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It’s obvious to anyone who’s been looking at the sales charts of late that DC is having something of a sales problem, with levels not bouncing back after Convergence and the DC You relaunch something of a dud. Dark Knight III was a cash injection but it hasn’t been enough to lift the fighter off the sand bar. Si what’s next? Well, CBR has confirmed reports tat DC is planning to take some of its series bi-monthly next year.

It’s something Marvel has been doing for years, notably with Spider-Man, Avengers and the X-men. It’s been going on for a long time at Marvel and it’s worked, as shipping 18 issues of top selling titles in a year has significantly boosted their bottom line. In fact it’s such an obvious thing that back in May a CBR poster asked “Why does DC not double ship their buggest titles?” which hilarious typo aside probably mirrors the thinking of some at DC.

While the titles that will be put on the accelerate schedules haven’t been announced (as in fact nothing has), one would guess that the likeliest picks would be popular books like Batman, Harley Quinn and so on.

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DC has had a lot of success doing weekly books—an area where they have consistently outperformed Marvel, in fact—so this is kind of not so far out of their wheelhouse. However, I think it’s fair to say that they are far from out of the woods on their sales slide.

Also, if I may venture a guess, getting this to work isn’t a matter of getting readers to go along with it, but getting retailers convinced that it will work.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Not to be overly pedantic (too late, I know), but shouldn’t that be “semi-monthly” (twice a month), not “bi-monthly” (every other month).

  2. Actually Scott, thanks – I spent the whole article confused, and I read it twice. You’re not being pedantic at all. Bi-monthly means every other month, which means DC would be shipping fewer titles. Which made no sense to me!

  3. Oh, that’s good to know.

    Actually, “It’s been going on for a long time at Marvel and it’s worked, ” I don’t think it works well. Of course, that makes more copies sold in total in one month but, as variant covers, it has a very nasty effect, because it secludes even more readers into their habit.
    I almost stopped buying Marvel floppy because following one supposedly monthly Marvel means giving up on almost two others one at Image for example. I you have to spend $8-10$ on one Marvel title, that means, you could have spend this money on 3 image titles (3×2.99$). So this kind of behavior is hurting others publishers titles, as, most of the time, buyers will give up on their Marvel title last.
    Or they simply stop buying them because the marvel double shipping on their title is pretty random (you never know when a title is gonna double ship in advance, it’s not a repeated pattern).
    So, bad ideas do travel well. :(

  4. “Or they simply stop buying them because the marvel double shipping on their title is pretty random (you never know when a title is gonna double ship in advance, it’s not a repeated pattern).”

    Regardless of one’s thoughts on double shipping, the above is actually not true.
    The indicia of Marvel titles says which months the book double ships.
    Ex: Darth Vader’s indicia reads “published monthly except in February, October, and November”

  5. Problem #1: Their best-selling titles like BATMAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE are exactly the titles that can’t keep to the regular MONTHLY schedule.

    Problem #2: The reason people LIKE those particular books is at least partially because of stable, long-term creative teams — IF you try to get 18-24 issues of BATMAN a year, then it clearly can’t be Snyder/Capullo (though the latter was leaving after #50 I thought, anyway)

    Problem #3: Doing this with the TOP selling books means less bandwidth down-channel for the poorer selling books, which is where DC’s true problems lay right now.

    Problem #4: accelerated shipping, at least if you do it in the way that Marvel does (and we have no evidence whatsoever of HOW DC is doing this, yet), mostly just shifts the financial risk on to the retailer, because of the way in which comics are ordered — there are some ANAD Marvel books which we’re floating three issues with zero sales data. That’s bad bad bad juju. The retailer is the party LEAST able to absorb any losses.

    -B

  6. RJT: Yes, I know it’s written in the indicia but:
    – do you think people are gonna look each time at the indicia to know when the double will double ship?
    – the information in the indicia is not only different from one year to the other, but changes during the same year. I looked at one marvel title indicia in the same year, and it had very different information: in one it say it double ship only in decembre, then 3 months later that it double ship in february, april, juene and august, and then same thing + november. so youc an’t realy on the information in the indicica, as it keeps changing.

  7. Brian, Batman is losing Capullo as artist, so I would assume they won’t have a problem keeping schedule; once Snyder is off it there won’t be someone with as strong a pull to fight it, either.

    Same goes for Justice League with Johns.

  8. I would be down with double shipping for two or three months out of the year in place of the annual, especially if the regular writer is handling the story. I was okay with Marvel during the periods in which they double shipped titles in place of the annual.

    Brian Hibbs is totally right. If you accelerate the schedule too much, DC is going to cannibalize themselves. Mid-tier titles such as Grayson and Batgirl would be affected. I will definitely reevaluate my DC [& Marvel] titles depending on how DC handles double-shipping. I will not pay $3.99/whatever for subpar creative teams just because DC [or Marvel] want to grind out x number of issues. I would prefer to give that money to a quality title with a consistent creative team.

  9. Means I will be moving away from DC like I did with Marvel and just read Image. This over pumping of material into the market is killing it.

  10. Looks like I was slightly ahead of the curve in recently removing all DC books (except Geoff John’s Justice League) from my pull lists…

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