Thursday, September 29, 2011

New 52: Aquaman

I'll flesh this out in a later post, but just to get my initial reaction up here immediately:

Why did I have to pay $3 for Geoff Johns to literally lecture a section of the comic book reading audience on how Aquaman isn't the joke they think he is, especially when a good portion of that group probably skipped the book on the shelf to begin with?

For my money, we got about three-to-five pages that should have been in this book...and they were the ones that just featured the new-big-bad rising from the deep.

Any other writer, the next issue would not be leaving the shop with me. But, then again, few other writers would be bold enough to expect their audience to pay $3 to be told (much more than shown) how the character is much cooler than the people making fun of them for buying the issue think.

At least the art is strong, even if some of the coloring effects are a bit much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DC Comics: Quietly Undercutting The Direct Market

A big deal has been made about digital pricing, with an eye towards how DC will try to discount the cost of electronic comics to increase readership. Currently, the pricing is identical to the printer cover price for the first four weeks of release, which essentially makes it cost more than the print version, given the assorted discounts that can be found at brick and mortar shops as well as online retailers.


If you search for Tanga and DC Comics on some of the discount deal sites, like, you'll find them offering full year subscriptions to their physical books FOR LESS THAN A DOLLAR PER ISSUE. That is a discount that beats anything an actual retail partner could ever afford to regularly offer.

At the link above, you can see they have made this offer on Batman & Robin, Batman (twice!) and Swamp Thing. They've done this for Justice League and Green Lantern, as well. Some of the offerings came before the relaunch books were on the shelves, but I believe all came after the relaunch push was announced.

I could be wrong, but I believe at least four of the five are among their "greater than 100k sold" titles in the relaunch, with Justice League purportedly being well in excess of 200k. To put the fine point on it: they're largely cherry picking what are their bread and butter titles for the direct market to push for an obscene direct-to-the-customer discount.

You can name all the postal subscription drawbacks you like, but at a greater than 66% discount, you're increasingly likely to find a reader willing to make that sacrifice for a sweetheart deal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Remember Mr. Anonymous?

Don't get too excited: this isn't new, but a callback.

Remember when Mr. Anonymous was putting out the, rallying keep Loeb from being handed the cosmic characters, as Marvel thought he could increase their sales, despite the critical acclaim DNA were getting on them?

A few people used that and the odd Secret Invasion change to try to say he was full of it. Sure, this is far later than when he was warning us, but that's part due to feedback and part because, well, this is Jeph Loeb. Aren't there some projects previously announced as coming from him years ago that we still have yet to see completed?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scheduling: The Biggest New 52 Problem

A lot is being made about the controversial contents of a few books from DC this week. As with so much in American entertainment, the controversy boils down to sex. Regardless of where you come down on this particular divide, it brings to mind a completely different, yet related problem...


In the previous week, there was the issue of strong similarities between two books that could have been resolved by the schedule for the 52 roll out being over a month long. In fairness, the schedule wasn't so tight that they couldn't have pushed one of these to another week.

But now we have the Starfire and Catwoman controversies that are overshadowing other quality releases. When you want word of mouth, reviews, buzz, etc to influence sales, a comic book Wednesday becomes much like a movie Friday: you don't want your product to get lost in all the attention competing products get. If the competing product is from your own house? Well, you quite simply bump it to a different release date where it can shine on its own.

In releasing two books that, regardless of your personal feelings about, were sure to cause a loud reaction, DC hurt a few of their other books. Ironically, Wonder Woman and (to a lesser extent) Supergirl were two high quality, otherwise-high-profile releases that aren't going to get as much attention as they merited because people will be talking about the sexual issues at play in Red Hood & the Outlaws and Catwoman.

It might be that DC had this as a calculated move, thinking two strong female characters without sexual overtones used would help counterbalance the sturm and drang caused by those otherwise-low-profile books. While you can see the logic behind that (if not, sadly, the effectiveness in use), the better move would have been to stretch out the release schedule a bit more or, at the very least, schedule the two tempests-in-a-teapot to separate weeks so they didn't go all "Wonder Twin Powers Activate! Form of...misogyny accusations! Form of...DC thinks strong women are sluts!"

Controversial works can be good for business. But when they obscure your other worthy products or waste their attention-grabbing ability by being piled up on the same date, it just doesn't make good sense.


I didn't intend for my first new posting on the site in ages to be about the decline of my old stomping ground.

No, I planned on talking about the successful DC relaunch. Why? Because curiosity got me running into the store to get the books and the horror stories of sold out issues had me hot-footing it over there instead of taking days or weeks to head in.

While my pile has been dominated by DC, I've actually bought some single issues I wouldn't have otherwise picked up. I've been trafficking comic related sites and social network entries more, so I saw Clevinger asking fans to pick up a new Atomic Robo issue and people talking about Pigs by Nate Cosby.

Now, I love Robo, but it is normally trade purchase for me. Seeing as how Clevinger had an interesting take on Firestorm that I wasn't going to get to see published, I figured I'd pick up this first issue to show some support (and then decide whether or not to trade-wait on the rest later).

Cosby? He's been a damn entertaining Twitter follow since leaving the editor chair and I was keen to see what a book written by him would turn out like.

There are certainly other non-DC books I pick up, but they were things I'd likely have picked up without this whole New 52 thing reinvigorating my anticipation for Wednesday deliveries. SIXTH GUN is one of the rare books that I'd actually search through the old weeks' shelves at the shops to make sure I didn't miss if work had gotten in the way of my making a weekly visit.

But, yeah, the apathy has come to a rather abrupt end. I plan on trying to post opinions and all around here to see if anyone wants to read them. Most of the traffic I ever got was because of a passionate fan working at a publisher, leaking information because he had concerns about what they had planned. Since he's ridden off into the sunset (for the purposes of this site, not in his life or career), it remains to be seen how piqued curiosity is for my musings...

How The Mighty Have Fallen

I loved the folks I worked with at Some of the folks still working there are people I'd step in front of a bullet for. I take no joy in pointing this out just checked their Alexa stats on a lark. Their global rank? 12,521. That's neck and neck with another popular comic book site. CBR? No, they're ranked 5860.

That close competitor? at 12498. That's right: Bleeding Cool is ranked higher than Newsarama for the last three months.

One of the main differences? CBR and BleedingCool still have forums that encourage readers to discuss their coverage right there. Newsarama? They encourage you to give them feedback on Facebook and Twitter. They're sending you to places that don't help their ad rates and they can't fully monetize, as far as I can tell.

A lot was made of the changes Newsarama underwent a few years back. Much was made of the new bells-and-whistles of how items were presented, but I don't think that was what knee-capped the site. No, I'd say it was the migration from vBulletin to the other message board interface they ran with for awhile, due to having been bought out by another company that happened to use it. They kept tweaking the forums to try to find a configuration that made them more inviting, but they failed. There used to be links at the bottom of articles to a thread in the forum where you could discuss it, much like CBR's current model.

But this message board system had a flawed notification system that didn't properly alert you of the new posts and didn't direct you straight to the newest entry, from what I can recall. So the message board traffic continued to dwindle as more effort was required of the visitor than had been previously or was currently required at their competitors. accounts for 27.95% of CBR's visitors over the last three months, according to I'm pretty sure's forums account for a lot of their traffic, but that info isn't available to me, as it isn't setup as a subdomain. just redirects to It's great that more and more of the front page content is actually a blog entry where visitors can respond, but you need to subscribe to an RSS feed if you want to be kept in the loop, rather than just checking a box to be notified of replies to your comment or new comments in general on the post (as the Blogger and WordPress formats encountered elsewhere allow). Newsarama has more or less actively discouraged visitor interaction with their site.

In short, I believe, for want of a nail (encouraged visitor participation), a kingdom (past traffic dominance) was lost. And it's a fucking shame.