DC Entertainment continued its strong showing in August, edging past Marvel for market share in retail dollar sales, while its Batman Earth One, a graphic novel that updates the superheroes origin story, marked its second month as the top selling graphic novel to comics shop retailers. DC Comics also plans to release a new Superman Earth One graphic novel in October, as well as book collections of its New 52 “Zero” issues by the end of the year and into 2013.
During a conference call with DC Entertaniment senior v-p of sales Bob Wayne and v-p of marketing John Cunningham, they reported that they were “very happy” with August sales, pointing out that Diamond Comics Distributors monthly sales reports lists DC Entertainment leading the comics shop market in August with a 33.32% share in retail dollars. DC Comic’s New 52 relaunch continues to do well with three “New 52” graphic novels—Superman: Action Comics vol. 1: Men of Steel, Batman Vol. 1: Court of Owls and Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones—joining Batman: Earth One among the top ten bestselling comics in the comics shop market in August.
Designed to “reimagine” the origin stories of DC’s classic superheroes, the Earth One series features original graphic novels and launched in 2011 with Superman: Earth One, which became an immediate bestseller. With Batman Earth One racking up sales, its no surprise, Cunningham said, that the popular line of original graphic novels will continue and DC will publish Superman Earth One Volume 2 by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis on October 31, in addition to continuing to rollout the initial volumes of book collections of the entire New 52 series.
DC is also releasing a series of “Zero” issues, standalone origin stories based on each New 52 series, that will be collected in a giant 1300 page omnibus at the end of 2012. But he also said that each individual series of Zero stories (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.) will also be collected into separate trade paperback collections as Volume 2 of the New 52 book collections. “Most of the Zero issues will be volume 2s,” Cunningham said, “the numbers we’re getting on the series have been terrific.”
In addition, DC’s Before Watchmen, a controversial but very popular series of prequels based Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s acclaimed superhero epic Watchmen, will be collected into books beginning next May. Cunningham said that the Before Watchmen series periodicals were now driving backlist sales of the classic Watchmen graphic novel. DC plans an “aggressive” marketing campaign for the Before Watchmen book collections, a campaign that will be divided into two parts—the direct market, aka the comics shop market, and the general book trade. Marketing will include TV ads, Cunningham said, “We know the potential upside of these books.”