The year started with Diamond Comics Distributors announcing new, higher order minimums for publishers -- sounding the death knell for small and mid-sized publishers' hopes for distribution. DC showed newspapers how to really do the Sunday funnies and Dr. Manhattan showed everyone his blue junk. Here are the top ten stories, in chronological order, of the year that was 2009.
Diamond Comics Distribution announced order minimums that effectively killed small-to-mid-sized publishers' chances of distribution. According to Johanna Draper Carlson:
That means, if you're a self-publisher, first, you have to get approved to get listed in the monthly order catalog. Then, once you're in there, if you don't get $2500 worth of orders, they won't cut you a purchase order, meaning the few people who did order your book will never see it. (Unless you somehow find them to re-sell to them directly or at conventions or similar encounters.)
For a typical independent comic with a $3 cover price, let's assume that you give Diamond 50% off. (That's probably not right. You may give them 60% off, so you only get 40% of your cover price. That's the basis of Dan Vado's estimates below, but I wanted easier numbers.) So with a $1500 minimum, you needed 1000 orders (3.00 * 50% * 1000 = 1500). But now, with $2500 minimum, you need 1,667 orders. That's an increase of 66%.
Watchmen movie opens to a $55.7 million opening weekend, making it the biggest-opening film of the year at the time. It is the 23rd highest earner of 2009 ($107 million, gross). Comic-book-temed movies dominated 2009's top box-office earners with X-Men Origins: Wolverine currently at Number 8 for the year ($179 million, gross). Other movies with strong ties to comics, like Star Trek, Transformers and G.I. Joe were also in the top twelve for the year.
Wizard World Philadelphia, once again scheduled for the same weekend as Heroes Con in North Carolina, opened without traditional anchors such as DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image and Top Cow. Attendees show up for the last day with "R.I.P. WWP" T-shirts. This was the first time the major publishers were missing from a Wizard-run convention. Unfortunately, it would prove to be the status quo for the year.
Less than a week after a sparsely attended show in Philadelphia, Wizard Entertainment president and CEO Gareb Shamus announced his purchase of Toronto Comic Con and FunFare magazine. He would also buy Big Apple Comic Con in New York City. Wizard Entertainment timeline.
DC launched "Wednesday Comics," a 12-issue Sunday-paper-style comics section. It would prove to be immensely popular, with beautiful printing, envelope-pushing designs, vast stories and gorgeous art.
Disney announced that it had acquired Marvel Comics. The deal brought the extensive catalog of Marvel's licensed characters to Disney's monster-sized media machine.
"It's a game-changer, clearly," [Industry insider Jeff] Katz said of the acquisition. "And long term, it's a brilliant move for Disney that will be worth every penny. It makes a ton of sense for them at a corporate level, especially once some of the current Marvel deals expire and can then be exploited through the larger Disney pipeline. I think this is indicative of the general shrinking of the entertainment marketplace. There will be more consolidation along these lines."
Hot on the tail of the news of the Disney/Marvel merger came word from the offices of the Dedicated Competition that its parent company, Time Warner, announced a major shake-up in the management of DC Comics.
The news today that a major restructuring at DC Comics would bring the company under direct control of Warner Bros. Pictures has the comic book industry almost as astounded as they were after Disney announced last week that it was acquiring Marvel Comics...
...The restructuring of DC Comics creates a new division called "DC Entertainment," overseen by Warner Bros. executive Diane Nelson. The move was explicitly described as giving Warner the ability to market the DC characters across many platforms, although most in the comics industry simply see it as bringing the comic book side of DC's characters into a closer synergy with Hollywood.
The Disney/Marvel merger had ripple effects throughout the world of comics. Among the more fascinating was news that the estate of Jack Kirby was going to try to regain the copyright to characters the king of comics had helped create.
The New York Times reports the legal notices expressed an intent to regain copyrights to some Kirby co-creations as early as 2014, this according to a statement from Toberoff & Associates, a Los Angeles firm that helped win a court ruling last year returning a share of the copyright in Superman to heirs of the character's co-creator, Jerry Siegel.
"Con Wars" were declared (by fans) between Wizard Entertainment and comic-convention competitor Reed Exhibitions (New York Comic Con and the upcoming C2E2 in Chicago) as Wizard CEO Shamus wrapped 2009's Big Apple Comic Con with an announcement of 2010's dates: The same weekend as Reed's New York Comic Con. Reed's response?
When news hit last weekend that Wizard owner Gareb Shamus' just relaunched Big Apple Comic Con would set up its 2010 run on the same weekend as the venerable New York Comic Con only a few miles down the shore of the Hudson River, fans and commentators were surprised to see the direct challenge to NYCC's supremacy. Although, one person who seemed less than taken aback was Lance Fensterman, the Reed Exhibitions VP who oversees NYCC.
"I'm not at all shocked. I would've been shocked if they did it a different weekend," Fensterman told CBR of the move. "This is a thing I've heard from them or from the rumblings out there. We run 40 events a year as a company, so we're pretty aware of where people are looking for dates and when."
For its part, Wizard had still been smarting from Reed's comments of finally bringing a world-class comic-convention to Chicago (Wizard's flagship con is Chicago Comic Con). Note: Interestingly, in early December, Shamus adjusted the dates for Chicago Comic Con so it wouldn't conflict with the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Which is run by Reed.
For the first time since 1968, DC took the top six spots in the list of top ten titles sold during a given month. DC takes top six slots for first time since 1968. Blackest Night #4 secured the Number One position, with four other Blackest Night themed titles and Batman and Robin shoring up the rest of the top six slots. October 2009 sales chart.