By Todd Allen

In a surprise move, Tony Daniel announced his exit from Detective Comics over on his Facebook account.  Why is this so surprising?  If you look at the May sales estimates, Detective Comics #9 is sitting at 96K copies.  Easily over 100K if you factor in UK sales.  If you ignore the Batman Annual, it’s DC’s #4 title.  Batman, Incorporated looks to have outsold it by 470 copies in the US, so there’s a decent chance it will be DC’s #3 title when the July numbers come out.  OK, so you do have some “Night of the Owls” boost going on right now.  It’s been the #5 book for DC most of the time.  That’s a big change on a pretty successful title.

When the new 52 launched, Tony Daniels on Detective was a head scratcher for a lot of people.  The anticipation wasn’t there.  And then you watched reprinting after reprinting of Detective Comics #1 hit the top 300 charter in the subsequent months.  Yes, Detective Comics #1 last hit the top 300 when it was #299 in March.  That’s right.  Six months later, the first issue is still selling.  That issue has some serious legs.

With the departure, two obvious questions present themselves: who’s taking over Detective and what is Tony Daniel doing next?  It will be interesting to see if Daniel can strike the same kind of sales with a different series.

Here’s his Facebook post:

My Batman/Detective run is coming to an end. My final written (and drawn) issue is Detective Comics #12. I’ll be producing the art only for issue 0. It’s been a long and adventurous journey for me, but there are other projects in the pipeline that I’ve been itching to do and I felt the need to scratch the itch. Next week DC will reveal some information on what one of the projects is I’m involved with. Then I’m gearing up for something I’ve wanted to do for a while in early 2013, a project where I hope to grow even more as an artist and a professional. It is top secret, and probably won’t be revealed until the fall. I want to thank all my friends, family and fans for supporting me through these crazy last few years. Onward and Upward!

Figure DC will either announce the new team next week or save it for Comicon.

Hat tip to CBR.


  1. Cant stand Daniel’s writing. Its just not my cup of tea. So I never picked up Tec. But I do enjoy his art. So I may just pick up the #0 issue.

    I especially loved his art on Batman 701-702. So I’m hoping we get more of that!

  2. I only read one issue of this book, #1, but I feel it was one of the worst comics I ever read. The art was lacking in any sort of originality and seemed like the artist just wanted to draw Jim Lee poses. All I remember of the writing was way too much prose for not much story and some sort of idiotic twist ending with the Joker’s face being removed.

  3. “With the departure, two obvious questions present themselves: who’s taking over Detective and what is Tony Daniel doing next? It will be interesting to see if Daniel can strike the same kind of sales with a different series.”

    What’s his deal like with DC? is he striking while the iron is hot and maybe doing something creator owned?

  4. Tony Daniel has done creator-owned stuff before, including the long-running Image series The Tenth (which was pretty cool) and Silke (a fun spy story sort of thing). I’d love to see him go back to doing stuff like that.

  5. Would love to see a different take of ‘Tec. Jim Zubkavich or Nathan Edmondson would be nice, with art by Riccardo Burcelli or Fabrizio Fiorentino.

  6. “I only read one issue of this book, #1, but I feel it was one of the worst comics I ever read.” Your expectations were different from the majority of Detective Comics’ readers.

    “The art was lacking in any sort of originality and seemed like the artist just wanted to draw Jim Lee poses. ”
    A silent majority may actually want what Tony Daniel is producing. Sure, it makes writers and artists who are more skilled than Tony Daniel look like they’re wasting their time, but Tony Daniel’s success is a reflection of his audience.

  7. Mike, do you really think that silent majority WANTS what Tony Daniel is producing, or that they are complete-ists and they’ll buy Detective Comics, a title with some cache, no matter what?

  8. Martin,

    Hypothesis: Completists fuel sales of Detective Comics.

    (and previous sales charts)

    06/2004: Detective Comics #795 — 34,649 (lowest?)
    10/2010: Detective Comics #870 — 35,674
    07/2011: Detective Comics #880 — 38,585
    08/2011: Detective Comics #881 — 39,729
    09/2011: Detective Comics #1 — 114,880 (first month; 157,751 YTD)

    So, back in 2010, before DC announced the New 52, there were about 35,000 readers. If we count them as completists, as being the most recent batch (since some would stop collecting each year due to various factors), then that means about 50,000 new readers, if we subtract that number from the April 2012 sales of 87,000.

    Of course, there were many long-time fans who publicly stated that they would stop collecting DC Comics due to the New 52 relaunch. So that number may have dropped further.

    The hardcover was released in early June 2012. Current Amazon sales rank:
    Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
    #28 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Publishers > DC Comics
    #37 in Books > Comics & Graphic Novels > Graphic Novels > Superheroes

    Some of these sales may be due to interest in the new movie, which might encourage new readership. (Previous movies fueled sales in Batman backlist titles, not ongoing reprints of the comic book series.)

    Hypothesis proven to be false. Batman + interesting story and/or art = success.

  9. Torstein, you’re discounting that there are people who picked up issue 1 of Detective and are complete-ists from that point forward. Regardless of that being the case or not, plenty of books that I think we can all agree were bad (Youngblood #1) sold well, we can’t attribute Detective’s success to interesting story or art.

  10. I’m surprised and impressed that Tony has carried this title since 2009. He did so well despite the fact he had to pick up the book after Dini’s run. I hope for the best in his future projects.

  11. In this economy, I don’t think there are many completists for new titles. Sure, some might come on board due to the the new #1 issues, but if the story isn’t good, it’s going to drop, and drop fast, as seen from other DC52 series. ESPECIALLY if one can find pirated copies online for casual reading. (If there are completists, they are probably hoarding PDF and CBZ files, to save money, space, and time.)

    If they are completists from #1 onward, it’s not because Detective is a venerable title (since it’s the same age of every other title), but because of the storytelling. That’s what gets readers hooked on being completists… they follow a title like they follow a baseball team, remembering the good times which got them hooked, and hoping that the current slump will be fixed with a new infusion of talent.

    What’s interesting is that unlike Marvel starting a new series which is critically acclaimed but not commercially successful, a large number of readers tried many of the #1s, liked what they saw, continued reading, and spread the word. Animal Man and Aquaman are two surprises.

    We can revisit this topic in a year, to see if Mr. Daniel’s departure affected sales. With issue #0, we also have an example of an issue featuring his art, but not his writing. Of course, as an introductory issue with a big marketing push (similar to the #1s), there might be some outside factors to consider.

  12. Torstein, I respect the thought you’ve put into this, but I still disagree. I think there’s a large amount of love for Batman as a character and Detective as a title, regardless of the renumbering. It’s not going to drop as fast/hard as something like Captain Atom or Resurrection Man, because there’s a larger number of Batman devotees who will pick it up regardless of quality.

    I disagree that people who picked it up from #1 onward are fans of the storytelling. I’m sure some of them are, different strokes for different folks and all, but comic fans are some of the most devoted fans of any medium/artford you’ll find. I think a large number of lapsed comic fans and a small number of new comic fans saw issue #1 as a jump on point and are sticking with it regardless of the quality of the writing.

    To be fair, I should’ve clarified that I find Daniel’s writing to be lacking, but not his art. Paired with a good writer like Morrison (as he was on Batman a couple years back), he’s a talented enough fellow.

  13. Martin, a much more succinct version of Torsten’s argument: ‘Tec before the relaunch was selling less than 40,000 copies a month. Since the relaunch, every single issue reported so far, all 8 of them, have each sold more than double that. The obvious conclusion there is that yes, Daniel’s work IS appealing to people: the relaunch got people’s eyeballs on it, but the fact that people like it is why it continues to sell, and why it’s dropped much slower than a lot of other titles. If it were simply Batman completists, the numbers on ‘Tec would be more in the range of Batman & Robin or David Finch’s book, but they aren’t.

  14. Jason, I see your point, but I think “Detective” is viewed as more of a core book than B&R and Finch’s book. Akin to how generally speaking, Uncanny X-Men sells better than X-Men Legacy .

  15. Your logic is flawed – its the reboot that got the sales – not Daniel. What was Batman doing before the launch?? Tec was doing less than Batman – and now doing more sales than it, because of Snyder. So clearly he isn’t as favoured as some.

  16. James, you’re discounting the push that certain books got, as well as the view of what is considered “important”.