Friday, June 12, 2009

The Comic Reader Number 159 (August, 1978)

OUR COVERS: Manhunter From Mars by Al Milgrom, back again and probably slated to appear in DETECTIVE, and two new additions to ADVENTURE, Power Girl and The Huntress by Rick Taylor. ©1978 DC Comics Inc.
DC NEWS What happened on June 22, 1978 may possibly be the most significant events of the year. This is undoubtedly the most complicated story we've ever had to report, and the ramifications from it will be felt for the foreseeable future if not beyond. It started ten years ago when Warner Brothers took over Kinney National Service, which owned DC Comics.

The corporate heads of Warner Communications had stayed pretty much out of the picture as far as creative decisions go, the significant actions being the instatements of Carmine Infantino and Jenette Kahn as publishers and the budget and price increase okays over the years. Recently, however, the people upstairs began to take long looks at the downward trend sales have taken since they inherited their branch of the comics industry and a decision was made to attempt to halt the plummet by some drastic means. The first of these we mentioned last issue, which involves massive overhaul of the distribution process. Basically, this involves getting a much greater percentage of the copies that are printed displayed on the nation's newsstands, working more closely with local distributors and wholesalers. We will only be able to see the results of this step since few of us are wholesalers. The second step they have taken will hit much more closely to home and we will all feel its impact.

DC has eliminated their shortlived 50¢, 40 page line, after only three months' trial. Obviously, the reason has nothing to do with sales. The people at Warner feel that the new system of distribution should be given a chance with DCs looking like the rest of the industry's books, since there will be some risk of alienating wholesalers without the more expensive books. So, beginning in September (books cover dated December), all DCs that are not dollar books will be 32 pages with 17 pages of story again, but now for 40¢. And that's not all.

All non-dollar-sized bi-monthly books have either been cancelled or upgraded to monthly status. Hereafter, only monthly titles will be published in the regular size.
The article went on to list the cancellation points of seventeen then-ongoing comics, in what would later be dubbed the "DC Implosion." For example, "FIRESTORM with #5... STEEL with #5," and so on. An additional five issues of other titles previously announced were not to be published, as well as two reprint books. "...THE DESERTER, the dollar-sized STRANGE ADVENTURES, SWAMP THING and THE VIXEN have been indefinitely postponed... DC published an office-only comic book entitled CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE which features 35 completed comic books we'll never see." A variety of supporting features were left looking for a home, "though the new characters that have yet to be introduced (NEVERWHERE, the VIXEN back-up to feature Matt Treadway, etc.) may not. Some of the writers have inquired about buying back their characters, and DC is not entirely adverse to the idea."

DC's Mike Gold feels that the delay of the SUPERMAN film had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision. His opinion is that the decision came as a result of fifteen years of declining comic sales, possibly spurred on by the low winter sales (figures seriously out of wack because of the blizzard), and the new size would not have been saved even if a phenomenal sales push had been garnered from the film.
THE COMIC READER was published monthly by and © Street Enterprises. It was begun as a fanzine in 1971 by Paul Kupperberg and Paul Levitz, both later of DC Comics. It ended in 1983, a couple years after dutifully reporting on the debut of the magazine that would succeed it, Fantagraphics' Amazing Heroes

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