This news has been buzzing around for a bit and was apparently a topic of some discussion at this weekend’s Boston Comic-Con, but now news releases and statements have been made. It’s a little complicated so we’re simplifying it a bit for non-merchants, but basically, DC has been heavily promoting their September Villains Month event and the snazzy lenticular 3D covers—which look pretty snappy based on the ones we saw at San Diego. However, because the covers are plastic, they had to be printed way ahead of time—meaning that retailers had to order them way ahead of their normal ordering cycle, something that may not have been made entirely clear to them.
So stores orders will be allocated based on a “rolling average” of previous orders on the regular books. What does that mean? Shops could get from 50% to 100% of their orders. The rolling averages is so that those who only ordered two copies of, say, THE FLASH, will not be rewarded if they ordered heavily on GRODD #1, possibly for speculative purposes. DC will also release regular old 2D versions of all the issues, as well as the regular digital editions (but not in 3D), shipping at the same time priced at $2.99, a dollar less than the lenticular versions. Retailers will have their regular “FOC” window to order these—but it’s this week so hop to it.
But wait there’s more. ICv2 has a succinct, almost layman’s version of other measures being taken:
DC is also offering the entire run of 3-D Motion Covers again in December with the Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set. Because of the time it takes to manufacture the 3-D covers, the final order cutoff date for the December shipping Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set is August 12th. The Villains Month Complete Set will come with all 52 comics plus a copy of Forever Evil #1 with a 3-D Motion Cover and will be priced at $199.99. The books in December-shipping Complete Set will all be marked as “Second Editions.”
Got all that?
DC’s co-publishers were quoted in the release explaining all this:
“Because of the time needed to create the 3-D motion covers, we were forced to set September print runs much further in advance than we normally would,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “As we got close to the FOC dates, even though we were very aggressive with our sales forecasts for the 3-D editions, it was clear that orders for these issues were going to be greater than the quantities we had printed. Once we saw from the first 3-D edition FOCs that we were oversold on initial orders, we decided to institute a system across the entire 3-D line that was in accord with previous retailers’ ordering patterns to minimize the impact of fringe speculators.”
“It’s very exciting to see how much interest there is in these 3-D covers, which are latest in a long line of innovations from DCE, like the fold-out poster in Superman Unchained #1 or the die-cut covers from the Death of the Family issues,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “Our goal every September has been to create great, new ways to draw attention to our entire DC universe line and the reaction to Villains Month capped by the launch of our first universe event ‘Forever Evil’ has been just incredible.”
And how did retailers react? Not too well. San Francisco’s Brian Hibbs doesn’t speak for everyone, but based on retailer reactions we’ve seen he wasn’t much of an outlier with his column yesterday, with the sedate title of The staggeringly epic incompetence of DC Entertainment. Oops.
While not getting enough of what will be a hot book is enough of a concern, Hibbs greatest source of ire is what he sees as a failure to communicate—many retailers go through the initial order sheet and put a placeholder order of “1” in, knowing they will revise it closer to ship date with the FOC (final order cutoff) order. This time, that placeholder order may have to suffice:
So, this means that there ARE retailers out there that have been happily and aggressively promoting this stunt, racking up big preorders, selling full sets in advance of shipment, in some cases EVEN COLLECTING MONEY from consumers, all the while DCE didn’t officially or formally tell the retail community that these could be allocated. Whoops!
(Also: once you put “could be” in there? You are ASSURING that it is instead “Will Be”)
And some of the people who have been earnestly promoting this are also the same people who put down “1″ for their initial orders just like the industry has trained them to. What will these people receive? Tune in on Friday to find out!
So, now this isn’t just speculator book, it is out-and-out feeding frenzy at the trough as stores will be unable to fulfill 100% of the commitments that they made causes a rippling panic throughout just enough of the customer base that even stores that “get it right” are going to be trampled by people panicking/looking to cash in.
So there you go—if you’re heartbroken about not getting the lenticular 3D cover you want next month go tell your retailer BEFORE AUGUST 12th that you want the whole set, while will go on sale in December for $199.99. Or you can get the regular 2D cover in September, but again, better tell your retailer NOW, so they can order it.
Even the most aggravated retailers admit they’ll make a lot of money in September, and DC might even win the dollar month. And surely the rage will have subsided by the time the next variant lenticular cut-out, fold-out issue arrives. It does seem to have been a breakdown in communications here, though—the long lead time for printing was known right along, and communicating it in better fashion might have made more money for everyone involved—and made more fans happy.
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.