Jiminy Christmas! | Wither DC Absolutes?

As anyone who reads this site can attest I love oversized hardcovers.  I want my serving of comic art extra-large if you please.  There is a size in the comic industry that companies are using, about 9×16″.  DC absolute editions, Dark Horse library editions, some Fantagraphics and IDW reprints.  They’re large and fall somewhere between $50-$100 but well worth the price of admission.

Last week DC released publishing schedules for 2011 up to July and there was a glaring omission: no Absolute editions were solicited.  Is this the end of the line?

I would have to say there will be more Absolute editions to come from DC, but at what frequency?  I trolled through online sales records and came up with the following:

As you can see there are a few trends to consider.  No edition has broken 5000 units sold since 2006; yes Watchmen in its many printings has but that’s slightly outside our focus here since it sells well in every format.  Unfortunately graphics novels weren’t reported until December 2001, and then only the top 25.  March 2002 we had the top 50, February 2004 the top 100 and November 2008 on the top 300.  That’s why I listed Absolute Danger Girl as less than 1535 since that was what #50 sold that month.

Properties known outside the comic store circle such as Sandman and Death do decent numbers but name alone won’t carry a title as evidenced by the two Promethea volumes carrying the moniker Alan Moore.  How exactly did Promethea get a second Absolute edition anyway?

Cover price doesn’t seem to be an issue with people paying for the material, even though Absolute Green Lantern was very thin at 224 pages to be charging $75.  Absolute Planetary V.2 was 384 pages and Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow was 340 for the same $75.  Absolute All-Star Superman was 340 pages for $100: basically we’re seeing a $25 price bump this year.

DC has a wealth of material that fans would snap up immediately, but are sales of 1500 units enough to keep the program afloat?

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Scott VanderPloeg
Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at AE Index and eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans.
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7 Comments

  1. It’s a niche market, that’s for sure. People like yourself who enjoy the format will buy them, but most people can’t justify spending that much for a book in any format. People get hesitant when it comes to a book priced over $30. Most would rather, whether it’s a novel or graphic novel, wait for the paperback edition to hit shelves at a cheaper price.

    So DC and these other companies need to decide whether they should keep making these books for a niche market, and whether retailers will still carry them, when people would rather wait for a less expensive version.

  2. I love the Absolutes but I think they took a few risks in 2010 that didn’t pay off (V for Vendetta, Prometha, Superman: For Tomorrow, Green Lantern: Rebirth) and revived some out of print books unnecessarily (Sandman, New Frontier). They really need to decide what they want to achieve with the line if they wish to continue it — it really needs to be for books that deserve the “Absolute” treatment.

    However, I hope they do a better job of expanding the Deluxe and regular hardcover lines. Some books are just screaming for this more affordable treatment – Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, Batman by Doug Moench and Kelly Jones, Hawkworld, The Spectre by Ostrander and Mandrake, Cosmic Odyssey, Batman by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, Batman: Prey and it’s sequel by Moench and Gulacy, Superman by John Byrne, and many others…

  3. I second Kevin’s input.

    Frankly making GL: Rebirth an Absolute is a waste of time. Six issues of a fair to middling mini-series don’t really ‘deserve’ this treatment.

    that said when I bought the V for Vendetta I was a little underwhelmed – the paperstock wasn’t anything to write home about, and I was sort of hoping for the original black and white art, instead of the not-that-great-colouring job.

    That said I’d love to see Batman Year One Hundred get the Absolute treatment, as I think it’s gritty, shaky style would be perfect as an Absolute.

  4. That’s a great idea (Absolute Batman: Year 100) but I would expand it to include the material from his SOLO issue, his Wednesday comics strip and any other DC material like the story he did for Batman Classified. If not an absolute then at least a Deluxe Hardcover.

  5. Totally! I always found it weird that Batman Year 100 didn’t get as much acclaim as it did. It’s a wonderful book that really showcases the depth of Batman from his physicality to his mental prowess. I know he’s knee deep in other stuff – and the last thing I’d want to do is take away from Pope’s creating new and original ideas – but I’d love a sequel.

    Shit.. did Villarubia get any awards for his coloring in that book? If anyone deserves a Eisner for colouring it’s Jose – specifically for the scene when the footage of Batman is being viewed by the shadowy committee. I think the beguiling has the Original Art and you can see just how much Villarubia brought to that scene..

    This should turn into a feature. Books deserving of a larger format printing… but something jazzier.. Super-size this?

  6. Two good points. I think DC is counting on the Absolute customer not caring when they have to special order their product. I’m sad to report that I rarely ever look at the prices of the books that I order from the Diamond catalogue. But that being said, some of the Absolute volumes have been ridiculously priced and can usually be found in the aftermarket for a much reduced price.

    IDW and Dark Horse (and Image with the Walking Dead and Invincible series, and Fantagraphics with the Popeye, Prince Valiant, et al. tabloid size) have offered some great Absolute-like products. I was talking with IDW’s Scott Dunbier in New York in October about future plans for “art editions” of comics such as the one he assembled for Dave Steven’s Rocketeer and he said that there definitely are more of these on their way – the next volume (which he would not reveal) was an art edition of a classic silver age comic that would be produced to match the larger silver age original art page size.

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