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Tilting #203 is live

Brian Hibbs

Find it at CBR, all about how the market is likely to respond to DC’s reboot plan.


I thought I was clear, but, man, already the talk back threads are filled with people who don’t seem to have much reading comprehension?


Anyway, chat here, as well, if you like.



18 Responses to “ Tilting #203 is live ”

  1. You told them that they can’t have all the comics that they want, even though sales show they don’t really want them. They aren’t going to forgive you for that.

    And you also proved to them that the dream of owning their own comic shop may in fact be even more work and more difficult than their current 9-to-5 drudgery. And they will NEVER forgive you for that!

  2. Well, having looked at all the titles, I’m now jumping in with 27 titles. Before the relaunch, I only got about 13 DC books.

    I like the idea of such an epic splash. I also like the grouping of titles under family titles. When you look at the new line-up it shows more of an effort to diversify their superheroes with other genres.

    Many of the titles I passed on featured creative teams that were big in the 90s and the look of those books harkens too much back to that time. I’m sort of sad they didn’t go for more up-to-date creators whose style is more reflective of the hear and now.

    I understand your dilemma with how to order. Hopefully, DC will resond to your concerns and jump in with incentives that will make it more appealing to order higher than you normally would.

    As far as the digital offering, I haven’t switched over to reading that way. My guess is it would bring interest into your shop from people who tried them digitally. Although, their digital price point seems to be going at it all wrong. I would think they should offer deals for buying their titles in bundles. Order 20 different titles digitally and the price drops to say 1.50 or .99. Order one or two and the price is 2.99.


  3. I was already going to buy one (Batwoman), but only two other titles looked to be of interest – Azarello/Chiang’s Wonder Woman and Morrison’s Superman.

  4. Brian (Hibbs), you often say and think things the way I wish I could articulate them. Of course I agree with you about the waaaaaay too many titles for this launch (especially the “h” list titles – those titles that are even further down the ladder then the “b’ list titles), but as much as you and I (and others) may wish there to be less titles (hell there needs to be less everything), that’s a genie that’s not going back in the bottle.

    Just to look at a point where the too much at once worked though (until it no longer did), we have just to look at when TokyoPop launched their onslaught release in the U.S. manga marketplace with their $9.99 books. For a number of years TokyoPop did really well with this full frontal release of titles, but like a lot of stores that over-extended themselves on things like Pokemon cards, didn’t get out before the fad played out (or in Tokyopop’s case, a lot of people who follow manga get it online or at their librairies).

    It’s also true that we live in a world of over-specialization and that if we didn’t have all of these “choices” we’d bemoan the lack of titles that would then come out a week and that we couldn’t make our “nut” with just those few titles, so I don’t see a working answer either way other than all of us (and this includes publishers) just getting bigger dartboards and hoping we hit the target more often than not.

  5. Brian, concerning the rational (and past a certain point, as you say, irrational) behavior of deluging retailers with way too many different books: might this not be a tactic publishers are using to survive too, in a market with fewer readers?

    That is, if there are only 100,000 readers (for sake of argument), your sales on a single BATMAN or X-MEN book are never going to go higher than that number. But perhaps 65,000 of them will also pick up DETECTIVE COMICS and X-FORCE, etc.

    The X-Office may not be able to make the suits happy solely with an UNCANNY title, or even with X-MEN and X-FORCE and X-FACTOR. But maybe throwing in some minis, TPBs, etc. and that just about sets them up.


  6. What a dilemma! DC should be ensuring that retailers have enough product on hand should their advertising campaign actually succeed in attracting new readers (i.e., new customers). If a potential new reader can’t find the titles in which they’re interested, because you couldn’t assume the financial risk and order extra copies, both you and DC are losing money and potential new customers. However, if I was a new reader and had an interest in DC’s relaunch and came into your shop and couldn’t find the titles I was interested in because you sold out of an issue as a result of under ordering, I probably wouldn’t realize you under ordered and wouldn’t blame you. I would think that the relaunch was an astounding success. Kind of like the “Tickle Me Elmo” phenomenon. A “must have possession.”

  7. so, people who disagree with you have “reading comprehension” issues?

    either that, or it isn’t well written, eh?

    you lose me when you start prattling on about 1986. It’s 2011, Brian—what happened 25 YEARS AGO may not be relevant today. but you seem stuck on 1986 as The Best Year Ever.

    explains a lot…

  8. Actually, 2008 was my Best Year Ever, but thanks for playing!


  9. Hal is back. Barry is back. Alec Holland is back. Barbara Gordon is Batgirl. Bruce is the only Batman. Rob Liefield is on Hawk & Dove. I, Vampire…

    I don’t think that it is the retailers that are living in the past. I mean, I actually think that 1986 was the best year for my comics, and even I am creeped out by Geoff Johns’ slavish Fanboy worship of the year.

  10. Brian,
    While the tone of svenj may have warranted a snarky “thanks for playing” response, the essence of his point is solid. Using 1986 as a benchmark for this current relaunch from a sales perspective seems to be really grasping at straws. Saying, “I know for a fact that there are at least 850 people in my neighborhood who bought Man of Steel #1” seems like a ridiculously hyperbolic statement. It was a generation ago. How many of those people have moved/died/were merely speculators drawn in by the idea of owning a Superman #1?

    Your figure of 175 copies of All-Star Superman seems the more relevant one, but by glossing over that and trying to compare 2011 to the halcyon days of 1986 as if it’s entirely DC’s fault that these new comics aren’t going to sell as well as they did 25 years ago–and not a combination of dozens of factors,(including DC itself)–well, I can see how someone would be turned off by your analysis.

    He probably could have cut down on the snark.But you could have as well. “Thanks for playing” “meh” and “people have reading comprehension problems”? I think there’s a lot of really interesting and important discussions we could all be having about this new move by DC and what it means for the direct market, if we all weren’t so interested in being snarky, sarcastic douches?

    Actually I think the entire internet could cut down on snark and it would make for a much better place.

  11. Using past data to predict current or future risk is what business is all about. If you’ve read past Tilting columns, you know that Brian is meticulous at tracking sales data – using cycle sheets or whatever method – and that is how his business has continued to stay afloat through boom and bust. Going back 25 years to 1986 is necessary because that’s the last time DC tried anything close to this meaning that would be the best data set to choose.

    The Tilting column itself clearly explains the problem with returnability for this relaunch. Initially I saw DC had made the majority of books returnable and figured the bases were covered, but now I see why it really didn’t solve anything for retailers. I hope they deliver on a significant overship. It might hurt DC initially, but it could pay huge dividends in the long-run which is where they are looking for this relaunch to ultimately benefit them.

    Between the deluge of 52 new #1s and the significant quantity of lackluster Flashpoint tie-ins, DC has not been kind to retailers this summer.

  12. B Hibbs,

    I say this out of respect…but I didn’t come away with the thesis you said on the Beat:

    “My thesis is that the “Flashboot” COULD be that change agent, but that the natural tendencies of ordering non-returnable product under the “old rules” means it will be very unlikely that the market will actually react that way.

    Those are structural issues, and this is the first time in a generation that we have one shining chance to potentially change that.

    My thesis is that if something isn’t done drastically differently in stocking the marketplace, THEN this will become more of the same — not that it is inherently so.”

    I came away with you saying the current system is totally screwed because the retailers take on all the financial risk. I also think that’s a *very* important point. A reboot like this will end up hurting more than helping if a retailer goes in too much and gets stuck with product they can’t sell or doesn’t go in enough and misses on potential sales.

    I also don’t think there is going to be a rush of tons of customers to the digital versions, either. I don’t get why they’re deciding to make the gamble the digital strategy will pay off huge along with the reboot. That seems insane.

  13. RJT: Clearly I’m NOT using MoS #1 as benchmark for the current relaunch (I even say something very much like “obviously we’re in a very different place now”) — just as the only example of the last relaunch of Superman, and what a best-case scenario might possibly be. Given that there’s not THAT many retailers who actually sold that and this one, I would hope that might be, at least, an interesting historical perspective?

    Chris Hero:
    “I came away with you saying the current system is totally screwed because the retailers take on all the financial risk. ”

    And THEN…?

    Something like ‘so therefore “if something isn’t done drastically differently in stocking the marketplace, THEN this will become more of the same — not that it is inherently that way”‘?

    But, as I said at the Beat, it is ENTIRELY possible I am not a clear enough writer.


  14. B Hibbs,

    “And THEN…?

    Something like ‘so therefore “if something isn’t done drastically differently in stocking the marketplace, THEN this will become more of the same — not that it is inherently that way”‘?”

    Please, no offense is meant, but you don’t seem to get that far in the article. You kinda keep talking about how broken the current system is and how DC’s relaunch isn’t going to help fix it. I honestly believe that’s where you’re running into problems…you point to times past when the system was working and you talk about how you don’t want the system, or the DC reboot, to fail…but you don’t really illustrate “not that it is inherently this way.”

    But, I’m an engineer, not a writer, so I’m not the best guy to be hammering away on you for not writing clearly enough! ^_^

  15. >>Many of the titles I passed on featured creative teams that were big in the 90s and the look of those books harkens too much back to that time. I’m sort of sad they didn’t go for more up-to-date creators whose style is more reflective of the hear (sic) and now.

    Kelly Sue DeConnick talks about being asked to pitch for the DC relaunch here: http://kellysue.com/2011/06/10/quick-note-re-dc-reboot/

    I don’t imagine she was the only creator approached by DC to pitch for the relaunch who turned down the opportunity, so I’m not as put off by the creative teams as you. Even for a huge company like DC 52 titles is a huge slate to fill, so it’s possible that the 90s guys were simply more available than some of their younger counterparts.

    And parenthetically, I don’t doubt there are more people looking forward to the Liefeld HAWK & DOVE (which I have no interest in) then there would, say, a Frazer Irving CREEPER (which I’d sign up for in a heartbeat), but you’d probably have a more realistic grasp on how those titles will move.

    All told, I’m interested in at least looking at about half the #1s in September, and I’m planning on signing up for ten of the titles announced.

  16. On the other hand, as Graeme reports, some creators are given a hell of a lot more time to pitch than others: http://blog.newsarama.com/2011/06/13/48-hours-to-reimagine-the-dcu-unless-you-knew-bob-harras-back-when/

  17. Brian, is this whole DC relaunch more or less stressful for a retailer than when Marvel did their Heroes World craziness? I know, apples to oranges, but what’s your gut say?

  18. HWD was crazier for being forced to do business with a company that most of us had never dealt with prior (and, ultimately, couldn’t actually handle the volume of material and accounts), while this one is crazier for trying to figure out just how to order these books. At least with HWD, it was merely ordering “the next issue of ASM”, without the aspects of the #1 attached.


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