inside.
* Is the $4.99 JUSTICE LEAGUE polybagged combo pack only for JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, or will this continue to be offered each month?
* Is DC Entertainment going to offer the polybagged digital combo option on any titles other than JUSTICE LEAGUE?
We are only rolling this out on JUSTICE LEAGUE for now.
* Are the print and digital the same price?
Yes, for the first 4 weeks, a $2.99 print comic will be a $2.99 digital comic. After 4 weeks, the digital price will drop to $1.99. Following that pattern, for the first 4 weeks, a $3.99 print comic will be a $3.99 digital comic. After 4 weeks, the digital price will drop to $2.99.
DC Entertainment’s DIGITAL RETAILER AFFILIATE PROGRAM
* When will additional details of DC Entertainment’s Digital Retailer Affiliate Program be available?
Additional details are expected to be rolled out on or around July 20th.
Many retailers accept pre-paid preorders two months in advance from our customers prior to Diamond’s initial order due date, and we need to be able to make those transactions now to meet the needs of those preorder customers, not some indeterminate time between now and when Justice League #1 goes live on 8/31.
* What steps has DC Entertainment taken to help us bridge this cash-flow problem and consumer budgeting problem?
While we are not currently set up to offer digital pre-orders and/or digital subscriptions, ComiXology is working to be able to add this functionality.
* Is ComiXology the only source for retailers to participate in DC Entertainment’s Digital Retailer Affiliate Program?
* Does ComiXology have a beta version available for retailers to view?
ComiXology plans to have a demo of the beta version ready for view by July 20th at San Diego. Prior to that date, you can look at read.dccomics.com and comics.comixology.com for mirrors of the content and layout they will have.
* How long will it take ComiXology to contact me after I apply at retailers.comixology.com?
ComiXology’s goal is to respond to all retailer information requests by the next business day. By July 20th we expect ComiXology to begin emailing additional details to retailers who have signed up for the service.
* Is ComiXology adequately staffed to handle this potential influx of affiliates?
They’ve partnered with icV2.com to help roll out and support the affiliate program.
* Will ComiXology be able to meet a deadline of 8/31 to have a dedicated DC Entertainment digital store running on my website?
Yes, that is their goal for accounts who sign up now.
* When customers purchase a DC Entertainment digital comic through my website, does the customer pay me, ComiXology or DC Entertainment?
All purchases are processed and received by ComiXology.
* Who pays me the 30% of the cover price on a DC Entertainment digital purchase made through my website? DC Entertainment? ComiXology?
The payment will come from ComiXology, however the extra percentage for operating a dedicated DC Entertainment digital comics site comes from DC Entertainment’s margin.
* When will I be paid my share of the digital sale? How often? How will I receive?
ComiXology is working towards monthly direct payments to retailers’ accounts, after retailers meet a benchmark amount of sales. Details of the payment method are being worked out by ComiXology.
* If taxable in my area, am I collecting sales tax on the digital sale?
No, ComiXology will be taking care of all sales-related concerns.
* Is DC Entertainment participating in the Diamond Comics digital initiative?
No, not at this time.
* Is there a way for retailers without websites to sell DC Entertainment digital comics?
Retailers will need a website in order to develop a dedicated DC Entertainment digital comics site.
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.