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The staggeringly epic incompetence of DC Entertainment

Brian Hibbs

I’ve already written a great number of words on the subject of next month’s DC “Villain month” cover stunt, and I suggest that you follow that link for some reasoned background. Sadly, the real villain of the month is DC Entertainment.

As some of you might know (though, not it would seem, from the actual comics press: CBR, Robot 6, The Beat, The Reporter, I’m not finding a single link as I write this at 8:30 in the AM the day after the announcement) DC announced that each and every 3D cover is going to be allocated, and that they’re doing a same-day 2D reprint for $1 less…. oh, and by the way, that’s the digital price as well.

Below the jump you’ll find a much fuller reaction to this latest news, as well as the actual words from DCE — click through!

So, there’s this press release that DC sent out…. that I don’t have a copy of because something is wrong with my emails from DC (and ONLY DC) in the last few weeks. This is (mostly) my own problem, and I am on top of shit enough to have found it, but I think that this shows the perils of not putting out information through the “normal” channels: not EVERY retail customer of DC’s is getting ALL of the information through other channels.

Here’s the press release, join me after it.

 

Due to unprecedented demand for the September 3-D motion covers, DC Entertainment announces that orders on the 52 Villains Month issues will be allocated. These issues are now sold out at the publisher level.

Now, each 3-D motion cover issue will have a Standard Edition with a 2-D cover, priced at $2.99 US. The Standard Editions are scheduled to arrive in stores on the same day as the 3-D editions, starting with titles on FOC starting August 6 and closing on August 12, which will arrive in stores on September 4.

In addition, the entire run of 3-D motion covers will return in December in the Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set. This item is on FOC on August 12; see below for details.

“Because of the time needed to create the 3-D motion covers, we were forced to set September print runs much further in advance than we normally would,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “As we got close to the FOC dates, even though we were very aggressive with our sales forecasts for the 3-D editions, it was clear that orders for these issues were going to be greater than the quantities we had printed. Once we saw from the first 3-D edition FOCs that we were oversold on initial orders, we decided to institute a system across the entire 3-D line that was in accord with previous retailers’ ordering patterns to minimize the impact of fringe speculators.”

“It’s very exciting to see how much interest there is in these 3-D covers, which are latest in a long line of innovations from DCE, like the fold-out poster in Superman Unchained #1 or the die-cut covers from the Death of the Family issues,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “Our goal every September has been to create great, new ways to draw attention to our entire DC universe line and the reaction to Villains Month capped by the launch of our first universe event ‘Forever Evil’ has been just incredible.” 

The allocations will range from approximately 50% to nearly 100% on different titles. The allocations are based on an average of your orders of each Villains Month titles’ base title over the past few months.

Like the 3-D motion cover versions, the Standard Editions will be first printings of each title.

To give retailers as much time as possible to focus on ordering the Standard Editions and the 3-D Motion Complete Sets, retailers will no longer need to place FOC orders for the 3-D editions for the remaining weeks in August—therefore, the 3-D motion cover issues scheduled to arrive in stores on September 11, September 18 and September 25 will not be listed on FOC.

Retailers will receive an email from Diamond detailing their allocations on each 3-D motion cover edition before the Standard Editions’ FOC date, and should check their allocation on each 3-D issue carefully.

Retailers should watch their FOC lists in the coming weeks for the Standard Editions of all 52 Villains Month issues.

Please note that the digital versions of these issues do not have 3-D Motion Covers. Like the Standard Editions, the digital editions are priced at $2.99 US and will be available for download the same day the 3-D and 2-D print editions ship to stores.

Retailers who wish to decrease their orders on any of the 3-D motion cover issues should contact their Diamond Customer Service Representative or DC Sales Representative.
DC’s red-hot 3-D motion covers are set to return in December in the new Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set!  This set will include second printings of all 52 Villains Month titles with the 3-D motion covers plus the Forever Evil #1 3-D Motion Cover Variant Edition. (Standard Edition cover shown.)

The Villains Month 3-D Motion Complete Set (JUN138292) will be on FOC on August 12, and is scheduled to arrive in stores on December 11 with a price of $199.99 US.

Please note that because of the longer than normal production time needed to print 3-D motion covers, this is the soonest they can arrive in stores. The issues included in this set will be printed to order; they will not be allocated. Covers in this set, including Forever Evil #1, will be labeled “second printing.”

And don’t forget to order the DC Comics—The New 52 Villains Omnibus HC (AUG130289), which has its own 3-D motion dust jacket and is scheduled to arrive in stores on December 11.

 

So, let’s unpack this a bit:

ALL DC comics are order adjustable three weeks before shipping through a process called “Final Order Cutoff” (or FOC). Seriously, each and every product DC offers goes through this process… and, this is important for later, there are a reasonable number of retailers who only put in “placeholder” for “1” copy at their “initial” order — because DC (and Marvel and Dark Horse and Image and IDW and Dynamite and Boom!) have spent YEARS telling us that FOC is the only order that actually matters.

So, to cancel FOC (and to do so retroactively for at least one of the weeks of this stunt that we’ve already FOCed) is, at the very least, morally suspect, and is possibly illegal (I’d have to read the Terms of Sale closely)

As I noted in the original piece, even if YOU are an “every Wednesday” guy, that doesn’t actually describe the majority of periodical purchasers — it takes 12+ weeks to contact ALL of them (and even there, “all” is like hand grenades — “close enough”)

Now, at my store at least, the process of taking, placing and filling subber orders involves a LEGAL CONTRACT. In other words, I CAN NOT take orders for 3-D versions and fill those orders with 2-D versions instead. I could be sued for that (though, the ODDS of that happening are laughingly remote, but then that’s what they said about a retailer suing Marvel comics….)

We put an enormous amount of effort into trying to educate customers about the 3-D covers, the importance of preordering them, and so on. You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of “talking people into” signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.

See, if there had been ANY official and public information that this was going to happen, that there would be two versions, that these books could be allocated, the way I presented this to my customers for the last 8 weeks would have been ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.

 

Let me be clear here: I loath speculators, I think that collecting comics for value alone is the work of both the moron and the devil, I think that multiple covers on single stories is purely a way to trick and exploit you the consumer, and to prey upon the lowest and basest instincts and compulsions of the customer base. I think it shows contempt for you.

I run a comic book store that is much more like a book store, and we have active policies explicitly against this kind of game-playing — things like “no variant covers whatsoever unless they are explicitly requested by the customer in advance of FOC” and so on, and yet I now believe that I have been tricked into going “all in” on a variant cover scheme promotion with an obvious bait-and-switch that I otherwise would have never have participated in if the rules had been explained whatsoever.

Understand this as well: there has been NO official communication — no email, no FAQ, no blog post, no press release, no solicitation, nothing — NO official communication whatsoever from DC Entertainment until this moment, three weeks before the books ship, about ANY of this.

Now, yes, if you read Rich Johnston (and many of us do) you’ve gotten a game of “telephone” version of what seems to have happened in the meetings (Ex: Rich reported it was said that DC was “losing money” on every copy; this appears to actually be “making a smaller profit on each copy”), but DCE never told the other (I’m guessing something on the order of) 2600 retailers who COULDN’T attend one of those meetings a damn thing about even the POSSIBILTY of allocations until after 5 pm yesterday.

So, this means that there ARE retailers out there that have been happily and aggressively promoting this stunt, racking up big preorders, selling full sets in advance of shipment, in some cases EVEN COLLECTING MONEY from consumers, all the while DCE didn’t officially or formally tell the retail community that these could be allocated. Whoops!

(Also: once you put “could be” in there? You are ASSURING that it is instead “Will Be”)

And some of the people who have been earnestly promoting this are also the same people who put down “1” for their initial orders just like the industry has trained them to. What will these people receive? Tune in on Friday to find out!

So, now this isn’t just speculator book, it is out-and-out feeding frenzy at the trough as stores will be unable to fufill 100% of the commitments that they made causes a rippling panic throughout just enough of the customer base that even stores that “get it right” are going to be trampled by people panicking/looking to cash in.

The release says that the allocation will have a relationship to rolling orders of the “parent” title, which I think means that if I ordered 60, 63, 75, 61 on the last four issues of BATMAN, then I won’t be allocated on the first 64 copies of JOKER, RIDDLER, PENGUIN, and BANE, though that’s far from explicit.

One potential problem with this scheme is SETS, which is well represented by this:

3

100.00

BATMAN #21

$3.99

DC

  142,088

79

18.95

GREEN ARROW #21

$2.99

DC

    26,924

That’s a big gap between “parent” titles, and it seems very likely that there are going to be too many gaps in full sets for a number of retailers.

Then there’s “so just HOW do we order the 2d versions, with zero time to gather data?” that breaks the paradigm of the Direct Market in many ways, and, what is worse, is that by letting DC get away with this we’ve just assured that Marvel is going to think of an even bigger way to stunt/no solicit manipulate the market, because it is simply what these companies do.

Ordering an entire month’s worth of variant editions, that are priced cheaper, with no ability to solicit orders, this is a mug’s game — there’s NO WAY to get it right. Either you’ll be horribly over or horribly under, in either case failing our primary mission: to satisfy our customer’s demand while remaining profitable doing so.

 

Do you understand? DCE had us collect fake data, based on fake behavioral inputs (price, etc), data that would have ABSOLUTELY have changed (and probably for the BETTER) if they had told us the actual facts in the first place. A comics retailer’s job IS data.

This is the comics equivalent of Lucy yanking the football at the last second from poor Charlie Brown. As I thought every time Lucy did it, I think it here: what a fucked up thing to do.

I thought for a second, “Well, shit, I’m already all-in, I can just skip the 2-Ds”, but, no, DC is keeping with their “all in” on Digital, and is making digital price parity with the cheaper version, of course, so just defensively we’ve got to stock both versions.

The worst part of this is that it will be claimed as victory, regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another, because it WILL be successful financially. DC isn’t publishing all of their shit-selling titles during the month — and shit-selling titles is most of what the bottom 30 or so of DC’s books are these days, and they have pretty much guaranteed that the +$1 versions will be specul-leech bait. I’m probably going to make a LOT more money that month on DCE Product than any other month this year, but my problem is two-fold:

 

1) THIS IS NOT HOW I WANT TO MAKE MONEY. I resent being tricked into carrying two copies of every release for the month, I resent that it will play on my more OCD customer’s worst habits, and that I’ve been railroaded into participating in it, I resent all of the insanely stupid extra work this is unnecessarily cause me in trying to track and pick and manage the two versions, work that exists purely because THEY DIDN’T TELL US THE RULES.

2) IT LEADS TO NOTHING. Great, so OCD-guy will now give me $6.98 instead of just $3.99 for that issue of PENGUIN, but how does that lead to a sale NEXT month? Let alone next year? I have limited promotional time and space, and I’ve been selling a bill of goods that didn’t actually represent what the product really was adequately, and doesn’t move forward my goals as a retailer, and I’ve done so because they misrepresented what the product actually was. That’s shameful.

That’s EVIL.

-B

 

 

78 Responses to “ The staggeringly epic incompetence of DC Entertainment ”

  1. Man, this is all FOCed up.

  2. Bleeding Cool ran this story over the weekend with updates since. Just saying.

  3. If DCE wants me to vote with my dollars, I will. In the future, I’m diverting as many of my comics buying dollars away from DC Comics as I can.

  4. Rich:

    I read your site multiple times a day, and know you’re doing a great service as the defacto communication arm of DC Entertainment, but I’d never mistake you for “press” in a million years.

    -B

  5. Big old context clue fail for me, but what does “allocated” mean in this circumstance?

  6. “You don’t get all that you ordered” — what they’re saying is that for some books you may only get half of what you ordered

    Ex: I order what I said above of BATMAN, which qualifies me for 64 copies. But I ordered 200 copies of JOKER. I would get 64 for sure (maybe…. the exact formula is unsure), and then maybe there’s a 50% allocation on that one, so I’d only get half of the remaining 136 copies — just 68 more copies, for a total of 132, instead of the 200 I wanted.

    Hopefully, I didn’t presell the other 68 in that potential example!

    We DO NOT KNOW what the SPECIFIC allocations will be, as of yet — DCE won’t be telling us until Friday.

    -B

  7. “That’s EVIL.”

    It is Villain Month…

    (Somebody had to say it. But Brian is right, scummy way to treat a business partner, and pretty lame for the fans, too.)

  8. C’mon Dave, I had that in the first paragraph of the piece!

    -B

  9. Do you know how many paragraphs ago that first one was? This is the Internet, Hibbs!

    And in honor of Villain Month: “Magneto must have been controlling my mind.”

  10. It’s funny that they tried to describe their covers as innovative as if no one remembers the 90s.

  11. So DC’s disdain doesn’t stop with just talent. They want to throw in retailers and customers too?

  12. I was tempted to preorder every single Villains issue, back when people were saying the covers were incredible in person and that DC was losing money on each one anyway. I looked at the total price, for books that I wasn’t actively collecting, and decided against it, not just because of price but because I didn’t want to reward DC for basically forcing a gimmick on everyone, and making what I thought at the time was a disguised “annual” event with different creators and different storylines (and really, your first article reinforced that decision). Now I’m really glad I didn’t order any, not only because I’d probably only get a handful of what I ordered anyway, but also because DC has royally dropped the ball here.

    On the bright side, I doubt anyone that does receive the covers will be too mad that a cheaper version exists; if they didn’t allocate the “special cover” issues and pulled this stunt, there still would have been lots to complain about.

  13. Wait, if someone ordered all these books, 1st printing, how much would it cost? $199?

    If DC knew that it would take a long time to print these, why didn’t they take preorders early so that they could print enough to meet what was ordered? They obviously can and will print more, as the second edition bundles were solicited. They basically ordered a print run, then took preorders, then knowing that they wouldn’t be able to fill demand waited to tell retailers? Or am I misunderstanding the timelines here?

  14. This is a superb question, and it is what I’ve been asking all along.

    There’s nothing that says “October books *have* to be solicited in July”. I mean, if you need to solicit them in June, or, heck, even May to hit a print date, I’m theoretically willing to do that. I mean, I wouldn’t want it to be a habit, and I think that FOC on periodicals has to be sacrosanct, I think we’d all be willing to tolerate “win/win” special solicitations on occasion.

    What I object to is secrecy and gamesmanship and fooling about with the primal math of the Direct Market.

    If the Villains Month promotion had been announced, upfront, as “two versions, one might be allocated because we already set the print run” I am willing to bet my store that the 3d covers STILL would have all sold out to the allocation level, because that’s how the market usually reacts to stuff like that. Duh. The market is a predictable enough beast in these kinds of matters, even the most moderate amount of Game Theory should tell you that.

    Even the dumbest kid in class could have gamed this one out: limited print runs = allocations on event-level promotions. Dur.

    I mean, listen, I am really a simpleton when it comes to corporate-level thinking. They have motivations I probably can’t fathom, because I am just a simple unfrozen caveman comics retailer, and, frankly, I’m happy with my place in the world, insofar as that goes. Maybe the levers that are being grasped at are literally whether people make their next contract, I don’t know. Jim Lee has like eight frickin’ children — I want to see that man have a proper income, y’know?

    I just don’t want to be fucked over for it. that’s all. Not too much to ask, I hope?

    I have this sinking feeling that this entire promotion was a product of Groupthink. What I fantasize happened is that someone in the company (probably mid-to-low-level?) had a really fairly brilliant idea of seeing this new lenticular technology, and saying “man, one way to really provide value to the Direct Market market and differentiate it from digital is to use this for a few books”, and it spiraled into “Let’s do it for a crossover”, then “let’s do it for all 52 books” and it just cascaded out of control from there.

    At least I hope so.

  15. I’m just amazed that there’s something about those covers that requires print runs to be set four months in advance. Is the 3-D part hand illuminated by monks in Nanda Parbat?

    Hopefully enough retailers raise a stink over what DC did and how they communicated it that DC will at least be forced to make the books returnable. That won’t solve all the problems, in the long run having too few is almost as bad as having too many, but it’s something.

  16. All I know is my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder isn’t leading me to buy lots of comics I don’t want, and if others with this condition ARE led to do that, they deserve help and understanding, not scorn.

    Or perhaps the whole ‘OCD’ thing is just being used flippantly in that way culture loves so much. In which case, LOL!

  17. I emailed my comic store and actually told them to please try and get me JUST the 2D covers as if I can enjoy my comics for a dollar less I will gladly do so and lose the whole “bonus” of a silly 3D cover. While the way DC has gone about this is atrocious I am at least happy I will get some comics cheaper and without that dumb gimmick.

  18. I think the OCD thing goes something like this:

    Ok, I’ll get a few titles. I’m already collecting some and/or I’m a fan of the villain and the covers look cool.

    Well, if I’m getting some of them, I may as well get others.

    Well, I may as well get all of them. The lower tier titles, probably nobody else will order, so they’ll be rarer and harder to come by in case I need to sell them (which I won’t, they’ll be sitting unread in my basement for decades).

    Wait, they’re allocated now? I NEED all of them.
    or
    Wait, they’re allocated now? Screw this, I don’t want any of them.

    On a tangential note, I went into a store yesterday and saw the recent Blu-ray re-releases that have comic book-inspired steelbooks. I was mildly interested in a couple, but at one point I had almost every single one in my hand about to buy them, because hey, they were uniform. Then I thought about how much money I was spending on movies that I didn’t really want to see or that I already had, but which had fancy packaging, and put them all back. Plus they didn’t have Scott Pilgrim anyway.

  19. http://disabledfeminists.com/2009/10/19/ableist-word-profile-youre-so-ocd/

  20. Wow, is this the comics equivalent of sweeps week? This has got to be some effort to get one insanely high month that they can use as an example of sales when talking to corporate bosses. Dick move.

    On the other hand, as a reader of two DC books – WW and Dial H – with an active dislike of gimmick covers, I get to save 2 bucks by buying the 2D versions (though at $4, I might have skipped the Azzarello Wonder Woman altogether – still might if the art is crap). So … choices for me as a consumer = good, sticking it to the retailers in the process = bad.

  21. I own a store in Boston, and while half the New 52 started strong for us, only a few series do well now. Customers have responded to the volume of low quality with a lack of interest.

    In order to discourage DC from pulling a similar stunt in the future (voting with dollars), we decided to not sub our DC regulars any of the Villain issues unless they asked us to. The few that looked good or important we ordered lightly for the rack. Many we ignored.

    To communicate this, we placed an explanation letter at the register, and sent an e-mail version to our DC readers. Only a few responded, so the 3D covers don’t look to be a big seller. I’m much more excited about next week’s new “Saga” than a Joker one-shot written by a talented artist and drawn by To Be Decided. (I know the artist has been announced, but at order time, he wasn’t.)

    I don’t anticipate problems from allocations or disgruntled customers, but I sympathize with stores that do. Sadly, I imagine Powers That Be reading this column and not seeing a problem, as if the angle on the press release absolves all sins.

    Brian, will you bring this up at ComicsPRO?

  22. I’ve, uh, decided to stop my membership with ComicsPRO because of the reactions of the Board to recent DC moves. I may or may not go to this year’s meeting (you don’t NEED to be a member), but I’m no longer a member of the organization as of this month.

    -B

  23. My best guess is that this was just a matter of DC coming up with the idea too late to make it work right, because they are falsely locked in to September as their “special” month.

    Obviously (and I mean obviously) the best situation would have been to solicit these to retailers at whatever date it would be needed for DC to know how many to print. Whether that was June or May or whatever. Again, these are ONE-SHOTS. Would any retailer’s orders on this change if he or she ordered them in May rather than August? No, right? No way at all. So just have them be advance-solicited with early FOCs. They already do that with books, right? Didn’t the FOC for the Avengers Endless Wartime Graphic Novel pass already? And that’s not out until October!

  24. […] Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs breaks down what’s problematic about DC Comics’ announcement that it will allocate its “Villains Month” 3D covers, which essentially means to publisher won’t completely fill all the orders. Instead, the company has added a 2D variant to make up the difference: “You have to understand, as well, that a lot of folks weren’t at all happy about the idea of a line of $3.99 covers, and there was a certain amount of ‘talking people into’ signing up for them. So, to find out just three weeks before shipping that there’s suddenly going to be a version of these comics without the stunts, for $1 less, well this is migraine inducing, at best.” [Savage Critics] […]

  25. DC, I’m out.

  26. Wha huh? What did the board do (or fail to do)?

    I’ve been out of the loop since they moved all discussion to (blech) FaceBook.

  27. The org that I formed was intended to look out for the little guy; the current Board seems much more interested in keeping the big guys big. Democracy in action, I suppose, so I vote with my dollars.

    -B

  28. It scares me to think how cleverly and slickly Marvel will adapt this scheme when they see how much money DC makes from their clunky, clumsily executed scam.

  29. @Grumpy Thrills: There are comics customers that are completists, and Hibbs has often spoken out about how a lot of segments in this industry actively exploit these customers’ needs for a complete run of a title for financial gain. His statements against those aspects of comics are the very opposite of scorn.

    Really, I should’ve left this comment to him, but I know from talking with him he is not using OCD as a joke, nor is he using it flippantly. At worst, I suppose you can say it is inaccurate, as there may be other reasons other than OCD to cause the need for such completionism.

  30. Why is a retailer suing Marvel?

  31. Probably because he’s a DICK!

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=1116

    http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Take-that-mighty-Marvel-2566256.php

    -B

  32. PS: we won a 1 million dollar settlement from Marvel that was spread exactly evenly between all comic retailers in the world.

    -B

  33. I’m just bummed that it’s my first month without Jonah Hex in over 7 years.

  34. hibbs — I respect you. I read you sometimes. You’re the sh**. So why are you still on board, man???

    Seriously, the problem is this: at some point, if you still have a sense of your own human dignity, you have to either turn your back on the materialistic manipulative swill that is the modern comic super-hero comic industry, or you gotta let go of your dignity and resign yourself to as many justifications and b. s. repositionings and slackenings of your own remotely-decent standard that you’re basically saying, eff it, it’s more important to me to buy and read paper containing stories about grown men in their underwear than it is for me to look myself in the mirror in the morning without flinching. Ya know?

    That’s what they leave you with, as a reader; no decency, no dignity; just b. s. justified by the triviality of the medium, and there is that, but how long do you have to lean on that, huh? I guess it depends on where you’re at, personally. NO, no disrespect to those who gotta lean on anything and everything that will take weight. Been there; AM there; done that.

    Apologies; no judgment here. Do what you gotta do, no offense meant anybody, each of you got something to teach me that I don’t know about, I bow to you and acknowledge you. But eff the corporate bureacracies, man; even the employees there know better, in their gut. This is what happens when the almighty dollar and a bunch of struggling people get together and try to make things happen. Sometimes. Something better IS possible, YES, but when was the last time you saw it from DC or Marvel? REally?

    I saw it in “Man of STeel,” the movie, personally; it happens, it does. But not often. Open yer eyes, brooooo

    Hibbs: Eff me. Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop caring or speaking. Just don’t forget that sometimes you gotta throw it all away, man — that’s just how we’re built. Okay, well, me, at least.

  35. @Jeff Lester

    Thanks for responding! I know you guys are actually excellent when it comes to being ‘PC’ (meaning ‘genuine respect for humans’).

    It’s just I had a bad week of podcasts etc. that I like , there was a lot of OCD references, but not in the correct sense. You guys just mentioned OCD when I was at the end of my tether and I apologise for being a dick about it!

    I just know that ‘OCD’ is often used in a context that almost forgets the fact people actually suffer from it to an incredibly detrimental degree. It’s used flippantly in a way I know doesn’t feature genuine malice, but it’s still sometimes tought to read.

    As I say, thankyou loads for acknowledging my complaint, and maybe just consider your use of the term ‘OCD’ in future, as it makes me and people like me who actually suffer from an awful mental ilness feel fucking rotten. Cheers!

  36. Mr Hibbs, can you fulfill your orders on this?

    Best,

    Peter

  37. @Peter Noble: not, not 100% of preorders will be able to be filled with 3-D covers.

    @Drunk a-hole: I hear you, man, but I’m in it for my customers, who can use someone looking out for their best interests. Despite the bullshit from multi-national corporations who think that you’re all their personal piggy banks, this is the most exciting time ever to be selling comics, with more superb work on the shelves than at any other point in history.

    -B

  38. […] an article in which Brian Hibbs directly addressed issues with DC’s Villains Month, he also wrote in the comments, regarding his membership of comics retailer advocacy group, ComicsPRO. Over the fact that he […]

  39. A part of me hopes that Villains month bombs horribly for DC…but sadly that would hurt the retailers. For all the DC books that I’m not going to buy that month, I will be trying out a lot of indie comics and picking up trades on series that I need to catch up on for the past few months.

  40. […] Brian Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco, and Leo McGovern, manager of Crescent City Comics in New Orleans, offer their opinions on the […]

  41. So where is all the crying about Marvel’s variant covers?

    Oh, wait. Hibbs writes for CBR. That’s right.

  42. @Dave, I’m fairly sure Mr Hibbs has stated in the recent past that ALL variant covers are a waste of space and don’t help the industry or retailers.

  43. It is 100% awesome that someone can come in and claim that I’m for variant covers in general, or Marvel’s business practices in particular — craziness for the win!

    -B

  44. when the news came out about Villains Month, all the 23.x comics that were to be sold, the picture of Bizzaro Superman that was published, and thinking back to how much fun it was making myself read the entire run of Blackest Night, I decided it was time to drop DC comics from my hold slot — this after nearly a half-century of reading DC comics

  45. DC’s reboot is flopping! Less than 2 years since the New 52 started and 21 out of the original 52 books are already cancelled and some more are doing terrible numbers, most of Waves 2/3/4 ongoings are gone with the wind, plenty of others like THE FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, SUPERBOY, GREEN ARROW, BIRDS OF PREY etc are selling less than pre-reboot. Only the Snyder and Johns books save the day so far. DC will try all kinds of stupid tricks to keep this train-wreck going instead of admitting their mistake. This 3-D fiasco is only the tip of the iceberg if retailers and customers do not give the Didiot the finger and demand respect and the return to quality.

  46. […] in September (see “DC Says 3-D Motion Covers Will Be Allocated”).  The article, posted on SavageCritics.com, was titled “The Staggeringly epic Incompetence of DC Entertainment;” Hibbs’ views on the DC […]

  47. […] the reactions of the Board to recent DC moves.” He revealed his decision in the comments on his blog post about DC’s allocation of 3D covers for Villains Month: “The org that I formed was […]

  48. @Deep_shock:

    “DC’s Reboot is flopping!”

    from newsaram.com last week:

    “Diamond Comic Distributors released their July 2013 sales charts and market share data Friday, and based largely on their strength at the top of the comic book sales chart, DC has returned to the top of the industry-wide Market Share charts, splitting the month with Marvel.

    And industry-wide, overall sales versus July 2012 were up a robust 16.73%, after more modest gains in May and June (see links above).”

    dope.

  49. Hi Brian,

    Glad to hear your comments echo my thoughts on both DC and ComicsPRO.

    Some of my allocations are as low as a third of what I ordered! Getting half would be a lot better than what is actually happening to me.

    About ComicsPRO, I was also one of the first to join, and am so disappointed in how things worked out. But even before the DC event, I’d had feelings similar to those you’ve expressed. Felt like neither my smaller stores nor my input were valued. So, I let my membership expire last month. Didn’t feel I was getting a return for the investment.

    But I definitely feel a need for a group based on the principles that ComicsPRO was founded on. I’ll sign up for a new group in an instant.

  50. The way I see it, DC was forced to add the 2-D covers at the last minute BECAUSE they were making the allocations on the 3D, so if you got shorted, you could fill with the 2D (which are returnable, as no one mentioned). Can’t you see that speculators jumped in at the FOC? If DC abided by the new FOC quantities, store who ordered “actual” numbers would get screwed, and the eBay sellers would get most of the copies.

  51. […] retail and talent relations take a nose-dive on the Internet. Just last week, retailers Brian Hibbs and Leo McGovern called DC out on its handling of a line-wide publishing stunt in August; a […]

  52. Brian:

    Quoting you about ComicsPRO…

    “The org that I formed…”

    The implication here is that YOU were the founder and instigator of ComicsPRO. I realize this is your page and whatever— but I have a hard time letting that slip since it is simply and unequivocally NOT TRUE.

    You and I were both asked by Amanda Emmert to be on ComicsPRO’s first board, but neither of us “formed” the org. Amanda is the sole founder of ComicsPRO. Trying to parse it any other way is just wrong.

    Carry on…

  53. […] a comment on his post regarding DC’s allocation of their Villain month promotion, veteran retailer Brian Hibbs mentioned that he had quit the […]

  54. Darn. I wanted to be comment number fifty-two.

    Well, on to the second wave…

  55. […] of Guardians of the Galaxy. Ah, this is more like it, they screwed up their biggest 2013 event, and screwed retailers and readers over in the process. Oh, DC. But on a more thoughtful note, J. Caleb Mozzocco considers the current […]

  56. I run a shop in Alabama and I have a problem with most of this article. DC is consistently outselling Marvel at my store ever since the restart. I use the Initial Order for what it was intended…TO MAKE MY ORDER. Multiple times he refers to stores that put “1” in the order as a ‘placeholder’, and that’s the most moronic thing I’ve ever heard.

    There have been MANY times in the past that allocations for product have occurred and been based on your initial orders. If you are using the FOC, or Final Order Cutoff, to make your order then you are using it wrong. You use the FOC to “adjust” numbers based on what’s selling (up or down), and give you a last resort for books that might be hot when they come out. Even then it’s not a precise system since Marvel is notorious for having “CLASSIFIED” solicitations, and you don’t find out till shipping week that OH CRAP CAPTAIN AMERICA DIES…(didn’t know about that one and had a reporter at my door that morning before I even opened my boxes)

    Now I’m not saying that DC could have done something to make this easier. Mostly soliciting the September books far enough in advance to get good numbers for the printer. Of course that wouldn’t fix those people that are not putting real numbers in their Initial Order, but if that’s how you walk into stores that never have enough books for their customers.

    As for how we handled it, well we were signing up subscribers for the specific books and since we kept the sign up sheets in order then we will fill them in the order that people signed up for them. We’ve posted info about this in our store, and online. So far we haven’t had ANY customers complain about what’s happening since it’s out of our control. But I guess we are lucky since we are a heavy DC store there is only 1 title that is getting allocated for more than 15 copies less than our normal order.

  57. Now, see this is a perfect example of why I am happier having left comics retail to return to my old career in web development. The problem is that the major comics publishers do not think long-term, which unfortunately is a requirement for retailers who want to stay in business (luckily for me, I didn’t really want to). Comics publishers aren’t concerned with building a successful title that will benefit the retailer by generating long-term, regularly returning customers. Instead, they want to make a quick buck with stupid gimmicks that should have died back in the 1990’s. 3-D covers? Half-numbered issues? Villains taking over the titles? How about selling comics according to an organized marketing plan for a change? How well I remember the nightmare of being “surprised” by the death of Captain America and not having nearly enough copies to go around. I remember ignoring that lame issue of Spider-man on date night which was then later revealed to have an Obama cover… Comics publishers don’t care about retailers’ well-being, they are only looking to generate hype for their brand and steal market share and shelf space from their competitors. Retail stores are simply one battleground in which to wage the war. As a result of this publicity stunt, there will be more DC books on comic store shelves than Marvel books, a little extra in the coffers due to elevated prices across the portfolio, and maybe even some free press to boot. Certainly you don’t suppose any of this was intended to benefit YOU in any way, did you? It certainly doesn’t benefit the reader, who will get crummy, poorly scripted stories of titles they don’t normally collect at prices they can’t really afford to pay. The retailer doesn’t see any gain other than in ordering headaches, customer complaints, and unsold merchandise. I have to wonder if the creative teams are just desperately trying to keep sales up in order to keep the bean-counters at bay. Selling more and more issues at higher and higher prices to a steadily shrinking number of people is an attrition model that cannot be long sustained.

  58. Post 55 talks about being a heavy DC store, and only having allocations of no more than 15 copies. Very slight allocations for him.

    My two smaller stores had very heavy allocations, as much as two-third reductions of initial orders. The store the ordered less was the heaviest allocated. Saw an obvious imbalance in just my own two link chain.

    Sounds like empirical evidence that DC is favoring larger stores with light allocations, and sticking it to smaller accounts with heavy allocations.

    Can’t say that I’m surprised that they used a sliding scale, instead of an even-handed approach.

    The new DC, nothing even-handed about it.

  59. I kept my orders at the same level as usual, didn’t go crazy by any means, so to see my orders slashed so severely to benefit the stores that went gangbusters is infuriating. Especially when it leaves me with less than a third on some titles like Justice League are well below the number of people I have on my pull lists (and even then, not consistently slashed between the 4…I may need to hold cage matches to decide who gets Lobo!) and once the news of the shortage hit I got a ton of “dude, make sure I get those!”…no one was going to volunteer to take the regular versions at that point.

    What I find worse however is that SDCC and the Diamond lunch was only a couple short weeks ago and in that room we were told flat out that our FOC orders needed to be in on the lenticular books A WEEK earlier than normal because of the extra time needed to print them. This would have put the FOC on those the week after Comicon…which obviously didn’t happen. If they knew then and there while we were sitting in front of them and didn’t tell us until after they were safely out of the room that’s a cowardly play. Especially as they continued to hype the covers.

    I can see limitting and allocating on the stores that suddenly went for a huge boost. If they had simply kept my stores order the same as it always is I’d be fine with hearing that any title I went higher on might be cut down, but to drop me by 2/3 of my order so some megastore can have an extra couple hundred while I dissapoint a few dozen customers is just plain wrong.

  60. I think that DC handling the allocation was a mistake — Diamond’s traditional process (everyone who orders one gets ONE, then everyone who ordered two gets the second copy, then everyone who ordered three gets their third copy, and so on) is much more egalitarian.

    Whatever formula DC did is broke-style — and doesn’t represent the formulas as described.

    -B

  61. […] their numbers as high as possible at Initial Order, because FOC obviously wouldn’t be an option. (Brian Hibbs laid out DC’s botched communication with retailers.) What I’m wondering about is the mentality and […]

  62. I thought DC couldn’t upset me any more on this matter than I already am. I was wrong.

    Just got my email with a link for my allocations (a little late, since the first week of 2D covers had to be ordered with last Monday as a deadline).

    Now, DC had previously declared that they’d done a heavy overprint of these lenticular 3D covers. Then they opened with this statement:

    “1. What portion of my orders for the Villains Month 3-D Motion Covers will I receive on each title?
    The allocations are not based on your orders for the Villains Month 3-D Motion Covers. Instead, your allocations are based on an average of your orders of each Villains Month titles’ base title over the past few months. Allocations will range from approximately 50% fill to nearly 100% fill on different titles.”

    IF they did do an overprint, and IF my allocations are based on previous allocations, then how come I’m only getting ONE-THIRD of what were my normal order quantities?

    I didn’t inflate my orders. September is traditionally not a good month for my locations, and I’d ordered normally. Now there are going to be titles where I’m not getting enough to even cover subscribers.

    I’ll refrain from the oft stated comparison to the Evil in the name of their event. But I’m thinking it.

  63. […] http://www.savagecritic.com/retailing/the-staggeringly-epic-incompetence-of-dc-entertainment/ […]

  64. […] Comics blogger and outspoken retail industry advocate Brian Hibbs explains what he sees as DC’s “staggeringly epic incompetence” in the publisher’s order policy for the books in September’s line-wide “Villains Month” event. (Savage Critic) […]

  65. […] and Hibbs, in a piece titled “The staggeringly epic incompetence of DC Entertainment,” refers to the publisher’s efforts as “shameful” and “EVIL” (his […]

  66. […] will be claimed as victory regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another,” said Hibbs in a lengthy blog post about the controversy. He did concede that, “it will be successful […]

  67. […] will be claimed as victory regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another,” said Hibbs in a lengthy blog post about the controversy. He did concede that, “it will be successful […]

  68. […] will be claimed as victory regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another,” said Hibbs in a lengthy blog post about the controversy. He did concede that, “it will be successful […]

  69. Interesting insider note on these. DC claims they were surprised by the huge orders, and made the 2D covers in reaction to the overwhelming demand.

    All the 3D covers were solicited with JULY Diamond Codes.

    All the 2D covers have JUNE Diamond Codes.

    The 2D were actually in the system before the 3D.

    It’s easy to create a sellout book by just not printing enough. Even easier when the replacement books were scheduled first.

  70. Michael: I am all for hating on DC these days, but you’re ignoring multiple decades of How Diamond Works. The 2d books have “8000” codes, which means they were created after regular solicitation cycle. Diamond ALWAYS assigns those as the “current month” at the time of their creation. Always.

    Just because they’re out to get you, doesn’t mean you’re not being paranoid!

    -B

  71. […] it will be claimed as victory regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another,” said Hibbs in a lengthy blog post about the controversy. He did concede that, “it will be successful […]

  72. […] will be claimed as victory regardless of how many retailers get burned one way or another,” said Hibbs in a lengthy blog post about the controversy. He did concede that, “it will be successful […]

  73. Hey Brian,

    You are correct and I was wrong on that one.

    There was a major shipping snafu on this week’s shipment and I didn’t receive any books until 10:30 Tuesday night (a long story that’s off topic). Had to work through the night to be ready for Wednesday’s sales.

    Tired eyes from no sleep misread the 8 in the code as a 0. Didn’t help that I had to print my own invoices, which, when pulled from the internet, are greatly reduced in size from a normal invoice.

    And, of course, all the tirades from disappointed customers wasn’t helping with the stress.

  74. Was just notified today that the last week of 3D books will have YET ANOTHER ROUND OF ALLOCATIONS, ranging up to as much as another 17% in reductions on the already reduced orders!

  75. […] Villains Month, acknowledges that “we had bumps along the way,” likely a reference to the Final Order Cutoff controversy that had certain retailers being quite vocal online with their displeasure. (Bleeding […]

  76. […] Hibbs wrote about the situation for Comic Book Resources as well as on his own blog, and CBR ran a roundup of general reactions from store owners, but now that Villains Month is […]

  77. […] to finish up this segment, I’d like to state that, although not as passionately, I find myself agreeing somewhat with Brian Hibbs of savagecritic.com, who […]

  78. […] Brian Hibbs, who has been stridently and thoroughly critical these past few months of DC’s treatment of retailers with their Villains Month […]

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