Is It a Sign of San Diego Comic Con’s Demise or DC Comics’ Demise?

 

The San Diego Reader did some coverage of this year’s SDCC, which suggests it could be failing in attendance, but also points to the slow collapse of DC as a publisher:

If the death of Horton Plaza and the slow failure of Seaport Village have proved anything it’s that nothing lasts forever in downtown San Diego. Now some say Comic-Con, another downtown institution, may be starting to show signs of decline.

With the movie industry in decline, it’s no surprise one of its biggest consumers and representatives today, the SDCC, could be suffering along with it. On the subject of DC, who moved their booths to smaller, less prominent spot at a farther end of the convention halls, they mention:

Ash Yousif is a former comic shop owner turned real estate investor; he’s been buying and selling at the Con since “The Death of Superman” hype in 1992.

That’s what got him into the whole hobby? When the motivation is overhyped events, it doesn’t sound very altruistic, let alone smart. On the subject of DC’s film adaptations, here’s something eyebrow-raising:

“For DC, it’s been a bad year,” Billy Khang says. “Shazam! underperformed for them at the box office, and their DC Universe stream has been sort of a disappointment.”

According to Forbes, Shazam! grossed a total of $364.3 million since its release in April, while the initial investment to produce the movie was reportedly $100 million. DC Universe is a streaming service that enables the $7.99/month subscriber to access digital comic books and DC Comic-inspired films, TV shows, and merchandise.

I assume Forbes was talking about the worldwide gross, but if it’s the domestic box office in question, that’s fascinating. So it wasn’t the success they were hoping for, even though it wasn’t as expensive as the Superman and Wonder Woman films? I know Shazam contained traces of social justice elements, and just as troubling, was based on at least a few elements from Geoff Johns’ otherwise abortive reboot from several years prior. That could’ve contributed to the underwhelming domestic grosses.

“This Con was a chance for DC to be part of the conversation again,” Khang continued, “and fans need to know that they’ll be rewarded for having faith in the DC brand. They have some of the most iconic pop cultural characters — including: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Suicide Squad, Flash — in their pantheon, but we won’t see them for awhile.”

Khang was referring to Warner Bros. and DC not making a superhero movie cast appearance at the convention’s Hall H where they’ve been continuously presenting since their Batman Begins panel in 2004. The notorious 65,000-square-foot hall is where fans wait in lines for hours, and sometimes days — in hopes to catch a glimpse of actors and actresses on a Q&A panel, and watch teasers or pilots of the soon-to-be-released movies.

“DC (and Warner Bros.) not repping at Hall H was a huge misstep,” Khang continued. “Even if they had a trailer from Wonder Woman 1984, or a sneak peak of the new Joker movie, or having someone discuss their plan for the next slate of DC films, or even bring up James Gunn for the new Suicide Squad movie — they needed the buzz to be relevant again, and they missed it. Plus, there’s still no word on Henry Cavill reprising his role as Superman. This is why DC films don’t come close to Marvel films.”

What a load of bull. DC fans have not been rewarded any more than Marvel fans, when they keep retaining employment of such a loathsome figure as DiDio with his unappealing visions for the DCU. Sure, they may have made missteps at the con, but if they think promoting Gunn is a great idea, his past social media record suggests otherwise. And it’s not getting any better with the following:

YouTube vlogger and DC fan, Dingus Bringus, broke it down further on one of his vlogs. “The main point is money,” he said, “it’s pretty expensive to go to San Diego and have these huge panels. And seeing that Warner Bros. didn’t have a huge box office smash [in 2019] — Shazam!… made three or four times its budget, but it didn’t make huge smashing blockbuster numbers …. and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as we are seeing is not performing all that well — so it really didn’t help those two movies being at Comic-Con last year. So I would understand why they wouldn’t want to spend a lot of money for Comic Con to promote smaller budget movies like Birds of Prey and Joker.”

On Birds of Prey, if I were a marketer, I’d be embarrassed to promote that anywhere with the social justice platform it’s shaping up to be. Maybe that could explain their muted appearance at this year’s con.

“It’s cliché I know, but it felt like we were in the Bizarro alternative storyline,” he says. “People weren’t really buying as much as they used to. I believe the last count was 50 percent lower than 2018 — people weren’t buying our DC comics and trade paperbacks, even at 50 percent off.”

Yousif remembers when Superman came back to life and DC Comics sealed The Adventures of Superman #500 comic in a white bag — “we all rejoiced at the 1993 Con that year.”

Oh, on this, did they rejoice at Green Lantern’s Coast City being destroyed in the latter half of that overrated tommyrot? As I’ve noted before, this is something anybody who invested in The Death & Return of Superman could answer to – whether they found it disturbing that the whole balderdash served as a lead-in to one of the most abominable events of 1994. Near the end of the article:

Back in the day, it was common for attendees to lug around their 150-count comic boxes in the halls. Up until last year, Yousif and his buddies sold “literally tons” of comic books and trade paperbacks here. They hauled them in on pallets. Word on the San Diego streets is that the lottery ticket system to get into the Con results in more attendees that don’t collect and spend less than the previous generations.

“You didn’t see many people carrying around boxes of stuff they purchased,” Yousif said. “I think the Con has become more of a destination for experience, rather than a show to purchase your back issues and rare collectibles. It’s apparent on the surprise boxes that sell for $50 a box.”

So less people are buying items at SDCC than before? I guess that’s telling. The more recent stuff from the Big Two is so bad, it’s no wonder nobody wants it; they’ve become the paperback/hardcover equivalent of spam. Yet these dealers aren’t dwelling on that? Then how do they expect problems to be solved?

Whether the issue in question is SDCC’s slump, or DC’s, or both, it’d do a lot of good if dealers and retailers would take the time to stress why the failures, if they know what led to them. Otherwise, I don’t see why we should assume they’re really worried about the collapse of notable businesses.

 
 
Originally published here.
Avi Green

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1