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Marc-Oliver Frisch

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DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: May 2011

Despite the debut of this year's big blockbuster series Flashpoint, average DC comic-book sales were down in May. In part, that's because Flashpoint itself came in 13,000 units below the magical 100K mark and ended up charting second after Marvel's Fear Itself #2, which has to be quite a disappointment for DC. On the other hand, most of the rest of DC's line didn't join in the crossover until June, so the overall numbers may still pick up. The other notable thing about DC's May output is that there wasn't a lot of it. The number of new comic books released by DC in May was 59, which, along with January 2004, holds the record for the fewest number of books released by the company since Diamond started publishing data on actual sales. Looking at the solicitations, it's not hard to find the reason: None of the five Green Lantern film tie-in books scheduled for May came out (one of them still hasn't been published as I'm writing this), while the launch dates of Static Shock and Batwoman were pushed back to September. And, while we're at it, the David Finch vehicle Batman: The Dark Knight remained in limbo in May. DC's Web site currently lists issue #3 for July 13 and issue #5 for August, with no information on #4. So not even DC seems entirely sure what's going on with the book.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: March 2011

Led by the top-selling Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman, Inc., which were back on the racks after a two-month absence, and a double-shipping Green Lantern, DC Comics' periodical sales continued a slow recovery in February. Notably, the February numbers also show modest increases across the rest of DC's line-up. Maybe the company's decision to cancel around 25% of its current ongoing titles and stick to a $ 2.99 price point is encouraging retailers, after all.

DC Month-to-Month Sales: February 2011

by Marc-Oliver Frisch

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Unit and dollar sales of DC Comics' periodical business remained at the lower end of the spectrum in February, despite a slight recovery from January's all-time low in average unit sales. However, the direct market as a whole has seen better days, and so DC still managed to snatch the three top spots of the chart and six out of the Top 10 in February, regardless of the company's lackluster sales.

For the publisher's mainstream DC Universe line, the absence of major titles Batman Incorporated and Batman: The Dark Knight continued to be a problem, while the hangover from the discontinued WildStorm imprint kept dragging down the average. Average comic-book sales of DC's Vertigo imprint were still hovering above the 10k mark, meanwhile.

See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com's estimates can be found here.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: January 2011

DC kicks off the year with a new sales record: Average numbers of the DC Universe line dropped by 21% in January, to 24,321 -- the lowest number in the history of these charts, by about 4,000 units. Traditionally a weak month in the comic-book market, January 2011 was even more of a downer than usual for DC. With only five titles selling above the 50k mark, average comic-book sales of the company at large fell to 21,922, the lowest figure since March 2009, while average Vertigo sales clung to the 10,000-unit mark, as they've done for the last three years. The poor January performance of the DC Universe line comes thanks to three different kinds of erosion. First up, DC failed to get Green Lantern, Batman Incorporated and The Flash out of the door, three of its major titles, while a fourth one, Batman: The Dark Knight, was still late from December. Second, DC is looking at a whole range of failing titles: Out of the 43 ongoing monthly DC Universe series currently on sale, eight have been marked for cancellation and won't be around come June 2011. That's almost 20% of the imprint's regular output. And there are eight more -- Doc Savage, The Spirit, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Jonah Hex, Booster Gold, Power Girl, Zatanna and Gotham City Sirens -- that look less than healthy and sell fewer copies than some of the ones that have already been axed. At the tail end of the spectrum, finally, six former WildStorm titles were absorbed into the DC Universe line in January, where they end up being the six lowest-selling books and dragging down the average. (If WildStorm were still around, this would be another new low for them: The six books, one of which missed the charts altogether, have average sales of less than 4,000 units.) So, for better or ill, 2011 is set to be a year of transition for DC, with some heavy lifting in the company's periodical line. See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com's estimates can be found here.

Just Mostly Gross, Funny Fun: An Interview with CHEW Writer John...

On the occasion of the German edition of Chew, which recently debuted from Cross Cult Verlag, I had the opportunity to talk to Layman about the series, his prospects in the comics industry and his experiences at WildStorm. An abbreviated and translated version of the interview, which was conducted via e-mail over the course of several weeks, appears in Chew – Bulle mit Biss 1: Leichenschmaus. The book can be purchased here, here or here, among other places. (Disclosure: I’m the translator.)

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: December 2010

by Marc-Oliver Frisch

On the surface, December 2010 was a great month for DC Comics. The company had a bigger share of the market than its main competitor Marvel, if only in terms of dollar value, and took all of the Top 5 spots on the chart, as well as a total 8 out of the Top 10. That doesn't happen a lot.

Upon closer inspection, though, a less rosy picture emerges: DC's average comic-book sales in the direct market were slightly down from November, average dollar and unit sales were only slightly up. So, despite big releases like the debut of writer/artist David Finch's Batman: The Dark Knight and, over in the "Graphic Novel" section, J. Michael Straczynski's Superman: Earth One book, it turns out December was more or less business as usual, from a commercial vantage point.

Meanwhile, DC's WildStorm imprint, which the company bought from Jim Lee in 1998 and then proceeded to slowly but determinedly squeeze the life out of, ceased publication in December. Average WildStorm sales sagged below the 5K mark, to the lowest number in history.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: October 2010

The "Return of Bruce Wayne" and "Brightest Day" brands continued to be the driving force behind DC's periodical output in October. While most of the Batman books were on hiatus, a bunch of one-shots, collectively titled Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, filled the gap. Other October releases include the low-profile miniseries Knight and Squire and JLA/The 99. Consequently, average sales of the DC Universe line remained relatively flat.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: September 2010

September was a fairly low-profile month for DC's comic-book business. In terms of new releases, there were the debut of the Freedom Fighters series, a Justice Society of America Special and a bunch of one-shots reviving the company's old war titles. Still, thanks to a handful of returning DC Universe and Vertigo books that had missed their release dates in August, average and overall periodical sales slightly recovered, as expected. WildStorm published a few one-shot specials tying in with the Red film and reviving Wetworks, of all things, with less than spectacular results.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: August 2010

August 2010 wasn't a great month for the direct market as a whole, and DC Comics was no exception. The current tent-pole title Brightest Day and its tie-in books kept performing solidly overall, but a number of other high-profile books, including Green Lantern, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman and Robin and The Flash missed their August shipping dates, putting a bit of a dent in DC's periodical performance: Overall dollar sales for new comic books were the lowest since June 2009, and average unit sales dropped to their second-lowest point of the last 12 months. For the publisher's Vertigo brand, August was particularly tough, with estimated average unit sales dropping to a new all-time low of 9,094. Again, though, the schedule is the culprit: With American Vampire, Joe the Barbarian and Jack of Fables, some of Vertigo's best-selling comic-book titles didn't come out in August. At the WildStorm imprint, average unit sales crashed back to just above 6K, and in this case, the schedule had little to do with it. At this stage, it's not hard to see why DC is pulling the plug on WildStorm.

DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: July 2010

The "Brightest Day" and Batman titles continued to be the driving force of DC's comic-book line in July. The publisher's overall performance in the periodical direct market remained more or less flat, consequently. The most prominent new release of the mainstream DC Universe line, and maybe a bit of a wildcard for retailers, was the debut of Batman: Odyssey, a six-issue miniseries by writer/artist Neal Adams, who is still something of a high-ticket name, but hasn't actually produced a substantial comics project in decades.

At Vertigo, overall sales were slightly down in July because Fables, for all intents the imprint's flagship series, didn't come out. At WildStorm, the numbers were slightly up because of two new miniseries debuting above the 10K mark.

See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com's estimates can be found here.

Briefs & Boxers! 09/10/10

o “Nothing Dramatically Broken at DC Comics” At Comics Alliance, David Brothers takes the temperature of DC Comics, about half a year into the most...

Briefs & Boxers! 09/01/10

In his “Emanata” column at Techland, Douglas Wolk looks at the promotional efforts for an upcoming Marvel story by Jonathan Hickman, singling out Fantastic Four as a series that particularly finds itself in the shadow of its creators:
“As Lee and Kirby established the FF, their premises are inflexible: they're a family. They're explorers. They have adventures together. […] If you stick to those axioms, you're not just making a Fantastic Four story, you're making one in the Lee/Kirby tradition […]. If you ignore any of those axioms, then it's not really the Fantastic Four any more, and the question becomes how, and how quickly, it's going to get back to being the ‘real’ Fantastic Four.”