The Importance of Timing Comic Releases

Christopher Butcher looks at the release schedule of the Green Lantern movie prequel comics, pointing out that although the movie opened June 17, one of the comics (Hal Jordan) ships this week, while another has been delayed until August. If comic publishers want to play with the big boys, they need to get their schedules under much better control. We shouldn’t have weeks where all the Avengers titles ship, instead of being spaced throughout the month to better capture buyers. Worse, as Chris goes on to point out, an aftermath book is coming out before the actual end of the storyline it’s supposed to bookend. Where does Chris place the blame?

This was DC’s major tie-in to the Green Lantern film, written by Green Lantern writer, Chief Creative Officer, and Green Lantern movie Executive Producer Geoff Johns. Apparently at no point was it a priority to get their major movie tie-in out in time for the movie, that’s a little distressing. But worse than that, this is nothing new. Johns has been at least a month late on Green Lantern for most of the title’s run, with frequent skip-months to get the book back on track.

…this guy, Geoff Johns, is the guy in charge of relaunching the entire DC Universe in September. 52 brand new comics, all hinging on Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (another fine creator not known for being timely) and their Justice League ongoing series, and that’s kinda f**ked up right there. DC has chosen to make Geoff Johns the public face of this relaunch, Johns has seemingly willingly stepped into the role, and every book he’s involved with right now has massive scheduling and timeliness problems.

Scheduling is going to become exponentially more important now that strategies include digital comics, since those are dependent on getting Apple’s approval for release. As Marvel found out, as Graeme McMillan points out (link no longer available) in discussing how that company went back on their same-day release plans:

Ultimate Spider-Man #160 should have been available digitally. Marvel announced late last year that “every issue of the hotly-anticipated DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN will be available day & date on the Marvel Comics app, available via iTunes for the iPad, iPhone & iPod touch,” after all, and so having the writer of your top-selling book give interviews where he not only points out that that didn’t happen, but tries to paint it as a positive… Well, that’s got to hurt.

Although since Bendis was promoting how much better this made sales for retailers, well, maybe Marvel doesn’t care to follow through on their promises after all?


8 Responses to “The Importance of Timing Comic Releases”

  1. William George Says:

    All of this seems to assume that they want new readers for their books instead of wanting to milk more money from the same addicts they’ve been milking for the past twenty five years while holding on to IP for potential sale to Hollywood.

    The whole machine is broken from top to bottom. The medium will improve vastly once it crashes.

  2. Scott Says:

    I swear, reading statements like “The whole machine is broken from top to bottom” makes me shake my head in disbelief.

    It’s not broken. Things do need to be changed, but it’s not the end of the world.

    Also “The medium will improve vastly once it crashes” makes no sense. You mean the medium of comics will improve once the DM crashes? That’s right, get rid of all the comic stores and infrastructure so that anyone who wants to create comics has no idea how to get their work out there.

    I know, I know… the internet will save everyone. That’s why so many web comics are turning their creators into multi-millionaires overnight.

    Sigh.

    I’d apologize for the bitterness, Johanna, but I just get really really tired of people thinking that reading a blog makes them experts on the Direct Market and all the things that make them tick.

    And yes, DC DOES want new readers for their books. How do I know? Because I heard it said last week at DC Comics.

  3. Johanna Says:

    William seems to be immensely cynical about the comic industry. I appreciate you providing some counterpoint. This is definitely a time of change, and working in this world will require some alterations — like being a lot stricter about deadlines and release dates.

  4. James Schee Says:

    You know I saw that there was a Hal Jordan prequel book listed in the ones at B&N and wondered why they didn’t have it.

    Johns seems to be burning the candles at both ends these days, its left even some of his most earnest supporters upset with him. Especially on his quick exits on books like LSH and then the recent Barry Allen Flash series.

    I wonder how long he’ll last on Aquaman before leaving? (I’m sure with JL being a flagship title that he will stay and GL is his baby) Being the face of the company when it comes to Hollywood (which makes sense given his connections there) has got to take a lot of time.

    I actually found it interesting that in the interview with them, the new writers on the Flash series, who were the artists on Geoff’s run, said it wasn’t their fault the book was late when asked.

    There’s already talk that his last issue of the current GL, which is the final part of the GL War storyline that sets up things for the new series is behind as well. Doesn’t Apple require a certain amount of time before something is approved?

  5. Thad Says:

    Not only that, but where’s the Hal Jordan episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold? The show’s been on break for something like two months; I assumed it was so they could time that ep to coincide with the movie’s release, but it’s been and gone and no new Batman.

    (Flipside of this is the oft-cited fact that the Blue Beetle comic was canceled right before the Batman toon started and featured the character in its very first episode.)

  6. William George Says:

    That’s why so many web comics are turning their creators into multi-millionaires overnight.

    Gene Colon died on a bed made of money, right?

    And yes, DC DOES want new readers for their books. How do I know? Because I heard it said last week at DC Comics.

    I’m sorry. You’re right.

    Hoping the general public suddenly decides they were wrong over the last forty years of not buying Wonder Woman comics each time they rebooted the book is a wonderful business plan. Obviously Nu DC is the plan of a group of people with their fingers on the pulse of the non-direct market audience.

    They want exactly the same thing direct market fanboys want. They just don’t know it yet. Makes prefect sense!

  7. William George Says:

    To put things into perspective;

    A group of semi-successful lounge musicians have noticed the kids just aren’t into their music any more like they were back in 1952. But those kids will watch a biopic on Frank Sinatra so they’re pretty sure there’s an interest.

    Instead of learning a new style of music that they can use to draw the kids in, they instead decide that they’ll give Frank Sinatra a Flock of Seagulls haircut, release the same exact songs he always sang on iTunes, and THAT will bring the Lady Gaga generation to them.

    They’re flabbergasted when it doesn’t work.

    So, are our lounge musicians dumb? Out of touch? Or did they simply make a half-hearted attempt at getting a new audience because they knew the regulars at their lounge will always been there?

    If you’re not cynical about comics, from publisher to fan, then you’re not paying attention.

  8. Thom Says:

    I confess, this is one thing I do not miss about comics.

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