DC Comics’ The New 52, the wildly popular reboot of the DC superhero universe launched last year, continues to drive sales in comics shops and the general book market. In addition Batman: Earth One, an original hardcover graphic novel that updates Batman’s origin story was released in July in print and via Apple’s iBookstore and joins about 11 titles from the New 52 that have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list since May. DC also plans to release The New 52 Zero, a forthcoming mammoth hardcover omnibus to mark the 1 year anniversary of the series in September.
In a conference call with DC Comics senior v-p of sales Bob Wayne and v-p of Marketing John Cunningham, said the biggest sellers of the New 52 book collections have been Batman: Court of Owls vol. 1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capulla and Justice League: Origin vol. 1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
DC has released about 30 books collecting of the New 52 periodical series, Cunningham said, and he was quick to point out that the New 52 book collections are consistently hitting the New York Times bestseller list for graphic books, in both hardcover (Animal Man: The Hunt, Batman & Robin: Born to Kill, Batman: Detective Comics, Wonder Woman: Blood, Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection, Batwoman: Hydrology, Green Lantern: Sinestro) and paperback (Catwoman: The Game, Animal and Justice League International: The Signal Masters).
The New 52 volumes aren’t the only DC titles on the bestseller lists. Non-New 52 titles also on the bestseller list include the controversial Before Watchmen series, which are selling in big numbers of periodical issues; celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain’s original graphic novel Get Jiro (Vertigo) as well as book collections like Batman: Death by Design by Chip Kidd and David Taylor and such titles as Fables, DMZ and perrenial backlist bestsellers like Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns.
DC also debuted its titles on the Apple iBookstore with Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank and Cunningham said they plan to release more DC graphic novels on Apple and the other digital platforms over the next six months. Batman: Earth One, a hardcover original graphic novel, is top bestsellnig title in paid graphic novels on iBookstore this week and it's about to go into its third printing, Wayne said, following Superman: Earth One, published in 2010, onto the bestseller lists. Both books are intended to provide a contemporary update to these iconic character’s origin stories in a single volume. “Batman: Earth One has been a runaway bestseller for us, even better than Superman: Earth One. People are familiar with the Superman: Earth One title and we don’t have explain what the new book is about,” Wayne said.
The two executives were also buoyant about the recent Comic-con where DC announced that bestselling author Neil Gaiman plans to publish a new Sandman mini-series and announced a graphic novel adaptation of Django Unchained, the new film by director Quentin Tarrantino (who made a surprise appearance at one of the DC Comics panels), to be published as a series beginning in November before the film is released in December. The comics will adapt the “whole script”, according to Cunningham, and include much material that did not make it into the forthcoming film. No creative team has been announced to produce the series as yet.
Much like responses in PW’s recent retailer survey, both executives said retailers were reporting optimism behind the growth in sales generally credited to The New 52, digital sampling and the Avengers film, “we are hearing much the same, retailers are doing well,” said Wayne. On the digital side, Cunningham and Wayne noted the release of Batman: Earth One on the iBookstore and the change in the response of retailers to digital delivery. “Last year there was speculation about whether digital might hurt physical retailers. But the story this year is that people are buying more print and digital is selling as well,” Cunningham said.
Indeed DC’s New 52 reboot seems to have lifted sales across the industry and sent comics fans—new readers as well as lapsed fans—into comics shops and bookstores looking to see what all the fuss is about. So DC plans to release a series of what they are calling “#Zero” issues, a series of new origin stories to be released as periodical issues for each character in the New 52. The Zero issues will be collected into a new gigantic hardcover omnibus—DC previously collected the #1 issues into a 1200 page hardcover omnibus called DC Comics: The New 52—to be called DC Comics-The New 52 Zero, a one volume 1300-page hardcover collection to be released on December 12 and priced, like the previous omnibus edition, at $150.