Why DC Comics Has Been Cancelling So Many Collections – and Taking Numbers Off the Spines

DC Comics has traditionally ruled the roost at the bookstore, a reputation for a strong relationship with the bookseller market, with perennials like Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Sandman, Preacher, Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, Hush, All-Star Superman and many more making for constant bestsellers. But of late, there appear to have been quite a lot of cancellations of solicited collections by DC Comics. Some are repackaged in other forms. Others are not.

Today, addressing comic book retailers on Facebook, DC Publisher Dan DiDio talked about a number of matters (and you can catch up with them all with this handy tag). Including this decision process. He told them,

"We had a very poor 2018 with our collections. It forced us to reevaluate what we were collecting and how, so you saw a lot of changes taking place. If you saw the cancellations that occurred after solicitation, that's probably because there was no appreciable interest for these titles-meaning that we couldn't hit the minimum number to justify print. I'd much prefer just to cancel books than to have devalued product out there. We have to find ways to make our collected editions valuable, so that people want to purchase them and put them on a shelf. We also have to reevaluate these collections of six issues and out-when you collect six issues of a periodical regardless if it's a complete story. You're going to see more tweaking going forward, but I feel like we're in a very good place."

There certainly has been some tweaking going on with the looks of certain titles, often mid-way through a run. When asked if DC could provide alternate dust jackets following design changes in a collected edition series, he dismissed this suggestion saying,

"It's time to move on. Every change we make to the visual interpretation of our packaging is to excite people, and get more people excited about the books themselves."

As for whether retailers can help a collected edition pass the minimum threshold to print, if thy know that there might be an issue in advance?

"We're not cancelling because it's a couple of copies off the number. We're cancelling because it's thousands of copies off. If we cannot get to two-thirds of that [minimum] number, then it does not justify publication."

And as for collections losing volume numbers on their spines, indicating they are part of a series, and where they place within it…

"We're finding diminishing returns on the books with numbering on spines-they take the same periodical cadence that comes with our regular books. Every subsequent number drops precipitously. The longer those numbers run, the lower and lower those print runs become. Also, I want to make sure we're clear about what's in that book. That's why the title's more important. I'd like someone to pick it up for the reading experience rather than straight numbering."

And sometimes that seems to mean reducing the prominence of calling something Bronze Age… Volume 3…

Why DC Comics Has Been Cancelling So Many Collections

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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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