If you watch the cable newsers these days, you know that instant analysis and punditocracy of the kind once confined to sports is now the only way to analyze anything of import. Sound bites, gotchas, double backs, keeping em honest…analyzing what people are saying about what people are saying is way more productive than actually identifying and solving problems…so everyone does it. And while it isn’t quite as entertaining as 2011’s Republican primary debate analysis, say, comics have developed their own “Counterpoint Arena” in the last few months, as executives from DC and Marvel come out and give their play-by-play on the just released sales charts. And so we have DC’s Bob Wayne and John Cunningham commenting on the March sales, a month in which they lost their 10-for-10 status and were the the #2 publisher. DC began these kinds of victory laps when they had a victory to lap, so it was interesting to see how a (very successful) but still second place month would be treated. One misses the devastating zingers of John Rood—I guess we only get him in victory months so order up, retailers!— but anyone who knows Bob Wayne, which is to say just about everyone in the comics business, will add his inimitable Texan inflections to the following gracious statements:

It’s interesting that in March Marvel got three titles in the top ten after getting shut out in February, but still DC closed the marketshare gap by over a point in March?

Bob Wayne: We are pleased that we gained share, and we never expected that we would hold ten out of ten at the top of the chart for ever.  I think it is better for the business if everybody is firing on all cylinders, that our competitors are doing interesting things, and we are doing interesting things. It keeps everybody on their toes and it keeps enthusiasm in the readership. The retailers remain involved wanting to make sure that they have enough of everything. I think it’s a good thing all around.

“A good thing all around.” Nice gracious note. But what about that whole AvX thing?

Bob Wayne: Well there’s a different approach in how we sell to retailers and what we use as incentives to encourage them to order extra copies. Marvel offered the possibility of getting very deep discounts on these titles, certainly deeper than any of the discounts that we’ve offered on the launch of the “New 52.” We tend to use other tools to get retailers’ attention and get our books on the shelves. DC and Marvel just have different philosophies at this point on how to do this.

“A different approach.” One could say that.

Cunningham is only quoted on one matter, the aforementioned flat GN sales, and had this to say:

John Cunningham: In that forward-looking way that we have to employ when we look at book publishing planning, given the requirements of that side of the business, as we look at the rest of 2012, graphic novels looks like a huge category for us. The “New 52” collections beginning in May and running through the end of the year, plus the Batman: Earth One and Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 in the fall, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in the fall, the Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland original graphic novel in the fall. I think that our business, looking down the rest of 2012, will be extremely bullish in that category.

In a previous answer, Wayne mentioned the Chip Kidd BATMAN: DEATH BY DESIGN and Geoff Johns BATMAN: EARTH ONE OGNs.

What’s interesting about these answers is that DC actually has been putting out original graphic novels for the last few months….with barely a peep of promotion: Douglas Rushkoff and Goran Sudzuka’s A.D.D., RATCATCHER by Andy Diggle and Victor Ibanez, and just last week GONE TO AMERIKAY by Derek McCulloch and Colleen Doran. These seem to be among the last books to come out from what was once Vertigo’s pretty ambitious OGN publishing slate, although we’re always running into people at parties who tell us they’re working on a graphic novel for Vertigo but can’t say what it is…so unless it’s one big anthology, there seem to be more in the pipeline. Is the Vertigo Crime line still going? Even that FABLES: WEREWOLVES GN has been in the works for a long time and was originally supposed to come out last summer.

GET JIRO, the Anthony Bourdain graphic novel, is finally coming out this summer; SHOOTERS, by Brandon Jerwa, Eric Trautmann, and Steve Lieber, is due later this month.

Wayne does mention that BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR which collects a DETECTIVE run by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Francesco Francavilla is in its fourth printing. So add Scott Snyder to Brian K. Vaughan as a potential savior of the GN.

And of course the DRAGON TATTOO adaptation. GNs adapting genre novels at other publishers have sold really well—books based on James Patterson and Jim Butcher spring to mind—but licensing is no substitute for original material that can really drive the category.

As for the New 52 collection program? Looking forward to those total March numbers on Monday! We’ll be back with more then.


  1. I appreciate the Beat’s coverage, but hearing these blathering morons talk about what Q2 will look like once they bust out a Green Lantern event is really laughable.

  2. I really wish DC would have used their new visibility to champion these OGN’s. They’ve been coming out pretty consistently the last five years or so, and while the output doesn’t seem to be as big as it once was, it does seem there’s still at least one coming out every couple of months from very very talented people.

    I get that their marketing muscle is going to go towards the things that are going to draw the most sales, but would it heard to divert bit of that money away from the definitely sales their going to get from books like the Earth One books to something like Gone To Amerikay or Get Jiro! I can’t say they are missing an opportunity on Get Jiro as it’s not out yet, but it seems barely any of the marketing muscle has gone behind Gone To Amerikay, which is a gorgeous and awesome book.

    It’s a frustrating as some one who is actively reading and truly enjoys books like Jeff Lemire’s “The Nobody” and Mat Johnson’s “Incognegro” that more could be done and it’s not being done.

  3. Not counting reprints, collections, or videogame tie-ins, Vertigo has:

    Summer 2012

    Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain (Author), Joel Rose (Author), Langdon Foss (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: July 3, 2012
    [Yes, the chef.]

    Right State by Mat Johnson (Author), Andrea Mutti (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: August 14, 2012
    [Author of Inconegro]

    Fall 2012

    A Flight of Angels by Rebecca Guay (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: December 4, 2012

    Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham (Author), Jim Fern (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: November 20, 2012

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Book 1 by Denise Mina (Author), Andrea Mutti (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: November 13, 2012

    The Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly
    On Sale Date: September 11, 2012

    Return to Perdition by Max Allan Collins (Author), Terry Beatty (Illustrator)
    On Sale Date: November 13, 2012

    Fall is the big season for bookselling, so Vertigo will keep it’s best stuff for then.

    “Right State” ties into the fall elections, so it gets shipped in August.

  4. @ Marco Polo I think the blathering moron comment was uncalled for. They are hyping up GL as their job. You can yawn or roll your eyes, but what’s the point of name calling?

  5. I dunno. You say “DC’s monthly sales commentary just begs for more commentary”.

    But I don’t see much more actual commentary. Instead, this article sort of forces a preconceived viewpoint that everything is like a “gotcha” political debate. And I think that’s more of a “you” problem than an accurate reflection of reality. Just because someone gives an interview doesn’t mean that they’re analogous to a politician.

    DC wasn’t taking shots at Marvel. Nor did explanations particularly seem like political spin. They seemed like fairly humble, realistic responses. You act like DC had a bad month or something, but they really didn’t. Not fantastic but not bad, not anything to be ashamed over. And their comments don’t seem like they have a lot to hide or whatever.

    Lastly, I’m not sure what you’re on about with the “2011” (you mean 2012?) political stuff. But if you find actually find presidential debates and campaigns “entertaining” rather than insulting to the intelligence of anyone who isn’t one sort of ideologue or the other, then that is another “you” problem.

  6. “so it was interesting to see how a (very successful) but still second place month would be treated.”

    —didn’t DC finish second the previous month too?

    do the facts matter to THE BEAT in any way?

  7. How come the DC head honchos seem way more classy than Marvel’s when they discuss the sales charts? Granted Marvel have shut their cake holes as of recent times, but in the past they were never short on throwing barbs at DC. Nice to see some class DC. Keep it up.