With today's release of June sales numbers, DC executives are feeling good about the publisher's current line-up, but are also delighting in the events lined up for the company's fall.
And among all those events, the execs insinuated there's something major coming in the Vertigo line later this year. They said the Vertigo event "of certain magnitude" will be announced in San Diego at next Thursday's Vertigo panel.
DC's Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham had little reaction to Marvel's announcement of an initiative that will revamp their line, although they did take the opportunity for a few jabs.
Newsarama talked to the two sales execs to find out more about today's June numbers and what's coming for DC in future months.Newsarama: Bob and John, it looks like sales for DC are holding pretty steady, although June was a little different month for you guys, having added a few new titles to your top-sellers. What do the June numbers say to DC not only about your core line, but the additional events you have going on now and into the future?
Bob Wayne: We're pretty happy how many titles we have in the Top 10 and the Top 20, and the number of units that we're selling. The Before Watchmen titles launched pretty much as we expected or a little bit higher. And we don't seem to have cannibalized off the other books in our line.
Nrama: And yet with the addition of quite a few top sellers in the month, did it boost your sales in the month as much as you'd expect? It's a little closer contest on the market share.
Wayne: Well, if you have a lower average cover price than other people, it might impact your dollar share.
Nrama: Let's talk about the "other people." We've heard from Marvel that they think a "reboot" is a last, desperate resort. They've chosen to instead bring some new #1's into the stores. Do you think that will impact you, and what do you think of the choice?
Wayne: I don't remember when there was a month when there weren't a lot of Marvel #1's. But I suppose if they're now going to be releasing some, if it brings people into the stores and creates attention, that's great. When people come into the store, we think we'll be able to sell our share of titles to them. So we're always happy to have extra focus on the marketplace.
John Cunningham: Yeah, whether it's that or it's the success of The Walking Dead bringing people into the stores, I think we like to look at it as, supporting the marketplace is every publisher's job. So we're all trying to schedule and sequence product that we think will keep the marketplace vibrant and going. So it's really a good time from an overall sense, it seems to me.
Nrama: You guys are currently trying to bring attention to Zero Month, since initial sales are due for September soon. Obviously, you guys will be experiencing some major decreases year-to-year in September, because of the incredible sales numbers you pulled in with the New 52 relaunch. How important is the year-to-year comparison, and are you taking it into account for Zero Month and your publishing plan for September?Wayne: Well, keep in mind that our year-to-year includes the fact that we're now in the collected editions from the start of the New 52, from the last week of August last year. So we're building on the success of the New 52 with the collected editions. So we don't expect that we're going to have that dramatic a shift overall. And we're continuing to add new titles to the mix.
We certainly had a very strong launch for Earth 2. That's been doing very well, as has Batman Inc., so we're continuing to refresh the line and continuing to have success in a number of ways. So we're looking forward to other people having successes as well. We've mentioned before in these chats how well and how much revenue The Walking Dead and Robert [Kirkman] have brought into Image, and have brought people into the comic shops and bookstores in the country. And that continues to be a strong phenomenon.
We'll continue to work as hard as we can to get as much interest for our books as possible.
Nrama: Since you've indicated some importance to the new titles, do you have any feedback yet about the "Third Wave" in September? What are your expectations of those four titles?
Wayne: We haven't really gotten all that much feedback. We expect we'll be having conversations that will cover those types of things when we see some of our retail partners next week in San Diego. And then we'll be putting a different push on those titles with their #1's in October.
Nrama: I know you guys have a plan, obviously, for the summer and into the fall, with Before Watchmen. What's your reaction to the numbers that you've seen for that. Will it fall off a little, is it holding strong, and is there anything you can tell us about those series in particular?
Wayne: The Before Watchmen titles launched in June a little bit stronger than we had projected, but kind of in the right zone we were expecting. And we already have a lot of July advance numbers and August advance numbers, and the books are holding pretty much where we expected them to be. So we're very pleased with how well the books are selling. And we're pleased with the response from people who are actually reading them.
Nrama: Do you have a "Fourth Wave" planned, and will it be released in January to be concurrent with Marvel NOW!?Wayne: Do we have a plan? Or are we going to share that plan?
Wayne: We have a plan, and we're not going to share it.
Nrama: Is it timed in January? Are you taking Marvel's movement into account?
Nrama: OK, let's talk theoretically. If a competitor had a whole lot of #1 issues coming out, wouldn't it make sense for DC to also release some new #1 issues in that month?
Cunningham: I think theoretically, that makes a lot of sense. I don't know that it extends beyond theory at this point, because, I know it's tough for everybody to believe, but our planning cycles tend to work further out than other people's announcements do. So whatever plans we have in place, we're completing them long before when we know what anybody else is doing in the marketplace. So I don't want to answer that question as if, "Yeah, that would make a lot of sense!" as if, in response to that, that's what we're planning to do. Because I don't think that's a fair reflection of how the cycle works.
Nrama: Understandable. So going forward into the fall, let's talk about your publishing plan. After Zero Month, you have "Third Army" in the Green Lantern books. You have the Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover. You have the Batman Joker storyline. Is that driving your sales for the rest of 2012?
Cunningham: Yeah, that was great how you were reading them off, by the way!
Wayne: I think you've only missed one, and the only reason you missed it is because we haven't announced it yet.
Cunningham: But I do think the fair thing to say is that it's interesting to hear that listed out that way, because what it shows is that, as we enter the second year of this, we've gone far enough into the cycle to know this is about story now. This is about what's happening in the books. We're now at that point where what's going on in the books is what's going to drive sales. And I think the best thing about looking at this month's chart is that that's holding true in many of those books that we see in our Top 20 right now.
Wayne: In particular, with Rot World in Animal Man and Swamp Thing, that's something that's been alluded to from the start of the series. And they've been building toward this. And I think it's going to be a great payoff for the fans who have been supporting and reading those titles, to see how this plays out. I think there's a lot of excitement about that.
And it's been awhile since you've seen the Joker in a major role in continuity, and this promises to be quite the story. Scott Snyder has mentioned some stuff about this to both John and myself that we can't tell you about because he lives too close to the office. He could actually get here after her reads this online.Cunningham: The toughest part of our jobs right now, for Bob and me, is knowing what we know is coming in that Batman storyline, and to keep our mouth shut. It's going to be spectacular. Nrama: Are there any plans for an event related to the Vertigo line? It seems like that line is being left out of the excitement with all this New 52 stuff.
Wayne: You should definitely check out our Vertigo panel in San Diego next week. My colleague, Mr. Cunningham, is going to moderate, but I'll be in the back.
Nrama: So for those of our readers who aren't going to San Diego, are you saying there's an announcement about an event coming during the Vertigo panel? And I did say "event," which you didn't correct, so you're going along with that word?
Wayne: We're not going to tell you any more than that.
Cunningham: It's Thursday at 5:45 Pacific daylight time. That would be a good time to monitor our website as well, because I bet that announcements of certain magnitude will be done pretty much at the same time. [Newsarama Note: You can just stay tuned right here to Newsarama for that news, don't worry!] So that's a good time to monitor the information coming out of the convention on Thursday.
Nrama: Interesting. So can those who are attending the panel expect to see a well-known writer?
Wayne: Oh, I think we're out of time!
Nrama: I see. Well to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about how things are going at DC or what's coming up?
Wayne: Things are going great! And we're especially looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises, which opens on July 20th. We encourage all our fans to go see that movie when it opens.
Cunningham: As well as going to their comic store on July 19th for "Dark Knight Rises" day!