Thursday, November 10, 2011

How DC Comics got me to stop worrying and learn to love the trade

You know, from the moment I read about the DC relaunch back in June, I knew it was going to wind up changing my buying habits.  And, indeed, that seems to be the case.

I'm already buying fewer floppies (sorry, comics industry) and planning to buy trades of series of which I've only read an issue or two.  In truth, DC really seemed to get their act together on trades right up until about a year ago, and then started getting a bit confusing about them all over again.  For a while, it seemed like the plan was that if a story line wrapped up in January, in February or March we'd see a hardback edition (usually about the same cost as the issues) and then in late summer or fall, we might see the trade paperback.

I thought it was pretty fair, as far as release windows go.  But, yeah, figuring out when the Green Lantern and Wonder Woman trades were going to come out (a few of the series I went in "all trade" on a while back) has been a bit confusing, and it seems less likely that you can predict releases again.  

Still, its worlds better than the 90's when it was utterly unpredictable what would get a collection and what would not.

But, Wednesday DC announced their publishing plans for trades for the New 52 (no word yet on other collections), and it looks like a nice, easy to understand plan aimed at putting volumes of books on the shelf at retailers and in your home.  Maybe not surprising as current Editor-in-Chief of DC is Bob Harras, who ran DC's trade collections division and built it into the business I came to trust.

There's a mix of paperback and hard cover that seems to balance the fact that there's some of us (cough) you want a nice Superman library full of hard covers.  And that some folks are going to want to try out series, and get six issues for less than of the cost of the single issues.

ANIMAL MAN VOL. 1 TPWriter: Jeff LemireArtists: Travel Foreman, Jeff Huet and John Paul LeonCollects: ANIMAL MAN #1-6$14.99 US, 144 pg
That's $15 (and my LCS gives 10% off on trades every day, so even better, like $13.50), versus $18 for single issues of the same comics in paperback format.

As per hardcovers go:

BATMAN VOL. 1 HCWriter: Scott SnyderArtists: Greg Capullo and Jonathan GlapionCollects: BATMAN #1-7$24.99 US, 176 pg

That's $25 for 7 issues, which would normally be $21.  But it IS a hardcover book.  With my LCS 10% every day off, it's still $22.50, so you have to do some math there and decide if that's worth it for you.

I would point out, I'll be curious to see if these prices stick.  I bet they don't OR DC has a new policy that all paperbacks are $15 for a story arc of 5-7 issues, and hardbacks are $25 for the same length.  I'm seeing some differences, such as:
STORMWATCH VOL. 1 TPWriter: Paul CornellArtists: Miguel Sepulveda and Al BarrionuevoCollects: STORMWATCH #1-7$14.99 US, 160 pg
Also $15, but 7 issues rather than 6, like Animal Man.  

Anyway, what's really exciting is seeing almost all of the titles listed now as things coming from DC in trade form, the form more and more readers seem to prefer.  There'll always be a few collectors like me who want their floppy copy of Superman, but if DC is moving to a publishing plan that involves books for the ol' shelf coming out on a routine basis (and has a model where that's as important in continuing with publishing plans for a series as anything else), I'm all for it.

The lesson to be taken from Manga's initial stateside success wasn't just "the kids like less dialog" and "floating giant tear drops indicate anxiety".  It was also the successful/ lucrative business model of being able to have 20 volumes of one story in a book store somewhere.  

Honestly, if they are serious about all this, its going to make justifying the purchase of floppies pretty hard.  I hate to drop Animal Man and Swamp Thing, but...  man.  I'd rather be managing shelves of books than boxes of comics.


Simon MacDonald said...

I'm with you, sadly I'll be telling my LCS I'm not picking up any of the DCnU #5 titles I'd be getting up to now. I'm going back to trade waiting. I have more than enough to read and don't feel like I need to get the floppies every month.

My library has an embarrassment of riches. On Saturday I walked out with American Vampire Vol 2, BPRD Vol 7 and Casanova: Gula. That's not even mentioning about 4 volumes of manga as well. Add on the fact that I recently ordered Chew Vol 4, Unwritten Vol 4 and Morning Glories Vol 2 with only Chew being read so far.

Can't wait for that HC of Batwoman though.

The League said...

Yeah. I have already started dropping some series knowing I'd just pick up the trade (Bat titles, GL) and will be doing so with others now, such as Wonder Woman.

I know they can't go straight to the trade, but... its going to look weird for sales numbers if a whole bunch of us just move to trades en mass. I think there's a lot of potential for DC to fail to understand that's what's happening.

Anonymous said...

My problem with trades for DC is that they always invariably mess up the collection.

The latest one was the Blackest Night trade. It made absolutely no sense at all reading by itself. You had to go out and buy the Green Latern Blackest Night trade to read them simultaneously to understand the damn story. Just publish it all in two Blackest Night trades then. You get screwed. And the trades don't make it clear you need both to read the damn story. This will happen again and again.

At least Marvel works to make sure to organize it in a way you get the whole story.

You suck DC.

The League said...

By and large, DC's trade releases have been fine. But they certainly have issues once they get into cross-overs, etc... and I always wonder if that's not a function of their accounting department.

The Final Crisis collection was similarly goofy, and will finally be put in order in the Absolute edition.