DC VP's Talks BEFORE WATCHMEN Sales, TRINITY WAR
The executives had already told Newsarama last month that their "big guns" would come out this summer and fall, including a "Third Army" Green Lantern crossover and the events hinted in tomorrow's Free Comic Book Day issue, DC Comics: The New 52 Special Edition.
But in today's discussion, Wayne and Cunningham had retailers' orders for June in hand — and they revealed that Before Watchmen is a top-seller.
DC's Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne was joined by DC's Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham to talk with Newsarama about the sales figures released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Friday.
Among their disclosures:
- That disclosure also indicates Before Watchmen will drive much of DC's highest sales this summer, since the event title will come out weekly for several months.
- The Justice League franchise may be expanding over the the coming months, since neither executive denied the implication in Justice League #8 and in the FCBD issue that the Justice League franchise is being set up for an additional Justice League title.
- DC confirmed it will also get a sales up-tick in May thanks to the "Night of the Owls" Batman event. Not surprisingly, the 12 tie-in books have increased in sales in May, they said.
- Wayne insinuated that Batman writer Scott Snyder might have another Batman-related event planned, and that the success of "The Night of the Owls" means DC welcomes it.
- DC expects its New 52 collections to help the publisher dominate the book charts, although Wayne acknowledged the impressive presence recently of The Walking Dead collections.
To find out more about today's April sales numbers and what's coming for DC, Newsarama spoke with Cunningham and Wayne.
Newsarama: Bob, we've seen the sales numbers for the last month and it doesn't look like any drastic changes for DC from the month before. What do these numbers tell you?
Bob Wayne: The numbers tell us that we are holding steady with our regular monthly issues of a bunch of titles, and that we manage to have six of the top 10 comics. And we're happy about that.
Nrama: That "holding steady" summation may be accurate, but do you guys have anything coming in May and maybe even your early numbers for June orders that will shake that steady sales number up a bit?
Wayne: Well, we have a number of new titles that are debuting in May. And the one that has the highest orders right now is the return of Batman Inc. by Grant Morrison.
Nrama: On the Second Wave titles, will some of those break into the Top 10?
Wayne: Yes, they will.
And we have the collected editions of the New 52 starting this month as well.
Nrama: So that means more of a DC presence in the graphic novel sales chart?
Wayne: And, perhaps just as important, The Walking Dead is off the air, so perhaps the stampede of The Walking Dead on the the book format charts might recede slightly.
Nrama: Without The Walking Dead you guys might actually have a chance to get on the charts now with those New 52 collected editions, huh?
Wayne: You know, I mentioned this when I saw [Image publisher] Eric Stephenson in Chicago. The dominance of the book chart by Image — and primarily by Robert [Kirkman]'s Walking Dead stuff — is just astounding. It's just impressive. And it's impressive to me that they're able to keep all that inventory managed and keep it all out there.
So we're pleased for them. But we will not be saddened when it tempers out a bit and recedes slightly.
Wayne: Right now, all indications are that the four Before Watchmen titles that are set to debut in June will all be Top 10 selling comics.
Nrama: Do you think you'll dominate the Top 10 again? After all, Marvel has these big event books driven by Avengers vs. X-Men.
Wayne: Yes, but this is a pretty big event also.
Nrama: Since we're talking about events, it's pretty telling that Batman #8 did so well, because it's the first issue of an event. The Free Comic Book Day issue coming out tomorrow has already been spoiled somewhat, and it promotes an event for next year. And in our interview last month, you guys came just short of confirming the "Third Army" event coming later this year in the Green Lantern books.
Wayne: Well, we're certainly not confirming it today, but let me just say there are a number of things foreshadowed in the Free Comic Book Day issue tomorrow.
Nrama: Fair enough. But how important are "events" to your sales plan going forward?
Wayne: I think telling stories that tie together a couple of books where you can tell more chapters of the story faster and satisfy the reader with that quick pacing appeals to a lot of people. And certainly, the stuff that Scott Snyder has coordinated with "The Night of the Owls" has led to the Batman books increasing in sales.
We're certainly wouldn't ignore Scott if he might suggest something else coming up for the Batman books over the next couple of years... or anybody else.
And we're very happy that the regular monthly titles, like Green Lantern and Justice League, all placed in the Top 10, and there's absolutely no link between those and "Night of the Owls." At least not that anyone has revealed to us. And those are still going really well.
So there's a place for events in our publishing plan. There's also a place for solid monthly comics month-in and month-out.
Nrama: I don't know if this is an editorial question, or if you have any input from a sales standpoint. But is there any type of official approach to events since the New 52 relaunch? Is it different than it was pre-New 52?
Wayne: Sales and marketing are more involved with talking with the editorial folks in advance about such things, and they just kind of want our input about how large we think something might be, or how small it will be. Or how compact should something be. So there's a lot of back-and-forth with us.
But ultimately, the story is what drives the decision process with editorial. If the story needs three parts, even if we recommended something different, then the story gets three parts. Or if the story needs 20 parts, that's what's going to dictate the decision on how many issues it will take to tell it.
Nrama: But you've obviously got to be aware of sales bumps that come along because of crossovers. And wow, DC has a crossover every month these days.
Wayne: It's a part of my job to keep track of what books are crossing over, yes.
Nrama: I know this weekend is Free Comic Book Day, but in case you didn't know about it, there is also a rather big comic-related movie coming out this weekend called The Avengers.
Wayne: What? No, Vaneta, what's happening this weekend is the new trailer for Dark Knight Rises is showing in theaters, and with every paid admission to watch the trailer, you can also see Avengers for free.
Nrama: OK, I'll keep that approach in mind. But given the Avengers success in both movies and print, is there a plan by DC to expand the Justice League franchise at all?
Wayne: I'd like to act as though we don't have a lot of titles already involved in the Justice League franchise, but we have Justice League, Justice League International, Justice League Dark... and we have a number of the members of Justice League with their own titles or even multiple titles, so I think we're already pretty heavily involved in trying to make sure that our best characters are reflected in view of the Justice League.
Is there anything more coming down the line? Hmm... there might be.
You'll just have to read very carefully that Free Comic Book Day book.
Nrama: To me, besides the event that's teased in tomorrow's issue, there's also a lot of Justice League-related characters who show up in the FCBD issue. It seems to indicate a renewed importance of Justice League characters, and maybe even a new team, as hinted by Green Arrow in a recent issue of Justice League.
Wayne: I think what you're seeing is some level of foreshadowing for a lot of different things in that issue. And I suspect that there are more things in there than most people will even catch on the first reading.
Nrama: Well, it's kind of surprising that, on the surface anyway, it appears DC's Free Comic Book Day issue concentrates on an event that's a year away. Are you saying there's more to it than that?
John Cunningham: You can look at the Free Comic Book Day book and draw those conclusions, but only in a vacuum kind of way. Because if you go back to last September, when we launched the New 52, Justice League was at the centerpiece of that launch obviously, with Jim and Geoff on it.
Nrama: I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Are you suggesting the FCBD issue sets the tone for what's coming in the entire New 52? Beyond any Justice League expansion or Trinity War event?
Cunningham: I would say this: I would say it sets the tone for some things that are coming down the pike. But sadly for you, and good for me and Bob, is we know some things that are coming down the pike that aren't teased in the Free Comic Book Day book, so it certainly isn't the roadmap for everything that's coming.
Wayne: I would just say, read it very carefully.
Cunningham: And also look out for the DC kids book, and look out for the Vertigo preview of Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. It may not be an officially sanctioned Free Comic Book Day book, but we published it as a free book in time for that. And so it's not getting the same play as other books that are labeled Free Comic Book Day. But boy is it a stunning, stunning book to look at.
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