New podcast/video from Felix Comic Art (UPDATED 1/3/17!)
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1 hour ago, comix4fun said:

It was pretty drastic, in terms of turnaround, the year BEFORE DKR and the year AFTER DKR.

1985...Batman had 75,000 copies a month in sales on average, with over 60% of printed copies being returned.

1987...Batman had 193,000 copies a month in sales on average, with under 29% of printed copies being returned.

Batman had a progressive, almost annual, drop in print run from 1966 to 1985, then a 20% uptick in 1986, followed by sales doubling in 1987.

From 1976 to 1985 sales dropped every year but for one (1979) which, perhaps coincidentally, was the year Uslan acquired the rights to make a Batman film. 

What were the sales like for all of DC's titles at the time? 1985-1986 saw the publication of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which consolidated the entire line's continuity, and was a big event. If Batman's sales went up disproportionately compared to, say, Superman or Flash, that would be evidence of Dark Knight's impact. But, if his titles increased about the same as the others, then it may be more of a DC-wide reinvigoration.

For example, Superman went from averaging 98,000 circulation average per month in 1985 to almost 162,000 per month in 1987, per Comichron. 

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9 minutes ago, PhilipB2k17 said:

What were the sales like for all of DC's titles at the time? 1985-1986 saw the publication of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which consolidated the entire line's continuity, and was a big event. If Batman's sales went up disproportionately compared to, say, Superman or Flash, that would be evidence of Dark Knight's impact. But, if his titles increased about the same as the others, then it may be more of a DC-wide reinvigoration.

For example, Superman went from averaging 98,000 circulation average per month in 1985 to almost 162,000 per month in 1987, per Comichron. 

Superman's bump was most likely due to Byrne's Man of Steel series that reinvigorated the run, as well as the relaunched the Superman title as "Adventures of Superman" in January 1987.

There's usually a bump when a series gets relaunched or get's renumbered to #1, etc. Superman got a popular Mini & a relaunch. 

They killed the original Flash in Crisis (SPOILERS!!) and relaunched an entirely new series, so that probably doesn't help. There weren't many more really top shelf DC titles to compare to that there are easily found records. 

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1 minute ago, comix4fun said:

Superman's bump was most likely due to Byrne's Man of Steel series that reinvigorated the run, as well as the relaunched the Superman title as "Adventures of Superman" in January 1987.

There's usually a bump when a series gets relaunched or get's renumbered to #1, etc. Superman got a popular Mini & a relaunch. 

They killed the original Flash in Crisis (SPOILERS!!) and relaunched an entirely new series, so that probably doesn't help. There weren't many more really top shelf DC titles to compare to that there are easily found records. 

The Batman title also published Batman Year 1 in 1987. Written by Miller, to probably take advantage of the TDKR popularity. That was also the year Batman meets Jason Todd, who becomes the new Robin. There was a LOT of stuff going on in the Batman title itself. It wasn't just a halo effect from TDKR.

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1 minute ago, PhilipB2k17 said:

The Batman title also published Batman Year 1 in 1987. Written by Miller, to probably take advantage of the TDKR popularity. That was also the year Batman meets Jason Todd, who becomes the new Robin. There was a LOT of stuff going on in the Batman title itself. It wasn't just a halo effect from TDKR.

I wasn't saying it was though. I was saying it was the demarcation line, and a big reason for the bump.

But I'd caution the side of the "chicken and egg" you're choosing on Year One. Perhaps it would have been popular, but not instantly seismic, in it's impact on the title if there had not been another MASSIVELY popular series in DKR that preceded it and firmly focused all eyes on the hobby squarely on Batman once again. It certainly benefited from being launched in a world that had fallen in love with Batman again. 

The success and anticipation of Year One was certainly heightened by DKR blowing everyone's doors off. 

Jason Todd appeared in 1983 though. 

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1 minute ago, comix4fun said:

I wasn't saying it was though. I was saying it was the demarcation line, and a big reason for the bump.

But I'd caution the side of the "chicken and egg" you're choosing on Year One. Perhaps it would have been popular, but not instantly seismic, in it's impact on the title if there had not been another MASSIVELY popular series in DKR that preceded it and firmly focused all eyes on the hobby squarely on Batman once again. It certainly benefited from being launched in a world that had fallen in love with Batman again. 

The success and anticipation of Year One was certainly heightened by DKR blowing everyone's doors off. 

Jason Todd appeared in 1983 though. 

The rebooted, post Crisis Jason Todd, I should have said.

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1 minute ago, PhilipB2k17 said:

The rebooted, post Crisis Jason Todd, I should have said.

The one who was so popular that readers almost immediately voted that the Joker should bludgeon him to death the next year? 

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2 minutes ago, comix4fun said:

I wasn't saying it was though. I was saying it was the demarcation line, and a big reason for the bump.

But I'd caution the side of the "chicken and egg" you're choosing on Year One. Perhaps it would have been popular, but not instantly seismic, in it's impact on the title if there had not been another MASSIVELY popular series in DKR that preceded it and firmly focused all eyes on the hobby squarely on Batman once again. It certainly benefited from being launched in a world that had fallen in love with Batman again. 

The success and anticipation of Year One was certainly heightened by DKR blowing everyone's doors off. 

Jason Todd appeared in 1983 though. 

I think a Batman series written by Frank Miller at the time would have garnered a LOT of attention - and sales -, even had TDKR not been published already. Especially with the Daredevil "Born Again" creative team being reunited.

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1 minute ago, comix4fun said:

The one who was so popular that readers almost immediately voted that the Joker should bludgeon him to death the next year? 

Of course, people bought comics in those days for a lot of reasons. Speculation being one of them.

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1 minute ago, PhilipB2k17 said:

I think a Batman series written by Frank Miller at the time would have garnered a LOT of attention - and sales -, even had TDKR not been published already. Especially with the Daredevil "Born Again" creative team being reunited.

No doubt it would have been popular. But I think we're underestimating just how big a deal DKR was and how smoothly it made all Batman merch and books fly subsequently. 

The reason editors wanted a Batman: Year One was almost entirely because of the millions of units they  moved on Batman: Year "Done". 

We may have not seen Year One without it. 

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1 hour ago, Mr. Machismo said:

Thanks for listening, everyone. Good conversation. 

I’ve had a number of emails come through on CAF regarding the podcast. Interesting trend: they also were not impacted by DKR, and in some cases downright hated it. I’m surprised to hear this from some collectors, and it’s my belief there’s a reservation among younger collectors to express this as it will somehow discredit them in a hobby which is dominated by mature individuals.

When I first read DKR in my teens, I really did not like it. I felt it was far too copy-heavy and the news segments were incredibly boring and broke up the action. I view it very differently now having gone back to it, but it’s still not in my personal top 5. I have no nostalgia towards it, despite reading it early on.

Regarding nostalgia strength VS time, my view differs from Felix’s a bit. Although Dark Victory, HUSH, and Long Halloween were among the first comics I read, it’s Court of Owls which I hold the fondest memories of. This is true for some other listeners who have contacted me as well, as a number of them jumped into comics with the New 52 reboot, or really amped it up when things seemingly became more accessible. Yes, it feels like comics nowadays are reset to #1 almost yearly, but this was the FIRST time Batman went back to #1, and psychologically that brought a lot of new readers in.

Anyhow, it will be interesting to watch prices over the next couple decades. Because the vast majority of art collectors skew older — and sometimes don’t even read new comics from the big two — there’s an inherent lack of appreciation of new work VS the older stuff. Where comments like “Snyder and Capullo’s run was average” and “White Knight is horrible” is echoed among the veteran collectors, an intense and opposing reaction is heard from the younger, heavily active readership. Do you have any idea the hype that is heard throughout local comic stores for White Knight? 

As I mentioned, I do best on the pieces which are absurdly priced and mocked, by far. In part, I attribute this to not possessing a heavy bias towards older work, for whatever significance or reason, which can sometimes lead to a disconnect to what’s happening today. An observation!

Interesting observations Kyle, and I think they largely ring true.  I'm in both worlds somewhat as both a old guy fan/collector and old guy creator.  There is a bit of disconnect between generations about what moves which needles, and about perceived merit/enthusiasm/dismissal versus the real thing.  I think your podcast session is useful for people to hear and get a perspective that's a little bit different from the usual suspects that have been doing this for a long time.  Good on you, and good on Felix for providing a platform to hear some alternate views to comics and the OA hobby.

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Thanks, Scott. The further ahead we go, the more we’ll see “classics” change, I think. And to define my usage of classic, I mean memorable stories which are considered mandatory reads as X fan. The stories that continually hit top 10 lists and are referred by active-reader friends.

Yes, DKR is absolutely a classic to most of us, but to many younger readers it’s not. I don’t share this sentiment, but it can be viewed as just another Batman story which leans too heavy on copy, has terrible art (DKR Gallery edition sits on my coffee table and routinely gets scolded for “poor” artwork by guests), and is a little too goofy and dated. 

Long [long-] term, I see a story like HUSH surpassing DKR, and I’m not saying that because Scott is here. It reaches a far greater audience, showcases a wide gallery of villains, has tight and dynamic art that isn’t seen as “scribbly” or bad — but rather generally appealing and familiar — and reads just as well today as it did in its release because it doesn’t rely on issues of the day to drive it. It’s much farther reaching in terms of its appeal, despite having a weaker story than DKR. I believe the same for Court. 

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17 minutes ago, Mr. Machismo said:

Thanks, Scott. The further ahead we go, the more we’ll see “classics” change, I think. And to define my usage of classic, I mean memorable stories which are considered mandatory reads as X fan. The stories that continually hit top 10 lists and are referred by active-reader friends.

Yes, DKR is absolutely a classic to most of us, but to many younger readers it’s not. I don’t share this sentiment, but it can be viewed as just another Batman story which leans too heavy on copy, has terrible art (DKR Gallery edition sits on my coffee table and routinely gets scolded for “poor” artwork by guests), and is a little too goofy and dated. 

Long [long-] term, I see a story like HUSH surpassing DKR, and I’m not saying that because Scott is here. It reaches a far greater audience, showcases a wide gallery of villains, has tight and dynamic art that isn’t seen as “scribbly” or bad — but rather generally appealing and familiar — and reads just as well today as it did in its release because it doesn’t rely on issues of the day to drive it. It’s much farther reaching in terms of its appeal, despite having a weaker story than DKR. I believe the same for Court. 

The number of copies sold of recent Batman (or any) comics pales in comparison to the sales figures of TDKR. The audience is much smaller today than it was then.

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48 minutes ago, Mr. Machismo said:

Thanks, Scott. The further ahead we go, the more we’ll see “classics” change, I think. And to define my usage of classic, I mean memorable stories which are considered mandatory reads as X fan. The stories that continually hit top 10 lists and are referred by active-reader friends.

Yes, DKR is absolutely a classic to most of us, but to many younger readers it’s not. I don’t share this sentiment, but it can be viewed as just another Batman story which leans too heavy on copy, has terrible art (DKR Gallery edition sits on my coffee table and routinely gets scolded for “poor” artwork by guests), and is a little too goofy and dated. 

Long [long-] term, I see a story like HUSH surpassing DKR, and I’m not saying that because Scott is here. It reaches a far greater audience, showcases a wide gallery of villains, has tight and dynamic art that isn’t seen as “scribbly” or bad — but rather generally appealing and familiar — and reads just as well today as it did in its release because it doesn’t rely on issues of the day to drive it. It’s much farther reaching in terms of its appeal, despite having a weaker story than DKR. I believe the same for Court. 

That's an interesting take, for sure. 

Miller's DKR style (evolved from DD and prior to it's re-evolution for Sin City) was certainly a shock to the system at the time. The story overrode all of those concerns though, to the point that seeing those pages, in that style, brings one back and enhances what a great story it was. 

The Hush artwork is lush and gorgeous and far more what's expected from a major character storyline. I love it. I love looking at it. The story, however, starts great and draws you in but tends to leave one less than satisfied. I felt the same about Old Man Logan. That's most likely because it was intended to be a shorter series but, due to overwhelming popularity and sales, was stretched and diluted to the point of being unrecognizable from where it started (plot wise) in the end. 

So you bring up a good point. What makes a story last? Being "well" drawn (for those that don't appreciate Miller's-then-style) or being well written?

If a story is going to be missing something, it can be in the pictures and not in the plot. 

Lots of people draw well. Lots of people draw Batman well. Without a superior story that remains so through beginning, middle, and end, You may run into a situation where the pictures cannot sustain where the words fail. Whereas we've seen the words of DKR sustain where there's less than total agreement that the pictures succeed. 

Ideally, you'd like to have BOTH. For the majority of comic fans DKR has both.  Hush is certainly the best of the last couple decades of Batman story arcs, but does it really transcend and hit on all cylinders? Not always. The pictures never fail but the plot does stumble. 

I guess time will tell. 

Edited by comix4fun

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28 minutes ago, Mr. Machismo said:

Thanks, Scott. The further ahead we go, the more we’ll see “classics” change, I think. And to define my usage of classic, I mean memorable stories which are considered mandatory reads as X fan. The stories that continually hit top 10 lists and are referred by active-reader friends.

Yes, DKR is absolutely a classic to most of us, but to many younger readers it’s not. I don’t share this sentiment, but it can be viewed as just another Batman story which leans too heavy on copy, has terrible art (DKR Gallery edition sits on my coffee table and routinely gets scolded for “poor” artwork by guests), and is a little too goofy and dated. 

Long [long-] term, I see a story like HUSH surpassing DKR, and I’m not saying that because Scott is here. It reaches a far greater audience, showcases a wide gallery of villains, has tight and dynamic art that isn’t seen as “scribbly” or bad — but rather generally appealing and familiar — and reads just as well today as it did in its release because it doesn’t rely on issues of the day to drive it. It’s much farther reaching in terms of its appeal, despite having a weaker story than DKR. I believe the same for Court. 

I'm afraid I have to differ on a number of these points.  As I mentioned, I quite enjoyed Court of Owls (at least the first two trades - I still have more to read), but, it came out at a point in time where comics have evolved so much as a medium, the relationship with the audience has changed so much in the wake of the past 25 years of change in tech & media (chiefly, there's a much smaller audience that was even exposed to it), and Batman is about as richly developed a character as you can get, that stories like these are just the comic equivalent of Chinese food.  Tastes good going down, but, are not only not the game-changers that stories like DKR and Watchmen were back in the day, but, might not even meet your lower bar of "classic/must-reads" over time.  Felix can probably tell you how many copies of DKR are sold each year in trade; how many people will be buying Court of Owls trades in 30 years by comparison?  

I don't think it's fair to say that the younger generation has written off DKR.  Even if they appreciate the modern format of storytelling more, most people retain an appreciation of the classics, especially those that moved the needle in the medium and are deemed to be "historically important".  I much prefer Bronze/Copper/Modern books to, say, Golden Age and Silver Age, but, that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate Action #1 or AF #15 or Jack Kirby art, or am not cognizant of the fact that major books and pieces of art from those eras are more valuable (by and large) vs. newer books/art.   We see this in other hobbies as well.  Even if you're a younger person who prefers Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst to Rembrandt, you're always going to recognize the latter's value, even if it isn't your bag.  Even if you'd rather own a new Ferrari 488 to drive around town, it's not like you're not going to recognize that an F40 from 30 years ago is always going to be more valuable and in-demand.  Even if you grew up with Derek Jeter or Aaron Judge, it's not like a '52 Topps Mickey Mantle is not going to be what you aspire to own as a card collector. 

I see no chance of Hush ever surpassing DKR.  It is, to me, the pinnacle of the Lee/Williams artistic partnership, but, IMO, it's not one of Loeb's better stories, sad to say.  It will never get the critical acclaim that DKR got (and nor should it), it will never be one of those graphic novels like DKR, Watchmen, Maus, etc. that people use as a gateway to get non-comic fans into reading comics, etc.  It's beautiful art, it's a decent story (to some), but, in the cosmic scheme of things...it's simply not important to the entire medium like DKR was and still is.  

Incidentally, I finally read DK III over the past couple of days.  Some interesting concepts, yes, but, overall...terrible.  

Edited by delekkerste

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21 minutes ago, J.Sid said:

I think people forget what the world was like back before Watchmen and Dark Knight. Comics readers generally did so in the closet.

You didn't talk to the kids at high school about the X-Men or Batman. Just the people you'd seen on Wednesday (was it always Wednesday?) at your local comic shop. If god forbid you ever did broach the topic to a non-comics fan, you likely had to explain to them who Wolverine was and what those sticks on his hands were.

Dark Knight and Watchmen changed everything. For the first time, national magazines and newspapers were giving media attention to (gulp) comic books. Shortly after, the GNs started showing up in book stores alongside the section that sold Tolkien books. Before you knew it, people who didn't even know where their city's LCS was located might sometimes be overheard having conversations about Batman.

We now live in a world where it's a given that the next Marvel Movie will make $500 mil globally, where Target sells Spider-Man Tshirts in the Men's section, and where a hundred million Americans can tell you who Deadpool is. The younger generation sometimes assumes it's just always been that way. It wasn't.

I think the success of the Batman movie moved the needle more thanWatchmen or TDKR. Yes, the latter got some notoriety, but not like the mania that 1989 film created 

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10 minutes ago, comix4fun said:

That's an interesting take, for sure. 

Miller's DKR style (evolved from DD and prior to it's re-evolution for Sin City) was certainly a shock to the system at the time. The story overrode all of those concerns though, to the point that seeing those pages, in that style, brings one back and enhances what a great story it was. 

The Hush artwork is lush and gorgeous and far more what's expected from a major character storyline. I love it. I love looking at it. The story, however, starts great and draws you in but tends to leave one less than satisfied. I felt the same about Old Man Logan. That's most likely because it was intended to be a shorter series but, due to overwhelming popularity and sales, was stretch and diluted to the point of being unrecognizable from where it started (plot wise) in the end. 

So you bring up a good point. What makes a story last? Being "well" drawn (for those that don't appreciate Miller's-then-style) or being well written?

If a story is going to be missing something, it can be in the pictures and not in the plot. 

Lots of people draw well. Lots of people draw Batman well. Without a superior story that remains so through beginning, middle, and end. You may run into a situation where the pictures cannot sustain where the words fail. Whereas we've seen the words of DKR sustain where there's less than total agreement that the pictures succeed. 

Ideally, you'd like to have BOTH. For the majority of comic fans DKR has both.  Hush is certainly the best of the last couple decades of Batman story arcs, but does it really transcend and hit on all cylinders? Not always. The pictures never fail but the plot does stumble. 

I guess time will tell. 

The art from Hush is great.  Lee/Williams at their best.  But, it's not like it took comic art in another direction; it's just really well-drawn and fun to look at.  The story as you said...meh when you look at it as a whole.  Many at the time, including myself, thought it was a disappointment - more style (great art) than substance (ho-hum story - apologies to Loeb, who I otherwise quite like as a writer and person).  For fans of Image era-to-the-present artwork, Hush is always going to be a go-to run.  But, it will never be, as Jeff alluded to, the kind of story that will be written about in Time Magazine and appear on best books (graphic novels or otherwise) lists.  You really need a groundbreaking story for that to happen.  DKR was one.  Killing Joke was one.  Year One was one.  There have been many excellent and/or memorable Batman arcs since then, but, I don't think any of them gets to that kind of standard.  

As for Hush, I don't think it'll go down as the best of the Batman story arcs from the past 20 years.  I'm enjoying the Snyder/Capullo run a lot more, for starters (eagerly awaiting the next TPB at my library).  I hear the Tom King (who's other work in Sheriff of Babylon and Vision I enjoyed a lot) run is very good too (I have 5 of the trades downloaded to my Kindle but haven't read them yet).  I recently read the Brubaker Batman run in trade...not quite up to the usual Brubaker standard, but, I'm not sure if it was any worse than Hush; I did feel that Scott McDaniel's art (he was totally the wrong artist for that run) didn't help matters any, though.

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26 minutes ago, J.Sid said:

I think people forget what the world was like back before Watchmen and Dark Knight. Comics readers generally did so in the closet.

You didn't talk to the kids at high school about the X-Men or Batman. Just the people you'd seen on Wednesday (was it always Wednesday?) at your local comic shop. If god forbid you ever did broach the topic to a non-comics fan, you likely had to explain to them who Wolverine was and what those sticks on his hands were.

Dark Knight and Watchmen changed everything. For the first time, national magazines and newspapers were giving media attention to (gulp) comic books. Shortly after, the GNs started showing up in book stores alongside the section that sold Tolkien books. Before you knew it, people who didn't even know where their city's LCS was located might sometimes be overheard having conversations about Batman.

We now live in a world where it's a given that the next Marvel Movie will make $500 mil globally, where Target sells Spider-Man Tshirts in the Men's section, and where a hundred million Americans can tell you who Deadpool is. The younger generation sometimes assumes it's just always been that way. It wasn't.

For sure!    

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i think it all boils down to different strokes for different folks.  similar to how for a certain generation nsync > beatles. 

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If DKR was released today, how would it hold up? That’s my point. As generations die off, so will appreciation for the [original] classics. Current VS past readership is somewhat irrelevant in this discussion as previous generations pass away. We’re talking far ahead here.

I don’t believe the generations to come are going to appreciate something for its cultural significance as it’s been stated. Being much younger, what I see is rapidly increasing apathy in that regard, on all fronts.

20 years from now, a teenager sees HUSH* and DKR trades side-by-side on Amazon, they’re going to think DKR looks dated and is poorly drawn. They are not going to force their smartphone-attention spans to digest 100-200 pages because their grandfather told them how important DKR was.

*I’m using HUSH as a general example here of a comic DC/Top 10 lists will continually push for the foreseeable future, and acknowledge DKR is the superior comic, though not in terms of my personal tastes. And yes, HUSH may very will hit the curb side for not firing as well on story as it could have, but I believe DKR will become irrelevant first strictly on apathy towards classics. 

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