RECAP OF FACEBOOK LIVE RETAILER Q&A WITH DAN DiDIO
DC Publisher Dan DiDio started 2020 with a new year address and Q&A session via the DC Nation Retailer Forum on Facebook, discussing a number of topics.
The video is available to view here, and a recap follows. If you are a retailer not currently a part of the DC Nation Retailer Forum and would like to join, please contact Adam Philips, Director, Marketing Services, at email@example.com.
2019: "[DC] had a very good year. There were a lot of things changing around us, and we were transitioning and trying a lot of new material and a lot of new formats. I'm happy to say that we're very comfortable with what we've seen from the young [reader] line. I'm also very happy to see what we've seen from the Black Label material."
DC Young Readers: "We had two breakout hits: Diana, Princess of the Amazons and Teen Titans: Raven performed very strongly for us. The good part about [ Raven] is there are two more volumes. We are making one slight tweak to our delivery of this material. We've been putting out three a month, we'll probably bring that number down by the middle of the year to two a month. I think we need a little more breathing space, more time to promote and market these books properly."
Black Label: "Extraordinarily successful for us. The response and reaction has been better than we could imagine. Our plan is to make sure we're consistent in the material we're putting out, and that it's strong, and that it comes out on time. We will not be soliciting anything until we are clear that this material will come out as scheduled. We like the maturity, the sensibility, the quality. The talent is going to be driving this line. We will not overproduce here, because we want to make sure this is a long-term plan."
Dollar Comics: "The dollar books have the purpose of being promotional material for some of the key trades that are going to be coming out, or key events. I also know these are great entry points. We're toying with the idea of maybe doing a reprint program of a dollar book on a series per month, but want to hear some feedback on that if there is real interest or not. In speaking to retailers, we've heard they're using the dollar books as an entry point to get people into buying on a periodical basis, but if they don't come out periodically, all we're doing is one-offs. Maybe creating a periodical dollar book is one way to start that buying pattern again. It's an idea."
Facsimile Editions: "We'll make sure we continue to push those out. We'll make sure we have exciting ads from the past on those things reprinted in a way that makes them highly collectible and interesting. We'll make sure we curate a smart list of really intriguing, hard-to-find or unique books. Not just to fill a bucket, but to have a purpose behind them."
DC Giants: "Another way we're looking at as an entry point for new readers. One of the things I'm looking at with the Giants is going further back in the catalogue. We still have a lot of material that have easy entry and standalone stories. The purpose behind each of the Giants is very clear-it's our key franchises, key characters, characters that are tied into movies or other initiatives that might create general interest, for people that want to be able to pick something up at a low price and get a good reading experience."
Collected Editions: "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."
DC Timeline: "There's been a lot of chatter, myself included, about our timeline. The purpose is to bring in a baseline of storytelling that brings a level of consistency and more uniformity in the interpretations of the characters. We are looking to build a series of books that will re-tell the history of the DC Universe. In some ways, that will become our bible for the DC Universe."
"One of the first places you'll see this happening is in Wonder Woman #750. The change in numbering is purposeful in the sense that [ Wonder Woman #750] is the first time that we're acknowledging the timeline, and establishing [Wonder Woman] as our first superhero, in a story by Scott Snyder and Bryan Hitch. Something similar is going to be happening in The Flash."
Legacy Numbering: "The #750 numbering is not a stunt. It is the ongoing numbering. You will not be seeing a Flash #1 or Wonder Woman #1 in the foreseeable future. That is their new numbering going forward. And you'll see that happening with a couple of other series. It will not happen with every series, but will certainly be happening with some of the key books."
2020 and Beyond: "There are a lot of half-truths and misinformation floating around about some of our plans. I appreciate people wanting to be excited and in the know about what's going on. The first people who will find out once we're ready to announce will be you, the retailers. We are looking at ways to create noticeable and exciting tentpoles and events and moments in our line. I'm not talking about creating an endless run of events-I'm talking about spots we can identify in our line that can really help pull things together, and doing it on a quarterly basis, so we can create a rhythm within our storytelling that keeps people excited about what we're doing. I always feel story and character should be the lead for anything we do."
"I am looking at going back out, probably the back half of April, to do our road shows."
Retailer Q&A: What is DC going to do to help drive new readers to comic shops? "It's one thing to do an event, it's another to do one that has impact. 'Stories that matter' is an important conversation we have-something that has a lasting effect on the line. That's a lot of what we're building to right now."
Can retailers help a collected edition pass the minimum threshold to print? "We're not cancelling because it's a couple 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."
Numbers on spines for collected editions: "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."
Will DC do dollar reprints of all-ages titles? "That is something we're definitely looking to do. The goal for those dollar books is not just to sell trades, but also bring people in."
Can DC provide alternate dust jackets following design changes in a collected edition series? "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."
Doomsday Clock follow-up? "The schedule on Doomsday Clock made it very difficult to align a lot of product into it. You'll see a reflection of Doomsday Clock on the timeline. A lot of what's on the timeline has been driven by story beats that came out Doomsday Clock. It is truly affecting the line in that fashion. It doesn't line up completely, but the sensibility, the purpose, the introduction of the JSA, the introduction of the Legion of Super-Heroes; those are key aspects of what the timeline is. Once you'll see it on paper, it'll all make sense."