By The Numbers: July 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 Alterna! He is currently loving that his own comic book, Sparks is getting a rerelease and being sold in proper shops for real.
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. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekmom and they’re brilliantly entertaining. He worries that Mr. Bloom is hiding under his bed.
Glenn: We’re back again as the Summer of Secret Wars continues but it seems that this month holds more than a few surprises.
Before we get to those, we have to get to the fact that Secret Wars continues to do mega business at Marvel, allowing them to continue expanding the Scrooge McDuck style money pit they must have at this point. Out of the top ten, Marvel holds an astonishing 8 places with 5 of those being tied into the Secret Wars event.
We have Civil War, Age Of Apocalypse and Guardians Of Knowhere all debuting to exceptionally strong numbers. This again to me, underlines the power of the Guardians brand currently that it can hold its weight with spin offs one of the biggest event of the 90’s and Marvel’s last hugely mega successful event. It also doesn’t hurt that at least the books that I’m reading that are involved in the event are ridiculously good. These don’t just seem to be slapped together tie in’s that are for an easy buck, it seems that a lot of creative energy is going into these books, which is brilliant.
Ray: Yeah, clearly Secret Wars continues to be the story of the year. Starting at the top, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a main event mini hold its numbers so well over the course of the run. It’s pretty much guaranteed by now that the main mini will sell over 200K for the duration of its run, and I don’t know the last time that’s happened. Probably Civil War. Even AvX, their last megahit, sunk down to the mid 100K range by the end.
The tie-ins are consistently strong, and it helps that the majority of them are getting great reviews as well. Age of Apocalypse opened strong, but got a very mixed reception among fans and critics, so it’ll be interesting to see how it holds its numbers. Civil War, on the other hand, has gotten great reception across the board and will likely stay in the top ten.
Glenn: Yeah, this is definitely Marvel’s biggest winner in terms of events since Civil War. Like Civil War, this event has taken up the majority of the line and like it as well, delays are a bit of a problem but it doesn’t seem to be effecting any sales, whatsoever.
Also showing that last month wasn’t a fluke, Renew Your Vows holds steady in the top ten and continues to perform very well. Is this a message that people want a married Spider-Man again? Is it just because of the top creative team or just an effect of the event itself? I would actually say its a mix of all 3. Like we talking about last month, perhaps the success of this book indicates that Marvel could be able to float a book where Spider-Man is married? Time will tell exactly where this might lead and how it might even effect the Amazing story line we’re getting post Secret Wars that has been dubbed, ‘Spider-Man Inc’.
Ray: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing to see Renew Your Vows sitting in the top ten with its second issue, when the next highest-selling non-#1 of Secret Wars tie-ins this month is Old Man Logan all the way down at #19. That shows this title has some serious staying power that Marvel is going to want to take advantage of. I’ve heard all sorts of rumors about how Marvel might take advantage of this new status quo, and Spider-Gwen showed they’re willing to jump into action when the fans demand it.
Glenn: Good point in reference to Spider-Gwen (who still manages to get a mention, even if her book is on hiatus, thus is the power of Spider-Gwen). Amid recent controversies, Marvel have stated that they will go where the money is. If people are buying a married Spider-Man book then they will be given exactly that in some form or another. The point you made about the difference here between Renew Your Vows and Old Man Logan is something worth noting, especially since I think the Wolverine mini is based of a much bigger event from the past.
Ray: Although both companies have their pluses and minuses, it’s funny to note how quick Marvel is to respond to fan demand. Spider-Gwen got her series less than six months after she was introduced as a one-off. It took DC three and four years respectively to bring back Stephanie Brown and Cass Cain!
Glenn: You can finally step off your box and that one and get on a new one to somehow fix the Teen Titans (we’ll talk about them later, put down the box, Ray. RAY PUT IT DOWN!!!!).
Aside from all the Secret Wars madness is the biggest news story of the top ten this month which is the newly relaunched Archie #1 lands at the number 7 spot with sales of over 100k. There’s a lot of variant covers that helped bump up the numbers, no doubt but I think its a great achievement by one of the oldest publishers in the business in an attempt to still stay relevant. They seem to have done everything right with a top tier creative team, a new direction and marketing the whole thing for months. Will it last? Not at this level I don’t think but I think we could see the book land at a significant increase at where it was previously.
Ray: Amazing numbers for Archie, but like you said, there were a plethora of variant covers driving this. However, the title did get incredibly strong reviews and some mainstream media attention, and I haven’t heard a single person who disliked it. It’s going to be interesting to see where it lands next month, but I think Archie did what they needed to do. People are talking about the main Archie book again.
Glenn: Word of mouth is going to be incredibly important for Archie and their future. If people are saying they want an alternative from Marvel, DC or even Image then this could be it. We’re not talking about your father (or grandfather’s) Archie, here is a high quality book by a pair of talented creators on a property that is pretty iconic. All the tools are here and we’ll see how we do in a few months.
Ray: With Archie, I’m also interested in how the rest of the line will do. Jughead was the first issue’s breakout character and is getting a series by Chip Zdarsky, while Kevin Keller is getting a series by his creator Dan Parent. Then there’s arguably their second-most iconic property, Betty and Veronica, which is being relaunched at a later date by Adam Hughes. I’m skeptical if we’ll see that one, at least by the original creative team.
Glenn: I think we MIGHT get an Adam Hughes one-shot of Betty and Veronica but yeah…Archie will only be so patient. They have buzz right now but as we both know, today soon becomes tomorrow and if you don’t move, you become yesterday. I can’t honestly remember the last Adam Hughes project that made it to publication so I can hope that Archie are keeping the grip firmly on that one. Hopefully it proves us both wrong!
The other big talking point in the top ten this month is the continued success of the juggernaut that is Marvel’s Star Wars line and specifically the launch of a new book in the form of Lando. We’re now seeing that secondary characters (albeit very popular ones) can carry mega numbers. It seems as if this line can do no wrong under Marvel and while we all knew it was going to be a big thing when they got it back from Dark Horse, I don’t think anyone expected it to be THIS successful. Of course we also have Star Wars and Vader still holding firm in the top ten and we know now, this is not a flash in a pan. These books are here to stay in these spots for the foreseeable future.
Ray: It seems pretty clear that Star Wars is bulletproof right now. If Lando or even the Kanan spin-off could do strong numbers like this, I can only imagine what Greg Rucka’s bridge series between Jedi and the new movie is going to do. That is going to be gigantic. I just hope Marvel keeps making sure they get a-list creative teams on these books and resists the temptation to put out too many books at the same time.
Glenn: I was going to say that the Force Awakens preview book is going to do crazy numbers. I think Marvel are smart enough to know how to float this franchise which is why I think we’re only getting mini’s to test the waters. We have more mini’s on the ways featuring characters like Chewbacca and you have to know they’re doing some sort of Han Solo book eventually. Beyond that, I think they’ll keep this one to a minimum, they currently have no reason to push their luck at the moment.
Oh and Batman is in the top ten too, yay Batman!
Ray: There’s a couple of other debuts a little lower that still started strong. Spider-Island and Siege, both moderately popular events in their time, launched at 20 and 32 respectively. The latter is especially interesting, being Kieron Gillen’s farewell to the Marvel U for now. There’s also the second Guardians spin-off of the event, Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, launching at 39. Not bad for a spin-off of the Star-Lord title. Hail Hydra, Remender’s finale to his Captain America run, only lands at 44, which has to be a bit of a disappointment. Western-themed tie-in 1872 landed at #45, which is impressive given how offbeat it is, while Dirty-Dozen-inspired thriller Red Skull was only able to land at 70. Not every Secret Wars title is going to be a hit when the event gets this large.
Glenn: With regards to the end of Remender’s Captain America, the whole run seems to have had a pretty indifferent reaction since it started. It was going to be a hard job for anyone following Ed Brubaker but Remender’s run seems to have been met with a general ‘Oh right, yayy…’ I’m not surprised that the run kind of fizzled out sales wise. It’ll be interesting to see how it does when it comes back, still starring Sam Wilson in the title role.
Ray: The performances of Thor and Captain America in recent months have really been opposite images of each other, and it shows how following a trend – in this case, increased diversity in comics – isn’t enough to guarantee a hit. You need a good hook to launch the series, a creative run that people like, and an effective way of handling the displaced hero. I’d be surprised if Captain America turned itself around for long, and it’ll be interesting to see how long Marvel holds to these plans with a new movie coming.
Glenn: You’re absolutely right in that comparison. Thor has been a big hit with the new female led direction whereas the black Captain America has been a bit of a dud. Even the Secret Wars tie-in, Thors holds up well at the number 26 spot with sales just under sales of 60k. I think this shows that people are really digging what Jason Aaron is doing even if its male Thor, female Thor or multiple Thor’s. This precedence gives good chances to his upcoming Doc Strange title. With Infinity War now closer than it is far away, I can see a possibility we’ll end up with both a male and female led Thor book but definitely only one Captain America who likely won’t be Sam Wilson.
Ray: With Thor, I suspect that Jason Aaron has a very clear long-term plan for this status quo. I do think that it’s possible Marvel has been so won over by the female Thor’s success that they might keep it going after he’s gone, like DC brought Damian Wayne back after Morrison left. With Captain America, we see a creative team change already so it’s pretty clear that the ball is in editorial’s court on that character, and it’ll only last as long as they feel it’s worth it.
Glenn: It’s interesting to me that Aaron started out at Marvel as the grim and gritty guy. He was writing characters like Punisher and Wolverine but of course proved he could handle other types of the characters like Spider-Man. Apart from his short Hulk run, the guy seems to be having a great creative streak. It’s the quality that people are gravitating towards that is mixed with the familiar aspect of these characters everyone knows and cares about. After Brubaker left Marvel, we’ve seen Bucky flounder somewhat so could this be the same for female Thor or even Spider-Gwen? Will people care about these corporate characters once their original creative minds have moved on? All questions time will tell of course and thankfully, questions we don’t have to answer for the immediate future.
With regards to Captain America, they can only flog the horse so long. The thing is that Ed Brubaker proved that Captain America without Steve Roger’s can work but here maybe its just the direction? We’ll see how the next creative team serves up but it doesn’t look like many changes are being made short term in any case.
Ray: Oh, yeah, creative team is so key. We’ve seen so many fan favorites immediately slide down the charts when the creator departs. Five years ago or so, Geoff Johns was putting Justice Society of America near the top of the charts every month. However, successive creative teams didn’t come close to achieving the same thing and title title went down the charts until it actually no longer exists in anything resembling its previous form. I doubt the same will happen to any of these properties, but it’s something to be worried about. I also get the feeling that the Spider-Gwen creative team wants to stick around for a while.
Glenn: Yeah for sure, its stuff the companies won’t have to worry about for a good bit. We’ve also seen that her popping up in other books by different people seem to sell pretty well anyway.
Getting back to the Secret Wars tie-ins, I think has to do with a reflection of the creative team and how popular the original event was. Outside of the biggies (like Civil War), the nostalgia factor (Age Of Apocalypse) some of them will either hit or miss. Most of those on the lower scale are mini’s based on story lines which, to me are more of a fringe thing that the most hardcore fans of those original events will seek out or would depend on their original creator(s) coming back. Look at Angela for example, the original 1602 sold big because of Neil Gaiman but further spin off mini’s in the same universe haven’t performed. That along with the overall lukewarm reaction to Angela probably explains why that mini is on the lower end. I would have hoped for higher numbers for Red Skull considering this is Nailbiter and Ghosted writer, Josh Williamson’s Marvel debut but this one didn’t have the strength of a big event to bounce off (apart from Secret Wars overall natch).
Ray: DC only had one launch this month, Cyborg, which got a ton of hype and good reviews. It landed at #37, but the key is going to be how it holds up. DC has put a lot of effort into promoting this character to DC’s elite, and this series is a big test for that. For what it’s worth, I thought it was one of the best first issues of the new wave.
Glenn: Cyborg did pretty damn good, outselling a few new Secret War mini’s and a few other books the character likely wouldn’t have been able to outsell prior to his big push at DC following Flashpoint. The word of mouth on the book was really strong and seems to satisfy a desire in comics that many say is lacking at Marvel (a black writer writing a black character and doing a damn good job). Although he’s been featured pretty heavily in Justice League over the last number of years, this is better than I would have thought a Cyborg book would have done. Like you say, the key to success here will be word of mouth and stability. They’ve given the book a top notch artist so if Ivan Reis sticks around, it could mean that Cyborg has a lot of life in his system.
Ray: The really interesting story for me this month, though, is just how many unusual titles there are in the top 100 out of nowhere. Just going down the list, we have We Stand on Guard at #14 – a new BKV title will always do well, but this is one of the most impressive Image debuts in a while. The Mad Max tie-in from Vertigo landed at #12, incredibly high for a licensed comic. Then there’s Invader Zim at #17, which is the highest sales placement in Oni’s history. Only a little further down at 21 you see the Star Trek/Green Lantern crossover, which IDW pushed pretty hard, and at 22 you have the first issue of The Book of Death, Valiant’s most-promoted event crossover ever. Probably the most surprising to me is a title called Sonic Worlds Unite Battles, from Archie, landing at #43. Archie had two titles in the top 50. Wrap your mind around that. And then down at 99, you have the launch of the new Bob’s Burgers comic from Dynamite. Impressive numbers all around for some comics that you wouldn’t expect to see so high.
Glenn: We’ve talked a lot in the last few months how hard new books are going to find it during this period and yet, as you say we have a lot of success stories this month. Like you said also, a lot of these books are either media tie-ins, ‘gimmick’ inter-company crossovers or relaunches of franchises that have never shook up the sales chart and here they all are, making the top 100. Perhaps we’ve become too cynical in our old age. Ray? I would say Sonic has hit high on its relaunch due to the buzz around Archie’s revitalization, Star Trek/Green Lantern because it sounds awesome and both of these franchises have had a very recent revitalization, Mad Max due to how well the movie was received and the others a mix of promotion or nostalgia for cartoons that didn’t get to run as long as they should’ve.
Ray: With Book of Death, it’s important to note that there was a highly unusual incentive – an exclusive comic that was only shipped in 1-25 ratio to the main book and won’t be collected. This is a trick straight out of the 90’s, and it was very controversial. Even at Midtown Comics, maybe the busiest comic store in the country, this special issue was selling for $50. So that definitely drove up sales on Book of Death a lot.
Glenn: Wow, that is pretty crazy and yeah, an old school stunt from the dark ages of the speculator crash. I wonder how many other books will do something similar? We saw a lot of title’s follow the pattern of custom store covers after IDW found success with Godzilla stomping on multiple store’s a number of years ago. These things are incredibly risky and bold put perhaps that’s what Valiant have to do to get noticed? It seems to have paid off short term for this book. They might try the same strategy since their next highest selling book is a good 50k sales lower.
Ray: We’ve seen a lot of speculator stunts in recent months, but this is the first time in ages we’ve seen a company tie actual story content to orders. It worries me, and I’m hoping it doesn’t catch on. Although given the sales boost, it very well might.
Glenn: I think it might help if we don’t point out the success. Oh wait…
Other success stories this month, in my view include Fight Club 2 which is holding up remarkably well. Could this perhaps indicate that we’re going to see a lot more cult favorites get comic sequels? It seems like we get a lot of TV shows continuing on as comics so perhaps movie sequels or continuations could be next. Among all the Secret Wars mini’s we see Groot establishing firm roots at number 52 with sales at just under 40k. If it can remain stable at this level then that has to be seen as a big success for a character who can only say 3 words that couldn’t have held his own book just over a year ago.
We also see Image’s Descender continue to hold up very well at number 96 on the charts with sales over 26k. With the response its getting and the news that its being made into a movie, I’m surprised more people aren’t giving it attention but those are pretty good numbers. I am thinking that after it takes its break in a few issues that the first trade will drive people towards the singles, I know it would for me if I wasn’t loving the book already on a monthly basis.
Something I want to point out in the bad news side before I forget is Ultimate End. Its still in the top 50 at the 42 spot with sales over 42k but given what this universe meant to Marvel when it first started and this is the final story (for realsies this time) I thought it would be performing a lot better. Indifference towards the Ultimate line has been a big thing over the last couple of years and while sales of 42k aren’t terrible, considering the creative team, the story and the tie-in I think that number shows people are more than ready for the curtain to fall on this one.
Ray: Given how poorly the Ultimate books have been selling overall for the last few years, it’s not the biggest surprise that the line is ending with a whimper rather than a bang. It doesn’t help that it’s gotten the poorest reviews of any of the early Secret Wars minis, too.
Glenn: Maybe this is a conversation for a different place but I wonder how well the Ultimate universe will be remembered. Asking that question even 10 years ago would have seemed like madness but now the imprint is so past its heyday that its has that kid crying out ‘Stop, its already dead!’. We got so many things from the Ultimate Universe carried over to the main universe and other media that it’s just crazy to think that in another 10 years, no one will remember the books outside of the odd character that might still be around.
Ray: It seems like ages ago when we had four Ultimate titles, all of them hits. The last time there was a relaunch, one of them was cancelled in six months, the other in twelve. I have a feeling the universe will wind up being regarded like the 2099 or MC2 lines – nostalgia and maybe a survivor or two running around, but no long-term presence except in events like Spider-Verse.
Glenn: This feels different to me than 2099 and MC2 for one reason in particular. Both those universe’s had their day and knew when to either take a break or fade away. Marvel has been keeping the Ultimate universe long past its sell by date for roughly 4 or 5 years. Maybe we’ll see a call for a fond look back someday but I just think we’re seeing the market is ready to be done with this universe. I do think some of the characters might endure but their link to this universe will just gradually fade over time.
Ray: Thus far, we know that Miles Morales and Ultimate Reed Richards are the remaining characters from that universe. Both escaped the destruction in Secret Wars, so that makes sense. Will there be any other survivors? We’ll see. But I think the fact that it’s a similar parallel world will make it easier to work into the main continuity, and more likely that its origins as a different universe will be forgotten sooner or later.
Obviously, we’re coming off last month’s big DC relaunch, and a lot of books are going to be finding their level. Justice League of America stays in the top 20 and should be a long-term hit, as long as Hitch stays on board. Beyond that, none of the new titles are high up on the charts. The Harley Quinn/Power Girl title is at 38, and Robin’s solo title lands at 41 with its second issue, which are decent numbers. However, after that the next new ongoing for DC is Starfire, at #68. It’s all downhill from there, as the new Earth 2 book and the critically acclaimed We Are Robin land at 74 and 76, followed by Green Lantern: Lost Army at 77. And these are some pretty high-profile books. The majority of DC launches, including Martian Manhunter, Dr. Fate, and the excellent Midnighter, are already well outside of the top 100. And there’s a couple of books, like Doomed, Omega Men, and Prez, circling the drain well under 20K sales already. DC tried to go offbeat and unique with their new launches, but I’ve got to say, a lot of these numbers are worrying me quickly.
Glenn: I must give credit to DC, people said they wanted more choice in their product and they’re like ‘okay, here you go’ but like always, the numbers never reflect the supposed demand. People complain that there are (as of this typing) 8 books with Batman’s name on them or starring him, the lowest selling of which is a continuation of the Adam West TV show which is still managing a respectable spot at 149 with sales just over 17k given the source material. It’s also telling that Batman is the only book they have in the top ten and they don’t have another book not involving Batman or featuring one of his more popular villains until number 36 which is freaking SUPERMAN. Like you say in your next point that people may want more choice and diversity in their reading and are even constantly asking the big companies for it but the sales don’t back it up. The sales indicate that the audience that do want those things are getting them elsewhere and I suppose this is the mindset that Marvel and DC have created for the market. If you want your old reliable favorites, here you go but if you want something else then go elsewhere.
So this is why I think we get people giving these books a bit of a chance. We see the comic market starting to take more risks in their buying. I think this is partially due to the creative expansion of Image (who released 2 of the books you mentioned) and also due to the mega success of the Walking Dead that shows that the comic buying public will put their support behind something that isn’t even superhero related. We also have really respectable launches from Wolf and Onyx so there is evidence to show that people are wanting new things but like I said, not from Marvel or DC. There are a few books that buck this trend (Harley, Ms. Marvel, Batgirl) but largely people buying big 2 books respond to characters they know and events.
Another book I want to mention this month is the Batgirl Annual which sells only 5k than its parent title. I think this shows that despite a few bumps in the road that a lot of people are liking the writers new direction for Barbara Gordan. DC are proving here that they can create a fun all ages title that appeals to a lot of the female market also.
Ray: That’s one of the more promising numbers for an annual in a long time for Batgirl, I think. I wonder if it helped that the issue brought in guest stars from Grayson, Gotham Academy, and the cancelled Batwoman. They may have brought in additional fans from those titles to counter the standard annual drop. I’m always amazed when an annual like the recent Wonder Woman one is the conclusion of a story and still comes in 20K lower than the regular title.
Glenn: Yeah we talked about Wonder Woman last month and that just indicates to me that less people are interested in even getting the last part of that creative teams story than seeing a random new one from Batgirl’s and the reviews seem to back that up. We’ve recently learned that Batgirl will seemingly be involved with Dawn Of Justice so we could get even more eyes on her. It might not be a creative direction that appeals to everyone but it seems to be working. Let’s hope DC doesn’t rock the boat too much.
This leads us back to Teen Titans which isn’t overly all ages but sells just a few units under the Batgirl Annual at the number 86 spot with sales over 28,500. The book is long past its heyday but I think books like Batgirl, Ms. Marvel and yes, even Archie shows that there could be potential with the right direction.
Ray: Teen Titans should be a huge hit. It’s one of DC’s most iconic franchises, and had an incredibly popular cartoon – two in fact, one was called Young Justice. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be an A-list book, but here we are.
Glenn: They’d have to have the whole team revealed to be evil clones and put a top notch creative team to save the book at this point. It’s kind of DC’s equivalent of the Ultimate Universe in a way. Once upon a time, it held pride of place on the companies roster but the glory days are long gone and what we’re left with isn’t pretty. I don’t say that to demean either company or the properties, these are all characters a lot of people care about and I think their treatment by DC is reflected in the sales. Maybe they should have Batman join the team?
Ray: When it comes to Teen Titans, the impact of two poorly-received run and the fact that the fans pretty much hate this version of the team is going to make it very hard to revive the property. I think a new writer would need to essentially throw the characterization of the entire team out the window and start anew with some subtle retcons. I think even that would be tricky when it comes to actually getting sales up, though. When a property flounders for this long, it’s a long road back.
Glenn: It can be but it can be done. I don’t think the Green Lantern books were in the best state before Johns came along and I still have nightmares about the post ‘Final Chapter’ Spider-Man period but we got over it. There can be light at the end of the tunnel.
Ray: This is true. Most series have had low points and recovered, even some of the most iconic heroes. Remember Teen Tony? Superman Red/Superman Blue? Armor-Cap? But what worries me about Teen Titans is just how long the bad period has gone on without DC really seeming to notice. The ironic thing is, DC’s young heroes are going through a renaissance in many ways. The Bat-family is growing with several hit books focusing on teen characters, and Supergirl is about to get a TV show and likely at least one tie-in comic. The only exception…is DC’s flagship teen franchise, Teen Titans.
It’s worth noting though that DC and their next wave seems like a healthy mix. They’ve got Eternal 2, a new married Superman book and a new Teen Titans title that seems to be appeasing the fans by bringing back some classic characters, along with some revivals of more obscure characters and long-shot titles like Telos. It’s definitely playing it a bit safer than this initial wave did. I suspect the two Robin titles, Starfire, and a few others will last past 12 issues, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re getting another huge launch wave in a year.
As we head away from the big names, I notice a trio of creator-owned books that did pretty well. The oversized anthology Island, the controversial civil rights parable Strange Fruit, and the unique Brandon Graham fantasy series Arclight all landed around the 15K mark, which is pretty impressive for creator-owned books.
Glenn: Another decent launch this month is Grant Morrison’s 18 days that is being published by (no clue, it just says Gra?) and hits the top 150 with the 142 spot with sales over 18k and outselling a lot of Image launches and ongoings. This shows the selling power of Morrison’s name alone and now, he has no one to curtail his insanity (which often seemingly results in brilliance).
Ray: Looks like 18 Days by Morrison was published by a company called Graphic India. Certainly the first time that company has wound up on the charts, but good for them. Morrison’s publishing is incredibly diverse, as he’ll show up almost everywhere lately.
Glenn: Well you learn something everyday! Considering I’ve never heard of the company, I suppose that underlines my point about Morrison’s selling power even further.
Another book I want to mention is the launch by Titan of the adaption of the mega hit show, the Blacklist which has spot 174 on the sharts with sales of just under 12.5k. Again this is a huge show trying to get the audience to pick up the book but there seemingly aren’t many takes. The Blacklist’s main strength is the performance given by James Spader which is of course going to be lost in a comic adaption. Most of the successful comics more have a following that lends itself to comics (like Doctor Who) or has ended and has an audience wanting more (Buffy), this one is a bit of a puzzler to turn into a comic and I think the sales reflect that.
Ray: We’ve talked a lot about how licensed comics have a serious problem catching on, and this is another example. Outside of a few examples – like the ones at the top of the chart this month – most of them are lacking any real momentum on the sales charts. Especially for live action shows, something is lacking without the performances. There are a few, like Buffy, that continue to pull good numbers, though.
Glenn: Like I said, I think the audience that are watching the show aren’t looking for more in comic form. Even looking at the Flash and Arrow tie in books and the sales are rather frightening but both their respective comic book counter parts do quite well. I mean, these media tie-in apart from official continuations are usually throw away add ons, something no more essential than a deleted scene on a DVD (death to blu-ray). That’s the key problem here, no one is particularly bothered unless the fan base is die hard enough.
Ray: Going down the list, I see the Lobo annual pulling just over 10K, easily the lowest-selling main line DC book this month. I was a bit surprised to see this title continue after the Convergence jump, and the recent sales aren’t convincing me otherwise.
There’s a few other lower-ranking debuts, too. Rob Liefeld’s new title Bloodstrike landed at 197 with just over 10K, and the critically acclaimed Image sci-fi book The Spire sold landed at 215 with 9.5 K. Given the profile and names attached, it’s definitely a bigger win for The Spire, I would say.
BOOM! has a consistent all-ages hit in Lumberjanes, which sold about 8K this month, and I think they were hoping for a similar effect with their new magical girl comedy Power Up!. Given that the first issue debuted below Lumberjanes, though, that might be tricky.
Oh, hey, there’s the legendary meme-spawning comic, Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose at #298! That’s not something you see everyday!
Glenn: Holding steady as well as the books you mentioned is Image’s Injection at the 131st spot with sales over 19,500. Of course, this again has something to do with the sales draw Warren Ellis is in himself but I’m very happy for the artist, fellow Irish fellow, Declan Shalvey. It didn’t likely hurt of course that this team had a run on a Marvel book not long before this one launched.
I just have to mention Archie vs Sharknado as well because…its there. Selling over 18,800 copies gives it the 137 spot over some other, books that underlines the crazy hit that Sharknado is. It’s overall ridiculousness even trumps the rule we were talking about media tie-in comics. I’m hoping now for the mash up we’ve all been waiting for, Punisher vs. Archie vs. Sharknado.
Ray: Archie certainly seems to have committed to the strange crossovers in recent months, haven’t they? And they seem to be profitable, so look for Archie vs. Freddy and Jason next year, no doubt!
Glenn: Plus Sharknado? Right? Right?
Big shout out to Chew for making it to 50 issues! Hard for any book in the current market it seems, especially one with such a bizarre concept. I’m hoping that the upcoming animated series can draw more eyes to it. It’s a great book even if it makes even Deadpool look relatively normal.
The last thing I think we have to talk about is something we have never done before on this and nothing we will ever likely do again. We’re going to turn our attention briefly to the graphic novel chart for the last Fables issue/trade. It sells pretty much just a little bit higher than the individual issues did which is pretty damn impressive for a trade of this size. This is an end to an era to one of the most critically acclaimed and successful non superhero properties of our lifetime. It’s easy to say that it likely held on past its prime but for the last number of years, Fables was keeping the Vertigo print afloat pretty much single handed. It’s impact in not only comics but other media such as the games it has inspired but the shows like Once Upon A Time it has influenced is something truly amazing. I remember this was your favourite book once upon a time (no pun intended) and going along with the ‘Deluxe’ editions, I have so much Fables ahead of me, I can’t help but feel a little sad its over now. Of course, this will be a series, much like Sandman that will sell not only in comic shops but bookstores for decades to come and that kind of success is something a little bit special.
Ray: It’s definitely the end of an era when it comes to Fables. The title isn’t actually 100% over, as the prequel series The Wolf Among Us is still running indefinitely, but this is the end of the main narrative. I personally feel the series was well past its heyday, but it’s still the second longest-running Vertigo title of all time, only behind the legendary Hellblazer, and we got well over 200 issues set in this incredibly vast universe. Its influence is extremely wide-spread, and now the rumors are a movie is coming. Amazing.
Glenn: Let’s take a moment to salute Fables, it will be one that we’ll all remember for decades to come because as the book itself taught us, the end is never truly here.
Ray: Looking ahead, August is sort of the calm before the storm. DC is done relaunching titles, although they do have two new digital-first books in Gods and Monsters and the WW2-set Bombshells), and Marvel only has one significant launch in the revival of House of M. However, we’ve still got a lot of interesting indie books hitting the charts in the coming month. Paul Cornell has his supernatural music thriller, This Damned Band for Dark Horse, and Image has a number of interesting debuts such as crime thriller Dark Corridor and the return of Pilot Season winner The Beauty. Archaia has the controversial Americatown, which touches on some very timely issues. But aside from that, this is one of the quietest months coming up that we’ve had. It’ll be interesting to see how a lot of these Secret Wars titles continue to hold up as we get later into the event, and whether any of DC’s new titles find their footing.
Glenn: I’m also interested to see how the Doctor Who mini-event The Four Doctors from Titan performs. They’re giving it a lot of promotion and putting some big names on it so lets we’ll see if it pays off.
We shall meet again! Same(ish) column time, same column channel