George Pérez and the 7000 Copies of JLA/Avengers From Marvel & DC
Last year, after the news about George Pérez's cancer and his decision not to undergo treatment, there were calls from across the industry for DC Comics and Marvel Comics to put differences aside and republish the classic JLA/Avengers crossover by George Pérez and Kurt Busiek. There was also a widely shared Bleeding Cool petition from people committing to purchase the book if DC and Marvel chose to put it back into print. And now, in conjunction with the creator charity the Hero Initiative, they are publishing a new limited-edition reprint of the book.
George Pérez posted to Facebook, "I am so incredibly overjoyed to hear that my fanboy dream is going to be available to a whole new generation of comic book fans who weren't there when it was printed that many years ago. And it's wonderful that it's happening while I'm still alive to see it. Whatever it was that allowed this reprint to be released I am very grateful and on behalf of the fans all I can say is well done DC and Marvel! And of course, I am so elated that all profits from this re-print are going to one of my favorite personal charities!" DC Comics editor-in-chief Marie Javins tweeted "Here's George Perez at DC headquarters the day we showed him the cover to JLA/Avengers reprint."
One aspect of the book being limited to 7000 copies at $29.99, is that comic book retailers think that just won't be enough. The Diamond Comic Distributors listing for the book has a note stating that allocation of copies will occur. Bleeding Cool has been told that there will only ever be one print run. A source familiar with non-profit partnerships with major publishers says that printing caps are often common when putting together fundraising projects. But in this case, 7000 copies was all that could be put together so that they could get a print run out in time, given the pressures that are hitting the printing industry as a whole now, especially for larger printing projects that haven't been set up a long time in advance. And, for George Perez, it is sad to say that speed is of the essence. A 7000 print run now, means that Perez will get to see it.
It might have been wiser to a) charge more – no one would have baulked at a charity deal for $100 and demand may have been managed in this fashion, or b) express a likelihood as to future print runs when the resources are available, to stop initial excess purchase. As it stands, what is inevitably going to happen is that copies will be a) heavily allocated – some individual stores would have ordered 7000 copies by themselves and b) copies will be flipped on eBay and hit three figures in seconds, with the money mostly not going where it was intended.
Brian Hibbs is the Owner of Comix Experience and Comix Experience Outpost comics shops in San Francisco, which he has owned and run for thirty-two years this year. He also runs the Graphic Novel of The Month book club, was one of the founders of ComicsPRO, famously led a successful million-dollar-plus Class Action lawsuit against Marvel Comics, and is a regular contributor to the Bleeding Cool Bestseller List. He wrote on Facebook "I am currently at about 19 people asking me to buy a copy of the Hero Initiative edition of the AVENGERS/JLA TP *in a single day*, and that's in email, so my awesome staff at the shop face-to-face are probably also at an equal amount. This is insane relative to how superhero comics generally sell now. There is a CRAZY demand for this book, and one that has absolutely existed for years, long before the wretched news of George Perez's illness. Here's the problem, bearing in mind that YES! 7k copies is always better than 0k copies…. but, yeah, no, 7k copies is the barest tip of the iceberg of the potential audience for this amazing, seminal piece of superhero comicing: as far as we know there are something on the order of ~3200 Diamond accounts, so therefore math says a 7k print run means 2-3 copies per store. However, I now think can sell sixty in the first week, and another sixty over the next year. And I think I am likely underestimating the number by an order of magnitude? We've already had to start sending out messaging that the nature of this book is that flippers are going to try to buy up every copy at $30, so they can sell it for ~$100. But, seriously, FUCK THOSE GUYS. I feel legitimately awful for the myriad of requests I got in email from people who I know for a live-long fact just want to get a copy to READ, but that *I can not help*. I am so entirely opposed to even the *concept* of flippers turning this into a $100 book on release-day, that we then need to find a solution… and there isn't a single one that I can think of that rewards the legitimate reader where I am not forced into picking winners and losers. (I mean: seriously people, my and my super-awesome staff's, sole job is to curate and sell excellent comics to wonderful people, and our greatest barrier to doing so is ultimately time — and each and every conversation that we had to have today of why we can't possibly sell folks a thing that they want is seriously and legitimately taking away from us selling people comics). The only ethical path that I see when I have under 5% of what I think hard reader demand will be is to just sell the book on eBay ourselves there in week one, get the highest price we can and donate the entire proceeds to Hero Initiative because I don't want to reward the *flippers*, but only the charity. (By the way, I really strongly and 100% support a non-profit that's geared around making sure that people who put their lives into making comics are taken care of when things turn sour. Give them money. They're good people.) Anyway, I ultimately think that it's almost entirely certain that AVENGERS/JLA has real-world demand from actual readers such as that a print run of nearly 100k would disappear within 2 years max, and need a perpetual reprint after that. This is a core piece of superhero fiction, and a thing that the audience that is interested in in this genre is *deeply* desirous to read. Plus it completely rocks."
Escape Pod Comics' account forwarded this to their readers, saying "Please read. We are currently not accepting orders for this book because… Well, please read."
Cliff Biggers, another one of the most influential comic book retailers in the direct market, of Dr. No's Comics & Games SuperStore, in Marietta, Georgia, and also a regular contributor to the Bleeding Cool Bestseller List, shared his own take. "Believe me, we'd LOVE to be able to sell everyone a copy of the upcoming JLA/Avengers collected edition. However, the 7000 copy print run means that we're likely to get only two or three copies, and we had dozens of requests today alone. I am hoping that Hero Initiative finds a way to increase that print run, but if they don't, we're all going to be very frustrated by how rare this book will be. If we only get two or three copies, our tentative plan is to auction them off with a minimum starting bid of $100, then split all profits between Hero Initiative and George Pérez."
Pérez collaborator Mark Waid replied to Cliff, saying "Everyone wanted a larger print run, trust me. Blame the lawyers and let's enjoy what we get, which we didn't have before. Seven thousand isn't enough for everyone, which is a pity, but it's still more than zero."
Graham Crackers Comics, another chain store familiar to the Bleeding Cool Bestseller List told us that "Graham Crackers Comics is the exclusive distributor of Hero Initiative product – we have not made a pre-sale for this item yet, but will be doing so when we get hard numbers on how many copies we will be getting. It's thanks to the Hero Initiatives efforts that we're seeing any copies – the print run was NOT determined by them – multiple factors impacted why there are so few copies being made (time on the press, paper shortages and outside forces). It's a great organization and we're always proud to help sell their product line to support comic creators in need."
Customer Adam Talley posted "Reached out to my LCS to see if they can order that JLA/AVENGERS book for me. They said they would sell it to me at "market value" and not at cover price. Should I be mad at that??"
While reader Anthony Murray posted in the BC comments "Just heard back from my comic shop, they were told only allocated to one copy per shop. Said they will auction it off. So $30 comic will go for more than 10 times the cost at least. With the collector mentality no doubt for more. This is what comes when folk only wants to do good for someone, it always turns into this…."
Here's hoping that the right heads can be knocked together in time.