• Interviews 

    Retailers Talk the Sales of DC’s Futures End Month in Their Shops

    By | October 6th, 2014
    Posted in Interviews | 4 Comments

    Originally, it wasn’t even intended for the subject of DC’s Futures End lenticular covers fairing so poorly in shops to turn into a full piece like it did. I reached out to a number of retailers for the purpose of finding out how the books actually sold in their shops, and it ended up being evident it had to be something more. But the retailers I spoke to had such great insight into the subject that I couldn’t help but run a separate piece with their interviews in full. So here they are. Take a read as retailers from around the country share their perspective on how Futures End month performed for their shops, and if you’re a retailer, please chime in in the comments.

    Jetpack Comics

    Ralph DiBernardo, Jetpack Comics, Rochester, NH

    How did the Futures End lenticular cover month change your ordering compared to regular ordering of the same series, if at all?

    RD: When I placed our order I conservatively added 10% to my normal sales of a title, hoping we’d sell a few extra copies – Boy was I wrong.

    I also anticipated that if I needed them I would be able to reorder copies or by them from other stores – Man was I right.

    Now, when comparing your orders for the Futures End month to last year’s Villains Month endeavor, did you order more copies, less or roughly the same?

    RD: My thought was, with the Villains Month covers we made a TON of money. Since DC announced that there would be allocations it drove the speculator market. People want what they can’t have and the price soars. When I placed my order, I ordered ridiculous numbers, knowing they would be allocated, so I got what I needed to cover my customers, plus a whole lot more for after market sales (on a fun side note, the day it shipped I was able to reorder the Joker’s Daughter Villains Month 3-D cover that was heavily allocated to everyone, and ended up with an additional 50 or so copies beyond my allocated quantity). With Futures End DC was giving every retailer (and speculator) time enough to calculate what they needed. So, the speculators knew they did not need any as there would be little after-market movement. So, not only did I order less, I ordered a ton less knowing there would not be allocations. Traditionally in our business, when something is a smash success sell out it’s follow up / next issue / similar product will be glutted in comic shops, all things being equal (meaning there are no special incentives / offers / deals). Shops that found themselves caught short would order aggressively this time and pay the price. If you look on CBIA you can see how many shops are trying to move these in large quantity. I’ve had numerous shop owners ask me if I would purchase any of their over-stock

    Once they got in your shop, how did these titles perform in selling through to customers? Was it to expectations, or did it over/underperform at all, and how would you say it compared to last year’s Villains Month?

    RD: Forget about comparing it to Villains Month, they underperformed compared to the titles regular sales. For Villains Month, customers knew the books were in short supply so they took them without looking at the content. They knew they could flip the book on eBay so every subscriber took their Villains Month copies. Not so with Futures End. Every one of them sold less than anticipated. There are a few that I over ordered on purpose, knowing they would sell forever. Harley Quinn will always sell. The Green Arrow cover was just plain cool. Bat books will always move. So, in the case of those, I over ordered the same amount that I over order for future sales of their regular titles. Actually I have way more Harley Quinn and Suicide Squad, than that. Harley Covers are the best. Right now there are so many of these covers out there. I can easily restock my shelves, if I needed them, for $1 each or less. Plenty of sell orders on CBIA and plenty of outreach from associates that have more of them on their shelves than they can possibly use.

    Continued below

    What would you say best reflects your customer base’s response to the Futures End month: excitement, apathy or somewhere in-between?

    RD: Now here is where I always get myself in trouble. Last year, when I spoke my peace about Villains Month I was informed that I had said too much, too loud. It seems that everything in this business is taken on a personal level. When something should be a learning moment it gets turned into a moment of anger. I have no idea if other shops will speak up and say anything, but from where I am I can see the actual sell through of myself and many of my peers, on these books.

    What was sold to retailers does not come close to equaling what the actual retail sell through was.
    So DC dominating the Sales Chart for the month is not an indication of DC dominating retail sales in stores for the month.

    To be fair, for each of us retailers, it is our own fault for having left what we have. I ordered too much, plain and simple, no matter how conservative I think I was being.. DC didn’t promise me anything other than to sell me these books, with flashy covers, for resale.

    I over-ordered, on my own, based on my sales and plans. Any mistake made here was my own.

    In the end we sold less on every single title, of the Futures End covers, than we sell of the monthly ongoing.

    Let’s flash forward to ordering time for September 2015, and DC has announced another lenticular month in the same vein. Has the performance of these past two September’s done anything to positively or negatively impact your orders?

    RD: Haha – Who can say. If I had to do it again, right now, I would probably do exactly the same as I did this time. I’d like to say I would buy less but then I’d be scared I was going to be caught short, etc.

    I enjoy DC Comics business practices. I feel that they are very transparent with their information, are not overly aggressive with their sales tactics and never try to push me to buy more merchandise than I can use.

    They don’t “SALE” me into buying more.

    No, Futures End month was not the smash hit everyone hoped it was going to be. I don’t fault anyone for that.

    Challengers Comics + Conversation

    Patrick Brower, Challengers Comics + Conversation, Chicago, IL

    How did the Futures End lenticular cover month change your ordering compared to regular ordering of the same series, if at all?

    PB: Ordering the 2014 DC Futures End #1 lenticular covers was tricky… First we had to place our orders 2 months earlier than normal, second these books were not available for Final Order Cutoff alterations 3 weeks from on-sale, as DC books usually are, and third, the books take place 5 years in DC continuity future, and mostly by separate creative teams from the regular books, so we didn’t know if even the regular readers would want these one shots. Our initial thoughts were to use the individual titles normal series as our starting point, and go from there when deciding our final numbers. For Challengers I (Patrick) usually do all initial orders and the co-owner Dal Bush does the FOC adjustments, giving us both a say on the ordering. For Futures End we collaborated on the initial orders.

    Now, when comparing your orders for the Futures End month to last year’s Villains Month endeavor, did you order more copies, less or roughly the same?

    PB: Last year was crazy, as the Villains Month covers were high in demand, under printed and sometimes allocated. And this was a new thing. This year, not wanting to get cut short like last year, we ordered every Futures End issue higher than its corresponding series numbers. And for titles that did not yet have a series to tie in to, such as Grayson, we just had to guess, and when we did, we guessed high.

    Once they got in your shop, how did these titles perform in selling through to customers? Was it to expectations, or did it over/underperform at all, and how would you say it compared to last year’s Villains Month?

    Continued below

    PB: There’s no delicate way to say this… sales on the Futures End one-shots have been terrible. Maybe because all of them are basically unconnected from the current series, maybe because not everyone is reading the weekly Futures End title, maybe because they’re not by the regular creative teams, but whatever the reasons, these books tanked across the board. We have yet to sell out of any one of them. These books have sold considerable less than the 2013 Villains Month titles.

    What would you say best reflects your customer base’s response to the Futures End month: excitement, apathy or somewhere in-between?

    PB: Complete apathy. So many regular subscribers asked to skip these books. Last year, because they did 4 Batman titles, 4 Justice League titles, etc., we printed up a separate pulls sheet for people to add what titles they wanted. This year, because they almost all connected to a specific, regular DC title, we added them in to the regular subscription lists. Most people did not want them. In fact, we only had 1 single person ask to be down for every title, compared to last year where we had considerably more than 1 person wanting all the Villains covers.

    Let’s flash forward to ordering time for September 2015, and DC has announced another lenticular month in the same vein. Has the performance of these past two September’s done anything to positively or negatively impact your orders?

    PB: Ha, I guess that depends on your definition of positive/negative… as in I am positive we will order very, very low if DC decides to revisit this idea. Realistically we would order the next September books as if they were just a regular issue of its series, not as if it were an event book. Fool me twice, you know? Although that’s not really fair to say; its not like DC planned on this to fail—they were hoping it was as big as we were. Now, we know better.

    Third Eye Comics

    Steve Anderson, Third Eye Comics, Annapolis, MD

    How did the Futures End lenticular cover month change your ordering compared to regular ordering of the same series, if at all?

    SA: We ordered the Lenticular covers as a separate event, while some titles were higher than others (i.e BATMAN, HARLEY QUINN), most of the lower tier titles (INFINITY MAN, BIRDS OF PREY, etc.) all received flat orders of a quantity which was significantly higher than their normal orders.

    Now, when comparing your orders for the Futures End month to last year’s Villains Month endeavor, did you order more copies, less or roughly the same?

    We ordered much less than Villains Month — but honestly, we were probably a bit overly ambitious with Futures End month, even with cutting #s from Villains Month.

    Once they got in your shop, how did these titles perform in selling through to customers? Was it to expectations, or did it over/underperform at all, and how would you say it compared to last year’s Villains Month?

    SA: Villains Month had a ton of things going for it that made it a much faster, stronger mover than these — the limited availability drove up the “get it now” feeling among customers, the fact that it was all bad guys made a splash, and of course, it was a first for the 3D covers.

    With FUTURES END, it has been a slower burn — they are still moving extremely well, and I think that they will have a good sell through over time, but the heat and urgency isn’t quite as strong. It’s almost a mirror comparison to the DC Zero issues and the New 52 #1s — while the #0s did’t recapture the lightning in a bottle of the #1s, they were still sought after for months and months after the Zero Month event.

    I do feel that critical response amongst fans in terms of actual storyline quality has been much better than the response to the Villains Covers.

    What would you say best reflects your customer base’s response to the Futures End month: excitement, apathy or somewhere in-between?

    SA: I’d say somewhere in between. I’ll be honest: Marvel OWNED September with Charles Soule’s incredible DEATH OF WOLVERINE, and the buzz surrounding upcoming October launches like THOR #1.

    Continued below

    Let’s flash forward to ordering time for September 2015, and DC has announced another lenticular month in the same vein. Has the performance of these past two September’s done anything to positively or negatively impact your orders?

    SA: To be honest with you, I think the lenticular thing may have lost it’s spark this go around. The ordering many months in advance, and not being able to Final Order Adjust these makes it very difficult to order correctly, even for those of us who track our data carefully and have natural instincts for these things.

    I think if these books had really been limited to only initial orders (as it had seemed when they were solicited), and not made available for ReOrder — then the event would have been much more successful for retailers who took a strong inventory position and had confidence in it.

    I think DC would be better suited instead of doing a line wide September gimmick — just putting out high profile launches. The new Lobo by Cullen Bunn is doing fantastic this week, and the heat for the new BATGIRL is unbelievable.

    Why not just release all your high profile new directions and series in September, and have that be the September “event”?

    I think we all want the same thing: good stories, great characters, and quality art.

    Third Eye Comics

    Gary Dills, Laughing Ogre Comics, Ohio and Virginia

    How did the Future’s End lenticular cover month change your ordering compared to regular ordering of the same series, if at all?

    GD: We ordered basically the same as a regular month of DC new 52, with only a few titles receiving slightly higher orders.

    Now, when comparing your orders for the Future’s End month to last year’s Villains Month endeavor, did you order more copies, less or roughly the same?

    GD: For Villains Month we had MUCH higher orders.

    Once they got in your shop, how did these titles perform in selling through to customers? Was it to expectations, or did it over/underperform at all, and how would you say it compared to last year’s Villains Month?

    GD: Slightly underperformed based on expectations BUT like Villains Month I expect to see sales of these for the next 6- 12 months as well.

    What would you say best reflects your customer base’s response to the Future’s End month: excitement, apathy or somewhere in-between?

    GD: Somewhere in between just like every event that publishers come up with there are a segment of consumers who get very excited, some who get somewhat excited, some who are ambivalent and some who react with apathy or outright derision. I don’t see this event as having been any different than any other.

    Let’s flash forward to ordering time for September 2015, and DC has announced another lenticular month in the same vein. Has the performance of these past two September’s done anything to positively or negatively impact your orders?

    GD: Both? I think every data point alters your thinking for the next time and the conditions at the time influence that as well. Will the 3D be tied to existing timeline like the villains were last year or a potential look 5 years ahead like the Heroes ones this year? That made as much a difference as anything. Also the Villains 3D were full cover 3D motion while the Heroes were more limited in motion (to keep costs down I assume).


    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).

    EMAIL | ARTICLES


    • anthonybgonzalez

      I saw way too many on the shelves in the two lcs i frequent. one shop was already packing them and selling them as bundles.

      I just bought my normal DC lineup of Batman, Harley Quinn and Suicide Squad…but the fact it’s not in continuity was irksome..and i usually buy a few other of the issues i don’t normally do just to see what that book is all about…but even then, since it’s not in continuity I didn’t.

    • Alex Evans

      yeah, I can totally get the books selling even less than regular issues. I skipped them all except for Swampy and Green Arrow. And I’m reading Futures End. The fact that it was an out-of-continuity, done-in-one disruption of the book I was reading just evaporated my interest in picking up any of these. Even moreso when a different creative team stepped in.

    • Drew Bradley

      My LCS definitely upped their orders on these, but they aren’t littering the shelves anymore. I don’t know if they sold, or if they’re just in storage already.

    • Sean

      I just bought the same books that I normally got. While I liked a couple of the books I did get, particularly Batgirl and Green Arrow (since those served as nice endings for the runs of the respective creative teams), the overall feeling of how disrupting the event was damaged some of my enjoyment, especially since you know which ones clearly aren’t in continuity. Moreover, the ones I really hated weren’t just out of continuity, but were painful to read (i.e. Batwoman).

      For the sake of the books, I hope DC doesn’t do something like this again next year.