The major publishers started releasing their advertisements for comics shipping in August 2010. At DC, the big thing of the month is J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis's Superman: Earth One paperback, an original book-length reinvention of Superman at 136 pages, with a retail price of $ 19.99.
I'm inclined to say that there's potential in this move and it's about time and such, but then again, I'm not even sure how to measure that book's success right now. Will it have to reach people in bookstores to do what it's supposed to? Probably. On the other hand, though, I'm thinking that it could be a major step in the right direction even if it "just" manages to break, say, 25K in the direct market in its first month.
That sort of success would be a limited one, but in the long term, it might lead to a transformation of that market segment that the field as a whole could stand to profit from tremendously, even if it doesn't catch on with a mainstream audience immediately.
In other DC news, they're starting to test the waters for 22-page, $ 3.99 comics with the new ongoing series Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, in addition to the previously launched miniseries Time Masters and The Mighty Crusaders.
March brought jolly good sales for DC's comic-book business!
In fact, even considering that it was a month with five delivery days for new comics instead of just four and, consequently, one extra week of re-orders, the numbers seem almost too good on a range of titles, but maybe I'm just paranoid.
In particular, DC's Vertigo imprint is beginning to look more solid than it has in ages. Partly, that's because Vertigo released a whopping 19 new comic books in March, a new record for them, but also because many of those books performed well.
The big launch of the month was American Vampire, of course, a new ongoing series co-written by Stephen King. It sold an estimated 33,762 copies, the highest first-month sales for Vertigo since Diamond started providing data on sales to retailers in March 2003. (Andy Diggle and Enrique Breccia's Swamp Thing #1 came close: It moved 33,382 units in March 2004.)
More significantly for Vertigo's long-term health, there are signs of moderate success with a number of other recent launches. Sales on titles like The Unwritten, Joe the Barbarian and -- to a lesser extent -- Sweet Tooth indicate that the practice of publishing debut issues with low introductory prices is bearing fruit. The Fables spin-off Cinderella and the maxiseries Daytripper are also turning out to be solid sellers. Blackest Night and its tie-ins keep the publisher's DC Universe line in reasonably good shape in March, while the WildStorm imprint saw an increase of 35% in average comic-book sales. The latter is a mixed blessing, though. The spike is entirely due to a highly irregular three new issues of WildStorm top-sellers Astro City and Ex Machina, neither of which came out in April, and one of which has two more issues to go before reaching its conclusion.