ICv2 sits down for its yearly or so confab with DC Publisher and PresidentPaul Levitz and it took all I could muster not to title this post “a wobble feel”, but I resisted. The interview runs in three parts and Levitz seems relaxed and more wide ranging than in some previous editions; and why not? DC has had a good few years with Batman and WATCHMEN driving GN/backlist sales. A few quotes:
Do you feel like the American graphic novels are up then?
They were massively up. I don’t have the numbers we pulled in front of me, but I think the American graphic novel business was up, certainly more than the book store business. On a title-by-title basis, we’re seeing individual titles that are the logical after-effects of Watchmen op anywhere from about 25 to 200%. Two hundred per cent would be for V for Vendetta, which is an obvious sort of next purchase after Watchmen.
You’re transitioning away from, for lack of a better term, the homespun period of the business. When you had a very small section of graphic novels in the comic shop it was very easy for the proprietor to bet on anything that happened to be in the catalog. It doesn’t matter whether I know anything about the writer, or the artist, you got a good little blurb. When you go to a world in which the large publishers are sending you out a galley version of the graphic novel six months in advance, and are announcing on the back cover the five-step marketing program that they’re doing for it, it’s a lot harder for the little guy who’s launching it from home to do it.
and Part Three:
I think there are a couple of important threshold questions you’re looking at. One which doesn’t get nearly enough exploration in these situations where people are considering transmedia, is that different properties have different levels of intrinsic comfort with collaboration. I’m not sure why that is, but if you look at the properties that have succeeded in transmedia, a very high proportion of them are properties that have had a lot of different creative people executing the property early on.
A couple of other interesting bullet points: DC is taking a wait and see attitude on digital distribution: “But it’s not a game changer, or certainly wouldn’t be a game changer for us. Will that be different any minute now? Maybe.” We can see a few people shaking their heads over that one.
And the assertion that in the new BookScan environment, creators who don’t come through will stop getting infinite chances.