Art by Jason Fabok from “Batman” #22 was revealed at the ComicsPRO retailer meeting
The second half of the Thursday portion of the ComicsPRO retailer conference was spent in meetings with Diamond Comics, the nation’s primary comic-book distributor, and a resurgent DC Comics, whose “Rebirth” initiative put the publisher at the top of the charts at the end of 2016.
Diamond Comic Distributors announced that, when combining comics and graphic novels, sales were slightly up for 2016, by .3 percent in dollars and 1.1 percent in units. This is despite the closing of the Hastings chain, which was one of the largest comics vendors. Periodical comics themselves dropped 1.1 percent in dollars, with a 1.02 increase in unit sales. Graphic novels, or book-form comics, made up the difference with a 1.24 percent dollar increase, and 2.1 percent unit increase.
Those were smaller gains after years of larger increases, though estimates from DC Comics later in the meeting indicated that comics across all channels remained a growing, thriving business, with the heart of that business remaining the comic shops that make up what’s called the comic book direct market.
DC promoted its upcoming Batman-Flash crossover “The Button,” which will follow up on the “Rebirth” special by Geoff Johns and apparently tie into “Watchmen,” the 1986-1987 best-seller from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Batman 21-22 and Flash 21-22 will be plotted by Johns and written by Tom King and Josh Williamson, respectively. The covers will feature lenticular technology previously used by DC on their “Villains” and “Future’s End” specials.
“We thought (this story) deserved something cool and novel,” said DC’s co-publisher Jim Lee. “We’ve figured out how to best use this technology.”
The lenticular covers offer a shifting image as the viewer shifts the physical item; on “Batman” #21, the character shifts from Batman to the Flash depending on the viewer’s perspective.
“We tried to build each cover around an important story (element),” Lee said.
DC Comics also announced upcoming DC Comics-Looney Tunes crossovers featuring the following characters:
Jonah Hex. Yosemite Sam.
Martian Manhunter. Marvin the Martian.
Lobo. The Road Runner.
Batman. Elmer Fudd.
These will follow the upcoming DC Comics-Hanna Barbera crossovers, including Adam Strange/Future Quest and Booster Gold/Flintstones.
DC also highlighted the upcoming Superman Reborn crossover, and the Lazarus Contract crossover in the Titans, Teen Titans and Deathstroke titles.
Young Animal, the imprint headed by Gerard Way, will have a new release in the form of “Bug: The Adventures of Forager,” based on the Jack Kirby character, to be written by Lee Allred and drawn by Mike Allred.
Lee said there’s an “upside to people bringing their authority and their audiences” to DC Comics with the Young Animal line, which he described as more quirky than the main DC line.
Lee also spoke about the revival of his WildStorm characters, which began in this week’s release “The Wild Storm” #1, written by Warren Ellis. Ellis is spearheading the relaunch, which is set to eventually include multiple titles, with Ellis overseeing the line. Ellis is doing “all the world-building” on this universe, Lee said.
The relaunch is happening on the 25th anniversary of the original launch of these character’s in Lee’s WildC.A.T.s, which was one of the first titles released by Image Comics.
The characters in this version will be in their own, alternate universe, returning them to “this paranoid world” similar to what they first inhabited, Lee said.
“It’s not a return so much as a reimagining of what (Ellis) did before,” Lee said. “It allows people who haven’t read the original material to come and see what’s going on.”
DC also announced an upcoming “Wonder Woman Day” for comic shops, tying into the release of the “Wonder Woman” film. That day will be celebrated on June 3, with more details coming soon about promotions, DC executives said.