Although most comic creators are questioning DC's decision to publish a Watchmen prequel, comic book retailers are thrilled.
"I'm excited!" said Mike Wellman, owner of The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, Calif. "Both as a reader and as a peddler of comic books, this can only be interesting — and profitable.
"Overall, these comics will come and go and make a lot of money," Wellman added.
"This is beneficial all the way," said Joe Field, president of the ComicsPRO retailer organization and owner of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, Calif. "Sure, we'll have the occasional heated discussion whether this is a pure money grab on the part of DC/Warner Brothers or whether it makes a lot of creative sense. But make no mistake — this is creating more excitement in comics, and that is a very good thing."
"People who only liked Watchmen now have something new to read, a reason to come, to see there's talent other than Alan Moore that can write good books," said John Robinson, co-owner of the nine-store chain, Graham Crackers Comics in Chicago, Ill. "It will financially help DC, the creators involved and retailers. Having an asset but never using it no longer makes it an asset. By investing some good money on these creative teams DC, creators, retailers and fans will all benefit from DC's finally doing something with these characters."Some retailers have already started to plan how they will market the event, with some mentioning that they're counting on DC for the same type of co-op advertising commitment the publisher made for its New 52 initiative.
"Given the level of commitment they gave the New 52, and are continuing to give, I see no chance of them dropping the ball with this," said Ralph DiBernardo, owner of Jetpack Comics in Rochester, N.H.
One retailer even started advertising the yet-unscheduled series already, getting pre-orders from his customers as a result.
"I was so excited that I sent a newsletter about the series out to all of my customers first thing Wednesday morning and immediately started receiving requests to add some or all of the titles to subscription lists," said Charlie Harris, owner of Charlie's Comic Books in Tucson, Ariz. "The series overall is already outselling Wolverine, X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, and it hasn't really been solicited yet!"
The retailers we polled said they were hearing mixed reactions from customers about the decision to return to the Watchmen world, but all of them believed they would sell a lot of the comics nonetheless."I think there will be plenty of nay-saying before it comes out, and people will buy the issues anyway," said Adam Casey, manager of Ssalesfish Comics in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Comic fans have proven themselves to be a pretty reliable, if not truthful, lot. Every week of the Spider-Man Brand New Day relaunch, or the New 52, someone was complaining about what they were buying, but still chose to buy it."
"No matter if they're presently for it or against it — and I've heard both — everyone will be checking these books out," Wellman said. "That's the bottom line."
Retailers cited the creative team line-up as the most beneficial thing about the announcement, but some wondered if they'd be able to make the deadlines required.
"Any book with creative teams like these will sell great," DiBernardo said. "Adding the Watchmen name will only make them sell better."
"The greatest positive has to be the stellar creative teams," Casey said. "The list of creators reads like the ballot of the 2030 Eisners Hall of Fame."
"Pretty impressive list of talent, and I'm sure these books will be well produced," said J.C. Glindmyer of Earthworld Comics in Albany, N.Y. "However, I've been in this business long enough to know that there is no way that we're going to see these some of the creators hit the deadlines."But several retailers expressed concerns about the number of titles. While they liked the fact that DC gave longer series to the most popular characters, they pointed out that 35 total issues is a heavy load for readers to carry.
"It's quite a few, but I think it could work out well, depending on how DC markets it and especially if there are ordering incentives to help stores find the right level for them," said Matthew Price, co-owner of Speeding Bullet Comics in Norman, Okla.
Another obvious negative about the announcement was the fact that the original creative team isn't involved at all, and retailers had diverging opinions about whether Beyond Watchmen would dilute the strength of the original work.
"Dave Gibbons' lack of involvement is unfortunate; I was hopeful that he might be involved in covers or some capacity," Price said. "Alan Moore's dislike for the project was expected and understandable, but obviously a Moore-Gibbons prequel, or a prequel officially sanctioned by them, would have even more rocket fuel. That said, controversy often sells, and this certainly has been pre-loaded with controversy."
"Of course we would all prefer that the original should remain untouched, but that choice belongs to the ones that own the property," Glindmyer said. "In any aspect of the entertainment industry, there rarely is something successful that is solitary and without a sequel or prequel. Nothing is untouchable — even Gone With The Wind had a sequel."By doing a sequel, you risk trashing the original by taking it in the wrong direction," he added. "By doing a prequel, it takes a lot material that was hinted at by Moore and expanded. It may be very successful, but it also may tarnish the original work and become a self parody."
"I guess the greatest negative would have to be the corporate cloud hanging over this," Casey said. "I understand the need for DC to actively compete in the comic book marketplace, and I'm glad they've appeared to have taken time and skill in putting this together rather than rushing it out with a bunch of unknown DeviantArt guys who've never read Watchmen."
"I personally would have loved to see Alan Moore on the Beyond Watchmen books," DiBernardo said. "Given that he is not going to do that, I feel that DC made some great choices to carry on the Watchmen legacy."
"This could have been a horrible idea/project if DC hadn't supported it with the proper talent," Robinson said. "A Watchmen prequel done by low level talent would have been disastrous. Luckily DC put their money where it belongs.""Even if the comics end up being terrible -- which, with the creators involved, seems unlikely -- we just stop stocking them at some point in the future and keep selling Watchmen," Price said. "And if they're great, it's another great set of comics to sell."
Wellman said that overall, what really matters is that comic book stores will make a lot of money off the event.
"This is a cash-in and I don't think there's anything wrong with that," Wellman said. "Some of the creators have stated it like it's a crusade to make these characters 'relevant' to today's audience which I think is complete bullsh*t. The characters are relevant to this day, just as they were created 25 years ago. That's why this is all possible.
"Besides the cold hard cash," he said, "these sort of things also usually bring us fresh new faces which can then be turned into die-hard comic book aficionados with the proper care and handling."
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