Clowns, Jokers And 3D Covers – A Comic Store Clerk Attends DC's Retailer Summit Before C2E2


An unnamed comic store employee attended the DC Retailer Summit in Chicago, the evening before C2E2 began. This is what he told Bleeding Cool.

DC Comics once again had a meeting hall in the adjoining hotel to the show reserved for us and they provided soft drinks and food before the meeting.  The spread in Florida was far superior to the Chicago one, go figure.

Aprox. about the same turn out at both meetings, though I expected more from the Illinois/Indiana/Wisconsin/Michigan crowd that attends C2E2. Unfortunately, Dennis Barger Jr is from Michigan which meant he was there… more on that later..

As always, Dan DiDio was warm,welcoming and passionate about his company, comic books and the industry as a whole.  Whether or not you enjoy his end product – the guy really does seem to passionately care about this stuff.  Bob Wayne did his usual bit of standing and chiming in once in awhile.  Stuart Schreck ran the slide show.

Read your article on Alex Alonso's moronic comment about DC not revealing writer/artist teams for the September Futures End one-shots.  Dan addressed this concern with the fairly obvious reason for the lack of information – it's five months out for these books.  Even when it's only two or three months out – it's iffy on some creative teams.  He felt he had about fifty percent of the creative teams locked down as a definite and didn't want to end up with half of the solicitations possibly being 'wrong'.

Dan brought up a few interesting points/facts that I hadn't heard in the last meeting. Another retailer asked how many copies it takes for a trade to be brought back into print (meaning how many does DC need to turn in one years time and print to make it worth their while) – I was surprised when they actually gave out the number as 3,000 copies.  As always at this meeting some dumbass retailer(s) have to bring up how 'their' customers love Supergirl, or Batgirl or Warlord or whatever and why won't DC put it back into print for their store?  Was refreshing to have a solid number.

Dan also brought up the fact that in this 'modern' age where everything is always in print – you can't reuse the old storylines like our industry used to for every new generation.  Tell the Spider-Man story from the 60's in the late 70's and again in the early 90's, etc. etc.

He also mentioned how DC had to destroy 125,000 copies of the last 3D batch due to the proofs coming in to 'blurry' to be used, and how some had dimples on the cover as the heat was set too high [Tell me about it – Rich].  The blurry problem was fixed by reducing the number of lines on the cover, and the dimple problem was corrected by adjusting the heat..

Futures End has 41 titles in both $3.99 3D and $2.99 regular edition.  All are one-shots.  All stand on their own.  None start in say, Action then continue into Superman. There is no optimal reading order for the issues.  September will also have Batman Eternal weekly and Futures End weekly running through it.

DiDio feels strongly about the weekly comic book, which as I understand it is a norm. in the UK with 2000 AD weekly, or is that no longer the case? [It is the case with 2000AD and a few children's comics – Rich] Anyway – he can't stop about the advantages of getting people back in your store, week after week, after week.  And the advantage of feeding this 'instant gratification' generation.  He pointed out to some of the newer retailers, or more dense retailers that you can actually turn them on to other items when the come in each week, it's not just the $1.50 profit that you should be pulling from them….

DC believes that will have .gif files for every cover available for us to view before MAY 27th (last day to turn in your order).

Batman 75th Anniversary is actually landing on the Wednesday of San Diego Comic Con and they want to make a big deal about it by having a special Batman Promo Comic (how they worded it) – I should have followed up on this, but I believe it will be a free book (minimal cost to retailer?) to give out.  Not sure why I didn't ask for clarification, the conversation must have jumped on to something else.  They're hoping the promo comic will get people excited and get the other 99% of the people that can't get tickets to San Diego a reason to pop into their local shop.  Some retailer complained that it will get lost in the avalanche of news being released at San Diego.  DC countered that their promo comic will actually be out before that avalanche starts and that local shops can actually send out press releases to their local news media the week before and get articles pre-set for that Wednesday…

The Batman Death of the Family box set with the Joker mask had an actual mock-up box this time (didn't in Florida – they used an old V For Vendetta box there).  It's a brilliant box with the fingers of joker looking like they're holding the mask on the head.  Very nice.  The retail seems to have jumped out now though (I remember it being cheaper in Florida).  Now they're saying the SRP is $49.99 for the September release of this box set.  To make matters worse – they're letting Graphitti sell the damn thing at San Diego to create hype.  Okay, I get this – every publisher has an exclusive item.  Mattel has an exclusive Hot Wheels, toy guy has exclusive action figure, etc. etc.  DC wants to join in the act and they're going to print a limited number of these for sale in July (I asked for a number, solid or ballpark – they had no clue at this point – limited is as good as they would say).   What pissed me off, and I let them know, is that Graphitti is being allowed to sell the mask by itself (the thing everyone wants) for $30 bucks.  Now the box set is $50 for all the damn retail shops that sell things at SRP and everyone will be forced to buy a book they've already got with it.  Why the hell isn't Graphitti having to sell the mask with the book like us?  How in gods' name is it advantageous to DC to let them sell the hot item separate from the other item?  It's less money.  It does not expose the San Diego flippers to a great comic – it just gets them a mask that they can sell on eBay…. sigh…  I was told not to direct my anger to Chapman/Graphitti , but to direct it at DC as it's their decision…

Normal slide show presentation of upcoming books – most of which had been spoken about over a month ago at the Florida meeting.  They raved about Superman #34, the  first Geoff Johns/John Romita Jr issue and how great it's going to sell.  I asked Wayne to pinpoint how well he felt it would do for stores since sales projections are his job.  I gave him an example of a store selling 100 copies of an average Superman comic – he came back with an expectation of 200 copies.

They glossed over Infinity Man & the Forever People #1 by Didio & Giffen (same team that brought you OMAC) – a book that everyone in the room knows will tank.

They talked some more about the open to buy plan for 'variant' covers.  What's confusing about this is that in FloridaI was given the impression that if Batgirl (for example) had a 1 in 25 Bombshell variant cover – and you ordered 25 copies of the regular book you would get a free Bombshell variant – but you could also buy (normal discount) another 20 of that cover if you like.

This time I got the impression that it will be solicited more like an IDW Cover A & Cover B – you decide if you normal 100 copies should go 50/50 or 75/25 or 100/10 whatever you like.  But that they will still have some incentive books still offered like a 1 in 100 b&w sketch cover nonsense – and those incentive covers will not be open to buy but will be a lot less frequent than the old 1 in 25 incentives that we saw on most every title.  I believe this starts with the June Bombshell covers – but like most of these meetings, DC seems to start telling us plans that they haven't really thought through or ironed out all the bugs on yet.  (Which really is good, since they then do act like they're using our feedback to make their decisions on the final plan)….

New product announcements (and artwork show) was for Earth One graphic novels (which I had not heard about in Florida and was not clear if this was already public knowledge) [It is – Rich]

Teen Titans Earth OneJeff Lemire and Terry Dodson on art  – looks good.

Wonder Woman Earth OneGrant Morrison & Yanick Paquette art (always considered Paquette a lesser Adam Hughes, but at least he draws interiors) – looks good.

Superman Earth One – book 3 and Batman Earth One – book 2.

We were also shown artwork/pages for the new Vertigo title Bodies written by Si Spencer with art by 4 different artists – taking place in 4 different times dealing with a serial killer who has killed in each of these periods.  Only artist I recall for certain was Phil Winslade.

We recommended that DC use an actual SRP on their 'artist edition' books of Ronin and Kelly Jones Batman.  No idea why IDW does not give an SRP but we pointed out it hurts sales when customers see 'PLEASE INQUIRE' they just want to know how much….

Dennis Barger made an ass of himself as usual, the entire room varied in different stages of embarrassment, snickering at the guy as he lost his mind, and irritation with him.  He wouldn't shut the hell up, rambled on about nothing points, and basically got so combative that Bob Wayne finally snapped back and reminded Dennis that yelling at DC Comics about something he doesn't like is not productive – he'd been invited there by DC, provided with free food and drink in return for constructive criticism in making things better.  This finally shut him up.  DiDio was insanely patient with this guy, and kind – way more than that clown deserves.  I certainly hope they'll still return to the mid-west for one of these meetings after another such lousy experience…

Lastly, I asked DiDio later about the fact that while DC may never intend to make a 'bad book' (as he had stated at his opening address) – it sure as hell seems like they make a lot of comics with the sole purpose of keeping a trademark active.   Regardless of whether anyone wants to see another Forever People book – its intent seems to simply protect the trademark for DC.  He readily agreed, and pointed out that DC had dropped the ball several years ago when Marvel snatched up the trademark on Icon (Milestone character) and created their Icon sub-imprint basically stopping DC from ever printing those Icon comics again or using the character…

And into the night they go… we have contaced Barger in case he would like a right to reply…

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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