The game changer

While it is still too soon to formally announce the details of Arkhaven’s plans for 2021, it isn’t too soon to answer those of you who have asked how you can support the latest offensive on the comics front, as it is going to be our biggest effort to date. It will also explain why we have not released any comics in any format over the latter half of 2020.

Here are some of the relevant points of information that may help you put things in context.

  • “After a long run on the Superman franchise there were only a few titles that Brian Bendis could work on that would be on a similar level. Justice League was one of those titles and that is exactly where we will see Bendis work next. As much as I would like to give Bendis a chance on Justice League his work since coming over to DC Comics has left a lot to be desired.”
  • Comic sales were 5.92 million copies at Diamond in March 2020, when shutdowns were beginning and when DC was still part of its offerings. It is off from the 8.82 million copies in October 2019… October 2020’s performance was based on only 373 new comics, versus 521 releases then. Marvel leads DC in units about 41{e61d147451bc60549e96d95b5c07be35845e0345eab7ed5d54cc3d49f812ab5c} to 30{e61d147451bc60549e96d95b5c07be35845e0345eab7ed5d54cc3d49f812ab5c}, but again reorders aren’t included for DC — and, of course, DC’s slate at 49 issues was much smaller than Marvel’s, at 77.
  • In March 2020, DC Comics solicited 62 new items, totalling 2,632 pages (though the amount of artwork generated is less, as this includes advertising and editorial pages) costing $281 made up of 49 $3.99 and 9 $4.99 titles. In March 2021, DC Comics has solicited 39 items totalling 1,896 pages, costing $221, made up of 16 $3.99 and 12 $4.99 titles.
  • Bleeding Cool revealed that a shocking number of writers and artists were learning of their terminations through the March solicitations, discovering that their books had been cut as part of DC’s effort to slash their line to just over 30 books.
  • In March 2021, Marvel solicited 66 new items, totalling 2,264 pages. In March 2020, Marvel solicited 99 new items totalling 3,408 pages.
  • It appears that the WarnerMedia layoff bloodbath, specifically at DC Comics, is set to keep the blood flowing well into the new year. Apparently the layoffs, which have already claimed the jobs of such long-time DC executives as now-former co-publisher Dan DiDio and now-former Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras, failed to trim enough fat, as Bleeding Cool reported over Christmas that a third wave of layoffs is coming in the New Year. No suspected names were mentioned, though at this point, one has to wonder how much more talent the company can afford to lose.

The ratio of actual artwork to solicited pagecount is around 67.5 percent. What Marvel solicits as a 32-page comic actually contains 20 pages of artwork, plus a cover. So, for the purposes of comparison, Marvel is now producing about 1,530 pages of comics and DC is producing around 1,281 pages per month. Since each page contains about 4.5 frames on average, and each hangul episode consists of around 30 frames, this means that Marvel produces an estimated 230 episodes per month, down from 331 per month in March 2020, and DC is now producing 192 episodes per month, down from 267 one year previous.

We can be extremely confident that these numbers will continue to decline, especially on the DC side, since a third round of layoffs have already been announced and 43 percent of their product line now consists of $4.99 comics, up from 16 percent the year before. It is obvious that DC is well into the familiar corporate death spiral; what is less obvious is that Marvel’s production decline is actually 5.6 percent steeper than DC’s.

And while we can’t announce firm numbers yet, thanks to the hard work by the Arkhaven team and our Brazilian partners, we are presently planning to provide between 100 and 120 episodes per month from day one of launch, which is presently scheduled for March. And yes, that means multiple new episodes every single day, seven days a week. Some of the material will be familiar to those who were on Webtoons, but a lot of it will be entirely new. These digital editions will supplement, not replace, our plans for print editions, as the cover to the right suggests. If you backed something, you will receive it, right down to the gold logos if applicable.

The launch titles will include, but are not limited to: Alt-Hero, Alt-Hero: Q, Chuck Dixon’s Avalon, A Throne of Bones, Shade, Quantum Mortis, Hypergamouse, Midnight’s War, Swan Knight’s Saga, Right Ho Jeeves, The Awakener, The Hammer of Freedom, The Legend of Boia, Go Monster Go, Cosmic Warrior, Clockwork Dancer, Flying Sparks, and Lieutenant Bravo.

The Arkhaven platform will be open, so independent creators will be welcomed and encouraged to participate in much the same manner as Webtoons Canvas. If you are an independent comics creator who wants to learn more about the platform, please feel free to get in touch. The Arkhaven subscriptions will be modified accordingly, but we have not yet determined the precise levels and benefits. We expect to do so later this month.