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How Will Your Retailer Be Dealing With Villains Month? (UPDATE)

So we asked a number of comic book retailers how they will be dealing with next week's first delivery of the Villains Month 3D covers from DC Comics, in the light of across-the-board allocations and replacement with 2D covers.

Gary Dills, Laughing Ogre Comics, Virginia;

We took pre-orders from customers for weeks up until the allocations were announced. Every customer will get what they ordered, and we will have available what we can.

People who ordered 3D versions of some of the books that we have less quantity of we will be offering to buy their pre-ordered 3D and give them a 2D version to expand the availability of them. None of these were pre-paid for, so customers will have an option to turn a profit on day 1.

I am expecting solid interest, and expect to have lots of happy consumers.

Heroes, London, Ontario, Canada;

Two-words: googly-eyes. As a Heroes of London Ontario exclusive, we are making all 2-D covers available with googly-eye villains upon request. Yesterday, we acquired a supply of "ultra-limited" googly-eyes which we will be applying to 2-D DC Villain's Month covers at no extra charge making them "ultra-rare" collectables. We put some up around the shop with a sign yesterday, and so far we have been getting a great reaction. Most people get it, and many are actually per-ordering them. We may have to add googly-eyes to the 3D covers just to move them! Don't forget this is a Heroes exclusive, and if it isn't from Heroes it's just a cheap knock-off.

Ryan Higgins, Comics Conspiracy, Sunnyvale, California

We took more orders on a number of books for the 3D covers than we're getting before the allocation numbers hit. We immediately stopped taking orders at that point. Everyone that signed up after that, I informed will be getting 2D covers for a number of the books, and most were ok with it. My plan is to fill orders for people that ordered the whole set, and then replace 3D covers with 2D covers on no more than one book per person through my entire pull list, so the most 2D covers someone will get will be one.

Mike Banks, Samurai Comics, Phoenix, Arizona here.

First off, thanks for your coverage on this and other market related items! You have been a great source for us to keep us on top of the game! I have another 90 copies of Catwoman #23 coming our way thanks to the article you ran on Tuesday morning.

As for the 3D covers, we have been very proactive in monitoring demand for this since the word came down about the allocations.

Overall, we are in a pretty good position with these here locally. With 3 locations our order level is fairly high, so while our allocations were lower than our orders (much lower in some cases) we still have a pretty good supply coming in.

First and foremost we see this as an opportunity to reward our regular customers for their loyalty. With the exception of the Justice League related titles, we are receiving enough copies to ensure that if a Samurai Comics subscription customer has one of these titles on their list, they will be given the opportunity to get all of the 3D covers associated to the title on their list– If you are a Samurai Comics subscriber who has Batman on your list, you will get Batman #23.1-#23.4

Unlike many retailers who hold copies back, only to put them out a week later at an inflated price, we are going to be putting the remaining copies we have after our subscription pulls on our stands at cover price, with a limit of 1 copy per person. We will have plenty of the 2D covers on hand for those who just want to follow the story.

The allocations are going to prove to be frustrating for everyone. We expect to sell out of our allocations quickly, but will hopefully be able to get these into the hands of a large number of local fans at cover price.

Steve at Third Eye, Annapolis and California, Maryland

We've got plenty of the regular and 3D covers coming, and while a few titles may be in shorter supply than others, we do not anticipate us being unable to meet demand on any of these.
We're super excited for the event, as everything we've seen and heard coming out of DC on FOREVER EVIL looks absolutely incredible.
We'll be hosting a special dual launch party event for both FOREVER EVIL and X-MEN BATTLE OF THE ATOM at both Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, MD and Third Eye Comics in California, MD.
We've also got a very cool promo running where we'll be distributing Arkham Wanted posters to everyone who purchases FOREVER EVIL #1, that has a full checklist of the VILLAINS MONTH one-shots.
For every VILLAINS MONTH book you purchase, we'll use our special GCPD-issued stamp to X it out. If you fill the card by the end of September, you can redeem it for a bounty in the form of a $52 Third Eye Gift Card.

Chris Humphries of Alpha Comics, Calgary, Canada

Alpha Comics has worked hard to make sure all of our customers are aware of the situation around the 3D allocation. Pull-box customers have been notified that they need to let Alpha know if they want 3D covers. Several people are just fine with the 2D covers, easier on the wallet. Because if this, come Wednesday there will be plenty of 3D covers available to anyone in Calgary who makes the effort to drop in. The 3D covers will be available at US cover price. As a measure against "scalping" there will be a 2 copy limit.

Dennis Barger of Wonderworld Comics, Detroit writes;

For the last 2 weeks our customers have been voting for one of the 3 choices

we had only 7% say they weren't going to read it, 42% said they wanted it any way they could get it and almost exactly 50% said they had to have it.

On a title like Green Lantern, where we have 30-45 die hard customers for all the books and we are getting exactly 22 sets of the 4 issues, at least 1 of our die hard customers will get shafted and probably way more.

We exceeded our regular orders in July by 100-1000% on each of these books, we are getting 80%-10% of what we ordered or would regularly order on any one of these books.


The thing that upsets me the most, is that "I" have to choose which of my customers will get screwed, when it is clearly DC that did all of the screwing on this one…At least 1 Goeff Johns Green Lantern Fan, from the Town next to his home town is going to be disappointed.  I have spent 8 years since Green Lantern Rebirth building up this customer base, telling every new customer about what our home town boy has done with this part of the DC Universe and successfully sell Green Lantern at 90% of what i sell Justice League and Batman because of it, What is going to happen in October is anybodies guess???

villiansLarry Doherty of Larry's Comics, Lowell, Massachusetts;

Retailers are in a NO win scenario this Wednesday courtesy of DC comics.
( Try to be gentle with your LCS )

Demand > Supply.

This spring I got invited to NY to hear about DC's exciting fall line up.

The sweet, sweet voice of Dan Didio convinced me to go "all in" on villains month.
He energized me.

I ran a killer in shop promotion:
Get a FREE limited edition t-shirt in my DC Villains month "Special Offer"

I pre-sold 62 of these sets.
I ordered 190 of ea Villains month title.
I'm receiving 11 copies of some titles.
I cannot honor pre orders unless I get creative.

By my monkey math.
51 customers are due refunds.
51 customers may be a bit pissed off at ole Lar.
Ole Lar will work his ass off to make those 51 customers happy.
I have traded with other shops. I have payed exorbitant E bay prices.
My pre order customers will be served to the best of my ability.
All subscribers will be taken care of.

DC did NOT produce enough 3-d covers.

This Wednesday I'll have regular Villains month comics stocked in depth.
Spectacular lenticular 3-D versions of:

Will be available at cover price, limit one per walk in customer, first come first served.

Not a chance in hell in spectacular 3-d form at my shop via walk in:


Blame the MO-ron at DC that set the print runs.

DC has strung together a staggering array of mistakes.
They have to end sometime.
It's always darkest before the dawn.

Go to bed early tonight DC & take your vitamins.
I need my number two publisher healthy & making good decisions.


Despite the 3-d nonsense, Wednesday will be electric at my shop.
We are hosting a drink and draw and kickstarter party at 5:30
Swing by.

Please enjoy this adorable Hitler video that explains the DC allocations clearly:

Cliff Biggers of Dr No's, Marietta, Georgia, writes;

We have been very aggressive in working out trades to ensure that we would have sufficient quantities of all 3D covers to meet our preorders and subscriber requests. As a result, every advance customer will get all the books he or she ordered; that was our number one concern. Since we have always valued our rack customers as well, we will have as many of the 3D Motion covers on the racks as possible; however, on some of the books with the most severe allocations, we may only be able to offer 2D covers.

Of course, we have ordered strongly on those 2D versions to allow every customer to enjoy the stories and art; we have always stressed the value of reading and enjoying comics rather than speculating on them, although we understand the excitement that these cutting-edge 3D motion covers have created in the marketplace. We have already heard from several of our customers who simply want to read the stories that they pleased with the opportunity to save $1 per title by going with 2D covers instead.

We will also take preorders for the complete set that DC will be ordering in the next Previews for February release. We will allow customers who preorder that set to check out copies of the 2D covers in order to enjoy them each week so that they can keep up with the story lines without having to wait for the 3D set to enjoy the story lines.

Jetpack Comics of Rochester, New Hampshire writes;

Honestly Rich,

This whole thing is a scam.  Customers have no idea what the fuck Villains Month even is.  Most of them are complaining that they have to buy 4 issues of the comic they follow because they aren't sure if it is part of the current story or not.

That being said, it sucks that if you read a JL or JLA title you probably won't get the lenticular version in your sub.

It's been lightly explained as to what the hell it is, with focus being on the fact that DC did not produce enough of these trinkets to cover what retailers wanted.  How the hell do they come up short (I was cut over 90%) on a cover for JOKER'S DAUGHTER, never mind the J.L. & J.L.A. covers being cut by near 80%.

Make no mistake people, the books in shortest supply are as follows


They may or may not be in the correct order of rarity.

Oddly enough, I have two accounts.

One RARELY EVER orders DC product but got higher allocations than the account that does.

Really DC – You short change us on Darkseid & Lobo?  Seems ridiculous and scamulous to me.  Yes, you warned us that you might not have produced enough but of these characters?  How the fuck do I end up with more Black Manta and Desaad than LOBO or Joker's Daughter?  Who was the genius setting the print runs?  Obviously not a person that knew ANYTHING about the business.

So world, if you really think the lenticular books are your investment books of the year, please note that even at a 50% allocation the quantity I am too receive is still far greater, on the title, than I normally buy.

Each by a # x X.  That translates to the fact that there are more of most of these than the normal print run of the title.  A ridiculous amount more.  If you can find them, get the nine books above and flip them on eBay as completists will be scouring the internet for them.

I've always held DC to a higher standard of business.  Never felt like they were trying to sell their product using trinkets and baubles (sans rings – we all love rings, even though we couldn't get them when the Green Lantern Movie released) until recently.  That was always the center of being for OTHER companies.  AS of late their reliance on high ratio variants and other non-traditional (for them) sales tools has had me question the direction they are going.

What was the question again?  Oh yeah, Everyone of my customers, and five of their friends, can come to our store and get EVERY SINGLE ONE of the lenticular covers with out issue.  You need a few extras?  No problem.  We've got you covered!  But, there are nine books that we can't even cover subs for.  Mostly we're embarrassed that the publisher did not produce enough of the four JLA books to have enough available for the customers that actually read JLA.  That makes no sense at all.

How will we handle the "influx" of customers for these books?  It's easy.  The only people coming in, off the cuff, will be ebayers & speculators whom we will limit to 2 copies, like we do with all comics.  Regulars of ours?  They can buy all they want and we will not run out.  We take care of OURS!  That's why a comic shop has a community as opposed to customers!  We take care of our community and they take care of us!  Come on in!  Villains month is available without issue at Jetpack Comics.

P.S. No, we're not going to mail-order them to you, we're sold out of Saturday NYCC passes and there are no New Mutant 98's in our dollar room!

Matt Booker of Automattic Comics, Corsham, Wiltshire, UK writes;

The allocations mess is unlike dc and they really should have been quicker with the communications with retailers to help us A help retailers and customers Order in the first place. A short paragraph laying out the idea an premise would have helped on 1st page of DC previews section and B resolve allocations problem and give customers info.  Seems chatting with other fellow retailers my gut instinct was right.  Long term standing orders get first refusal on first prints. Short term second refusal. Shelf pick ups at the bottom. Anything left following tues will go on eBay as demand may be huge for this.   Really wish they hadn't bothered as some big customers who treated it as a skip month for DC titles.

Bob Smethers of Comic City, Detroit writes;

Our plans are pretty common sense, fill subs first, then individual requests. We cut off requests on 8/10 with the receipt of the allocations. Any that are left will go to the shelf to be sold 1 per customer per title. We only anticipate problems with Justice League titled books currently, those are the ones that were allocated way off of what subs are at. Several of those we will have to fill subs with 2ds, and there will be no 3ds to shelve. As far as walk-ins, we expect a lot of confusion, and ultimately a large missed sales opportunity. Plus, we have to start this on a holiday week, when there is less certainty that books will arrive on time to process.

UPDATE: A few more retailers add their takes;

Jesse James of Jesse James Comics, Glendale Arizona writes;

We have taken the high road on this and just decided to go with what we had and not what we are or should be getting.  We went through and identified our longtime DC comic box holders and have offered them the full package first and then moved on to the rest of the box holders.  After going through that process we feel comfortable that we should be able to handle just regular new issue customers for the first day. We also have to remember we have other titles and publishers to sell as well. This should be a fun day of celebration of the new 3D cover not a day of complaints.  I really think most customers understand as long as you have explained to them over the last weeks of the allocation.  We expect record sales this day and extended orders for further issues for this highly anticipated 3d cover and regular covers as well.

Jay Bardyla of Habby Harbor Comics in Edmonton, AB, Canada

Initially, when the books were offered, we emailed and file stuffed every customer file with a note saying that we would NOT be auto filling customer pulls with DC New 52 books for the Villains month in September Instead, every customer would have to special order the books they wanted. Just about every customer was very happy we did this as it gave them the opportunity to not get books they likely wouldn't have wanted since most of the books didn't have the regular creative teams or had stories that weren't essential reading to the series. Plus, avoiding the extra cost was nice. A few customers took the opportunity to cancel some/many/all of their titles.

When the allocations came through, our store had more than enough books to cover all customer requests and still have some stock for the shelf. When the additional printings were announced, we contacted all our customers again to give them the option to convert their orders from the mostly unseen/unknown, extra cost 3D covers to the regular covers and, again, many customers jumped at the chance so we ordered accordingly to cover those requests. This will give us a few more 3D copies for the shelf.

Overall, our ordering goal was to meet the needs of our customers and attempt to sell through these books as quickly as possible. This was, in our opinion, a bad concept that was poorly executed so we did not want to support it. Our comic book order for the month of September was nearly 10% higher than average as we invested more on excellent indie and alternative books that were being offered for the month so there is no loss in revenue AND we'll likely expand our reader base significantly (something Villains Month would not do).

The media coverage will likely be a non-issue, as it typically is, in Canada.

Retailers aren't the only frustrated ones. Jonathan Soweidy is a DC Comics subscriber. He writes;

I emailed DC comic subscriptions customer service, and I got this reply

Thank you for contacting DC Comics. There are 14 comic titles involved in the villain subseries. Subscribers will receive issue .1 of these titles in September. Other issues of the subseries (.2, .3, etc.) will be available on the newsstand, but the subscribers will only get ".1" of the subseries. Subscribers do not get the option of "opting out". Some titles involved will have lenticular covers on the newsstand. That is an effect that displays a different image depending on the angle of view. Subscribers will not receive the lenticular covers.

If you have any more questions or concerns, feel free to email us back or give us a call.

I have subscriptions to most of the Villains month books, but I only get the .1 issue which are mostly guest teams.
Justice League 23.4 is the only one written by the regular author

AquaMan 23.2 is by the regular author as well and ties into the current storyline

Flash 23.2 is the by the regular creative team

Wonder Woman 23.2 is a continuation of the last issue

Batman 23.2 is the by the series author and ties into the last 3 months of the comic

I technically have had these issues on pre-order for over a year, and I don't get any of the lenticular covers, and I don't get any issues by the regular creative teams. You would think they would have let me know about this so I could have pre-ordered them with a comic shop.

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Rich JohnstonAbout 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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