What’s up at DC?

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Dan Didio’a interview re: COUNTDOWN last week has been much quoted, as he reacts to ongoing blogosphere and message board snark:

Given that there seems to be a very vocal – and I don’t know its size – group of fans online that is counter to that hasn’t really affected sales at all. I find it humorous that information that comes to me from online is erroneous in regards to the actual sales figures. I find it humorous that certain retailers decide to make blatant statements about how they’re going to be striking back at the book by making returns, when in fact the portion of books that they’re actually returning is less than 0.01% of the books that we sold.

The reality is that the sales are there, the strength is there, and I have a lot of faith in regards to how the series works and how it’s moving forward. From my standpoint, there were stumbles along the way, just as there were stumbles with 52, but the best part about it is that we were able to sit down with the talent and figure out how we would be able to make course corrections during the series, which we did. We recreated the pacing, and we put the focus back on Countdown again, which is what it is about. It was going too far abroad in regards to making sure everything lined up perfectly, and when you do that, something was going to be serviced improperly. I want to make sure that Countdown is serviced properly. Countdown, as I said, is the spine of the DC Universe, but it works better if it stands on its own, rather than stands on the strength of everything around it. I feel very confident in where the series is going, I’m very excited about where the story is going, and the best part about it is that it’s where we thought it was always going to be, so we haven’t had to change that much along the way.


Valerie D’Orazio has her own reaction:


After reading the Newsarama interview with Dan Didio, I have come to the conclusion that the situation at DC has become so dire that to continue to publically mock “Countdown” would be in bad taste.

Honestly, I do not see the current regime at the company lasting any more than 6-12 months tops. “Final Countdown” will indeed mark the end of an era, an era that started strongly — if not controversially — with “Identity Crisis,” reached its peak with “52,” and crashed and burned with “Countdown.”

What were the mistakes?

BONUS: Newsarama has DC’s November books. Analysis: if you like COUNTDOWN you will love November!

Comments

  1. Mark Parsons says:

    There seem to be as many online COUNTDOWN fans as detractors, so I would imagine that it is selling nicely for DC.

    With Morrison writing FINAL CRISIS, DC is guaranteed another enormous hit, so I would not agree with the assertion that DC’s editors and execs are in any danger of getting axed.

    While Countdown is not my cup of tea (loved 52), there are still plenty of really cool books being published by DC – Spirit, Fables/Jack of Fables, 100 Bullets, Scalped, Minx line, Green Lantern/GLC, Flash, Batman/Tec, Superman/Action, Simone’s Wonder Woman, JSA, Booster Gold (who’d a thunk it?) plus overlooked-underappreciated books such as Blue Beetle, The Atom, and Checkmate.

  2. I am abig DC fan and there have been two things that have really bothered me about DC over the last year or more…

    1.) Schedule – DC has missed so many deadlines on some of their premier books. Weather it is Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective, Wonder Woman and on and on. They have dropped the ball over and over again. As a fan I feel like these books can not develop a any momentum because everytime the creative team really gets going the book gets another artist or a fill in team, or another. It has really bothered me and is starting to make me feel a little taken advantage of.

    2.) Marketing – They did a terrible job of taking advantage of the popularity of 52. I couldn’t wait to get more of the characters I had loved from that book and I am still waiting! Booster Gold just came out, there has been no Question/Batwoman series yet, Metal Men just started. It seems like a poor way to launch things, Meanwhile with Countdown they don’t even let things get going before they start killing everyone with tie-ins. There are so many now that I can not afford to buy them evn though some of them look cool to me.

    They also seem to be overlapping weekly events, Countdown, Challengers of the Unknown and Wildstorms Armegeddon are all weekly ? That is to much. Countdown goes on all year, we don’t need every tie in the same month :(

    I am getting frustrated to the point of dropping books and that makes me sad. They have all the creators in placce to be in the ring trading body blows with Marvel and yet they can not seem to mobilize their forces.

  3. Mark,

    Though not the right forum for this, I have to agree with you on all of your DC reccomendations.

    Blue Beetle, New Atom, and Checkmate are truly amazing books that aren’t getting the coverage they should at the moment.

    I’m trying to plug them as much as possible to my associates, what little good it will do.

    -Michael

  4. The Beat says:

    Michael and everyone — go ahead and praise books! This is definitely the right forum for some positivity.

  5. CBrown says:

    I thought positivity wasn’t allowed on message boards!

    I read very few DCU books these days, actually none of them. DC burned me out trying to convince me to buy every single book they publish with all the minis building up to Infinite Crisis. From what I’ve peaked at 52, Countdown, and their other current output, it’s not for me. Ditto with the Marvel Civil War stuff. But . . . as much as folks like to bash books online, if the sales are there, then someone is buying them. I know some fans are crazy enough to buy books they don’t like, but that can’t account for the bulk of any readership. I have a friend who is sporadically in and out of comics, and he LOVES all this stuff. He doesn’t visit or post to comics message boards, he just picks up whatever there’s a buzz about. And he doesn’t know or care who Dan Dido is or make gleeful predictions about the career trajectory of comics executives.

  6. The Beat,

    Michael and everyone — go ahead and praise books! This is definitely the right forum for some positivity.

    Right on, I will add some books I love as well to counter balance that frustrated post I have above.

    Blue Beetle is so great and deserves more readers. He is the best teenage hero being written right now. Some of my other favorites, The Atom, The Spirit, Booster Gold, Metal Men, Jonah Hex and JSA.

    JSA is the gold standard for suuper hero team books right now.

  7. I feel like the overall reaction to Countdown has been pretty negative, and that while it’s certainly not universally loathed, the majority of people speaking about it are doing so in an uncomplimentary way. It’s still selling pretty well, but nowhere near the levels of 52, and looking at the sales charts (and anecdotal POS figures) it’s shedding readers on a consistent weekly basis — and this is before the real Countdownmania starts, with 2-4 spin-off one-shots and a week sporting the COUNTDOWN banner really press the question for a lot of readers.

    I am part of that relentlessly negative blogosphere crew where it comes to Countdown, for pretty much all of the reasons that Valerie mentions and then some. But I appreciate the fact that the conversation here (and very few other places) has turned to what DC is doing right. They have a lot of good-to-great books coming out, and it’s a shame that most of them are selling a fraction of what Countdown is.

    I also feel like Didio has some decent job security; I have no inside information on this, but it appears that in the time he’s been at DC overall sales and revenue have been steadily increasing — I assume that is what the executives at Warner are concerned about, more than how much people complain about delays on Wonder Woman or how awful Countdown is.

  8. charles foster kane says:

    I thought countdown started slowly, but seems to have turned a corner in the last four or five issues.

    As someone whose monthly purchases is predominantly DC (but includes Marvel as well as indy books), the number of countdown-related products seems to never end.

    I think the number of excellent books is still high, including some of the ones mentioned above (Fables/Jack, Checkmate).

  9. Louis says:

    In 6-12 months, make mine DC.

  10. matterconsumer says:

    I considered the first issue of Countdown to be poor. And fifty cents more a pop than 52.

    With a few hundred comics available for purchase each month (not to mention trades) I don’t have the time to waste.

    Obviously, DC didn’t give a damn to bring their A game at the beginning. I’m not going to support their mediocre effort.

    The sales do and should reflect their poor effort. If it didn’t then it would only encourage to continue…

    When folk buy comics that suck then little surprise that publishers continue.

  11. Mark Parsons says:

    Blog reactions to COUNTDOWN are certainly more negative than positive, but on the messageboards I’ve seen (not systematically, obviously as I stopped reading three issues ago), overall fan reaction seems pretty positive.

  12. matterconsumer says:

    One has to consider the sales.

    July preorders has Countdown listed at #25, 26, 28, and 29 (according to ICV2). Just not inspiring.

    Perhaps DC will pull out of the tailspin. In general, limited series trend downward as they proceed.

    Given the importance and the marketing push that DC has given Countdown well it’s just an embarrassment.

  13. Sphinx Magoo says:

    I’ve been picking up “Countdown” in bunches and I like it. It did start off slow, but since I wasn’t picking up each issue as it came out that wasn’t a problem for me.

    The thing I find different from “52” is that “52” stood on its own. Since it wasn’t tied to any core books, it could be read without tying to anything else. “Countdown” is a whole ‘nother thing… issues seem tied to events in other books so there’s a bit of a push to get me to read those other books to get a bigger picture. That part I’m not too crazy about.

    It kinda reminds me of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” where books would have a “red sky issue” that’d show it was tied in to “Crisis”. Soon there were so many tie-ins that it was hard to keep up.

    For example, the Superman titles seem to have some “Countdown” tie-ins because of Jimmy Olsen. Now ordinarily that might be ok, but they feel like fill-in issues because the creative teams are different and because as tie-ins they imply (to me anyway) that any ongoing storylines are put on hold while these tie-ins take place.

    As far as what I like about DC, I really like Darwyn Cooke’s run on “The Spirit”. I also really like their Showcase Presents volumes… they’re sure presenting a lot of variety!

  14. walter says:

    “Michael and everyone — go ahead and praise books! This is definitely the right forum for some positivity.”

    Um, that’s meant to be ironic, right? I mean, you can’t headline the article the way you did and link to the next in a never ending screed reeking of unspoken, unresolved personal issues that is at once heart-breaking and tiresome and honestly say you are encouraging a “positive” environment?

    I think COUNTDOWN sucks. I like alot of DC books—Metal Men and Booster Gold are excellent and what’s going on in the Green Lantern books right now is the best thing in superhero comics.

    But for the life of me, I can’t understand the personal invective being hurled right now. Unless, of course, it’s simply just the disgruntled rantings of folks who know that they could do Didio’s job better than he could and know just as well that they will never get the chance.

  15. “Unless, of course, it’s simply just the disgruntled rantings of folks who know that they could do Didio’s job better than he could and know just as well that they will never get the chance.”

    I’ve never heard that counter argument before!
    No, really, my bush WOULD make a better president.

  16. “July preorders has Countdown listed at #25, 26, 28, and 29 (according to ICV2). Just not inspiring.”

    True, but you have to bear in mind that the top twelve books all sold over 100K, and that would have been remakable a few years ago. Objectively speaking, COUNTDOWN is still shifting 72-73K an issue in the North American direct market, which isn’t bad. It’s more that DC don’t seem able to break into the top echelon at the moment – and it stands out a mile because INFINITE CRISIS and 52 both managed it.

    Really, COUNTDOWN shouldn’t be selling below WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN, and that’s the sort of thing that should be worrying DC.

  17. I’m going to go ahead and second that “Blue Beetle deserves more readers” notion.

  18. “Honestly, I do not see the current regime at the company lasting any more than 6-12 months tops”

    HAHAHAHA – I mean come on… seriously… If ‘Countdown’ was languishing in sales I’d understand the comment, but it’s not. Sure it’s no ’52’ but then again, it’s selling a lot better than a hell of a lot of other titles.

    It might be dissapointing in comparision, but on its it is doing fine. Stupidly over-reaching comments like this just make ranting fanboys/girls look even more foolish.

    Lets come back in 12 months and see!

  19. Oddly enough, I’m more interested in some of the Countdown spinoffs than I am in Countdown itself at this point…

  20. I think that’s because the stories that should be unfolding in Countdown are being farmed out to the spinoffs.

  21. brett tolino says:

    Dan Didio lives in a delusion.

    If sales were as solid as he says, why then have every single one of his revamps since One Year Later been cancelled? Blue Beetle is the only one still standing, but I bet that’s next to a can of raid for I can’t see how that title can survive on readers of a mere 16-17k.

    Moreover, Countdown is so terrible, that if it actually IS the ‘spine’ of the DCU, then the spine is broken and someone needs to get them a wheelchair and fast.

    DC Comics used to be THE company for the best comics to read on the stands. Since Dan Didio, you can’t read them… because most of the stories aren’t continued next issue, they’re continued… well, no one knows when. Most of the stuff put out by them is glorified fanfic with the exception of output from Johns, Waid, Morrison and Busiek. Teen Titans is a mess and as a reader, it behooves me as to how a leader can ok a book by Judd Winnick — which has disaster written all over it, rather than finish the New Teen Titans Graphic Novel… which is already more than 3/4 complete.

    This is also the same guy who put George Perez on Brave and The Bold instead of Legion. Not that there’s anything wrong with B&B — I love it! But Legion needs a fix and Perez on the book guarantees it a top 10 seller.

    I remember the old DC Slogan — The New DC is ON THE MOVE! But lately, the only place they’re moving, is DOWN. Many of their best creators have signed up with Marvel and Independants (Phil Jimenez, Mark Guggenheim, Alex Ross…) the others he signed on never delivered (Kubert Bros) and the place is just a sad, depressing mess. As for all the groupies at all the cons who give Didio his kudos, well, anyone NOT into DC isn’t going to go to the panels so it’s no surprise that people attending, are giving him his props.

    In closing, the only thing I’m COUNTING-Down is to when Dan Didio leaves.

  22. brett tolino says:

    BTW, in regards to a little positivity on the boards, I would LOVE to say nice things about DC but honestly, unless its JSA or Brave and The Bold, I’m not ‘getting’ it.

    On the upside, DC Direct is putting out some KILLER stuff in the coming year.

    And I love this column in general.

  23. brett tolino says:

    Honorable mention to Booster Gold too.

    See, I AM buying DC Comics.

    I WANT to like them, really I do.

  24. Alan Coil says:

    Heidi, is it okay to cut-and-paste comments from another board and present them here as original? I could swear I read a couple of these comments elsewhere word-for-word or very nearly so.

  25. Why is it whenever anyone says they find something humourous or comical it never is?

  26. matterconsumer says:

    Could be the “irony”.

  27. >>If sales were as solid as he says, why then have every single one of his revamps since One Year Later been canceled?

  28. “”If sales were as solid as he says, why then have every single one of his revamps since One Year Later been canceled? “”

    What revamps are you talking about? Aquaman, Hawkgirl, and Warlord are gone but they were teetering before OYL. And a lot of the other ‘revamps’ were only mini-series.
    I’m less than enthusiastic about a lot of post-52 stuff, but get the facts straight.

  29. I think DC has been doing a pretty good job but there are areas that need improving.

    1. Late books – this is an ongoing problem in the industry dating back to when the big guns left Marvel to start Image. I sometimes think that DC and Marvel are afraid they will lose talent if they insist they keep to deadlines. I wish the creators would get their act together. I know the business has changed and the art has grown more detailed but still, it is unprofessional not to get your work done on time.

    2. Event fever – I think we are entering a period where there is way too many back to back “earth shattering” events. I would like to see stories stay within their own books for a year or two with no crossovers, no tie-ins, no big events. I am considered that the industry is heading towards another 90’s style down-turn like when the Batman books had a crossover every ten seconds.

    3. Creators lacking staying power – nowadays if a creative team sticks around for twelve issues it is headline news. When I first started reading comics, creative teams would stay on a book for several years. I get irritated with all this hopping around because I believe it accounts for erratic sales.

    4. Tie-ins – I think DC and Marvel would be wise to let books succeed or fail on their own merits instead of trying to ratchet up sales by having a tie-in issue with a major event. At best you just get a one issue bump in sales (if that). I think it is counterproductive because it probably runs afoul of what readers like about a book they are already buying.

    5. Sales figures – I think that DC and Marvel need to adjust their expectations on new series featuring third tier characters. These books have not been reliable sellers since the seventies and eighties. If they are going to publish these books they should adjust themselves to the fact that a lot of them are not going to crack 20,000 copies on a regular basis beyond the first few issues that draw more collectors than readers.

    Anyway that is all I have to contribute at the moment.

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