Saturday, November 5, 2011

Retailing With Ron - New 52 Report

It’s been a while since you’ve read a Retailing With Ron post and there are a few reasons for that. The major reason would have to be due to the sheer amount of craziness that DC Comics’ New 52 has brought to The Fallout Shelter. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last several months, here’s the lowdown on DC Comics’ New 52. Starting with Justice League #1 on August 31, DC relaunched their entire line of comics with 52 all-new number one issues. History was rewritten, characters were given new origins, costumes, and supporting casts. Old favorites were brought back and some were jettisoned completely. DC took a huge risk at alienating their fan base and retailers with what is essentially a line-wide reboot and trashing of their old content, but it seems to have paid off so far. How has the response to the New 52 been at The Fallout Shelter? How did things hold up in the second month of the relaunch? Read on to find out all this and more!

Initial Assessment

The comics Internet has been abuzz over the announcement of every number one issue selling out, sleeper hits such as Animal Man and Swamp Thing, and the controversy creating books Catwoman & Red Hood and The Outlaws. It seems like DC is maintaining all the buzz in the comic book world right now.

Week 1 of the New 52. I was so young and naive.
I can tell you right now that I was not prepared for the sheer amount of people interested in the New 52. I could have ordered triple the amount of #1 issues and I would have been able to sell them all. Justice League #1 sold out in three days and it was the highest selling title in the history of The Fallout Shelter. By the start of week 1 and the first thirteen releases, the books were flying off the shelves and selling out by mid day. This happened each week until the release of the second issues which also sold out but on a much smaller scale.

Sales were through the roof for the entire month of September. We sold more copies of Justice League #1 than any other comic in the history of the store. Batman, Action Comics, Aquaman, and Batgirl all sold out in record time. The really amazing part about all of this is that we were seeing many new customers in the store. Whether it was people discovering comic books for the first time or old readers getting back into the game, there were tons of new faces shopping at The Fallout Shelter for the first time.

Surprises All Around

I expected a major drop off for most of the titles with the second and third issues but I’ve been pleasantly surprised that interest has maintained almost through the entire line. There would obviously be some drop off on most titles but some books kept their momentum going into their second and third months. Titles such as Animal Man and Swamp Thing have established an audience that is feverishly anticipating each upcoming issue.

If someone had told me six months ago that two of my highest selling titles would be Animal Man and Swamp Thing, I wouldn’t believe them. DC has changed the way that people buy comic books. In an alternate universe where Animal Man and Swamp Thing were launched individually and without the promotional support of the line-wide reboot, they may have failed to find their audience. The hype and excitement over the #1 issues got people to buy them and the strong stories and amazing artwork kept them around for the next issues.

One of the really cool benefits of having all the attention brought to the comics is that sales also increased on Marvel titles. People who were getting into comics for the first time started off with the new DC books but I’ve been able to sell them on other titles such as the Ultimate Spider-Man relaunch and Wolverine & The X-Men. I’ve always believed that comic books have a marketing problem and that more people would buy them if they were aware of their existence. DC spent millions of dollars on advertisements in television, newspapers, and on the Internet and it seems to have paid off.

Keeping The Momentum

Sales have stayed at a higher level than before the relaunch for most of DC’s titles. For the higher selling titles such as Action Comics and Batman, sales have increased over five times their pre-New 52 mark. It’s hard to qualify the New 52 as anything but a success.

The relaunch has worked so well that one customer who claimed that he was “dropping all his DC books forever” has been adding more DC books to his pull list every week. It’s restored the fun that was missing on Wednesdays for comic book fans. Customers are excited for the latest issue of Resurrection Man or Demon Knights. People are sharing titles with friends and enjoy finding new characters and titles to read. I find myself talking about how good some books are instead of complaining about prices or crossovers.

DC’s commitment to having the titles ship on time has customers coming back each week for more instead of losing interest. The New 52 brought the magic back to the comic book retailing experience and I’m truly thankful that I was able to be a part of helping so many people discover new comics that they enjoy.

What did you think of The New 52? How have sales been at your store? Were there sell outs or new customers? Let us know in the comments and share your thoughts on what you think DC should do to keep this momentum going.

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Anonymous said...

Surprised to hear that DC's big risk has paid off so far, it will be interesting to see if this continues. Great article!

Google Places Expert said...

It's hard to cut back on comics with the quality and fun that a lot of the New 52 brings. At the local comic shop I go to in Atlanta, the energy and buzz is back on Wednesdays, thanks to the relaunch. I do wish that the Secret Six could have been part of the relaunch as that was my favorite book!

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