Possibly for the first time in the 70 plus years of its existence, Detective Comics was the best selling comic in April. Pretty cool, but not shocking, after all, it was the conclusion of Neil Gaiman's "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" and the first part was in February I believe. Here's a link to some thoughts on that, at Comics Should Be Good:

http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/05/29/interesting-fir...

My thoughts: Batman and the two comics he stars in have certainly had their ups and downs over the decades. I remember reading an interview with Alan Grant that Detective Comics was in danger of being cancelled shortly before the 1989 Batman movie; Grant and John Wagner had taken over writing the book in 1987 or 1988. Denny O'Neil started editing the Batman titles in 1986. Prior to O'Neil coming aboard, there had been two long runs on the titles written firstly by Gerry Conway, followed by Doug Moench. Conway started the trend of a story starting in Batman and continuing it in Detective, and Moench continued in that vein. O'Neil decided to end that, and according to Grant, sales on Detective tanked to near-cancellation levels. The movie improved sales to the extent that in 1989, DC launched a third Batman title, Legends of the Dark Knight. In the last 20 years, crossovers in an ever growing line of Bat-related titles became commonplace.

One more thing to add, does anyone know if it is true that Detective was almost cancelled during the DC Implosion of the late 1970's but at the last minute was given a reprieve and merged (for lack of a better term) with Batman Family? I seem to recall reading that somewhere on the net, maybe even on the old board. Anyone know about that?

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I've heard the same thing (in various interviews with DC staff at the time - possibly Bob Rozakis) re the proposed cancellation of 'tec during the Implosion, and that it was given a last minute reprieve because DC didn't want to lose their flagship title; merging it with the better selling Dollar Comic Batman Family helped it survive.

I doubt we'd see anthology comics of that size again, but I'm certainly seeing a shift towards propping up lesser selling titles with fan-favourite 'co-features' - I predicted this just after Christmas, before the first raft of co-features were announced, and it makes considerable commercial sense.
DC did its darnedest to work the name "Batman" into the Detective Comics logo for most of the 90s. At times it was "BATMAN [giant point size] starring in Detective Comics" or "Detective Comics starring BATMAN." Even today, the logo reads "Batman Detective Comics", which prompts some people to pronounce the title as "Batman Detective Comics", which drives me batty. Of course, as of June the book will star Batwoman, so there goes that little bit of marketing.
Batman is a fantastic character. (big Newsflash!), but he is not best served by the continual month-in month-out long-form storytelling.

Its like the gold is spun into straw in reverse alchemy. Anyone here would have their own examples of how this works against him.

How many side-kicks has he lost now? How many times has the Joker escaped from Arkham? Is Bruce Wayne, the dilletente playboy a character on the Gotham social scene or not? Why doesn't he just ring up Superman when he's under pressure?

Battle for the Cowl? Who will wear the Mantle of the Bat? Who gets his big underpants?

The long-form ongoing monthly format works against truly definitively great Batman stories.

You'll notice that the big-selling Batman GNs with crossover appeal tend to be out of continuity. DKR, Arkham Asylum. Even the Killing Joke which seemed to be set in a timeless neverwhen, was treated as out-of-continuity for years.

The issue of Detective Comics under discussion was a Batman tale told by a great creator freed from the reins of continuity. To put such a story in the regular monthly required some contextual fudging. DC had made it clear that Batman wasn't dead in FC

Admittedly, by my argument, Tales of the Dark Knight should have been best-sellers every month, but <*shrugs*>. I would say a sizeable chunk of the market for Detective 853 was people who loved Batman and were interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him, but like me have no real interest in the ongoing open-ended adventures of the poor man!
Figserello said:
I would say a sizeable chunk of the market for Detective 853 was people who loved Batman and were interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him, but like me have no real interest in the ongoing open-ended adventures of the poor man!

There may be something to that, but I would be VERY surprised if a sizable chunk of the 104K copies that sold in April weren't the throngs of Gaiman-philes who buy anything he puts out (a group I count myself among, for whatever that's worth). I would say any other constituency — including the "love Batman and are interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him" contingent, who are probably not insignificant — are going to pale in comparison to the Gaimanites.
Alan M. said:
Figserello said:
I would say a sizeable chunk of the market for Detective 853 was people who loved Batman and were interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him, but like me have no real interest in the ongoing open-ended adventures of the poor man!

There may be something to that, but I would be VERY surprised if a sizable chunk of the 104K copies that sold in April weren't the throngs of Gaiman-philes who buy anything he puts out (a group I count myself among, for whatever that's worth). I would say any other constituency — including the "love Batman and are interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him" contingent, who are probably not insignificant — are going to pale in comparison to the Gaimanites.

You're probably right. I'd imagine quite a few of the 'Gaimanites' would be interested in his prose work first and his comics work second. Haven't way more people read his novels than have consistently bought his comics. Are we talking in the millions for his last few books? If even a tiny portion of them decided to try out a floppy(!) that's a lot of non-monthly readers coming on board.
Figserello said:
Alan M. said:
Figserello said:
I would say a sizeable chunk of the market for Detective 853 was people who loved Batman and were interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him, but like me have no real interest in the ongoing open-ended adventures of the poor man!

There may be something to that, but I would be VERY surprised if a sizable chunk of the 104K copies that sold in April weren't the throngs of Gaiman-philes who buy anything he puts out (a group I count myself among, for whatever that's worth). I would say any other constituency — including the "love Batman and are interested in a self-contained well-written tale of him" contingent, who are probably not insignificant — are going to pale in comparison to the Gaimanites.

You're probably right. I'd imagine quite a few of the 'Gaimanites' would be interested in his prose work first and his comics work second. Haven't way more people read his novels than have consistently bought his comics. Are we talking in the millions for his last few books? If even a tiny portion of them decided to try out a floppy(!) that's a lot of non-monthly readers coming on board.

I would put myself in as someone more interested in his prose work than his comic work. I've yet to read the Gaiman comic story that I thought was just great. Good? Oh, yes. Just not anything that has blown me away.
Yep, I agree, this two-parter might have been the best Batman story ever written, but if it has been written by not-Neil Gaiman then it would not be a bestseller. And, for my money, the best Batman stories of all time were published during the Grant/Wagner/Breyfogle run and the first volume of Batman Adventures.

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