By The Numbers: June 2015
Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money! What does your money tell them? What does it tell us as fans? What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out? What are the trends? What looks good? What looks rough?
All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.
Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor. He’s worked in the industry for 5 years but grew up reading comics. He is currently published with Outre Press, Nemeses Studios and several others including Alterna which is running a pretty awesome Kickstarter currently which his story got the cover of! He is currently enjoying the Captain America: Civil War meme’s way too much
Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor for Grayhaven Comics and is working on his first novel. He is currently standing outside of the houses of the Supergirl showrunners waiting for them to dare and mess up. Paranormal Activity got nothing on Ray.
Glenn: We continue the summer of Secret Wars in the June sales chart!
Ray: Yeah, the bulk of our conversation this month is going to be on two things – the continued domination on Secret Wars, and how the DC mini-relaunch fared. We just learned today that a second mini-relaunch is coming in October for the company, so they’re far from done. It looks at first glance to me like the former continues to be an unmitigated hit, while the latter is a bit more of a mixed bag.
Glenn: We’ll probably also talk a bit later about how everyone else is fairing up with all this going on but you’re right, June (and most likely the next few months) will be us mostly saying ‘Secret Wars sells!’ and ‘some of DC’s new books sell…some not so much!’
We had speculated a little bit last month that Batman by the super solid team of Snyder and Capullo may take the top spot but it seems that the event that spawns other events, Secret Wars keeps the top spot. Due to a Secret War banner and going back to what be the most controversial Spider-Man story ever, Renew Your Vows lands close behind it at the number 2 spot.
Ray: Secret Wars held fairly well, staying over 200K, but the big story, to me is the debut of Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows. This alternate story featuring a married Spider-man who is a father in a world that’s gone to hell is easily the biggest debut for a Secret Wars tie-in, selling more than the majority of full event comics do. Sure, there were incentives and lots of hype, but could this be the silent majority of Spider-man fans still angry about One More Day showing up to support this book? Certainly looks like it. With DC just announcing a Superman title set in the old continuity, don’t be surprised to see Spider-man follow.
Glenn: I think the success of Renew Your Vows is due to a few factors. Obviously people still remember One More Day and it will likely be the talking point for this comic generation like the Clone Saga was 20 years ago. Are we better off or worse off? Who knows? Now at least, we get a small window of what could have been. So I think people will be beyond curious and then Marvel’s given the book a top notch creative team. It could have probably sold well without Secret Wars but that helps too of course. I think its probably surpassed some expectations by performing this well, we’ll have to see if it can hold that for the remaining issues.
I think we’re more likely to get a new Spider-Girl book rather than a married Peter book but we might get both? Marvel has 3 female led Spider books at the moment so it could leave May Parker get lost in the shuffle.
Ray: Thors is another huge hit for Secret Wars. I’m not surprised here, because this is by Jason Aaron, writer of the most popular Thor run in ages, and this mini is supposed to be a major piece of the Secret Wars puzzle. The first issue was excellent, as well. I’m most surprised by the massive numbers for X-Men ’92. A comic set in the world of an old animated series, that was released digital-first, and was surrounded by a controversy when it was announced. The power of Secret Wars!
Glenn: I think with X-Men ’92 there are a lot of people nostalgic for this era. A lot of people have fond memories of the cartoon in this 90’s that had the same costumes and the Jim Lee era. It just shows that comics do have some memory it seems! I thought it would debut a little lower but it shows that there is life in the X-Men franchise which for the last decade or so has played second banana to the Avenger’s.
It seems that nostalgia has also paid off in kind for Future Imperfect and Armor Wars. These are not recent tie ins and didn’t have the benefit of modern marketing to hype them to death but yet, here they are holding their own. They’ll probably drop down a bit next month but I’m sure Marvel didn’t expect numbers like this from tie ins that pay tribute to stories from 30 years ago.
There’s still a few books to land which I think will have a big impact like Civil War but it seems the event is a big hit for Marvel.
We then get the third spot held by Star Wars which continues to perform fantastic numbers and of course, Marvel responds with just more and more mini’s and ongoings in that universe and who can blame them? After the main Secret Wars magic is long gone, this might be the best performing Marvel book and there’s no superheroes in sight!
We then see DC make it into the top ten with Bryan Hitch’s JLA title. It shows what a sales powerhouse Hitch, ever after all the flack people give him for delays his name still demands a lot of buying power. It will be interesting to see though how consistent this book can be shipping wise. Sales of 150k is brilliant of course but it means less and less the longer you stretch that out between issues. Here’s hoping he’s had a while to work on this and it means DC has another solid hit to combat the insanity Marvel is offering.
We then finally land on the new arc and direction for Batman. I’m surprised it wasn’t higher up in the charts but I’m sure no one is crying at these sales. The book continues in many ways to be DC’s flag bearer and will be possibly continue to be the best selling superhero book once all this event stuff dies down and all the new number one hype Marvel has coming dies away. After all that, Batman will still be doing these type of numbers and that stability at this level in this market is something to be highly commended.
Ray: Batman relaunched with a bang, increasing by about 30K in sales for this new arc, and Justice League of America is a huge hit with 150K sales to launch. Hitch seems confident he can stay on schedule here, so hopefully it maintains its momentum.
After the few top launches, though, it seems like most of DC resumed business as usual. I was surprised by how many of the new launches had modest numbers for their first issues.
Glenn: So yeah, like you said this is a big month for DC since it the launch of their ‘DCYou‘ campaign which features a new direction for a lot of books and a lot of new launches. There are some books that were steady performers before (anything remotely associated with Batman) and continue to be and then the majority of everything else gets outsold by Image’s juggernaut The Walking Dead.
I would have expected bigger numbers for Superman since it has a new writer and a very interesting new direction by making Superman’s identity public. I would have thought this would have been a real sales grab for people but it sells just over 53k at the number 32 spot. I also thought we would have seen big numbers for Batman/Superman which features the new version of the former. This says to me that while people are interested int his character, they’re mostly interested in how Snyder and Capullo tell the story and that Superman is just kind of…there.
We also see a good debut for We Are Robin a book that I’ve seen you talk about in one form or another as long as I’ve known you. I know you’re not a big fan of the current direction of Teen Titans (the market seems to agree with you with it landing at spot 77 with sales just over 33k) so hopefully this will be the book that Teen Titans should be.
Ray: I don’t think any property got hit harder in the relaunch than TT, because it’s a title that’s really dependent on legacy and family. They tried to keep the core four of the current generation around, but none of them are remotely the character they were before the relaunch – Tim is the closest, but he’s still very different. Honestly, the most authentic Teen Titans-like book I’ve read since the new 52 is We Are Robin #1, as well as some of the Eternal issues focusing on the Gotham Kids. With the recent announcement of Batman and Robin Eternal by the same creative team, we may finally be getting the a-list young DC book we’ve been waiting for – but it’s not going to be Teen Titans.
Glenn: We see most of the other launches which were fringe books like Bizarro, Doomed, Midnighter, Justice League 3001, All Star Section 8 and the like do very middle of the line numbers. This suggests to me that retailers didn’t really know how to treat these books. I commend DC for trying new things but it seems that retailers are less happy to gamble themselves. We could see some pick ups on some of these books as well but I think the majority of them are going to be short lived.
Ray: Beyond the regular biggest hits for DC like Batman, the two JL books, and Harley Quinn, it was definitely a mixed bag for the launches and returning titles this month. I think this relaunch may have gotten lost in the shuffle a bit with the craziness of Secret Wars. The big winner, to my eye, is Robin. With two new titles, the Robin: Son of Batman title spinning out of Batman and Robin, and as you mentioned the less conventional We Are Robin, they both launched between 65K and 50K and are two of the three top-selling new titles that don’t star the Justice League or Harley Quinn. The other one is Batman Beyond, the only new title with Batman in the title, but this one has had a mixed reception and spun out of the controversial Futures End event. I’m thinking these two Robin titles will have a much healthier hold over the next few months.
Glenn: I have no doubt about that I mean, I think the ‘Beyond’ titles have had a verly steady audience the last couple of years but this book I think benefits like you said of coming off a big event and such. Of course, part of the appeal was that this was a Batman in the future and while that is still the case, its no longer Terry McGuinness under the cowl. We’ll see if DC’s decision to kill him off and replace him with Tim Drake will pay off. Overall it does underline that anything even remotely related to Batman is going to draw.
Ray: The big thing I notice about DC as we go down the list is that there seems to have been virtually no impact for a lot of the returning titles. Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman all returned to similar numbers as they left with. Superman seems to have gotten a slight bump since it’s coming back with a major new storyline, but not nearly as much as Batman did.
Glenn: Again, I would have expected higher numbers for Superman given the new direction. You think Superman would be one of the easiest titles on the market to sell but much like Fantastic Four at Marvel, it has its place in terms of history but no matter what they do, they just get a modest boost at best (aside from rare exceptions here and there)
Ray: Down the list a little, we see Starfire, a surprising hit in this new line. It’s by the writers of the Harley Quinn series and is part of DC’s attempt to have more light-hearted, female-led titles. I’m thinking this could be a sleeper.
Glenn: The creative team behind Harley Quinn seem to be able to work some real sales magic because the same writing team also seem to be able to launch the new Starfire book to middling numbers which is really probably what you can expect for a character like this in the current market, especially since she’s been the center of so much controversy since the start of the new 52.
Speaking of Harley, the spin off mini co-starring Power Girl debuted well with sales just under 65k. Of course, this arc isn’t just a throwaway story and in fact, shows what the pair got up to during being trapped in a portal in her main book so it inheriting most of the main books audience is no big surprise.
Ray: The fact that the only new Green Lantern title debuted below Starfire makes me think we can officially say that GL’s days as an a-list DC franchise are over for now. Much like JSA, they weren’t able to maintain that once Johns left.
Glenn: Much like Daredevil in the 80’s when Frank Miller came on board, Green Lantern went through something of a revolution under Johns. It certainty isn’t the force it used to be but still has allowed the franchise to support several spin offs and will probably be in a relatively stable hold for the foreseeable future. It certainty, like you said is past its moment in the sun but who knows what tomorrow brings? There are probably a few franchise’s Snyder might bring his magic to yet. We’ve also seen Johns return multiple times to both Superman and Flash, he may have another Green Lantern story in him down the line. For right now however, it’ll have to settle for middle of the pack along with most of the DC heroes that don’t have ‘Bat’ in their name.
Ray: Yeah, GL’s days as a top seller may be gone, but it’s still miles above where it was before Johns came on, at least in term of chart placement.
Much like Starfire, Black Canary had strong numbers spinning out of Batgirl. DC seems to have gotten the word out on this new wave of titles, at least for those targeting a female audience. It sold about as much as the Earth-2 relaunch, which has to be a bit of a disappointment on that front given how high Earth 2 was riding last year with the weekly and its huge role in Convergence.
Glenn: Clearly from the sales of Harley Quinn, DC got told there was a market for books with female leads and responded in kind, as have Marvel. DC has chosen to give most of their existing female characters their own books (like Starfire and Black Canary) while Marvel has done the same but also turned or are turning most of their main heroes female (Thor, Wolverine). It seems to be something that at the moment that seems to be working so far (with some books more than others). Hopefully as more and more similar books, we don’t have the bubble burst.
Ray: Harley, oddly, really seems to be the most bulletproof character at DC right now besides Batman. Her Convergence mini was the top seller besides the main mini, and now we see both her regular title and this spin-off mini dominating. I also suspect she’s a huge part of how well Suicide Squad is holding, at roughly the same level of a-listers like GL and Flash, even though she has a relatively small role in the book.
Glenn: People like Harley and she’s probably the main reason Suicide Squad is getting a movie before Wonder Woman or other major DC heroes. She’s always been a character that has kinda defied the odds and as a fan myself, I hope she continues to be for years to come.
Ray: Constantine more than doubled its sales with the relaunch, and this new take is getting great reviews, so this might be a case where the relaunch really works out.
Glenn: The blend of going slightly back to the Vertigo roots seems to have helped Constantine a lot. Maybe people that liked the TV show wanted more too since that was cancelled?
Ray: Like you said, there’s a lot of books like Dr. Fate, Martian Manhunter, Doomed, Midnighter, and Omega Men that debuted pretty low. Some, particularly Midnighter, have built some strong buzz. The others are likely to struggle as the months pass.
Glenn: Midnighter will probably be the one to do the best out of most of them because he’ll have a core audience that enjoyed The Authority that want more from him. He will also benefit a little bit from being a Batman derivative. His book may cling on but the others? I don’t see it but who knows…
We also see that the Wonder Woman by the main books creative team didn’t do anywhere near where its mother book sells. I’m hoping DC is ready to capitalize on her big screen debut next year because at the moment, with so many female led books performing well, the first major female superhero seems to be languishing.
Ray: I believe this annual was delayed two months, so it may have been under-ordered partially due to this. It’s odd, because it was the direct conclusion of the previous arc. This run as a whole has been lacking in buzz, and I’m expecting an a-list creative team to be on the book in time for the movie. Snyder has specifically said he wants to take his turn on this property.
Glenn: Could this team be a place holder then? You think if Snyder wants the book, DC would throw it at him but then they might be waiting for the movie, who knows?
Ray: Snyder’s pretty busy right now, so he might be waiting until he and Capullo wrap up their Batman run. They’ve stayed on longer than they originally planned, but the end will come sooner or later. That might be when Snyder jumps on to WW. Either way, given how enthusiastic he was, it’ll happen sooner or later, and I expect that will finally be Wonder Woman’s moment to grace the top ten, much like Johns did it for GL.
Glenn: Stop saying Snyder and Capullo has to end on Batman, Ray! It never will end! NEVER!!!!!
Ray: Since I can’t pick on Wolverines anymore, I’ll pick on Teen Titans. This book, one of DC’s flagship franchises, sold less this month than Dr. Fate and Bat-Mite. It’s ridiculous that the title was allowed to get to this point, and I’m sure another relaunch isn’t far off. They’re launching a new spin-off title, Titans Hunt, shortly. Hopefully that’ll bring a little bit of momentum back to this book.
Glenn: We could probably do an entire article about Teen Titans and how the franchise has been treated for the past decade or so. Like we said earlier, Green Lantern really turned itself around from being a struggling b list title to DC’s top franchise at one time and Teen Titans has long fallen from the glory days of Marv Wolfman and George Perez. They’ve tried several times to get the book back on track but from an outsider perspective, have seemingly just repeatedly made matters worse. You’re much closer to the franchise than me but I watch say…Young Justice and go ‘well that’s pretty damn awesome’ and the comic has the ability to be that. Perhaps too much damage has been done at this point though? Perhaps we’ll need to wait until the next relaunch before any damage can be undone?
Ray: To no one’s surprise, the biggest head-scratcher in the entire line – the relaunch of Prez – was the lowest-selling of the new titles. I salute DC for digging through their archives and taking a chance, but not every obscure revival can be Howard the Duck. Some are going to wind up being GI Zombie.
Glenn: I’ll be honest, I didn’t know Prez was a thing outside of one of the best issues of Sandman until I did some research after it was announced. It is the most puzzling relaunch I’ve seen in quite a while and I wonder its from the same mind that thought the Katana ‘doesn’t even warrant getting collected’ series was a good idea. Of course, experimentation is good and any book could be a bit of a surprise hit but this one must have seemed like a real long shot. It very quietly got turned into a maxi series I believe so in a year or so, I’m sure most people may buy it from a bargain bin somewhere.
Ray: Prez, unlike Katana, does seem like it has a more distinct voice in mind, with a focus on teenage girls and the current online zeitgeist, but I think it may just be a bit too obscure and a bridge too far for that audience to latch on to. It’s a 12-issue miniseries, so DC probably plans to see it through to the end.
Glenn: If DC are letting it run its entire 12 issues (which I suppose they have to) I wonder if we’ll see all 12 in the top 300. I don’t think Prez will fade out completely but its going to be one to watch over the next year to see how low it may go.
Ray: And as it just so happens as we were working on this column, DC announced that Prez has been cut back to six issues! Our first case of breaking news affecting our article! Can’t say I’m surprised, given how it slipped under the radar. It’s a shame that odd concepts have a hard time gaining traction at DC and Marvel, though.
Glenn: Well there you go, the mini is now half the length it was when we started! I think DC and Marvel have to realize that these kind of books do have a market but that it being filled by everyone else. Given how many big sellers both companies have, I suppose they can afford to lose a bit on a gamble because you really do just never know.
Ray: A lot of the low-selling titles seem to have gotten little to no bump, like Gotham Academy, Gotham By Midnight, and the lowest-selling main DC title, Lobo. These were struggling before the relaunch, and it doesn’t seem to have done much good. I’m enjoying both of these books, but it’s going to be a rough road ahead if DC didn’t get them higher numbers here.
Glenn: Absolutely which, like you said will lead to varying results but both company line ups look or are due to look very different than how they’ve ever been before. Is this good or bad? Time will tell
Ray: It was a quieter month for indie books. Fight Club 2 held very well with its second month, remaining the top indie book that isn’t Walking Dead or Saga. Descender isn’t doing those numbers, but as the #4 Image book of the month, everyone involved has to be very happy.
Starve, Brian Wood’s new celebrity chef dystopia thriller landed just outside the top 100, with very healthy numbers of 24K. This guy really likes his post-apocalyptic books.
Beyond that, the top-selling indie launch of the month was James Robinson’s bizarre Airboy, a strange fusion of golden-age revival and adults-only bio-comic. And just below that, Titan Comics lands on the chart with a Minions comic. A hearty Ba-na-na of congratulations to them!
Glenn: I was just mentioning to someone I know there was no Minions comic! Yay for Minions! This of course will probably make its money elsewhere than the main market, those cute little servants are like printing money.
Ray: Old Archie’s final issue lands at 130 with 17K sales. Next month’s relaunch, naturally, will be MUCH higher.
Glenn: Thought they’d get more sales for the end of an era where Archie is concerned. Of course, it’s going to be interesting to see how the new book with its a-list creative team fares next month. The company is going with a very aggressive strategy to stay relevant at arguably the craziest time to do so I’m going to be fascinated to see how it all unfolds.
When all is said and done, with the help of Secret Wars, Marvel wins the top ten this month with new books like Thors, Groot and X-Men ’92 along with their other main Star Wars book, Darth Vader all performing well. Who would have thought a year ago that a Groot title would be a best seller and actually doing better than books starring Batman, Wolverine or Deadpool? Crazy how things go at times.
Ray: Like you said, Groot is pretty impressive. And it’s not even a Secret Wars tie-in, although it is filling in for Rocket’s title during its Secret Wars hiatus. This is one of those strange organic success stories where the concept just catches on with the audience. Of course, the movie has a lot to do with that.
Glenn: In some ways, Rocket and Groot have become Marvel’s very own Han Solo and Chewbacca…but with even more attitude. They’ve both been able to become huge in pop culture in a very short amount of time. It’s really interesting how something like that can happen, we’ve seen the same thing really with Spider-Gwen which also has exploded everywhere.
There are definitely some stars of the event and other books which are doing probably better than a straight up relaunch would have done but not as good as some others. We still have a lot of Secret Wars books to come that will both land at the high and low end of the events sales spectrum but overall, its been a huge hit for Marvel. They’re essentially doing a few months of their ‘greatest hits’ and its paying off in kind.
Ray: Absolutely, beyond that, most of last month’s Secret Wars tie-ins held really well – Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars sold another 70K this month, despite not actually being a tie-in! And Marvel’s got to be really happy with the launches for Age of Ultron vs. Marvel Zombies, Years of Future Past, Armor Wars, and Future Imperfect. These all debuted in the 60-75 range. Heck, even the Skottie Young Marvel Babies comic tying in landed in the top 25! And some more obscure tie-ins like Squadron Sinister, E is for Extinction, Weirdworld, and Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos sold around 50K for their first issues.
There were a few again, that didn’t quite find the same footing, though. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, X-tinction Agenda, and 1602: Witch Hunter Angela struggled a bit more. But given their concepts, they’re all doing much better than they would have without the event to boost them. It’s lifting all boats. Korvac Saga and Ghost Racers are the two that struggled the most, not surprising since they’re direct spin-offs of cancelled titles.
Most of Marvel besides the tie-ins is business as usual. Spider-Gwen took a bit of a hard hit this month as it ends its run, falling to 67K and 20, but that’s still amazing for an alt-universe book that grew solely out of word of mouth.
Glenn: Maybe the lack of word about the books future at the time these orders would have been due hurt Spider-Gwen a bit? People like you and me knew that this book wasn’t going anywhere but perhaps not enough people believed the same? Hopefully the break won’t hurt the title and the renumbering won’t confuse too many people. I wonder if an ongoing relaunching after 5 issues is some sort of record?
I want to mention Old Man Logan also which landed just outside the top ten with sales just under 80k. We’re getting two new Wolverine books post Secret Wars so it’ll be interesting to see if this older version of the character who comes from the best selling story line of yesteryear can be a bigger sales draw than his younger self. The series that will launch has a solid creative team but I am curious why they didn’t have Lemire write this tie-in considering he will be writing the main book once the dust settles? It’s an interesting gamble by Marvel and I’m curious to see how retailers react.
Ray: There’s quite a few of Marvel’s books that are relaunching after only one arc like Spider-Gwen, actually. Ant-Man and Hawkeye both seem to be doing the same thing. It’s an interesting model, and I was wondering what would be the fate of these books that were launching right before SW started. It’ll definitely get some more eyes on these books when they start anew in the wake of this event, though.
Glenn: Do you think so? I have my doubts. I think that some of the existing audience may use this as a chance to switch to trades or even worse, not come back at all. I think they’ll relaunch high but drop below the numbers the titles were performing at prior to Secret Wars a lot faster. I hope I’m wrong but the comic market, by and large is very fickle so I’m thinking that in a few months time, some books will be worse off somehow. I hope I’m wrong.
Ray: If Marvel can do one thing, it’s promote relaunches. This is their first time doing a total relaunch in a single month, and it’s coming with an across-the-board status quo change. That in and of itself should launch the titles really high to start. Some of the titles launching in the year before Secret Wars snuck below the radar a bit, like Hawkeye and Squirrel Girl, so this will at least get a lot more people to check out that first issue. But yeah, unless people really like what they see, the bounce won’t last and some of these same titles will be at cancellation numbers again soon.
Glenn: Its a pattern we’ve seen over and over the last few years which is probably why number one relaunches are getting so frequent. How many times this can continue to work will remain to be seen. At best, it seems to me like a band aid over a heavily bleeding artery but I don’t see the strategy changing anytime soon.
Ray: Diversity seems to be the order of the day at both companies, and I think we’re seeing the market do its work just like with any pattern. You have the smash hits like Ms. Marvel, the new Thor, and Harley’s new prominence, but you also have those concepts that just aren’t catching on, like the new Captain America, Squirrel Girl, or DC’s aborted titles like Mr. Terrific or Voodoo. There’s a bit of a rush right now to get all these concepts on the market, and I imagine it might not hold up completely in two years as the weaker ones die out – but the lineup is still going to look a lot more diverse than it did before the companies started trying out these concepts.
Glenn: One book I want to mention before we leave the main books behind entirely is the Secret Wars tie-in Runaways. This is a book that has always kind of been a low performed, even since its hey day of Brian K. Vaughn but this is a pretty good number for it. With Runaways being very much a Marvel property and the success of Big Hero 6, I wonder if this will get a similar animated adaption or be one of the projects Marvel Studios wants to work its magic on? I don’t think Marvel has any plans for the franchise post Secret Wars but these numbers are pretty good for a book that largely lived (at best) around 30k for most of its existence (when it wasn’t written by Joss Whedon, natch)
Ray: It’s really good to see Runaways back on the charts, although it’s worth mentioning that this series has very little in common with the original version. Still, the return to prominence can only be good. There’s been a movie in development for eons, but I think the property may be best suited for a Netflix miniseries. It’s teen-oriented, but it has a lot more mature content than you’ll see in BH6. And Netflix is dipping it’s toe into the YA pool with A Series of Unfortunate Events adaptation.
Glenn: Good call with Runaways on Netflix and although this may be different due to Secret Wars related shenanigans, at least it gets the brand out there again in people’s minds. I doubt we’ll see it on a regular basis anything soon but the sales it managed here (tie in or not) are something worth noting I think.
Going back to smaller press, it’s going to be a rocky few months for any new debuts that don’t have big names attached and even then, it’s going to be a struggle. The highest debut I could spot from an non Marvel or DC company was Image’s Airboy which lands at 124 with sales of just under 19,500. This has quite a big name writer in James Robinson attached and finds it difficult to crack 20k. From there, the new debuts get smaller and smaller in numbers. Launching a new book now is the equivalent of flying a kite in the middle of a tropical storm.
I don’t think people should stop making their own comics while Marvel and DC produces their big money makers but its going to be hard for any new book to land an audience. People make comics to obviously earn a living but I’m sure people want fans to read the books of course. With prices increasing and more product being thrown at people, its harder for anyone to get a comic into the fans of the average fan unless you’re Robert Kirkman, Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder or whoever.
It’ll likely be like this until the end of the year too. It’s a hard time and I hope these books can hang on.
Ray: Yeah, there were only a few debuts this month besides Airboy, like Empty Zone at 151 with sales just under 13K, and Rob Liefeld’s Bible comic Covenant at 187 with 9K, as well as indie relaunch Astronauts in Trouble at 208. These comics didn’t light up the charts, but they still had sustainable numbers for Image books for now. Kieron Gillen did a great breakdown on indie sales thresholds a while back, so while these numbers may look buried at the bottom of the charts to us, they may be healthy enough here. While the big events push the indies further and further down the charts, as long as the numbers stay steady, the indies will come out of it okay.
Time for my monthly shout-out to some books that need more love, like BOOM! sci-fi launch Broken World, which dropped at 226 with sales just over 7K, and The Fiction, a fantasy adventure which landed at 246. BOOM! is putting out some amazing books right now and deserves more in the way of sales.
Glenn: Stability is key to the success of any small press book. Make sure you can get a good, solid core audience and build from there. It’s how Walking Dead has become what it is today and really, any book has the potential to be a big a hit given the right opportunity. These books may go the distance or they may not but you hit the nail on the head where finding stability FAST will go a long way to tell if a title can survive the long haul.
Companies like BOOM!, IDW, Valiant, Titan and other small press are all putting out great books. Trying to get people to pay attention to them when Marvel and DC are putting out multiple, dependable tried and tested sellers month after month can’t be easy. A lot of big name creators are going to Image over these companies but there are a few gems here and there. These companies have to get through periods like this by producing solid comics. I know that sounds silly but its true. At the end of the day, if you can build a comic that people like to read then at the end of the day, you can survive whereas this time by the end of the year, most of what we talk about now at the big companies will be over. The need to remain consistent and reliable in a world where the two biggest comic companies are ever changing. This is how they’re going to get noticed and hopefully find more and more people to pick up their books.
Ray: Looking ahead, it’s a fairly quiet month for new launches as DC has just relaunched its new wave and Marvel is still a few months away. The last Secret Wars minis roll out, with such A-list names like Civil War, Siege, House of M, and Age of Apocalypse. DC has one new book left to launch this month, Cyborg. This is a character they’ve made a concentrated effort to elevate to the a-list, so we’ll see whether his first solo series delivers. Outside the big two, there’s a few buzz-worthy launches, like Brandon Graham’s bizarre sci-fi fantasy 8House, the gritty urban fantasy The Spire from BOOM!, and BKV’s next Image ongoing, We Stand on Guard, about a war between the US and Canada. With giant robots! One of the most interesting debuts next month is the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover from IDW, which might do some of the biggest numbers for a licensed crossover we’ve seen in some time. There’s Mark Waid and JG Jones’ controversial period piece superhero epic, Strange Fruit, and of course, the event of the month – Archie #1, by the a-list creative team of Waid and Staples, with dozens of variant covers by the best in the industry and rave reviews across the board. Could we be seeing America’s favorite ginger in the top ten?
Glenn: The summer of madness continues next month! It’s going to be interesting to see how the remaining Secret Wars books perform, how the new DCYou books handle that and how the rest of the industry levels out. I do think we may be seeing Archie in the top 20 next month. I would like it to see it in the top ten but I think there will too much else going on.
We’ll see next month, old chum!