200902180329In a nod to capitalizing on Google searches if nothing else, DC has unveiled a plan for giving newbies who enjoyed WATCHMEN a place to go, with special $1 editions of five titles:


You can read the entire announcement in the jump. The move was greeted with open arms by retailers, although there are questions, as the commenters at Robot 6 make aware.

Obviously, DC is making a move to a) provide a very cheap entry point and b) entice new readers into the periodical habit. The appeal of SWAMP THING (another Alan Moore classic), TRANSMET, PREACHER, and PLANETARY are clear — all complex world building with solid stories, which someone who just was blown away by WATCHMEN might be seeking — but IDENTITY CRISIS? In fairness to the book, it does provide a somewhat complete story with an overall theme. As an entry point to the current DCU, it’s a logical choice.

The excitement surrounding the upcoming WATCHMEN feature film has brought new readers to the graphic novel format. Now that they’ve read WATCHMEN, where do they go next? Help point them in the right direction with DC Comics’ “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” program.

DC Comics has developed a marketing campaign that spotlights several award-winning, best-selling titles from our various imprints. Each book reflects an aspect of WATCHMEN’s broad appeal — including other works by Alan Moore, science fiction tales, post-modern super hero action and sophisticated titles for mature readers — and is a great entry point for both new fans just discovering graphic novels and established readers looking to try something new.

The program is supported by an extensive marketing campaign including five promotionally-priced reprint Specials which are rush solicited below.

The marketing campaign includes:

Five “AFTER WATCHMEN, WHAT’S NEXT?” Specials featuring a cover price of just $1.00:


Please see below for more information on these Specials.

• 32-page booklet to be given away at conventions, comics shops and book stores
• House ads in the DC Universe, Vertigo and WildStorm titles
• Editorial page promotions in Vertigo: On the Ledge, DC Nation and WildStorm Stormfront columns
• Trade ads

• E-mail Blasts
• National Consumer Online Banner Advertising Campaign
• Retailer Tools on DC Comics retailer page on diamondcomics.com
• Checklist, Header Card, Shelf Talker and Bag Slick
• Bag Stuffer for DC Retailer page for Direct Market retailers

Social Networking:

• Ad pages in Convention Program Guides
• 32-page Booklet distribution at DC booth
• Bookmark distribution at DC booth

• Website at www.readwatchmen.com
• Showcase titles on the homepages of DC, WildStorm and Vertigo throughout February, March and April to capture new WATCHMEN readers
• Articles on DC, Vertigo and WildStorm homepages

• Co-op Movie Slide
• Co-op Ad Slick


  1. One thought, one suggestion:

    1) What happens when a new reader buys one of these books and then wants to go buy the next book in the series? They can’t, because they are out of print. And yes, they can buy the collections, but then they’ve spent money on a duplicate floppy. Plus, aren’t most of these already available online for free? Isn’t that where most new readers will look? I’m not saying this isn’t still a good idea, just thinking.
    2) Suggestion: DC should try to get racks of Watchmen collections put up behind concession counters at movie theaters. Wildstorm just sold oodles of Gears of War comics by sticking them where the games are sold. Why not try it with movies, too?

  2. I’m guessing that IDENTITY CRISIS was picked because it’s another superhero murder mystery that uncovers a deeper mystery in the process. Plus, it’s also written by a high-profile author.

    Personally, I would have picked BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN or ALL-STAR SUPERMAN as a DCU entry point.

  3. Sandy said:

    “What happens when a new reader buys one of these books and then wants to go buy the next book in the series? …yes, they can buy the collections, but then they’ve spent money on a duplicate floppy.”

    I think their thinking is that the customer won’t care about the $1 spent. A dollar is so little these days.

    Great idea about the Watchmen trades, but probably too late for it to happen.

  4. 1) Most Vertigo classic series (all of them?) sold consistently at the Barnes & Noble where I worked and godfathered the GN section. That is, they sold without me handselling them to customers. Invisibles. Doom Patrol. Animal Man. Preacher. Authority. Planetary. Swamp Thing. And, of course, Sandman.

    2) DC superhero tie-ins to Watchmen? “Superman Red Son” is pretty cool with a great idea that’s easy to sell. “Kingdom Come” isn’t too bad. The closest story (and actually a precursor) is Marvel’s “Squadron Supreme”, which never seems to get much press. I think a lot of Alan Moore readers are unfamiliar with his short stories, collected in “Across the Universe”, which, surprisingly, is out of print! For the literate types, I like “It’s a Bird”. And, the closest you’re gonna get to the visceral feeling of Watchmen is “The Boys”, which almost was a DCU title…

    3) Selling a $20 book at a movie theater concession stand? Not gonna happen. DC did offer some souvenirs during “Superman: The Motion Picture”, and I could see the possibility of paying $5-$7 for a special movie program. Either movie-goers will already have read the book before seeing the movie, or they’ll come out of the theater, ignore the concession stand, and buy it online or at a nearby bookstore.

    Now, if comicbook stores are smart, they’ll buy one of those advertising slides shown before the trailers and commercials. Something that says, “Show us your movie ticket (any movie from that theater), and you’ll save 20% on your purchase during the month of March.” One retailer told me that he got a discount on his generic ad because the theater didn’t have enough clients. (Analyze the sale. Consider running it weekends when new comicbook movies open.)

    REALLY smart retailers will have already called up Warner Entertainment and started a relationship with them regarding movie releases, promotional material, free tickets, etc. Imagine a window display centered around the Gibbons movie poster, with a simple skyline in the background, and various Watchmen merchandise.

    4) So, what do you do when the neophyte returns and says, “Watchmen was great! What else is great?” You ask them what they like to read, and then recommend titles from your excellent selection. Just like us booksellers do.

    5) The “readwatchmen” website is nice. Simple, with links to DCComics.com

  5. Didio’s still high on Identity Crisis, and they needed a gateway into the current DC Universe (Swamp Thing’s too old, and the others are Vertigo and Wildstorm). From that point of view it makes sense, but it’s certainly a jarring idea to think that anyone would find an organic flow from Watchmen to Identity Crisis.

  6. “I think a lot of Alan Moore readers are unfamiliar with his short stories, collected in “Across the Universe”, which, surprisingly, is out of print!”

    Kind of.

    “Across the Universe” was reformated as “DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore” and now also contains KILLING JOKE and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW. THis is, as far as I can tell, in print.


  7. I’ve heard of some movie theaters holding book signings with comic book artists and writers on opening weekends for the Batman, X-Men and Spider-Man movies. I think that’s a brilliant idea.

    In other words, “You’re coming here to see a movie about costumed heroes. These are the people who write/draw those stories. Buy a book, too, while you’re here.”

  8. While it’s not a movie theater, my local Blockbuster had a large rack of Watchmen trades and DC Direct Watchmen action figures prominently on display last weekend.

    The books were discounted slightly and selling for $17.99. The figures had been picked through already and the Dr. Manhattans were long gone (if, indeed, they had stocked any to begin with. He is naked in the film … )

  9. Couldn’t they have put all these first issues together in a package similar to the sampler they did for Vertigo and Alan Moore’s ABC line? I think it was like $4-5 for five stories.

    It also looks better on the shelf.

  10. Good call, Colin.

    And I think DC had a good idea to get the books into Blockbuster. Now if they could only include a mini-comic inside Netflix envelopes, they’d really be on to something!

  11. Didn’t DC already do this last year? Call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem counter productive to drag up these old stories for potential new readers? What if the next potential new reader, who comes in with money in hand, is a pacifist christian, and the first thing they see is Preacher? They’d probably have much the same reaction as a Jewish person might have to seeing a Rabbi, drinking, smoking, and weiring a Nazi arm band. Best case scenario, they turn around and walk out. Freedom of artistic expression becomes a moot point when you’re alienating new customers before they’re even out of the gate. The Comic Book Legal Defence Fund can’t protect stores from that. That’s just how I see it.
    No, what I would do is focus on crating quality stories, that I could feel good about putting in anybody’s (Kid’s, Women’s, Men’s, Christian’s, Jew’s, Gay’s) hands at any time, with wonderful art, all contained within one to four issue arcs. Then I’d make sure that each and every book, at any given time would be solicited as an event to be excited about. That way, people wouldn’t assume (and blog) that “The fanbase for superhero comics in this day and age tends to be a devolved group clinging to degrading psychosexual power fantasies that take them away from their daily powerlessness.”
    If we think comics are worth while, then we should dedicate our time and energies to making comics that are worth while today. Not drudging up and repackaging what we see as our glory days. Does any of this make any sense?

  12. “… IDENTITY CRISIS? In fairness to the book, it does provide a somewhat complete story with an overall theme. As an entry point to the current DCU, it’s a logical choice.”

    And by providing an accurate picture of the current DCU, it will save people the disappointment and financial loss of reading current DCU titles.

  13. Oops… didn’t look hard enough. Knew there was a newer edition, forgot which one it was.

    Mr. Moonlight… wonderful opinion. Can you recommend some miniseries, collected or not, which currently fill your all-ages criteria?

    Watchmen is rated R for graphic violence, sexuality, nudity and language. People who see the movie and then come to sample the graphic novel (and related titles) should have some preconceptions about the content. Of course, it is the responsibility of the bookseller to caution customers about “difficult” titles, and to be aware of “community standards”.

    Disney made millions by dredging up old movies and showing them to new audiences. (Ask anyone over thirty what the first movie was they remember seeing, and most will answer “Snow White” or “Bambi” or another Disney classic.) Yes, they are all-ages stories, but they are also old stories. After what time period does a “new” story become old? If it’s a good story, and it sells, does age matter? Or do we ignore the classics of the medium, including a 20-year-old title which is soon to be a Major Motion Picture?

    That old stuff? Publishers call it “backlist”. Backlist is what continues to sell year after year. If a publisher is smart, they can add new titles every year.

    Professionally, as a bookseller, I recommend passionately all sorts of great stories. (Did it at NYCC, at the Midtown booth while I was waiting for a friend to buy something. Don’t work for them, but I’m that passionate about the format.) (The two GNs which EVERYONE should read are Watchmen and Understanding Comics.) Some booksellers would complain about all sorts of dreck selling, but I would remind them, “If it sells, it’s not crap.”

    Currently, there’s something for everyone in comics. Give me a genre or a subject, and chances are, I can find something to recommend. God bless DC and Warners for creating a movie so good, that a two-minute trailer has new customers buying a graphic novel. Because once they come in asking for it, I can seduce the innocent. And then they tell their friend about this great book they read…

  14. “Mr. Moonlight… wonderful opinion. Can you recommend some miniseries, collected or not, which currently fill your all-ages criteria?”

    I am pretty wonderful.

    Torsten, I totally hear where you’re coming from, but whether I can or can’t is irrelevant. My point is made as a patron for the comic arts. If we believe in comics, we could be able to move forward and pick up new readers on the way. As much as I love them, I just don’t see DC doing that right now. I’m afraid I can’t accept your comparison to the Disney vaults, either. They are movies (all very family friendly for the most part) and a gold mine, and have been for many years. Comics are not. If these comics aren’t classics living in the hearts and minds of people world wide by now, reprinting them again won’t make them so. Just who does a $100 volume of Sandman benefit, besides Mr. Gaiman? No new reader is going to spend that money to take that 10 tone book to bed with them. Comic movies you say? What do movies really do for comics in the end? Movies aren’t comics, but the general public sees them as such. If you didn’t know anything about comics, and you saw the Joker put a pencil though someones eye, would you go run out a buy a batman comic, even for $1. There are no dead actors in them. Hell, Batman (who is dead, good move DC) isn’t even in them (or hardly any of these new $1 comics) right now, so scratch those new readers, too. We’ve been sticking to this business model for a while now, and we’re still going down with the ship. I’m just saying that maybe the band could do with striking up a new number.

  15. What Sandy said about putting trades behind the concession stand:

    When I saw the Spirit over at the Rave along the Vegas Strip I do recall them selling a few souvenirs such as t-shirts, the making of book, and prints and posters.

    So it’s not too far fetched.



  16. I think the reason they included Identity Crisis is that someone at DC is still laboring under the delusion that it is the modern “Watchmen,” as opposed to a rather tired attempt at mimicry that fails on every level to live up to its supposed “maturity.”

    Rather like Marvel’s continued attitude towards Civil War, really.

  17. A slew of recommended titles (way more than could be included in the booklet) will be featured in the “After Watchmen” section at readwatchmen.com. The section will debut, oddly enough, after the Watchmen movie’s opening weekend.

  18. I think this is a pretty great program myself. The inclusion of Identity Crisis is definitely weird but, whatever… I agree with the folks above that DC was looking to include an entry-point into their universe at present and Identity Crisis is probably the most accessible option.

    We have already begun thinking up displays for this at the shop I tend, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be happy to offer $1 off the collected edition of the book someone just bought if they’re sufficiently interested in continuing the series, so that should insure people don’t feel like they threw a dollar away. We’re also going to put up some of our own personal recommendations… without a doubt the first volumes of Sandman and Y: the Last Man will be sitting alongside these $1 issues for people willing to spend a bit more. If I have one criticism of this program it’s that Y isn’t included in the $1 list, actually; I find that book to be crack for new comic readers.

  19. With regard to the inclusion of “Identity Crisis” in this program:

    If I recall correctly, going years back to its original publication, several comics retailers observed that Identity Crisis was effective in bringing in new readers to comics–or bringing back readers who had abandoned comics.

    If that recollection is right (and setting aside for the moment any criticism one might want to make of the story itself or of the overall state of the DCU) it makes sense that DC would include it in this program, given its existing anecdotal effectiveness at doing what this program is designed to do.