DC will expand its Walmart-exclusive line of 100-Page Giant comics to include an ongoing series following The Flash and one more ongoing series, as well as at least two new holiday-themed comics.
Speaking with the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio revealed that The Flash 100-Page Giant will be launching soon, along with another ongoing series that has not yet been revealed. Between now and then? A Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Special, hitting stores on October 4, and a holiday-themed one-shot due in stores on November 11.
"I'm really excited about the program," DiDio told the paper, adding that many areas without a local comic shop are served by Walmart, "so it's a great way to get our books into people's hands."
Besides expanding the line -- something DiDio had previously expressed that he he hoped to do if the initial four titles were successful -- DC hopes to increase the number of stores in which the comics are merchandised, according to the interview. DC currently has comics in about 3,000 of Walmart's 5,000 stores, and ultimately DiDio admitted he would like to expand that reach out to all stores.
"DC characters are universally recognized and have been for generations," said Walmart's Molly Blakeman. "There are more DC superhero fans than ever and we wanted to provide these casual fans access to the source material behind the shows, movies and games they love."
The Walmart titles are designed with that audience in mind, and created with a low bar of entry, so that any casual fan who knows the basics about the characters should be able to pick up and read any given issue of Walmart's 100-Page Giant series.
The success of the early issues may be, at least in part, due to hardcore fans, though; stores sold out of the first issues quickly due to comics specialty retailers buying up copies to sell at a premium, and fans and resellers flipping issues on eBay for inflated prices.
Most of those inflated prices were undercut when, weeks after their first release, a second wave of DC's #1 issues hit the stores. Since then, each of the four existing titles -- Superman, Batman, Justice League, and Teen Titans -- have seen at least a second issue hit the stands.
The Swamp Thing Halloween one-shot will be the first one-shot 100-Page Giant Walmart will carry.
There is no word on who the creative teams will be for Swamp Thing or for The Flash or the as-yet-unnamed ongoing series which will launch in the fall.
The move to get their comics into Walmart is just one of a number of moves by DC to court non-traditional audiences in recent months. A digital "buffet" service, providing access to thousands of titles for a fixed price, will be part of the company's forthcoming DC Universe streaming app. That, along with the Walmart announcement and a number of titles planned from upcoming young adult and teen reader imprints at DC seem to be aimed squarely at new audiences not served by the current retail model. A revival of the flagging Vertigo brand featuring new Sandman content as well as titles like Goddess Mode and Border Town seems designed to increase DC's footprint in the bookstore market, which has been steadily growing in recent years as the specialty retail market has stagnated.