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 6 years but grew up reading comics. He is currently published with Outre Press,Nemeses Studios and Alterna! He is on the home stretch on an OGN he hopes people will find funny.
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 has the uncanny ability to predict how a movie performs financially, some speculate he may be a wizard.
We also do a podcast together with longtime buddy, Brandon James on iTunes with Rabbitt Stew or at the link here! Don’t ask, I didn’t pick the name. If you’d like to hear what me and Ray sound like, give it a listen! The episode where we talk about this very sales charts in a little less detail is available here!
Full top 300 for May available here!
Glenn: Okay, everyone strapped in? Good stuff because its time for the big showdown we’ve been talking about for months.
May sales sees the epic face off between the launch of Marvel’s Civil War (kinda) and DC’s Rebirth. Well the time is here, the betting has closed and the results are in.
DC wins May with Rebirth 1 hitting the number 1 spot with over 235k sales. I actually don’t see that DC managed to pull out the win here at all. This one shot had the hype, the creative and the price point designed to get retailers interested. Rebirth came a bit late out of the gate but doesn’t seem to have effected in. Given the things that happen in this issue, I wouldn’t be surprised if further printings draw a respectable number also. Next month we’ll see if DC’s giant line wide relaunch has worked but Rebirth is a very promising start.
Ray: I’m wondering if the vagueness surrounding Rebirth managed to dull the sales a bit here. We knew it was going to be big, for sure, but DC’s last big relaunch fizzled, and no one knew just HOW big this was going to be. If they went the Marvel route, and leaked the Wally West or Watchmen stuff early, it could have easily doubled these numbers, I think. But regardless, a win is a win, and you’re right that DC is likely going to see this high up on the charts again next month.
Glenn: There was a lot of unanswered questions going into Rebirth, this is true. It’s always a gamble when companies keep things vague but with I think it paid off for DC, we’ll see how much it did when more orders for Rebirth come through next month.
Taking the silver medal in second place with sales of over 177 k with a ‘zero’ issue is Civil War II. I expected a lot more given the level of hype and the branding/mega success of the first time Marvel did this 10 years ago. Oh and plus the movie of course. Now this is a very good number but I’m wondering if retailers are going to treat the first proper issue next month with more attention. I’m not sure what the logic behind the odd numbering choice was but I think it cost Marvel a bit. We’ll be able to better decide how strong Civil War is next month when it starts properly along with its many, many tie in mini’s.
Ray: On a similar note to Rebirth, actually, I wonder if the strange pacing of Civil War II hurt it. For those who haven’t been following, this event started in a Free Comic Book Day issue where an extremely key scene happened. This issue then flashed back to well before that. Then Civil War II #1 still started before the FCBD issue, and caught up midway through with the big event happening off-panel there. What was this zero issue? How essential was it? I don’t know if anyone knew. I’m expecting a surge to over 200K for the first issue of the mini this month, but if it doesn’t get that – or even goes down from the zero issue, we’ll know the bloom is really off the rose with this comic.
Glenn: My head got hurt reading your breakdown so I would expect that readers actually buying the comic are finding it a little tricky to follow what is going on in CW II also. Last time, Civil War had a massive, unprecedented sales effect across every book it touched, bumping everything it had any link to up anywhere between 10-20k in sales or more. It’ll be curious if the sequel has the same blanket effect.
A massive debut for the latest relaunch of the Punisher by Becky Cloonan and Steve Dillon with third place and sales of over 110.7k. I think this is the biggest Punisher relaunch in recent memory and this is a character that Marvel has relaunched A LOT (even for them). I think the popularity of Punisher on the Daredevil Netflix show and news of his own show brewing has a big hand here but the creative team shouldn’t be overlooked. Many people demand female writers getting a chance of prominent male heroes and here we have it, plus Steve Dillon may be the definitive Punisher artist. For whatever reason, its a great start and we’ll see where it lands. If it can do around the same level as most of Marvel’s mid performers that would be a great result for the character historically speaking.
Ray: On the other hand, I really do feel like this Punisher is an unqualified, massive success. All those factors you listed make sense as contributors to the success, but I’m still puzzled by just how well it did. One of only four books to break 100K this month! For a character whose last few titles got cancelled for low sales! I expect a massive fall next month, of course, but even that should get this title to a fairly safe level for a while. If it can bottom out at 25-30K, that’s historically a good level for a mainstream Punisher book. And I still can’t believe it beat that other Marvel #1!
Glenn: Old reliable, Batman finishes its run on issue 52 with sales over 102k making its entire run of 52 issues in the six digits which is amazing. This is a fill-in issue with last months issue seeing the departure of Snyder and Capullo but it was a very strong issue and bodes well for the upcoming bi-monthly Batman which will have Tom King at the helm. I don’t know if the new Batman title will be able to replicate the astonishing success of this run though, I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it anytime soon.
Ray: Amazing success for Batman. Helping it (besides the confusion over whether Snyder was actually writing this issue) was probably that this issue was written by incoming Detective writer and Snyder collaborator James Tynion IV, so it felt relevant. As for the new title, it’s coming out of the gate with rave reviews, a first issue co-written by Snyder, and a ton of hype, so who knows. I think it could surprise us.
Glenn: Tynion has co-written or taken on some back ups in Batman during Snyder’s run, written a few annuals and had a big hand in Eternal. He’s got enough bad pedigree by now that I don’t think we would have seen that much of a difference if the confusion around Snyder’s involvement hadn’t been in place. It’ll be interesting to see how he manages to get Detective Comics to perform on next months chart.
Next is that comic, Captain America: Steve Rogers which sells over 99k at number 5. There’s a lot to go over here. Addressing the elephant in the room so to speak, this is the now infamous ‘Cap is Hydra‘ issue which, since there was no hint of this twist prior will ensure that this issue will see healthy reorders next month. Looking on it as is, while its another decent launch, to me not being able to crack 100k for the return of Steve Rogers (again) in a year where he has a big movie out is a little telling. Sales for Captain America have found it hard since the departure of Ed Brubaker a number of years ago. The latest reveal seems to be ensuring sales success but once the novelty dies off will the gamble be worth it? Time will tell.
Ray: There’s obviously two ways to look at this Captain America book. Problem is, neither is very good for the title. Marvel, for a change, kept this twist under their hat, so this was ordered at the level that retailers ordered the long-awaited return of Steve Rogers to the Captain America suit. And that’s under 100K and less than a Punisher relaunch. For the record, Captain America: Reborn under Brubaker beat Blackest Night #1 in its launch month. Now, obviously this book is going to be high on the re-order charts next month because the twist caught everyone by surprise. But is it going to hold those numbers? I doubt it. When the audience’s primary reaction to a twist is “How dare you”, that doesn’t bode well for long-term success.
Glenn: Number 6 is Star Wars which continues its very, very, very slow drift down in sales, getting over 95k this month. Not much to report here.
Ray: Star Wars and Vader are both experiencing standard attrition which has brought them down to earth, but these are still impressive numbers. What I will note, though, is that Star Wars has fallen below the 100K mark in 20 issues coming off the biggest movie of all time – while Batman stayed above that mark for 52 issues straight. This just shows how amazing Batman’s feat is.
Glenn: Number 7 is the final issue of Geoff Johns Justice League and also an issue 50 which probably combined was enough for them to get a sales boost to over 94k. While it hasn’t been the trailblazer that Batman has, Johns run on Justice League has been a solid performer for its 50 issue run. The price point of 5.99 again doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference in demand here. This issue was very much a lead in to Rebirth which wasn’t advertised so now that everyone knows that, expect this one to pull in a decent reorder next month too.
Ray: Yeah, this JL number is a bit lower than I would have expected, but then this arc didn’t go over all that well as a whole. The Rebirth tie-ins caught everyone by surprise, so I think there’ll be a bit of a scramble for this issue. All the better for DC next month.
Glenn: Number 8 is everyone’s favorite Sith Lord, Darth Vader which pulls in sales of just over 86.6k. This is actually 10k higher than last month for no apparent reason than I can think of. Now that we know the book has an expiry date it seems it will finish off at a very healthy number indeed.
With an incredible hold of the sales success it had last month, Black Panther sells just over 77.5k which is enough to keep it in the top ten for now with the number 9 spot. Of course a near 200k drop is a massive one but there are a lot of other Marvel books that fared a lot worse in their second issue. Over 70k is still a brilliant number for a Black Panther comic and this one still has a lot of room left to fall.
Ray: That’s a hefty drop for Black Panther, but still a strong number. For a comparison, Dr. Strange – another character who hadn’t had an ongoing title in years and now has one with an a-list creative team leading up to a movie – debuted at roughly 150K and sold 65K with its second issue, so Black Panther is improving on that path. If it holds at that level of slow attrition (although the delays are worrisome), it’s going to firmly ensconce itself as one of Marvel’s top tier for this run.
Glenn: Finally, Marvel’s other dependable performer, Amazing Spider-Man manages to make the top ten at 10 with sales just under 75k. If Black Panther follows the set pattern, Amazing will reclaim its spot as the highest selling superhero book Marvel has (not counting relaunches or such). Some joke that Marvel will have the take the title out of writer Dan Slott’s cold dead hands but considering he is helming one of their top performers, I wouldn’t see they’re in a rush to make him leave,
Ray: Not much to add on ASM, which is just as reliable as Batman (and will likely resume its place as Marvel’s top ongoing superhero book next month), but I’ll add that when Dead No More kicks off, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it surge and find a place in the top five regularly.
And at #11, in what is sure to be a sign of the Apocalypse…it’s Scooby Apocalypse! On the surface, this isn’t too shocking, given the hype, variant covers, and Jim Lee’s involvement. But given the overwhelming way this comic was mocked, I can’t see it holding these numbers. I’m thinking this is a first month bump situation that will completely evaporate.
Glenn: Having Jim Lee involved in any capacity is going to get your book sold, no matter what. The Hanna Barbara relaunces are a curious move for DC and its difficult to say what they want out of them. Given how Scooby books traditionally do (Scooby team up is at 208 with sales of 8.4k and Where Are You is at 297 with sales just over 5k) this is a big win for DC. Will be happy with sales at half of the near 70k they managed here or possibly less? Time will tell.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron had a very stiff drop to #12 this month with sales of just over 68K. That puts it well below the top two Star Wars titles after only two months, and has to be a serious disappointment to Marvel, who was hoping to capitalize on the character’s massive fanbase from the movie.
Glenn: Given that Poe is the least prominent (so far) of the new protagonists introduced in Force Awakens, that might attribute to the drop. I don’t think the BB-8 back up was really included in solits and if it had been, how that might have effected sales. Its selling at a decent level compared to the majority of Marvel’s ongoings but will need to find its level fast.
Ray: Batman/TMNT finishes strong at #14 with sales of around 65K. This is the most successful inter-company crossover in years by a mile, and you know DC will be talking with other companies to find out how to replicate this goldmine. Superman/Transformers? Robins/Power Rangers? Let’s find out!
Glenn: The collection will do good business no doubt also. This is a big win for both DC and IDW so yeah, I’m fully expecting to see more crossovers. It likely won’t do nearly as well but it’ll be interesting to see how the Gotham Academy/Lumberjanes crossover does next month since their audiences are a lot more specific than the large fanbases that both Batman and the Turtles have.
Ray: Oh, hey, there’s Deadpool! Followed by Deadpool! Followed by Deadpool! And on his heels, Deadpool! Four Deadpool books in a row, starting with Spider-Man/Deadpool, followed by two issues of the main book (currently Marvel’s #2 ongoing with settled numbers), and then Deadpool: Last Days of Magic, which is incredible numbers for a random tie-in with Dr. Strange. The Merc with a Mouth is a gold mine right now!
Glenn: Having four books in the charts by all 3 different creative teams and stories shows just how solid Deadpool is right now. I would say expect more Deadpool everything but we’re already getting that so…expect even more I guess!
Ray: Superman #52, which featured the death of the New 52 Superman, got a rather significant boost to the top 20 with sales over 54K. I will say, though, that the other three chapters of this crossover are between 15K and 16K lower, which makes me think this was a speculator boost more than anything. They certainly didn’t expect people to be going all in on the crossover.
Glenn: Its not quite the mass media event the last death of Superman (spoilers) was, is it? DC is looking at this one setting the table for Rebirth and that’s it. The sales boost will be nice but I’m sure that most of the numbers on the last issues of the New 52 books are being treated as inconsequential.
Ray: The core three X-books are all in a loose crossover event right now, Apocalypse War, and they are all clustered together with sales of around 50K. What’s interesting to me is that All-New X-Men, the satellite book focusing on the kid X-Men, is doing the highest, and flagship title Extraordinary X-Men is doing the least.
Glenn: Given how big a push Extraordinary got, that is really surprising. This is probably dictated more by books that people are enjoying rather than the ones Marvel is treating as most and least important. They’re all grouped pretty close together, like you say so it seems there’s a pretty dedicated audience for this crossover. 10 years ago or so, an X-Men crossover would have pulled a six digit sales number without breaking a sweat but times very much have changed. Nowadays, 50-60k or so is pretty much where X-Men crossovers usually live.
Ray: With #4, Spider-Man seems to have found its level at around 49K. Its #28 finish puts the book in decent company for now, just below Iron Man and Dr. Strange. Will it hold these numbers in six months? We’ll see, but the upcoming Civil War tie-in will likely help with that.
Glenn: Marvel are giving Miles a lot of high profile spots, they want him to work so they’ll probably be committed to the long term. I still predict Miles to ultimately meet the fate as other young people with Spider powers like Mattie Franklin.
Ray: Future Quest, by the exceptional creative team of Parker/Shaner and with consultation from the late Darwyn Cooke, debuts at #29 with sales of 48K. On one hand, that’s good numbers for a Johnny Quest book guest-starring a host of forgotten cartoon characters. On the other, this brilliant old-school adventure sold 20K less than Cyborg Scooby vs. Zombies and I want to cry.
Glenn: *hugs Ray* Considering how obscure most of the characters in Future’s Quest are, that’s a great number. This book is purely for the Hanna Barbera nostalgia crowd whereas the other launch books seem to be going for a new audience using very different takes. We’ll see how Future’s Quest performs in future issues but looking at how this line performs usually, that’s a great number, especially for a mini series which is going to be done before we know it.
Ray: Marvel has another debut this month in Thunderbolts, which teams Winter Soldier with the original Thunderbolts in a story spinning right out of Standoff. Reviews were not good, and retailers seem to have adjusted accordingly, as it only sells 45K at #32. That’s not impressive at all, and this title will likely struggle quickly. It’s still a good deal better than one of the other new Marvel #1s this month, though.
Glenn: The last time Thunderbolts performed well was when Warren Ellis reshaped the book to star a cast of prominent villains. Going back to a version of the original cast will be a hard task and even adding Bucky, who hasn’t been the biggest sales draw for a while either isn’t seemingly going to help things. Its an okay launch but given how books are selling that launched at double or triple this number, it may not be a long road ahead for Thunderbolts.
Ray: A new Daredevil/Punisher miniseries sells 42K at #37, almost the exact level of Daredevil this month. This is interesting, because I think it was intended to be the direct tie-in to the Netflix series. However, retailers just treated it like a Daredevil miniseries, while the main Punisher series exploded.
Glenn: Maybe we’re not giving the creative team enough credit on Punisher then? However, mini’s unless they’re a major event never do well as main books. This will do nicely as a collection most likely for people yet to discover the Netflix show.
Ray: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers seems to have found a healthy level at around 38K, far and away the top title for Boom. I wonder how the company’s crossover with Gotham Academy and Lumberjanes will do, given their new momentum in the market.
Glenn: Great minds think alike! A great performance for Boom, its nice for them to have a solid performer since they seem to be delivering some of the best books in the market right now.
Ray: Gwenpool tumbles hard from its top ten debut last month, landing at #45 with sales of about 38. I think this is an expression of discretion at work in the market. This is a novelty character and won’t last. On the other hand, Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight has a rather healthy fall to 35K and may have legs for the duration of Lemire’s run.
Glenn: Given that Spider-Gwen manages to pull in sales of just under 50k at 25, Gwenpool will need to stop shedding sales quickly to be considered worth publishing long term. We know that WolverGwen is coming in the next few months but hopefully the drop on Gwenpool will tell Marvel not to press their luck too much.
Ray: #49 this month goes to Deadpool: Masacre. For the record, this is the English translation of an all-Spanish Deadpool comic that was released a few months ago. Yep. The power of Deadpool.
Glenn: Next up: Deadpool colouring book! Wait…that’s seriously a thing?
Ray: The other Marvel debut of the month is Nighthawk, landing at #50 with sales of just over 34K. That’s about 3K above the sales of Hyperion when it debuted (and for the record, it sold just over 13K with issue #3 this month), and that’s the numbers of a series that isn’t likely to make it past #8. Trying to make Squadron Supreme into a franchise right out of the gate is probably the most misguided attempt at spin-offs since DC and the Red Circle books.
Glenn: Yeah..Marvel maybe needs to stop making Squadron Supreme happen, its not going to happen. I wonder if this book will end up with better or worse than fellow Batmanlike Midnighter which ended at 197 with sales just over 9.3k. A couple of months ago, Nighthawk writer David Walker got a respectful launch out of Cyborg but his books at Marvel seem to have landed quite harshly. Power Man and Iron Fist is now selling just over 26k at 71 (which is you know, okay I guess) so hopefully his recent stints on Marvel books hasn’t hurt the initial sales power he seemed to be able to manage to draw for Cyborg over at DC.
Ray: Those Power Man and Iron Fist numbers may not be great, but they’re probably sustainable for a decent-length run. I think Marvel’s probably going to invest in Walker and move him up to a higher-tier title (Black Panther after Coates leaves?), but this book was never going to sell no matter who wrote it.
Glenn: Green Lantern and Flash finish their new 52 runs very close together at sales just under 33k. Flash has been performing at this level throughout most of the new 52 run while Green Lantern has fallen quite a bit since the heyday of Geoff Johns. Either way, DC again probably isn’t that concerned. Rebirth will fix everything forever and ever (they hope).
Ray: Both GL and Flash lost a lot of their momentum after the original creative teams left (with GL taking the harsher fall, of course), so these numbers are disappointing but not terrible. Buzz indicates that Flash will be getting a huge boost with Rebirth, while GL should jump up but seems more like business as usual. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out next month.
Glenn: Black Widow seems to have found its level at around 30k, good enough for a Black Widow comic but given the creative team I would say Marvel would have wanted it to lank 5-10k higher at least. Still, that’s a respectful enough number.
Continuing to be the scrappy underdogs, Valient pulls in a decent number with their latest major tie-in, 4001AD with sales just over 27k at 66. Not quite the hit that their previous crossover ‘Book Of Death‘ was but then that tie in didn’t have to compete with Civil War II or Rebirth. For a smaller publisher, Valiant continues to hang in there and out sells a lot of more prominent DC and Marvel titles.
Ray: Valiant is slowly but surely carving out a little place for itself on the charts, despite only releasing 8-10 books a month. These are decent numbers, especially as Book of Death was a main-line crossover while this one is set in the future and spins out of the lower-selling Valiant book Rai. Valiant growing their line slowly is a good move that’s helping them.
Glenn: Karnak returns to the sales charts with issue 4 landing at 76 with sales of just over 23.7k. Its hard to judge how the delays may have hurt the book but its still a good number for a second string Inhuman character. The book will survive as long as Warren Ellis shows interest in it.
Ray: Yeah, Ellis’ name is probably good for a decent 10K sales boost on any title. I think Karnak will probably keep going at acceptable numbers for a short time, but I can’t see Ellis staying on this book past 12 because he’s so busy, and the title will likely go with him.
Glenn: True Believers: Star Wars classic was a promotional book priced at $1 that reprinted the first issue of Marvel’s previous Star Wars comic. It sold over 21k which isn’t bad for material that’s over 30 years old. The power of Star Wars!
Ray: You slap Star Wars on the title right now, it’s going to sell. Coming soon – Star Wars Meets Squadron Supreme?
Glenn: Tom King’s Vision manages to hang in there at 96 with sales of over 19k. Its a small but dedicated audience for the book. Watch the collection to keep the Marvel piggy bank going for years when his name blows up over at DC.
Ray: Vision is a good example of what happens when a niche book really gets people talking. Any other title selling 19K would likely be reaching cancellation numbers in a few months, but Vision seems to have leveled out and will probably stay close to this level until its planned ending at issue #12, where it’ll go down as an all-time classic.
Glenn: The 100th top selling book was All New Inhumans sold just over 18.8k. Nearly 2k under 20k which is very troubling. More on this at the end of the chart but keep that in mind.
Ray: Worth noting that the flagship Inhumans book, Uncanny Inhumans, only sold 7K higher at #73. It seems pretty clear that Marvel’s second attempt at turning Inhumans into a major franchise is a no-go as well. The new X-Men they’re not.
Glenn: Its hard to force something into the limelight after it having decades as at best, a fringe section of the Marvel universe. It worked with Guardians because of the movie but with Inhumans the best it has at the moment is a lot of talk on the SHIELD TV show.
TV show tie-in, Adventures Of Supergirl launches at 16k at 121. Media tie ins are always going to struggle but this seems a little low even for that. Perhaps if the book had just been called Supergirl it would have done better? Given the show is a decent hit and the prominence of the writer of Sterling Gates in the past you would have thought this might have managed to crack 20k. This is just a reprint of digital first content so the economies are different here in any case. Look for this one to be quickly forgotten sales wise when the proper Supergirl returns as part of Rebirth.
Ray: Those are surprisingly low numbers, landing even below two issues of fellow digital-first comic Bombshells. While I do think there’s a real hunger for a Supergirl comic and the Rebirth title will be a hit, the rollout on this book was weird. DC first said there wouldn’t be a print compilation until the trade, but fan response made them back down. It was then retro-solicited close to the release date, which means some retailers may have missed the boat. I think it’s probably doing well in the digital format, which was the only way to read it at first.
Ray: The swap and change with the orders may have had an impact definitely. We’ll see how it does next month then.
Haunted Mansion is holding up well, selling about 17K at #115. This is the first Disney ride spin-off that’s shown any sort of sales traction, and I put most of that down to the writer. Of course, he’s headed off to DC and the next ride tie-in is…Enchanted Tiki Room. I don’t see that pattern continuing.
Glenn: Haunted Mansion benefits both from having a writer with serious horror cred and being the best known ride they’ve turned into a comic so far. I would say that with the choice of the next ride, I would speculate that Marvel has little choice in what they get to adapt. Again, these things will make their money in the gift shop. Next up: Its a small world by Ennis and Dillon!
Ray: I won’t lie, I would read the hell out of that It’s a Small World comic. Get on it, Marvel!
Glenn: It could be educational! We could learn about small creepy puppets, all over the world. Which is a small, small world (or so I hear)
Ray: Black Panther adds another 15K in sales this month, charting at #133 with its reprint. Impressive, but it certainly wasn’t under-ordered.
The two Archie horror books returned this month, and both found a decent sales level, with Afterlife With Archie selling about 19K and making the top 100, and Sabrina selling about 15K. The main Archie reboot was sandwiched in between them at around 16K, so the line seems to have found its level – although Jughead is down at #202 with sales of around 9K, so that may be the line’s weak point.
Glenn: The Archie books are now performing largely over 10k where they were prior to the relaunch, so that’s good news for the company of the same name. With Betty & Veronica and Josie and the Pussycats launching in a few months, the publisher seems confident about their place in the market. With the Sabrina creative team moving over to Jughead, I wonder if it’ll have any impact on its sales since there is a slightly larger audience for her book?
Ray: I’m shocked to see Cyborg only selling 12K, clustered in the 150s with books like Martian Manhunter, Gotham Academy, and Secret Six – all good books, but certainly niche books. What is DC thinking relaunching this as a biweekly book in Rebirth? The JLA’s resident tech hero hasn’t proven he can carry a monthly yet, let alone two issues a month.
Glenn: Cyborg had a fantastic, critically acclaimed launch and seemed to have crashed and burned shortly thereafter. Perhaps DC is hoping with a writer who won’t leave for Marvel and the Rebirth Branding that the book can survive at a higher level? Its a gamble for sure, one of the few they’re making in their initial Rebirth roll out. Cyborg probably also has a spot due to his upcoming prominence in the DCCU and the fact that they’ve been trying to make him an a-lister since Flashpoint. You can’t say that DC sure doesn’t try to make a thing work.
Ray: Hyperion, Moon Girl, Drax, and Patsy Walker: Hellcat are all down to the 13K-11K range, so I would say watch those books for the next wave of cancellations. They’re the lowest-selling Marvel books that are still continuing.
Note: Hyperion was missing from the latest Marvel solicitations. Salute it as it sails into the sunset.
Glenn: The bloom may be off the rose with Guardian tie-ins with the highest selling being Rocket and Groot at 89 with sales just over 21k. A long way away from the top 15 staple Rocket’s solo book was prior to Secret War. It’ll be interesting to see if Marvel ever bothers with the Gamora mini with how the other solo books are doing.
Ray: Those are depressing numbers for Rocket and Groot, but with Skottie Young leaving the series and being replaced by a less-known creator, it’s sort of inevitable. I expect the line to shrink a lot soon, much the way GL did from its heyday.
Glenn: The rest of the books there isn’t much more to say about. These books in this market are all going to have uphill climbs. Civil War II and the subsequent relaunch will buy them some time but with the ever depleting diminishing returns Marvel is getting on their relaunches, those that are relaunched again probably won’t fare much better.
Ray: Gene Ha’s fantasy comic from Dark Horse, Mae, has a decent debut this month of around 11K. Ha is still a pretty popular artist, but it’s worth noting that this is Dark Horse’s third-highest selling book of the month, only behind their two bread-and-butter franchises, Hellboy and Buffy.
Glenn: Its time for our monthly Dark Horse concern whose highest selling book was Hellboy In Hell at 132 with sales over 15.6k. They’re probably calling Chuck Palahniuck about Fight Club III right now.
Ray: The second issue of Adventures of Supergirl sinks to 11K, a harsh fall for the same month, but like I said above, this was a weird rollout and the book is probably making most of its money in digital.
In one of the oddest books of the month, we had Brian Azzarello launching a fantasy-horror comic as a beer tie-in with 3 Floyds: Alpha Kings from Image. That did just over 10K at #191, not an impressive debut for a big name like Azzarello. But then…beer tie-in. I doubt direct market sales were the concern here.
Glenn: A beer tie-in? How strange, I guess even with the current market there is still room for some bizarre books to get a spot.
Ray: As we exit the top 200, it’s worth noting that there’s exactly one Vertigo title still selling over 10K, and that’s Lucifer with 10.7K. It’ll likely fall just under that mark next month just like Astro City did this month.
Glenn: Having a TV show which to be fair, is only a very, very, very (half an hour later), very loose adaption isn’t helping Lucifer much it seems. Its association with Sandman is probably helping it be the most successful of the currently struggling Vertigo line. Lets hoping some of those new books coming from some of their exclusive talent will far better but its hard to imagine they will.
Ray: And with its second issue, Bloodlines drops to under 9K at #204. Shocking numbers for a main-line DC title. Very good chance this is out of the top 300 by the end of its run. Womp womp.
Glenn: I’m not even sure what Bloodlines is, so there you go.
On the strength of the success of their Back To The Future comic from late last year, IDW launches the first issue of a new comic called Back To The Future: Citizen Brown which manages sales just over 15.4k at 136. Decent enough for a media tie in that is now based on a property over 30 years old. The success of the comic last year was to do a lot with the media at large’s reaction to Back To The Future day but it seems that there is still some interest in this old property even if I don’t expect it to last.
Ray: Back to the Future is one of those classic movies that seems to maintain a presence in the market even though it hasn’t put out a new movie in decades. See also, Bill and Ted which does decent numbers for Boom.
Glenn: Titan releases its 50 thousandth TV tie in book in the form of Penny Dreadful, the exceptional Showtime show featuring many characters of popular fiction. It launches just over 11k. I think the show is pretty popular but I don’t see most of the fans being interested in a comic tie in. This one will be for the die hard fans only.
Ray: TV tie-ins seem to be all over the place these days, and very few of them seem to be catching on. Things like Blacklist, which operate on a case-a-week format, might translate well to the format. I can’t see either Vikings or Penny Dreadful following. These are clearly only for completists – which isn’t the worst strategy, when your core audience is over one million people.
Glenn: Omega Men finishes its run at over 8k. It received a lot of critical attention and with Tom King’s rise to the (arguably) top book at DC, the trade sales will probably pay DC for ever publishing this in the first place.
Boom releases a new book called ‘Weavers‘ which launches at 213 with sales just over 8k. I’m not too familiar with the creative team so this is probably the best you can expect from a indie book with no big names attached. For the record, the book seems to be about organized crime and sounds quite good.
Ray: Weavers is a Simon Spurrier title dealing with gangsters with magic spiders inside them that give them superpowers. It’s mostly memorable to me because it was initially mistaken for a new Spider-man comic when the art first leaked. These numbers are about what I would expect, a big higher for a Boom #1 with no big names. Maybe a Spider-man boost?
Glenn: You mentioned Bloodshots earlier but Marvel mainline book Red Wolf isn’t doing much better. The ‘how did this ever get greenlit?’ Marvel title sells over 7.7k at 217 and gets outsold by the likes of Xena, Scooby Doo and…Jem and The Holograms.
Ray: Red Wolf is going to be a footnote for Marvel, for sure. Shockingly, even lower you find Starbrand and Nightmask at #289, selling just over 5K. That would have been out of the top 300 next month, but this is the final issue.
Glenn: IDW releases a comic adaption of the near 20 year old little known movie which is based on the book ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas‘ which sells over 7.5k priced at 4.99. It seems to be a bigger than average comic for the price but I just wondered who they thought would really want this. Its at 223
Ray: ...The Hunter S. Thompson book as a comic? Okay. While the top of the chart is fun to discuss in terms of the big trends, the bottom has its appeal too, because that’s where you find these really bizarre comics that you’ve never heard of before.
Glenn: Another TV show tie-in from
A) Matchett Magazines
B) Ray’s readings
The choice is yours when it comes to Vikings at 245 with sales over 6.7k. Same deal with Penny Dreadful as I would say that many fans of the show aren’t looking for more stories elsewhere beyond what they see on screen.
The rest of the charts is filled with the usual cast of low selling media tie-ins, small press non big name new properties with IDW sneaking in at 300 with one last new book in Brutal Nature which sells just under 5k. Once you reach 250 or below that, some of the numbers start to get a little depressing.
Ray: Never heard of Brutal Nature. IDW has increased their number of creator-owned books in recent months, but with zero promotion or name recognition on most of them, they have even more trouble getting momentum in the field than Dark Horse or Boom.
Looking ahead to June, the big event is finally here on more than one level! It’s Rebirth month for DC, as all the A-listers launch their new titles. Superman, Batman, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lanterns, and Titans all land, most of them shipping two issues. We’ll get a quick look at how much Rebirth is moving the needle on DC’s top franchises. In addition, the third Hanna-Barberra book, Wacky Raceland, is debuting with far less in the way of hype than the first two, so I’m not expecting strong numbers there.
For Marvel, it’s all Civil War II, all the time. The main mini launches its first two issues (not counting this month’s #0 or the FCBD issue), and we’ll see if its numbers start looking up. In addition, there’s a lot of tie-ins, and new miniseries for X-Men, Spider-Man, Hercules, and an anthology book.
It’s a fairly small month for creator-owned books, but there’s a few notables. Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy returns with a second volume after a massive delay, and Howard Chaykin launches a new original property with Midnight of the Soul for Image. And over at IDW, Joe Hill launches a new anthology series with Tales from the Darkside, potentially bringing that Locke and Key fanbase with him.
Glenn:Lots of things to look to in June in terms of sales. We’re going to see a lot of high profile launches hit the charts.
It may be just in time. We talk a lot about book trends but the overall market as a whole is on an unsettling downward slope. Books in the top 100 are now selling below 20k which is unsettling and overall sales are down across the board. Companies like Dark Horse and lines like Vertigo are gradually fading away and its becoming harder for new blood to make an impact in the industry.
What’s caused it? Well, there’s a global recession you may have heard about which effects every industry but especially something as finite as comics. There’s also raising prices for less content.
In some ways, the world is more driven towards comic than ever. This year alone will see no less than five major movies based on comics before 2016 ends and right now there are dozens, dozens of popular TV shows based on comics.
The actual print monthly market is slowly sliding though. It also doesn’t help that Marvel has had a near monopoly for near 10 years. They’ve been squeezing the fanbase they have hard and in many ways, have set up a market where only the dedicated remain.
Not to say this is Marvel’s fault, if any other company were in the same position they may be doing the same.
Now, next month DC will certainty regain some strength with Rebirth which coupled along with Civil War II might actually nead to a (dare we dream?) top 20 or so that has 70k sales over more.
Will it last? Time will tell as DC are clearly trying to get back some people that have left the industry while getting new readers in.
If it doesn’t work long term expect prices to continue going up and numbers continuing to fall…
Ray: I definitely think we’re going to see a boost at the top of the charts for a while now, with the combination of Rebirth and all-new #1s for DC, and Civil War II presumably lifting all boats for Marvel. Will it last? DC, it may just if fans take to this new direction. Marvel…I’m sure it’ll fade off just in time for the next relaunch and temporary boost.
The bigger problem, though, is the overall charts and the many companies that can’t seem to get any traction. I wonder if this is just a product of the companies putting out more than ever before. We’ve got companies like Boom, IDW, and Dark Horse putting out 30-40 books a month, Image putting out 50, DC putting out 70, and Marvel putting out 80-100 on any given month. With this much product, there’s a cannibalization effect.
It might just be that the market as a whole doesn’t work for this level of product. Imagine if we still only had the standard network TV setup that TV started with, and there was the level of content that existed today. Countless great shows would get ignored because there was no space for them, or they had to compete with another fan favorite. That’s what’s going on with people forced to choose between taking a chance on a new creator-owned book like Art Ops, House of Penance, or Joyride, or their latest fix of Spider-Man or Batman.
It’s a rough dynamic right now, and I’m not really sure how to fix it, but I’m hoping there’s an innovator out there who will hit on a genius idea like streaming TV.
Glenn: We’ll see what the long term holds for sure but for now, we all wait for the Rebirth next month, come join us. We’ll have cake.
Enjoyed what you read? Have any thoughts to add or suggestions? Let us know and find us on Twitter @glenn_matchett & @raygoldfield