Walmart Goes Floppy* With DC Comics Exclusives

Back in the day comic books were ubiquitous – found at newsstands, grocery stores, the five and dimes, drug stores, railroad stations, just everywhere. Now they are mostly relegated to the shelves of your local comic book shop.

That seems to be changing. With the popularity of superheroes on TV and in movie theaters, comic book publishers are seeing an opportunity to expand their market. And Walmart is a BIG market!

The news from io9/Gizmodo:

In a move announced this morning, DC Comics has teamed with Walmart to revive its DC Giant range as a 100-page anthology format comic book. Four new series revolving around Batman, Superman, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans will launch solely in the retail stores starting July 1.

…each series will include new ongoing stories from top DC creatives like Tom King, Andy Kubert, and the recently-arrived Brian Michael Bendis—setting the Giant line apart from Marvel and Archie’s digest series, which exclusively feature reprinted stories.

There are, of course, hard feelings from comic shop owners. Some think that the comic book industry only survived decades of hard times because of the support of the comic shops, and this is a betrayal of sorts.

I wish we could get 100 pages for $4.99. The comic shop locator website better be in each issue, since we subsidize most of the content by ordering it nonreturnable at a retail price of 20 pages for $3.99.

Others see it as a short term loss, but long term gain.

While I could get upset that Wal-Mart is exclusively getting these, reprint tomes like these wouldn’t sell well to the hardcore crowd: 12 pages of new story amid 88 pages of reprints is a 12 page comic to most hardcore readers. Their tremendous size and I’m sure low paper quality would make storing them difficult, too.

I welcome the new readers this will bring. Wal-mart can tap into a crowd that would never go out of their way to go to a comic store to pick up their first comic, and when they find Wal-Mart’s selection lacking, they will look for stores like mine to start filling in their collection and to find other stories like the ones reprinted here.

More response, pro and con, at MonkeysFightingRobots.

Forbes looks at it from a big business aspect:

DC’s move reverses a 40 year trend that has seen comics disappear from newsstands and convenience stores, their primary sales channel from the 1930s through the 1970s…The shift to the Direct Market dramatically increased the profitability and predictability of the comics market but reduced the visibility of comics beyond the core fanbase who frequent local, independently-owned comic shops.

above: A Walmart/DC POP display case.


*”floppy” is the exact scientific name used by panelologists to refer to the common flimsy disposable comic pamphlet. (asked and answered 🙂