Man the barricades! Release the militia! Marc-Oliver Frisch, the controversial number cruncher for DC comics, has taken a detailed look at DC periodical sales for the last 110 months. And he’s armed with numerous charts and graphs, such as the above showing average monthly sales for DC and its imprints going back to 2003. His takeaway? As you might have guessed, that the New 52 sales surge has resulted in only a modest increase in monthly sales.

Starting with average sales, September 2011, the month when 51 of the “New 52” debuted, marks the high point in the 110-month history since March 2003 that we have consistent data on. Prior to the “New 52,” the peak month was May 2006, which had the launch of the weekly 52 series and the conclusion of the high-profile mini Infinite Crisis, with an estimated 59,505 units sold of the average DC Universe title. In September 2011, the first month of the “New 52” relaunch, it was 67,411 units—a whopping 40,000-unit increase per title versus August 2011; so, purely in terms of initial interest by retailers, the relaunch indeed delivered.

The “New 52” boost to the average number did not prove to be very sustaining, however. Between April 2005 and December 2007, average DC Universe sales never fell below 37K units. But by March 2012, they were down to an estimated 33,229 units, less than half of the September figure.

There is a LOT more in the link, including dollars, imprint breakdowns and more. Have at thee, great sales chart watchers of the internet!


  1. This information should surprise no one. You can reboot, reshift, cross over and change characters, books, artists, writers, etc, etc, all you want.

    Until you establish a great storytelling it doesn’t matter what other tricks you try to pull.

    I know, I know…I’m always spouting off about great storytelling. And yes, DC and Marvel both probably believe they are currently telling great stories. Facts are facts…and numbers are numbers…the fans for the most part disagree.

    Look at something like The Walking Dead. It has done exactly the opposite of most DC and Marvel books….low initial numbers that began to grow based on word of mouth…and now its arguably the best franchise in all of comics (especially from a creative standpoint).

    Perhaps its great because it comes down to one creator and one creator only and not so many “yes men” plotting stories line wide.

    Regardless…they can reboot every year until the cows come home…until you respect the readers again with more than costume, time line and social change you will not see any books consistantly grow in reader number.

    Perhaps instead of rebooting the characters and time line Marvel and DC should clean house and hire a few dozen new writers and artists…editors…hell…send Quesada and DiDio packing…see what real change can bring.

  2. WALKING DEAD took off via word-of-mouth, but I think we could all find examples of great storytelling efforts that came a cropper, and bad “events” (Image during all or most of the 1990s) that took off despite their conspicuous badness.

    I thought there were a few diamonds in the new 52 rubble, which is more than some people predicted.

  3. Didn’t I hear something about the NEW 52 ending in September and DC resuming all of the old numbering on the old titles?

  4. I believe Mr Wayne nailed it; it’s professional fanfic. The ship’s still sinking but instead of plugging the hole we’ll look for a bigger bucket. Here’s a real example:
    An teen, isolated and socially outcast, finds another group of teens, who all have unique powers, but are horribly misunderstood, and even worse, they’re actually the good guys. This teen, a girl we’ll say, redhead maybe, is fought over by two guys, one straight laced and the other more of a rebel with a wild side. When this drama’s not going on they fight other groups of powered people, always doing the right thing or trying to.
    Now you’re probably either picturing one of two things, and you’re right either way. It is the X-men(used to be) and it is also Twilight. Sure, some demographic shift accounts for story emphasis, but that’s where the next generation of readers went. Boys went to Modern Warfare and girls went buying books, while the X-men, or Teen Titans, or whatever are aimed at lapsed readers, not new readers, the audience they should be aimed at.
    Not a perfect analogy but apparently comics can’t do better; new 52, same as the old 52

  5. It’d be really interesting of digital sales could reflected in these numbers. Potentially, it could be a substantial boost, akin to adding overseas box office to the “domestic” market of the Direct Market. More likely, I suspect it’s statistically insignificant.

    But speaking hypothetically here: If digital sales turned the modest after-the-hype sale boost of the New 52 into a measurable up-level-ing, that would indicate that DC are doing the right thing editorially, with tablets providing access to a market the DM shops couldn’t reach.

    But if not, then that would demonstrate that DC’s limiting factor isn’t the difficulty of bringing new people into brick-and-mortar specialty shops to buy books, but the appeal of the content itself. That doesn’t necessarily mean bad writing and art (though that’s a possibility too), but could also mean that the 20-page/monthly publication model, the value-for-price ratio, the emphasis on universe continuity, or even the general superhero genre isn’t appealing.

  6. Clean house all you want and get rid of DiDio and Quesada but the problem still remains. They both have bosses and higher ups who are completely removed from the creative process and look at quarterly profits and these characters as IPs to be mined.

    There is no time to build an audience and tell a long slow-burn story unless you publish it yourself. The numbers are almost always dropping so creative teams jump from book to book every six months or so to re-stimulate the reader base.

    I’m not a fan of the New 52. I do think they had some great characters and designs before and just needed better stories and creative teams. But the numbers were dropping fast and DiDio needed to do something quick. To do nothing would have been the wrong answer and building back an audience with better stories might not have been a quick enough solution.

    I think they are trying to reach new audiences and demos but, in the end, the reboot might have just re-energized the same old DC base and some lapsed readers.

    It is easy to focus the blame on DiDio and Quesada but, having worked in a corporate environment before, it might just be good people doing the best they can to find that balance between wanting to do their best and appeasing the bosses. Bottom lines and bean-counting seems to always be in conflict with creativity.

  7. Two things first if you think DC or Marvel could ever maintain as many monthly books with the same level of quality of as Walking Dead, Hellboy or any great creator book you are really asking a lot. I by no means endorse Marvel or DC however they crank out a lot books they can’t all be brilliant hits. It’s surprising to me that you could even argue that? Do you think that much genius can be mass produced month to month, 50 odd books?
    The piece that everyone misses is that books are too expensive, if the big 2 want sales they need lower prices and higher volume period. I cannot understand how people think a kid or teenager is going to spend 10-12 dollars on 3 books is also amazing to me. What kid has that money? Go back to newsprint paper and cheap ink. Sell high quality editions that do well.

  8. Jesse, newsprint is almost as expensive as what they’re using… maybe they’d be able to lower the price a nickel by switching. Not worth it.

    And the price really isn’t too much money… a lot of teens will spend $10-12 in a day on coffee or a movie or whatever. The problem is what they get for that money, and whether they consider it worth that much.

  9. Jason, I hear you I don’t know much about how expensive paper is but comics were definitely worse quality when I was young. I know a lot of 20 somethings at the comic store and none have money. I think you are stretching their discreationary spending higher than it is. I spend about 30-40 a week but I make decent money and I still wonder why I read as much as I do. I mean, I was reading a Before Watchmen article and the author had the total spend on the run at like 120 or 150? Do you honestly believe the prices are attracting readers? Comics were an insignificant expense when I was young and widely read by rich and poor. I cannot see how price is not an issues. I will do an inflation calculation at work tomorrrow.

  10. Jesse,
    I agree completely on the price…for kids or adults. You can’t follow umpteen number of books at 3.99 a pop…at least not a lot of us who have families or other interests outside of comics can. I have steadlily cut back on books for two reasons…one..the lack of quality or interesting storytelling and two..the price.

    But I disagree completely on the idea that it requires genius to produce quality stories every month. It doesn’t require genius…it requires a well thought out..well organized story that unfolds and keeps the reader interested.

    When I was a kid nothing was better than the Teen Titans or Xmen…the key factors in those books success…they had one man plotting the course of each ship…Wolfman and Claremont told stories that unfolded over several issues and years…not just for the quickly wrapped up in 4 or 6 issue purpose of pre selling the tradepaperbacks as stories are told today (that is one of the major problems with today’s stories…the stories are short sheeted so they can get the trades out quicker).

    Claremont would hint about Logan in Japan…than ten issues later Logan would spend time in Japan. Kitty and Peter fell in and out of love over the course of 60 or 70 issues….Storm lost her powers for more than just the current storyline. Jean and Logan flirted for dozens of issues. The book was loved by all and it turned the Xmen into a cultural phenomenon because the stories were well paced, well thought out and well written…and for the most least through the mid 1980’s…there was hardly ever a company wide crossover…or dozens of spin off books. It was Uncanny Xmen and uncanny Xmen only if you wanted to read Xmen. Now there are 12 to 15 X books monthly, not counting the company wide crossover or whatever book Wolverine is guest starring in this month.

    Same could be said for Teen Titans.We fell in love with those characters and could not get enough. How many books today have the kind of heart the New Teen Titans did back in the early 1980’s?? They were a family you wanted to be a part of…now the Titans are just rehashed sidekicks…and poor ones at that (dare I say written in a Twilight style??)

    I believe great storytelling isn’t about outlandish ideas or genius…its about heart…its about making you want more from the characters…more from the story…I get almost zero feeling like that from most of today’s books. They just don’t have the heart and soul.

    And in place of heart and soul we get a soft for some, hard for others reboot from DC and the Avengers fighting the Xmen for the 82nd time from Marvel. That’s the best you got? The same shit on a differen day?? To many stupid ideas and gimmicks have just about ruined comics for me…and I imagine a lot of you feel the same way. The same magic just isn’t there. The only books worth reading and following aren’t super hero books anymore.

    I say someone commission a study…take 100 18 year olds who read comics today and give them the last 50 issues of Teen Titans as written over the last two or three series in this past decade and then have them read the first 50 issues of the New Teen Titans from 1982 on. I would be totally shocked if it was any less than 8 out 10 vastly enjoying the original New Teen Titans over the most recent incarnations.

  11. Exactly sir, exactly. That what I was trying to say with my Twilight analogy; love it or hate it, the book has heart (I suppose -wife loves it, I’ve never read them) that features so many of the elements that made the X-Men relatable; that ingredient that made you want to be apart of the team and join them, or nowadays get bitten by some sparkly vampire thing. Before I tackle price point or issue size, I’ll just say that I’d be hard pressed to find a teen that identifies with some dude who lives on an island plotting crazy political shenanigans and trying to avoid the genocide of his race; and want to read it for years. There are some of course, but really?
    As for size and price point, teens spend money on all sorts of stuff and you’ll go bonkers trying to find comparables; whether movies, video games, pot, music, the mall, etc etc.
    Archie still does well; over a million downloads of there app ( though I don’t remember where I saw that – maybe here or icv2) so its the direct market, not comics. I dont remember the name but some video game tie-in comic stopped charging once they hit 5 million downloads; imagine if that was one or even five creators? A windfall.
    Having looked at this for quite some time I’ll say I believe the market has all the readers it’s going to have for this product, with attrition, small gains and so forth, until it’s over.
    You can get a million readers, but it wouldn’t resemble the comics we’re reading now. More Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Twilight than this bad West Wing, NCIS, Michael Bay event and new 52 boredom.


    A Nielsen survey among initial “New 52” customers finds that 93% of participants were male, 95% were current or “lapsed” comics readers and 98% were aged 18 or older.

    These findings could present a problem for DC’s Publicity and Marketing teams: having only 7% Female readership seems to retroactively justify Didio’s attitude and response to Kyrax2 at last year’s (pre-launch) Comic-Con… seeing how only 5% are the hoped-for “New Readers” buying the rebooted DCU strengthens the ingrained momentum of editorially catering to that other, DCU-familiar audience… and knowing that only 2% of their buyers are under 18 diminishes the corporate attraction for establishing and promoting an “All Ages” line instead.

    Sure goes a way to explain recent Didio/Lee/Harras editorial decisions. But it does seem like for the majority Male, DC canon-familiar and Adult New 52 target buyers, the company’s brightest days lies ahead…

    (Hmm. Are there data available to show what the percentages were pre-New 52 to contrast with DC’s customer base today?)

    /super-hero comics

  13. One thing which is interesting is based on comments in many different places it seems like a lot of the people who continue to buy super hero comic books don’t much like them. It’s almost as if people buy them so they can follow the unfolding train wreck.

  14. I’ve said all along that the New 52 is an analog of Daffy Duck’s last trick in the classic WB cartoon “Show Biz Bugs” where he tries to one-up Bugs with escalating spectacular and more dangerous stunts. Daffy’s final stunt kills him and as his ghost heads heavenward he says “it’s a great trick, but I can only do it once”.

    How many times has DiDio rebooted the DC Universe to varying degrees in recent years? It’s his only trick and this universe wide reboot is the let time he can do it.

  15. I think this is the easiest way to breakdown the epidemic of poor storytelling in comics…just take the same concept and apply it to other visual media…

    For the last five or so years…and in all actuality its probably been closer to a decade…the stories coming out of Marvel and DC have mirrored the stories coming out of Hollywood. Instead of refreshing storytelling we get constant rehashed versions of the same thing over and over and over again, and each time it seems to get worse.

    Above all it comes down to how the writers and the director envision the charcters on screen….this is the equivilant to writers and artists on the page.

    Loved Raiders of the Lost Ark? Who didn’t…it is a master work in high adventure romantic storytelling.

    Loathed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Again…who didn’t. It was about as poorly a put together concept that ever had Spielberg’s name attached to it…and Lucas? Well…that’s a whole other 350 page disertation covering his failings in storytelling.
    So what happened with Indy Jones? Same actor…same sense of high adventure? Or was it?

    What happened was the character was slightly re-invented for a younger audience (sound familiar) taking new touches and mixing them with old…some worked…most didn’t. Then you add in some new supporting characters that frankly were highly out of character(again, sound familiar) for an Indiana Jones film. Finally you take the basic story and ramp it up so you can get as many visual effects in their as possible to shroud the fact that your story just isn’t that good and hope people won’t notice.
    What happens is your movie makes a 250 million because it sucked but people went to see it anyway because they loved the character that inspired and made them crave for more when they first saw his adventures.

    But if the story had been better…had the concept and presentation not felt so forced the movie would have been loved by all and made 450 million or more.

    This is comic books. People love the characters…and just about the only place you can get these characters is comics (not counting the occasional movie, video game, action figure or cartoon).
    Some comic fans will read Xmen even if it sucks simply because thats the only place they can get their X fix.
    Imagine if a little thought had gone into Crystal Skull…a little more love and care…taking the time to make it more like Raiders and less like Episode One.
    This is what should be happening in comics.
    Comics should be more of what makes comics great and less of the basic fillers it has become.

  16. It is the over inflated prices of comic books for 1 thing that has turned a lot away from comic books.
    Comic book prices have raised faster than inflation. What parent or person under 17 wants to spend 3.99 or 4.99 a book.
    It is not the cost of producing a book. Major companies get their books made in Canada at a major discount. When a corporation bought out a comic book company they also brought in people who know nothing about comics. Comic book prices have hit a breaking point and no reboot or gimmick will bring back past comic book sales numbers.
    It is not the cost for writing or artists doing a book. Jim Shooter even posted how it works and how much you can get paid.
    A big chunk has been poor story telling and fans paying a high price for a quarter bin book. Superman walking across America is but one of many examples of DC giving a major character for many years poor story lines and so so art.
    The direct market has been a big killer. By limiting fan access to a little over 2,000 comic book shops. It has limited sales, a person in a major city can find a book but persons in suburbs or in the middle of nowhere can’t buy a book. Everyone screams order online but why would someone want to pay extra for something that cost a lot already.
    Many factors that need to be addressed but will not. Will digital save comic books I think not.

  17. Above all it comes down to how the writers and the director envision the charcters on screen….this is the equivilant to writers and artists on the page.

    A fundamental problem with DC’s and Marvel’s superhero comics is that everyone in the editorial chain fetishizes the characters. They’re the foundations for the stories, but they stay unchanged throughout the stories. Straczynski displayed that attitude in an interview about BEFORE WATCHMEN:

    The perception that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan is both absolutely understandable and deeply flawed. As good as these characters are – and they are very good indeed – one could make the argument, based on durability and recognition, that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But I don’t hear Alan or anyone else suggesting that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should have been allowed to write Superman.

    Straczynski seems to regard the WATCHMEN characters as if they’re in a class with Dr. Doom, the Lizard, and the Rhino, when they were actually elements in a standalone story. The process of using them in a standalone story with an ending puts them in an entirely different class. They’re memorable to the extent that the writer’s story is memorable. When the reader is done, the writer hopes that the reader wants to read more stories by him, on whatever subjects he chooses to write about, not more stories about the characters by ____ and _____.

    The fetishization of the characters is at least part of the reason why new characters often fail in the marketplace. The current readers have their attachments already, and only want certain types of stories. Recently, Tim Marchman damned “One More Day,” but one aspect he didn’t consider was that the storyline had Parker sacrificing his marriage to save Aunt May. Everybody endures the loss of parents; it’s the inevitable consequence of aging. What does it say about the editorial attitude toward characters and readers that Parker’s marriage was scrapped to save the life of his perpetually present mother substitute?


  18. @Mikael Well, I don’t see the need to be so sarcastic. Marc-Oliver Frisch can only analyse the numbers that are available to him, and I’d point out that while 1 retailer might be doing well, that’s not reflective of the market as a whole.

  19. Numbers make Mikael very upset. So upset he can’t ever actually dispute any of them, just complain that they’re not numbers he likes. It’s quite entertaining.

  20. I think it’s all about the indefinite serial characters and the resulting creative stagnation. As far as I can see, you can have really good storytelling only when you’re telling really good, whole, stories. And you just can’t do that with so-called ‘canon characters.’

    The Watchmen was awesome storytelling. But that’s because it was a whole story. It had a definite beginning, middle, and end, even though the last line was “Nothing ever ends”.

    You can’t use Rorshach again without subverting the work. His story is over. You can’t use Dr. Manhattan again without subverting the work, either. The story of his origin on and interaction with Earth is over.

    Now for contrast, consider Batman. You *CAN’T* tell a good, whole story about Batman because his story is never allowed to be over. Ten years from now he still has to be the damn Batman. He *CAN’T* finally deal with the Joker and Catwoman, because ten years from now he still has to be fighting the Joker and Catwoman. He *CAN’T* deal with his emotional issues, because ten years from now he still has to have these same emotional issues. Otherwise the character becomes unrecognizable, and, gasp, might even stop dressing up like a Bat and fighting crime.

    Nothing important to Batman is ever allowed to really change. And that means his story ceases to unfold — it becomes a meaningless sequence of events that don’t matter because they don’t change anything.

    And this is the reason why you can’t really have good stories about Canon Characters. A Canon Character is the very essence of creative stagnation.

    Once these characters are slotted into their niche, and considered as “permanent”, they cannot be central in any kind of significant, whole story any more.

    The result is stagnation. The middles of a whole bunch of different, unrelated stories, all strung together. Whatever development a character undergoes, eventually has to be wiped away by a new writer or a “reboot”.

    A “reboot”, you see, is where they abandon the stories you were interested in, because they’re too gutless to *EVER* finish those damn stories, and start in the middle of a bunch of completely different stories.

    Eventually you come to realize they’ll never finish any of the new stories either, nor any other story about these characters, and you just cease to be interested.


  21. It’s not fair to compare DC and Marvel’s shared universe concept to independent books like Walking Dead. Walking Dead started with unknown characters in a universe contained in a single book. DC and Marvel main universes contain 50+ books of known characters that fans expect to act 1 way or the other. DC and Marvel will never have a cohesive direction or vision like Walking Dead.

  22. I think when it comes to a character as Batman it is the writer who can make a big difference in the fans like of him. Neal Adams Batman brought him back to life and fans came. The same can be said of Frank Miller.
    Fans want great story telling not just a story arc that will be made into a trade paperback or hard bound book. When the company switches from great storytelling to just make 6 months arc so we can put it in a paperback you lose a lot.
    Some stories can be done in a single issue and some laid out over a period of months or years. Over the years some in the comic book industry have given a lot of mediocre story and art and the prices have kept going up.
    At one time Detective Comics story lines were just that. Batman had to gather clues to find out who ever committed the crime. The writing was far better a few decades ago than today.

  23. >Now for contrast, consider Batman. You >*CAN’T* tell a good, whole story about >Batman because his story is never allowed >to be over. Ten years from now he still has >to be the damn Batman. He *CAN’T* finally >deal with the Joker and Catwoman, because >ten years from now he still has to be >fighting the Joker and Catwoman. He *CAN’T* >deal with his emotional issues, because ten >years from now he still has to have these >same emotional issues. Otherwise the >character becomes unrecognizable, and, >gasp, might even stop dressing up like a >Bat and fighting crime.
    >Nothing important to Batman is ever allowed >to really change. And that means his story >ceases to unfold — it becomes a meaningless >sequence of events that don’t matter >because they don’t change anything.

    Unless he is the original Earth-2 (pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths) Batman whose life story did progress in interesting ways. ; )

    Yet another reason it was creatively disappointing for DC to throw the baby out with the bathwater (the jettisoning of the multiple earths) with the original Crisis – and now promising that DC has re-introduced multiple earths into its “Nu” continuity. Who knows, maybe James Robinson will be able to tell more interesting stories about the “Nu Earth-2” version of Flash, GL, etc than on the “primary” DCnU earth.

  24. While it’s true that the restrictions of canon characters do make it more difficult to tell good stories, they don’t make good stories outright impossible.

    Daredevil’s “Born Again” was a canon character story in main continuity. So was “Dark Phoenix Saga”, and so was “Judas Contract”. CBR has an article on the top 100 best comic book stories ever, and a very big fraction of those were main continuity stories about canon characters.

    You just need to have editors who will allow the writer to write meaningful stories with meaningful change, and an editor-in-chief who will back up the editor against the bean counters. It’s a combination that occurs somewhat rarely, but it *does* occur.

  25. I’m not sure what the numbers mean, but I can say this much, my local comics shop is buzzing like never before! They almost can’t keep up with the increase in readers and subscribers. In fact, they now have 487(ish) subscription boxes, which is MORE than they had when they owned TWO stores in town, oh so many years ago! So perhaps with DC, the sales numbers don’t help out that company too much, but as a mass push to get people into shops, AND into/back into comics, it might just be working!

    Even obvious “media hype” moments work (sadly?) My boyfriend has NEVER collected comics, yet he’s gone with me to pick up both Earth 2 and Astonishing X-Men, just because there are gay characters within the titles. AND while he was at the shop, found another comic based on a book series he likes, and picked that up as well!

  26. “These findings could present a problem for DC’s Publicity and Marketing teams: having only 7% Female readership seems to retroactively justify Didio’s attitude and response to Kyrax2 at last year’s (pre-launch) Comic-Con… seeing how only 5% are the hoped-for “New Readers” buying the rebooted DCU strengthens the ingrained momentum of editorially catering to that other, DCU-familiar audience… and knowing that only 2% of their buyers are under 18 diminishes the corporate attraction for establishing and promoting an “All Ages” line instead.”

    Basically, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy by an editorial team that willfully wears their social blinders by ignoring the greater majority of potential consumers of their products.

  27. ^ This. There’s a whole world outside of the wednesday faithful, why don’t retailers and publishers connect to them? Why do they wait for other media to generate interest outside of he soon to be extinct comic shop? Could it be because they are graying fanboys who grew up with the direct market and thought it WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER?

  28. Hmm. If Jim Lee leaves Justice League how much of an effect do you think this will have on sales for this title? One less Top 10/20 title in the charts? Johns name alone is a top seller at DC but the lack of an A-list artist could hurt things further

  29. “Everyone screams order online but why would someone want to pay extra for something that cost a lot already.”

    Because with mail order at places like DCBS, I consistently get 35-50% off. That adds up with Masterworks and a MUCH better deal than I was getting after 8 years at my previous local comic shop (which was full price). That isn’t paying extra. That is paying less.

  30. Perhaps if the fine people at dc stopped worrying about reforming the old dc characters and concentrated a little more on story, decipherable art and comics you could pick up and read without having to have a PhD in dc continuity they could sell a few more books. And worried less about Facebook and twitter integration and getting social media reaction and buzz…to wit:

    I think the gay Green Lantern thing is annoying. NOT because he’s gay, but because the fine people there could give WAY less than a crap about bringing a gay hero to the front…they’re doing it only for the “oh the comics are going to the gays!” kind of reaction (and attendant publicity, of course) from Fox and the Million crazy screaming homophobic Moms and their ilk. It’s clearly exploitation and as such it’s disgusting.

  31. SRS wrote:

    “A fundamental problem with DC’s and Marvel’s superhero comics is that everyone in the editorial chain fetishizes the characters.”

    Yes, absolutely.

    I just saw something online in which Scott Snyder insisted that his revamp of Mr. Freeze’s origin was “a labor of love”. Really. There seems to be something very… WRONG about this overly precious approach on the part of creators and readers.

    At the end of the day, mainstream comics are slowly dying not so much because of “high prices” (I remember Image selling millions of $2.99 comics in the mid-to-late-’90s) or bad storytelling per se. It’s all about the psychological approach that people take to the medium. The current approach is hopelessly flawed. Personally, I grew up with this stuff, so I’m able to digest some of Johns or Bendis or Snyder or Aaron. But to an outside reader the entire milieu is hopelessly bizarre and uninviting.

    I think at a certain point we have to realize that there is literally no way for fan/creators to bring in new fans. Their basic psychology is far too self-referential and overly precious to bring in many new readers.

    I mean, for the love of God, if you say that retelling Mr. Freeze’s origin has something to do with LOVE, and fans are actually reassured by this and feel the same way — then we’ve gone beyond the pale and really we should just pull the plug, let the patient die (he’s been terminally ill now for a decade or more) and start over.

  32. The Avengers, the Dark Knight Rises, the Amazing Spider-Man; the most popular characters portrayed by popular actors, smashing the box office with success; I wish I knew why it doesn’t translate into a crazy boom for comic shops.
    A perfect storm of inaccessible material, high price point, the retail experience for non-readers, the stigma of comics being for kids and nerds/geeks (thanks big bang theory) maybe.
    The Walking Dead has fared much better but I don’t know why, as a concrete, undeniable reason.
    Harry Potter fans see the movies and buy the books, Twilight, 50 shades of grey when they make a movie I’m sure, all of them can pull in readers; and like the Percy Jackson movie they have flops too.
    I have a variety of theories, but I think a wide range of genre with all the teens on glee, the hills, the vampire diaries reading comics as product placement would have more impact than a dozen blockbusters. Positive, non-nerd placement; DC (WB) already has shows, as does Viacom; heck, paparazzi photos of Lindsey Lohan or Lady Gaga at a comic shop would do wonders, as sad as that is to say.

  33. And good grief, that Before Watchmen commercial; couldn’t get Zooey Deschanel or Sam Jackson to just read comics like the iPhone commercials? Seriously, that’s the ad campaign?
    DC would do better with a talking gecko.

  34. Of course numbers don’t lie, although they also don’t include digital sales (which were essentially zero before the New 52 and now are rumored to be at 8-10% of print).

    These numbers are correct, for a month before 6 new title launches (guaranteed to sell better than the last issues of 6 cancelled books), a major crossover (Night of the Owls), and the phenomenon called Before Watchmen (books guaranteed to dominate the top 10 releases for the next few months).

    Numbers are numbers, but the timing of such a pronouncement is ridiculous.

  35. The only way to increase sales is to sell comics to people who don’t already read comics. I don’t hear publishers talking about this too much.

  36. I haven’t posted in the comments in years, breaking the floodgates I guess. But if anyone’s seen that commercial tell me I’m wrong. A fifteen second or thirty second spot of something humorous combined with a slogan is what they need to do; people distracted by their phones reading comics; guy overwaters the lawn, toddlers painting all over the walls in the house when the parent comes home, etc, while the responsible parent is stuck reading comics. Discover DC or some such slogan.
    Sorry for the rants, just saw the commercial and I want to cry.

  37. It’s fun and it’s easy! The inflation Calculator
    Now please tell me comics have not inflated that much. Median comic price in 1984 was .75 cents which translates to 1.55 today (2010) we actually have not had inflation since 2009. So while we have been making more stuff for less money, i.e. Walmart, comics have well out paced inflation. You can make something very, very well and charge a lot or make a lot of something and charge a little. Comics is essentially on the Oldsmobile business plan do something well for one specific generation until you put them in the ground with your business.

  38. As much as it pains me, I have to agree with Marc-Oliver. DC has blown it with the relaunch. I tried a hell of a lot of titles. But shocking creative teams, and decompressed story arcs with no end in sight has made me leave majority of the titles. I’m down to 6 series – and that will be reduced to 4 in a couple months.

  39. Why do a lot of people take The Walking dead as an example of smashing success? The monthly book gravitates around #50 and 33.000 copies. The collections are indeed amongst the top selling comics but they seem to be around Batman levels (check Amazon rankings as an example). So yes, it is a successful comic, it is incredibly successful as a non big 2 comic, but it is still confined into comic numbers. It’s certainly a good example of success in the existing market but it doesn’t seem to be breaking any new ground.

  40. Ayo, thanks, but really I’m just trying to make a point about the barrier to entry being how comics are perceived socially.
    I think the big bang theory and similar sentiments about geek and nerd culture have a tremendous impact on people’s willingness to try new things, especially when that thing is so ingrained in peoples’s preconceived notions.
    The new 52 commercials tried to out-action movies on the television and did nothing to change the idea of comics in the minds of readers. Price point does absolutely nothing to help and is also a major deterrent. Even comixology features comics predominantly and has an interface geared to replicate the direct market, and its periodical based shipping schedules and tights tights tights.
    Look at the nook, kindle, and even iBooks, all of which require proprietary hardware; you don’t see only mystery or romance books dominating the user experience; you see tiled books, which invite the reader to explore best sellers, genre, topic, etc.
    The industry takes a superhero cover approach even when trying to entice a new reader.
    All I’m saying is comics are for everyone; I see people everyday on the bus reading on their phones and tablets; and playing games of course, but a lot of reading.
    And how many smartphones will be out there in five years? Ten years? What will social media look like in ten years, or user experience in all media?
    A hundred or so years ago some guys moved away from newspapers and bundled all the comics into a stand alone pamphlet; it changed, and it also changed everything.
    Yes this has turned into a rant on accident, but here’s the thing: there are other genres and books out there and they’re not doing gangbusters. Television’s here, trying to save the radio show didn’t really stop that. If we added 15 million readers, less than what angry birds or draw something has garnered, I don’t think that one, none of those people would ever visit a shop or that two, everyone who visits a shop would stop. I for one would just spend more on comics and trades if the floppies were cheaper digitally.
    Or we can just keep on keeping on, it’s all good.
    And as for the walking dead; no perceived barrier to entry, and long run its a smashing success, and it’s not even that high a ranked television show as far as viewership goes; is just one example, I’m not going to argue numbers, just say that you’re right, direct market numbers are low, so really the stores will survive without it and vice versa, because people will buy comics without the floppy.
    Rant ended, wandering tangentially. Sorry.

  41. Well thanks, but I wouldn’t say excellent. The world is shifting towards the visual again, and comics, by gosh, should be at the forefront of that. An I mean we went from illuminated manuscripts and illustrated texts to a word focus with the invention of the printing press. And here we are hundreds of years later with another revolutionary change in how humans communicate. In twenty years people will be looking at us and wonder why we didn’t see what’s coming and transition faster. And it’s not just comics, we’re just one of many businesses still trying to save the buggy and slow the pace at which stoplights are put up for these new automobiles. “Well, how will we know when someone wants to turn?” asked the skeptic.
    One day everyone will be in the same room; the television, ad guys, interactive, comics, artists, film execs, and an overall experience is what’ll be created, so you’ll have consumer touch points in all media, with incredible overlap and standalone on story and price point.
    Not to beat a dead horse with the Walking Dead example, because of how it happened, but as an example of a future show. The first trade ( or two or three) is released at the same time as the show premieres; the video game tie-in mid-season, season ends with dlc on the web and through the app/comic, expanded with the DVD release; next batch of trades premieres in the run-up to the new season.
    This obviously wouldnt work with a writer an artist, but under a studio/animation/film/marketing team where it’ll all overlap.
    And people think I’m off when I talk about this but really, when consoles go away and most people get content from the Internet, where does the web page end and the magazine begin? The web series and the tv show when your computer is your tv? (Between the web page and the magazine is where comics will sit, btw)
    The day is coming when comics won’t be made without a programmer, for how quick this’ll happen, Superman died before kids joining the army were born. I heard in the radio 21-year olds having no idea what a rotary phone dial sounded like, or having actually seen a nintendo or super nintendo.
    And if we don’t wake up and be the industry that leads this then the future of comics will be decided by people more vested in other media.
    Though I’m probably crazy and none of this will happen, but why I’m sad when even relaunches of entire lines are so blah, that maybe the sky is falling. Imagine if books or magazines had the readership comics has, and all people really talk about is how the color of someone’s tights is or where their boob window went, instead of saying hey, we need to lead the future instead of getting drug through the mud by our necks by it.

  42. Sorry for the typos and bad grammar in the last post, I’m on my mobile on the bus. Aside from War of the Worlds, does anyone remember any radio show Orson Welles worked on, becoming a household name before he made an RKO radio feature (Citizen Kane btw)?

    Let’s be honest, talking about Jim Lee and Dan DiDio and the relaunch with my kids will be like talking about Milton Caniff, Hal Foster, or explaining radio show decoder rings and Buster Crabbe Flash Gordon serials to me like my father did; out of my siblings I’m the only one who cared.

    All I’m saying in the most convoluted, disorganized manner is without a cultural ground shift, there isn’t going to be a Hero Initiative or CBLDF in 50 years, and that isn’t how it should be.

  43. James said:

    “As much as it pains me, I have to agree with Marc-Oliver. DC has blown it with the relaunch. I tried a hell of a lot of titles. But shocking creative teams, and decompressed story arcs with no end in sight has made me leave majority of the titles. I’m down to 6 series – and that will be reduced to 4 in a couple months.”

    How many regular titles were you buying before the relaunch?

    I imagine that some people lost out on favorites thanks to its reorganization (allegedly, Simone leaving BOP for BATGIRL), but really, weren’t we seeing bad creative teams and decisions pre-52 as well?

  44. @Bruce “Though I’m probably crazy and none of this will happen”.

    No, you are right. A paradigm shift has to happen. If it doesn’t, THAT would be crazy.

  45. @Gene – God, a year ago?? I can barely remember what I did last week! haha..

    Maybe 8-10 before the relaunch. But I didn’t mind the idea of new titles to begin with. I tried out at least half of them.

  46. I’d be curious to see Max’s conclusions now that we see the May sales data estimates.

    From what I see, DC took a huge jump up, with Avg sales for month 9 BEATING the Avg sales for month 4.

    And the 1st DCnU 52 trades are now hitting the sales charts, and they’re selling pretty well. So I bet a lot of people used the opportunity to become trade waiters.

    All in all, sales for May 2012 were huge for the entire industry.

  47. DC destroyed their rich history and their fan-base for NOTHING! Old fans abandoned DC Comics in disgust over the silly changes and hardly any new fans jumped abroad the New 52! That’s what happens when you get a couple of idiots running the office who obviously do not know a thing about what is really selling comicbooks in the long-term…

  48. I hate the New 52 because they destroyed Green Arrow and many other characters. I bought Green Arrow #11 and I had trouble finishing it, terrible is an overstatement. Also if this is a total restart than every character I’m a fan of the DC Universe for means nothing. All their history never happend. I think the de-aging was a terrible idea, the costumes are awful. They made them all look like kids, and Batman still has his sons, but he looks like he is 20. I’m only still a DC fans because I can buy the old comics on EBay.