Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 8, 2014

Go, Read: Multiversity Comics On DC Comics’ Most Recent Stunt Month’s Performance At Surveyed Retail

imageThere's an article here and a show-your-work accompanying piece here from David Harper at Multiversity Comics about the most recent event/stunt from DC Comics, a month where all of the stories in all of the titles plugged into a "the future is doomed unless a time traveller saves it" storyline that they have going on right now, signified by a changing cover image. It's one of those articles that it's tough to see as rock-solid proof as to how the month did. The only comprehensive information to which impartial sources have access is on sales into that market, and so information on how books do once they're on shelves has to be gathered shop to shop and from a kind of anecdotal feel. I'm sure someone at DC could rebut.

I wouldn't be surprised if that one didn't do very well. The fancy cover versions are no longer a novelty in and of themselves, having been done last year. The content didn't help. I read about 12-15 of those comics, and the bulk of them were not-good to awful, page after page of uninspired storytelling that was editorially loose in a way that would have driven me nuts when I was a kid. I thought even the most accomplished of them dreary, and the lack of urgency across the board was startling given how much the current market depends on fans believing that this comic or that comic is the important one to buy. All of the DC Comics stabs at events over the last 15 months have been weird in that they depend on the drama of upturning a status quo that's only been barely established in their linewide reboot. They're riffing on the memory of a stable, sunny line that ran decades, while the outcome presented here seems perfectly in line with the "world" as presented over the last couple of years. These really did seem like random comics from five years in the future; they seemed like random comics that could have come out eight months ago.

Why you should read those articles if you haven't -- and if this realm of comics interests you -- is for the startling idea that fairly weaves its way in and out of the initial piece that one of the reasons the 2013 event of a similar nature did better than this one is because DC basically shorted the market due to the printing demands involved. This created artificial demand for the comics that resulted. Again, it's hard to ascribe veracity to a theory like that without someone impartial getting all of the numbers, including some from sources that aren't even in a position to report them. It also relies on some hard-to-nail-down reporting about past ordering habits. Still, it seems a workable theory. That comics has an ingrained, unhealthy aspect to it is something that comes up time and again, and I think it should always have our attention when something broken works in part because it's broken, if only for the worry that someone may take one of those fissures, dig their thumbnails in, and pop the sucker like an egg. A comics market isn't healthy until it rewards doing healthy things, and I'm not sure the post-2011 Direct Market is quite there yet.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

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