DALLAS — Stability and creativity were hallmark qualities praised at the ComicsPRO Annual Members Meeting for 2012.
After the tumult of the past few years, comic book retailers seem to be focused on improving their stores and maintaining profitability. The plans for some publishers' lines were becoming tighter following the massive success of DC Comics “The New 52” in 2011.
Diamond Comics reported that the direct market was up overall 1.8 percent in 2011, and 1.2 percent in the comics category.
Among the reasons retailers believe the DC “New 52” has been such a success is the consistent shipping schedule. DC announced the vast majority of the books shipped on time, with only two slipping from their planned date.
DC Entertainment executives at the annual ComicsPRO meeting, including co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee, spoke of wanting to maintain momentum from “The New 52” relaunch in 2012, as those products are released in graphic novel format. The publisher also plans for big things in 2012 from the “Watchmen” prequels and graphic novels tied to the release of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
DC Entertainment also released information from its survey of “New 52” buyers — the buyers were primarily male, older than 18, and had household incomes of under $60,000.
The survey, conducted in conjunction with A.C. Nielsen, surveyed in-store and digital buyers, as well as those who responded to an online survey.
Consistency was seen as key to success outside of DC Comics as well. Terry Moore of Abstract Studio attributed part of his success with “Strangers in Paradise,” “Echo” and “Rachel Rising” to putting out a comic every six weeks on a consistent schedule. The gathered retailers were extremely receptive to Moore, and many expressed excitement to continue working with him in future projects, including Moore's “How to Draw” series.
Image's Eric Stephenson celebrated creativity and independence in his speech to the gathered retailers.
“Creativity starts with people,” Stephenson said. “The reckless spirits who can't stand still, the fearless minds who refuse to play it safe. At Image Comics, we believe in creative people. For 20 years, we've made a home for them. A place where they can be creative — on their own terms.”
He said Image's safe harbor for creativity on its own terms should resonate with the direct market, where each independent store celebrates creativity on its own terms as well.
Mike Richardson of Dark Horse talked about embracing change as an industry, and recounted his own history with the ever-changing world of comic books in his keynote address.
“If we want to grow our industry, we need to take some chances,” Richardson said.
One of those chances that need to be taken is publishing a wider variety of comics, Richardson said.
“Publishers need to create new titles that will stand the test of time,” he said.
Thomas Gaul of Corner Store Comics and Beach Ball Comics in Anaheim, Calif., was elected to the board of directors of ComicsPRO at the meeting. Gaul will replace Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience in San Francisco, a founding member of the board.
ComicsPRO President Joe Field, of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, Calif., said the tenor of the meeting pointed toward a bright 2012.
“The ComicsPRO annual meeting is perhaps the best barometer of the entire business of comics — and this year it looks like the sun is shining brightly for our members,” he said.