Surprise, surprise. DC has announced three more Walmart comics and the existence of a fourth title to be named later.
Where did they announce it? In the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. You scoff, but that’s a local paper to Walmart’s corporate HQ, so we might be seeing more of that name.
What’s being announced?
Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Special, at 100 pages, will ship on Oct. 4 and should be in stores by Oct. 7. An 80-page Walmart DC holiday special edition ships Nov. 8, and should be available in stores by Nov. 11. Each will sell for $4.99.
Then in February, the Flash will join the superhero lineup of regular titles, as well as another character yet to be determined.
Please note they’re continuing to use a Thursday through Sunday range for when when the comics should arrive on the shelf.
Flash makes sense, given the popularity of the TV show. Flash is also the current bestselling Direct Market property without a dedicated Walmart title. Halloween and “holiday” specials are definitely an old school newsstand sort of thing. As for the unnamed ongoing title? Normally you’d think Wonder Woman would be high on the list, except that they’ve already got Wonder Woman as the new serial in Justice League Giant. While this could mean that Flash reprints move from Justice League Giant to Flash Giant (as the naming convention suggests the title will be), it’s probably not the best idea to move the lead feature. Is Arrow or Supergirl popular enough on the CW to warrant a 100 page giant? Aquaman does have a movie coming up and Green Lantern is a character who’s about to have a publishing push. Time will tell.
The article has both the Walmart spokesperson and Dan DiDio putting the target age range of the 100 page specials at 10-15. That might be true for the new material,
February would have the initial four title line up on their eighth issues and part six of the 12 part serials, so the half-way point of the meat of the Walmart experiment. DiDio had previously said they were looking to evaluate how the program was going after six months. It sounds like it’s been going better than expected or they might not be announcing the new titles quite this early.
Walmart is well known for their inventory tracking, so it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll have six issues worth of sales data before they have to finalize the print run on Flash Giant and the Giant-to-be-named later.
Walmart is tracing the current relationship with DC back to 2016, when DC started selling those 3-packs, presumably through the MJ Holdings vendor, since they were always in that collectible aisle. While the article doesn’t mention the apparently failed attempt to launch the all-reprint Showcase magazine, those 3-packs are credited with showing enough market potential for DC to pursue something more.
And for the speculators out there, a potentially ominous note. You might be on borrowed time. While the Walmart spokesperson acknowledged that these 100 page giants are currently not for sale on the Walmart website and their “current priority is to establish the presence of these books in Walmart stores,” it was apparently said that the comics might eventually be sold at walmart.com, “in the long run.” The second those titles can be ordered directly from Walmart, it’s likely to put a damper on the markup that can be charged on eBay. Live it up while you can.
In the meantime, we’ll exit by stirring the pot and suggesting that if the Walmart target audience is really 10-15, Legion of Superheroes has a really deep back catalog of age appropriate material just waiting for reprinting. Think Adventure Comics Digest. After all, you’d think DC would like to have 2 new titles every week, instead of twice a month, and that would leave 3 more slots unannounced if this continues to go well.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.