One Week Later: Retailers Raise Orders on DC's Relaunch

 

Now that the dust has settled on last week's excitement about DC's relaunch, retailers have had a chance to analyze the sales figures and make some ordering adjustments.

And for most of them we polled, that means bumping orders up.

"We increased our orders on pretty much everything for October," said Stephen Mayer, assistant manager of Acme Comics in Greensboro, N.C. "Overall, this has been one of the best [weeks] for us in our 28-year history. The seeming lack of titles on the shelf due to DC only putting out two books [last week] and Marvel responding with a rather light shipment did nothing to curb our usual sales and instead surpassed them."

"Up, up and away!" said Mike Wellman, co-owner of The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "Even the fringe titles will probably be doing better than we expected. I never would have thought that we'd be selling out of 250 Justice Leagues before the week was out."

Ryan J. Seymore, owner of Comic Town in Columbus, Ohio, said the relaunch kicked off so well in his store that he's juggling budget numbers to make sure he's covered in October.

"Most definitely increasing orders on most titles. It's been years since there's been this much anticipation for a line of books," he said. "The only difficulty I foresee is finding a balance within a budget so I can make sure everybody can get the titles that they are looking for with out over-ordering needlessly. We will be taking advantage of DC's returnablity program, which I feel is a master stroke on their part, but hopefully with only a handful of issues."

 

Yet nobody's willing to judge the whole relaunch in one week. "DC's relaunch will be a welcome shot in the arm for our industry this month," said Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics in Rochester, N.H. "The quality of the books will determine if the market maintains this.

"Check back this time next year to see how it all really shook out," he said.

But so far, store owners are impressed by the efforts DC has made to communicate with retailers about their plans, allowing them to return unsold issues on most of the relaunch titles.

"I had faith in DC and, as expected, they came through. They've managed to launch their digital line and totally keep the retailers in the loop," said Charlie Harris, owner of Charlie's Comics in Tucson, Ariz. "DC decided we retailers were a vital asset as the salespeople of the industry and have treated us fairly. And the fans are ecstatic."

"September, October and November were very easy to order," DiBernardo said. "DC made it so easy for retailers to take full advantage of the new 52. Yes, you had to juggle funds and take a brief risk with your budget, but they really did give us all an opportunity never presented on a full-line of comics."

Harris said the returnability program allowed him to double his orders for the new #1s whenever he gets a pre-order.

"For every customer who adds the DC books to their lists, I add another two copies to my orders, and there have been a lot of people adding these books, many of them requesting every #1," Harris said.

This week, retailers are anticipating high sales on Action Comics #1, the new comic from Grant Morrison and Rags Morales.

 

"People that had been a little slow about letting us know which titles they would like on their subscriptions jumped to action when they heard Action Comics and Batgirl were already sold out at the distributor, bumping our numbers significantly," Mayer said.

"I can't remember the last time I've been so pumped for any new titles like this," Seymore said. "The closest I can think of would be the first Millar Ultimates line. The thought of Grant Morrison retelling Kal-El's origin and first days in Metropolis has me fully geeked out. Every week in September has multiple titles that I feel the same way about. It's like being on the ground floor of the first tellings of a new mythology."

Of course the excitement could die down, the retailers are hoping it won't. Matt Price, owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman, Okla., said the addition of 52 brand new titles means he'll have to closely monitor sales of each comic.

"I'm going to have to pay close attention at Final Order Cutoff to make sure we're appropriately stocking all the titles," Price said. "Right now, my assumption is that our FOC numbers will be above our initial orders, in some cases by a great deal.

"It's an exciting time to be in the industry!" he added. "One thing that's been a challenge, though an interesting one, is trying to figure out the 'splash pattern' of the Justice League sellout. For us, Justice League #1 is tracking similarly to Blackest Night #1. But while Blackest Night had relatively defined spinoffs and tie-ins, how many of The New 52 are going to be picked up by fans as key parts of their collection?"

Wellman, who had local media coverage of the DC relaunch at his store, said he saw even more new faces on Thursday than he had the day before, and sales were "through the roof."

"Perhaps folks read it in the newspaper on Wednesday or saw it on the evening news? But we saw new faces, old, lapsed faces and a few disgruntled faces," he said.

Other retailers agreed that there were new faces in the store, presumably because of publicity surrounding the relaunch. "Traffic was up, and I'd have to attribute some of that to new people in the store," Price said. "Feedback has largely been one of excitement; it's early yet, and most of the people I've talked to were just picking up Justice League for the first time and hadn't formed an opinion yet.  A lot of people indicated they'd be back at least for Action Comics this week, so I'm hoping we can keep up the momentum."

"We saw an incredibly large number of new faces and a good amount of lapsed readers coming back," Seymore said. "Even some die-hard Marvel-only readers are adding the new DC titles to their subscriptions. The feedback was almost entirely positive which makes me feel really good. Anytime people are excited about what they are buying and looking forward to the next issue it makes me enjoy my experience as a store owner so much more."

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