On the occasion of the German edition of Chew, which recently debuted from Cross Cult Verlag, I had the opportunity to talk to Layman about the series, his prospects in the comics industry and his experiences at WildStorm. An abbreviated and translated version of the interview, which was conducted via e-mail over the course of several weeks, appears in Chew – Bulle mit Biss 1: Leichenschmaus. The book can be purchased here, here or here, among other places. (Disclosure: I’m the translator.)
On the surface, December 2010 was a great month for DC Comics. The company had a bigger share of the market than its main competitor Marvel, if only in terms of dollar value, and took all of the Top 5 spots on the chart, as well as a total 8 out of the Top 10. That doesn’t happen a lot.
Upon closer inspection, though, a less rosy picture emerges: DC’s average comic-book sales in the direct market were slightly down from November, average dollar and unit sales were only slightly up. So, despite big releases like the debut of writer/artist David Finch’s Batman: The Dark Knight and, over in the “Graphic Novel” section, J. Michael Straczynski’s Superman: Earth One book, it turns out December was more or less business as usual, from a commercial vantage point.
Meanwhile, DC’s WildStorm imprint, which the company bought from Jim Lee in 1998 and then proceeded to slowly but determinedly squeeze the life out of, ceased publication in December. Average WildStorm sales sagged below the 5K mark, to the lowest number in history.
The “Return of Bruce Wayne” and “Brightest Day” brands continued to be the driving force behind DC’s periodical output in October. While most of the Batman books were on hiatus, a bunch of one-shots, collectively titled Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, filled the gap. Other October releases include the low-profile miniseries Knight and Squire and JLA/The 99. Consequently, average sales of the DC Universe line remained relatively flat.
September was a fairly low-profile month for DC’s comic-book business. In terms of new releases, there were the debut of the Freedom Fighters series, a Justice Society of America Special and a bunch of one-shots reviving the company’s old war titles. Still, thanks to a handful of returning DC Universe and Vertigo books that had missed their release dates in August, average and overall periodical sales slightly recovered, as expected. WildStorm published a few one-shot specials tying in with the Red film and reviving Wetworks, of all things, with less than spectacular results.
August 2010 wasn’t a great month for the direct market as a whole, and DC Comics was no exception. The current tent-pole title Brightest Day and its tie-in books kept performing solidly overall, but a number of other high-profile books, including Green Lantern, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Batman and Robin and The Flash missed their August shipping dates, putting a bit of a dent in DC’s periodical performance: Overall dollar sales for new comic books were the lowest since June 2009, and average unit sales dropped to their second-lowest point of the last 12 months.
For the publisher’s Vertigo brand, August was particularly tough, with estimated average unit sales dropping to a new all-time low of 9,094. Again, though, the schedule is the culprit: With American Vampire, Joe the Barbarian and Jack of Fables, some of Vertigo’s best-selling comic-book titles didn’t come out in August. At the WildStorm imprint, average unit sales crashed back to just above 6K, and in this case, the schedule had little to do with it. At this stage, it’s not hard to see why DC is pulling the plug on WildStorm.
The “Brightest Day” and Batman titles continued to be the driving force of DC’s comic-book line in July. The publisher’s overall performance in the periodical direct market remained more or less flat, consequently. The most prominent new release of the mainstream DC Universe line, and maybe a bit of a wildcard for retailers, was the debut of Batman: Odyssey, a six-issue miniseries by writer/artist Neal Adams, who is still something of a high-ticket name, but hasn’t actually produced a substantial comics project in decades.
At Vertigo, overall sales were slightly down in July because Fables, for all intents the imprint’s flagship series, didn’t come out. At WildStorm, the numbers were slightly up because of two new miniseries debuting above the 10K mark.
See below for the details, and please consider the small print at the end of the column. Thanks to Milton Griepp and ICv2.com for the permission to use their figures. An overview of ICv2.com‘s estimates can be found here.
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