Category Archives: Spotlight

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook – European Edition

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook. Due to popular demand, I have split out and launched a “European edition” that runs on the 15th of every month!

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series, because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented. Europe also has some other data restrictions that will be discussed below.

Facebook Population: Over 47,000,000 in Europe

Due to my spacing out, I missed January’s report, but since December, that’s a decrease of 17 million individuals. But, that’s still 11 million more individuals compared to what I reported for the United States in the beginning of the month. Worldwide, there’s an estimated 286,826,575 individuals interested in comics.

Gender and Age

In December women accounted for 45.31% while men accounted for 53.13%. This month men saw some gains but things generally remained steady. Men account for 53.19% while women account for 44.68%.

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The drop in population is primarily of those over the age of 18. Those under 18 remained steady compared to last month. There’s also much more parity between men and women across the board on for all ages.

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Relationship Status

For most things, there was a drop across the board for relationship statuses. Some remained steady, like those widowed, but generally the overall populations dropped reflecting the smaller overall population.

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Education

Things haven’t changed a ton since last month. The gaps have expanded for some, but generally, the populations remain steady.

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Gender Interest

And here’s where data privacy differs. In some European nations this information can’t be reported which means either removing those countries or just not reporting on this. I chose the latter for now.

And come back next month for a new look at the data and the first comparison of just Europe!

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The UN Teams with The Smurfs for The International Day of Happiness

smurfs-startThe United Nations Foundation is teaming up with the Smurfs for a smurftastic program called “Small Smurfs Big Goals” to help promote The International Day of Happiness which takes place March 20.

The day of celebration began in 2013 as a “way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of human beings around the world. The day is also a good opportunity to highlight the Sustainable Development Goals, a global plan of action that, if achieved, will lead to the well-being of all people. These 17 interlinked goals, adopted by the 193 Member States of the United Nations, protect our people and our planet so that everyone, no matter where they live, can live their happiest lives.”

The Smurfs will help promote the plan to protect all people and the environment through the 17 goals listed below:

  1. No Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Zero Hunger – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Good Health and Well-Being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
  5. Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation – Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth – Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
  9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduced Inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate Action – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Life Below Water – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
  15. Life on Land – Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
  17. Partnership for the Goals – Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

The Smurfs is a Belgian comic franchise created in 1958 by the writer/artist Peyo.

This is the second comic book characters the United Nations has teamed up with in the last year to help promote a program of theirs. In October 2016 the United Nations designated Wonder Woman as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. In March 2016, Red from Angry Birds was appointed Honorary Ambassador for Green for last year’s International Day of Happiness. The United Nations was criticized for the Wonder Woman appointment, but nary a mention from individuals about Red or the Smurfs…

You can click to watch the advertisement being run now to promote the team-up below.

The Comics Are All Right: Break the Marketing Mold

sink-1While many are discussing the spiral death of the comic industry excuses as to the cause seem to vary depending on the position the person is in. Store owners often blame publishers for putting out too much, not marketing enough, incorrect pricing, lackluster product, a broken preordering system, and more. Indie creators focus on an antiquated distribution system, a market too focused on a few publishers, fans unwilling to take a chance. Fans blame stores for not reading their minds and ordering what they want, publishers for the product, creators who fight with fans.

In reality, it’s not one thing, it’s many that lead to the ups and downs of the comic industry.

But, there are some who are bucking the system. Creators who are talking directly to fans. Publishers who are going around the current distribution system. Stores who are finding customers and building their own communities.

There are roughly 284,163,264 individuals interested in comics according to Facebook demographics. That’s a large group of folks to advertise directly to. Stores, like Third Eye Comics in Maryland, are doing just that with engaging advertising to get folks to come to their store. Three years since I first covered Third Eye’s fantastic ad program they’re still going strong, so it must be working for them, right?

When I started these columns, I didn’t just want to highlight problems of the industry, I wanted to spotlight those who are doing things that go around the system and pave their own path like Third Eye Comics.

A prime example of this entrepreneurial attitude is ComixTribe headed up by Tyler James who recently spoke to us about Kickstarter and the things the publisher is doing there. The publisher definitely is blazing their own path working within and outside of the current system to create their own corner of comicdom and doing so by building a community.

Their latest project to break the mold is Sink. The series by writer John Lees, artist Alex Cormack, letterer Colin Bell has done its own thing to build its audience.

First: A series of emails to the ComixTribe list teased the new series

Second: After a series of teasers the comic’s first issue was given away for FREE to the dedicated email list. ComixTribe often gives away free first issues to incentivize individuals to join their list.

Third: A limited amount of print copies were released primarily at conventions.

Fourth: A Kickstarter has been launched to fund an offset printing for the comic before it’s released to mass markets later this year.

330 individuals, and $3,300 above the goal raised as of this article being published, the Kickstarter and marketing plan is a success.

But, the email list could have been it to build a promotion. ComixTribe has gone an extra step with what I see as a rarity this day, a physical mailing. It feels like far to few publishers and creators take advantage of a cheap communication platform like email, but to see one send out a physical mailing is impressive, to say the least.

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You think this is would be a pretty big outlay right? Some Google search has each postcard pegged at about 30 cents a piece. A 5,000 person mailing would cost about $1,500. With the postcards just hitting mailboxes, the return on investment most likely hasn’t been seen… yet, but the project is already above its goal.

If 5,000 individuals seems like too few individuals for your $1,500 investment, that same amount of money on Facebook gets you about 63,000,000 views of individuals who said they are interested in comics. If 1% of 1% of those views take action, that’s 630 new Kickstarter pledges, almost double the current amount of individuals pledged for this project.

With ComixTribe, what we’re seeing is a new type of marketing being used, one that bucks the press release, blog, individual, shop, dynamic that’s dominated the industry. And by doing this sort of hard work, ComixTribe is building their own community, one that will follow them through ups and downs and the market and most importantly, they can talk to directly.

ComixTribe might be a small publisher, but their ideas are pretty big, and they’re showing the industry you don’t have to beholden to the current paradigm, you can create your own and find success.

Can Star Wars’ Rebel Alliance Be a Force of Resistance to Trump? Listen on Demand and Find Out.

On demand: iTunes ¦ Sound Cloud ¦ Stitcher ¦ Listed on podcastdirectory.com

Stories of resistance to tyranny are a powerful Force for change (pun intended). Star Wars‘ mythos are more relevant than ever and we’ll be discussing fan communities using Star Wars to fight the Empire with Brian Young.

Brian works on the Imagine Better campaign to form a Rebel Alliance for a better Star Wars fandom.

Young has produced political documentaries for the Disinformation Company and written for Huffington Post about politics since 2007, but he’s also a big Star Wars fan. He writes for StarWars.com and Star Wars Insider Magazine and hosts one of the largest Star Wars podcasts: Full of Sith. He talks regularly about Star Wars and politics, but only occasionally at the same time, but not for lack of wanting to.

He is @swankmotron on twitter.

Would Captain America Approve of Punching Nazis? (YES.)

As would surprise absolutely no one who’s followed my People’s History of the Marvel Universe series, I’m a strong believer in the idea that our pop culture is both influenced by our political culture and can have a strong influence on that political culture. Thus, it’s a major problem when the author of both of Marvel’s current Captain America comics gets all pearls-clutchy about whether it’s ok to punch Nazis.

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(credit to Shop5)

While people who’ve followed this spat on comic book twitter are familiar with this particular debate, allow me to clarify for everyone else: Captain America, as a pop culture icon, was designed to punch Nazis. And not merely in a cheeky, subversive symbolic, let’s-make-fun-of-Hitler way; the first Captain America comics were very clear in their argument that Nazis were a real threat to the United States both abroad and at home (with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon calling out real organizations like the German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts, and the America First Committee), and that we should go and fight them now (a year before Pearl Harbor). Nazis didn’t like this argument and they didn’t like Captain America as a pop culture icon – hence why they sent death threats to Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, threats that Jack Kirby met by being ready to punch Nazis at a moment’s notice.

Current Cap writer Nick Spencer’s stance doesn’t show a great understanding of the characters he’s working with or the spirit in which they were created, but that wouldn’t be so much of a problem…except that Spencer’s online conflicts with critics and fans are starting to bleed over into his comics, denying people a useful symbol for resistance in an era in which we really need them.

NaziCap and the “Alt-Righting” of HYDRA

Now, I’ve already talked about why NaziCap is a terrible idea – not only is it deeply insulting to the creators of Captain America and the various writers and artists who worked for decades to establish Steve Rogers as a consistent character, not only does the whole story only work by leaning on played-out non-mind control mind control gimmicks that relied on outright lying to your customers, but so far the only up-side is that Nick Spencer gets to write stories for months on end where Steve Rogers becomes a straight up supervillain:

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Now, it would be bad enough if Spencer’s problematic story resulted only in bad writing. But the problems go far beyond that, because Spencer’s Steve Rogers has an undeniable and inescapable political line. Take for example, Cap’s extended speech in Civil War II: The Oath:

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Let’s be clear: this is not just a comment on Marvel’s Civil War II; this is a blatant copying of post-2016 election hot takes blaming liberal coastal elites for the election of Donald Trump due to their lack of empathy for Trump voters in the heartland, bootstrapped into an anti-superhero and pro-HYDRA rant. Now, leave aside for the moment that this whole scene is jarring and awkward in the extreme in that Captain America is completely contradicting himself from Marvel’s first Civil War event – and remember, Nick Spencer’s non-mind control mind control retcon means that Cap still did and thought everything he did and thought in that series. (After all, Civil War II is absolutely cluttered with examples of characters from Tony Stark to Carol Danvers forgetting what they thought and did during Civil War I and before.)

The bigger problem is that Spencer is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he’s constantly riffing off of the rhetoric and imagery of present-day white nationalist and neo-Nazi movements to elicit controversy and give his story some “subversive” heft. On the other hand, Spencer constantly runs away from the implications of his own ideas by trying to de-Nazify HYDRA (which not-coincidentally prevents Steve Rogers from crossing a line that might harm his value as a brand):

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Once again, let clarify the comic book history: HYDRA was created as a Nazi organization, as part of an argument by Jack Kirby that the true believers in the Third Reich were still out there, ready to strike back against their enemies in the name of Nazism. HYDRA’s leader, the Red Skull, isn’t just a COBRA villain who hates freedom, equality, puppies, and sunshine in a generic Saturday morning cartoon way. From the beginning, the Red Skull has been not just a Nazi but a personal acolyte of Adolf Hitler:

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Indeed, the Red Skull is such a massive racist that he was once successfully distracted from his master plans by the fact that Peggy Carter was in an interracial relationship with another SHIELD agent:

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Likewise, the Red Skull’s chief subordinates in HYDRA were quite emphatic about the fact that they were actual and current believers in Nazi political ideology.

Now, Spencer isn’t the first person at Marvel to try to de-Nazify HYDRA – Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors story about HYDRA being an ancient organization that dates back to the Third Dynasty in Ancient Egypt set the pattern for fandom arguments that HYDRA wasn’t “really” fascist. But in the current political environment, it is especially tin-eared for Nick Spencer to “alt-right” HYDRA: we live at a time when we have actual Neo-Nazis in the White House working references to America First into Inaugural Addresses and dog-whistling to their fanbase by removing references to Jews and anti-Semitism from Holocaust Memorial addresses, all the while trying to use weasel-words to rebrand themselves as members of the “alt-right” so that they can normalize themselves in the media and the broader political culture. Indeed, Richard Spencer (who led crowds in throwing Nazi salutes at the alt-right’s election celebrations in D.C) was giving an TV interview about how the “alt-right” weren’t neo-Nazis when he got punched.

Sam Wilson as Sockpuppet and SJWs Are the Real Threat:

At the same time that Spencer has mired himself in a political quagmire in Captain America: Steve Rogers, we’re starting to see some of the same problems crop up in Captain America: Sam Wilson, which I used to enjoy because the book seemed to be grounded in a sincere love of Captain America comics from the 70s through 90s, what with Cap-Wolf and the Serpent Society showing up almost immediately. But given the tight-rope walk that always comes when a white writer is writing a highly political comic by speaking through a character who’s a black man, it’s a very bad sign when Nick Spencer’s twitter fights over the right and wrong ways to protest start coming out of Sam Wilson’s mouth:

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Leave aside that portraying Sam Wilson as the “both-sides-do-it” moderate clashes with the book’s raison d’être of Sam Wilson as the more militant political version of Captain America. Far worse is the actual content of the issue, which presents as its villains a group of campus left terrorists who use bombs to enforce “safe spaces:”

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Now, all of this would in normal times be painfully awkward, what with the white guy in his late 30s trying to do Tumblr-speak. But to push the idea that campus leftists are the real danger at a time when anti-fascist protesters have been shot by fans of neo-Nazi Milo Yiannopoulos, who deliberately targets critics for harassment and deportation, and when campus recruiters for the “alt-right” turn out to have past form for burning down black churches, comes across as pushing “alternative facts.”

Conclusion:

So why should we care, why does all of this comic book stuff matter when compared to the real-world political side of things?

As I said at the time, the “subversive” reimagining of Steve Rogers as a fascist was never ok, but there is far less leeway for it in a world in which Donald Trump is president. We have actual Neo-Nazis at the very top of the Federal government, directing government policy to enforce religious bans on Muslim immigrants, refugees, and permanent residents, to build border walls and prepare new offensives against young formerly undocumented immigrants given legal status and low-income immigrants. The “contrarian” fantasy of NaziCap has been lapped by reality and thus no longer serves any satirical purpose.

But on a more serious note: far from being emboldened by being punched in the face, Neo-Nazis are already emboldened by the fact that they have one of their own in the White House. Hence the burning of mosques in Texas and the Quebec mass-shooting , hence the constant drum-beat of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, hence the rise of hate crimes and random incidents of aggression from racist assholes who think that Trump has legalized bigotry.

A small part of this is an attempt by Neo-Nazis to claim cultural spaces and symbols, whether we’re talking about fights over Twitter access, the appropriation of memes like Pepe the Frog, the appropriation of language from sexual subcultures, attempts to recruit right-wing anime fans, Gamergaters, and furries, and most worrying of all, the attempt to reframe anti-corporate works like They Live to fit anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. And it’s not like Marvel has been immune to this: “Hail HYDRA” and HYDRA iconography has been a favorite of Neo-Nazis online as a way to get around bans on outright Nazi imagery, and defenses of the HYDRA secret agent Grant Ward on ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” have sometimes blended into defenses of fascism more generally.

In the face of all of these, people really need anti-Nazi symbols to inspire and rally them. Captain America ought to be one of these symbols, but he can’t be as long as Steve Rogers is a HYDRA agent and Sam Wilson is more worried about the campus left – i.e, as long as Nick Spencer is the lead writer of all of Marvel’s Captain America comics. So here’s my pitch to Marvel Comics: hire Brubaker, hire Rucka, hire G. Willow Wilson, all writers who’ve shown a grasp on both storytelling and politics, or hire someone new with fire in the belly, and give us a Cap who will fight for us.

Immigration And Comics. It’s Our History.

ck-rocket-from-krypton-croppedA version of this originally ran January 2016.

You’d have to have been living under a rock to have avoided the refugee and, to a lesser extent, the immigration discussions occurring this past week due to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

As an immigrant myself, it’s a discussion that I’ve been paying some attention too.

First things first, though, is that I should clarify that my situation in no way resembled the plight of those from Syria or other war-torn regions. As a white man immigrating from the United Kingdom it would be offensive to those refugees to say that I know what they’re going through. I don’t.

I genuinely hope that I never will.

Indeed, I have been present in my new country when people start talking about “the immigrants” taking their jobs because they didn’t consider me an immigrant.  This was shortly after asking about my accent. I may be a white guy, but my accent sure isn’t from this side of the pond. That’s about as much prejudice as I have ever encountered on my end, directly, and while I found it exasperatingly funny at the time, it does go to  show the general sense that a (very) few have toward immigrants (at least in my experience, but as I said, mine is not the same as the Syrian refugees. Not even close). Even comparing a refugee to an immigrant is a slippery slope; while some immigrants such as myself arrive in a new country of their own volition, some undoubtedly feel forced out of their homes, due to escalating conflicts or tensions at home. But either way, the immigrant has a little more freedom to make the decision. A refugee has no choice in the matter; they just want their family to feel safe.

And the type of safety that the Syrian refugees are currently seeking, and the scale of the horror’s they are running from is something that many of us have no personal experience with. Hopefully we never will, but that doesn’t preclude us from having some empathy for them, either.

My family have lived in England for as long as I am aware (my Aunt traced my grandfather’s line back to around the 1700’s, give or take), so I can’t knowingly claim that there is any immigration within my family’s past (myself aside), but that’s not necessarily true of people living on this side of the pond.

There are millions of people in North American who can trace their families back across the years and the oceans to other countries, when their ancestors left their home lands for fear of persecution or simply to hope for a better life.

This is especially true when it comes to some of the early and/or influential members of the comic book community.

The Thing KirbyIndeed, many of the greatest names in American comics are often the first generation born in the new country, such as Art Speigelman (the author of Maus), Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman, Green Lantern, and many many others), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the men who created Superman). Even Bob Kane‘s (Batman‘s other co-creator) parents were of Eastern European Jewish descent. The point I am attempting to make here is that the sons of Jewish immigrants created some of our biggest super heroes, and some of our greatest stories.

And what of their creations? 

Superman is an alien from another planet who’s family sought refuge for their only child from the end of their world. He is far from native to any country on Earth, yet he has chosen to make the planet his  home. Far beyond just simply moving from country to country, Superman is an interplanetary immigrant that kick started the modern superhero comic. 

And he’s not the only immigrant in comics, either; Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter are but two of the early inter-planetary examples, X-O Manowar is both a geographical and chronological immigrant (it sounds confusing when typing it like that, but the character is as rich and deep as any other on this list). Howard the Duck has been trapped in a world that he’s slowly become accustomed to, but was never his own; and Thor Odinson has been protecting our world for centuries – and even without his hammer he continues to do so. The idea of a hero from the stars come to save humanity (or in the case of Howard the Duck to simply work amongst us) is an idea that as comic book fans we’re all enamored with , and in many cases these interplanetary immigrants have become some of the most beloved, and powerful, characters in the comic book reading world.

Giant-Size_X-Men_Vol_1_1In terms of the more traditional Earthbound type of immigration, the of moving between countries, look at almost the entire second team of X-Men; BansheeColossus, Nightcrawler, Sunfire, Storm and Wolverine are all from countries other than the US. You know what that makes them, eh?

If  these characters were ignored because they were immigrants, both of the interplanetary and Earthbound nature,  would comics, nay, popular culture, even have the same face? The Superman symbol is an internationally recognized symbol of truth, justice, and the American Way, and Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular characters to ever appear in a comic book. What if the parents of the previously mentioned creators, and the numerous others I haven’t named who are also descended from immigrants, were trying to escape their living conditions to provide a better life for their families today? Would we still want to turn them away?

If it wasn’t for the sons and daughters of refugees and immigrants the comic book landscape, and perhaps even our way of life would be drastically different than what we’re used too. Before you add your voice to those who say we should close up our borders, take a long hard look at your family history, at the characters you love, and tell me where you would be if the country you call home had refused to admit any new immigrants at any point in the past two or three hundred years.

Would you still be sat here reading this, if your ancestors hadn’t had the opportunity to live a new life in North America?

Demo-Graphics: Comic Fandom on Facebook – US Edition

Each month I run demographic data of comic “fans” based on data mined from Facebook.

This data is compiled using key terms, “likes,” users have as part of their profiles. Primarily terms are focused on generic ones such as “comics” or “graphic novels” or publishers. I stay away from specific characters, creators or series because this does not indicate they are a comic book fan. Over 100 terms are used for this report.

This data is important in that it shows who the potential comic audience could be. This is not purchasers, these are people who have shown an affinity for comics and are potential purchasers and those with an interest.

Also, with this being online/technology, due to laws and restrictions, those under the age of 13 are likely underrepresented.

Facebook Population: Over 36,000,000 in the United States

That’s a decrease of 2 million compared to last month. Worldwide, the estimate is 284,163,264 which is an decrease of about 10 million compared to last month.

The Spanish-speaking population last month was 15.79%, and this month the population has decreased to 15.00%. The population decreased and we’ll discuss that more later.

Gender and Age

Last month men accounted for 52.63% and women were 50.00%. Women made some gains while men dipped this past month. Women account for 47.22% while men account for 52.78%.

Men decreased by 1 million individuals compared to last month while women decreased by 2 million.

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Women continue to be the majority of fans under the age of 18 and eventually become the majority of fans as age increases.

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Relationship Status

“Single,” “In Relationship,” “Married,” and “Unspecified” all dropped significantly since the previous month.

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Education

There’s not much of a change as far as the percentages for each educational level and the men and women who make up each.

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Gender Interest

There’s some slight changes as far as percentages compared to last month, but we’re talking tenths of a percent.

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Ethnicity

Compared to last month African Americans and Asian Americans both saw a dip. Hispanics though saw an overall increase driven by those who are bilingual and English dominant. Spanish dominant decreased.

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Generation

With a decrease of the overall population, we see that reflected here. There’s no major changes from the previous month.

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And come back next month for a new look at the data! And on February 15th we’ll have the next report of Europe’s data!

The Comics Are All Right: A Cover Price What If?

In last week’s “The Comics Are All Right” I explored that the reason for the recent nervousness in the comic industry and stores could easily be explained by the drop in “weighted cover price” for the top 300 comics.

For those that haven’t read last week’s column, as reported so far Comichron:

  • All Unit Sales For Diamond Comics increased by 1 million
  • Unit Sales for Diamond Comics Top 300 Comics increased by 180,000
  • Unit Sales for Diamond Comics Not 300 increased by 820,000

So, more comics were sold. HOWEVER:

  • Dollar sales for all Diamond’s comics decreased by $6 million
  • Dollars sales for Diamond’s top 300 decreased by $8.9 million
  • Combined dollar sales for Diamond’s top 300 comics and trade paperbacks decreased by $5.22 million

While more units were sold, less money was coming in. WHY?

The weighted average price for Diamond’s top 300 comics decreased by 11 cents.

If we assume shops aren’t sitting on a ton of excess comics that aren’t being sold (and judging by monthly reporting of the estimated number of comics ordered, that’s not the case), the yes the problem shops are facing is that the top 300 comics aren’t bringing in the dollars that they were in 2015. Yes, it really is that simple.

In 2015 the weighted average price for a top 300 comics was $3.96 a 17 cent increase from 2014, while the top 300 comics average price was $3.85 in 2016 which is an 11 cent decrease.

I’m a big fan of Marvel’s comic series What If? and decided with this knowledge to play a little “what if” of my own.

“What If? 2015 Saw the Same Average Weighted Cover Price as 2014?” and the sequel “What If? 2016 Saw the Same Average Weighted Cover Price as 2015?”

Here’s the stats:

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As you can see, there’s a big difference. If 2015’s average price was the same as 2014’s there’d still have been an expansion in dollars sales, though not as much as there was in reality ($15 million less to be precise).

2016 is a totally different world. Instead of being a $8.9 million decrease from the previous year, we actually see dollars in increase by $15.871 million if cover prices remained the same (a $24.771 million swing).

We don’t know how many shops there are in the US, but here’s the possible gains.

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Instead of a loss, stores gained a significant amount of money in this scenario. Now, there is a flaw in this thinking in that most likely the units sold would not have been the same, they’d have likely decreased. But in this scenario, we’re keeping it as if everything else remained unchanged.

While 11 cents might not seem like a lot, you can see how much of a difference that can make. Cover prices do matter, and they matter… A LOT!

Underrated: Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: the Dark Horse Comics’ hardcover collection Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites.


 

beasts of burden animal rites.jpgI’m willing to bet that a lot of you have never heard of this set of stories. Until recently, I hadn’t either.

A few months ago, the proprietor of my Local Comic Shop told me that I should read a hardcover graphic novel called Beasts Of Burden. It was still shrink wrapped, so I had no idea what is was about other than it featured talking cats and dogs, and that it was apparently right up my alley.  It took me almost two weeks before I finally caved and plonked down the $25 for the comic, an another week before I removed the shrink wrapped outer cover.

Upon cracking the cover and reading the small print (I like knowing what issues have been collected…) I found out that Beasts Of Burden Animal Rites collects eight stories from the series first appearance in the Dark Horse Book Of Hauntings released in 2003 to the first four issue miniseries from 2009, and tells the story of the pets of a sleepy neighbourhood called Burden Hill, and the adventures they get up to while their owners are asleep or at work. Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites may look like it’s geared toward a younger audience based on the colourful artwork adorning the pages of the trade, but there’s a distinctly mature feel underpinning the comic as the characters deal with subjects that may surprise you.

There’s more than 150 pages of story in the graphic novel (there may be upwards on 170, but the trade is upstairs and I’m not so I can’t verify the story to bonus materials ratio so I guessed conservatively), and I read them all in a single sitting.

Up until the owner of my LCS recommended the collected edition to me, I had never seen any talk about the series anywhere before, which is a genuine shame because Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites is a fantastic experience. Jill Thompson’s art won three Eisner awards, and it’s easy to see why she received the wins (the collected edition was also nominated for Best Anthology in 2007). Below is a sample from one of the early pages in the collected edition that will give you a feel of how good the artwork is.

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You may notice the Orphan casually licking himself in the bottom left panel; it’s one of the numerous examples of the audience being reminded that these characters may be talking animals, but that they’re not just humans in animal form. Evan Dorkin infuses such personality into these domesticated little fluff bags with his writing, that by the time we get to experience the comic the resultant final product is frankly just phenomenal.

This collection is about as far from my typical comic book reading as you can get – the majority of my weekly reading is made up of spandex and capes – but there’s something refreshing about reading a collection of almost completely standalone stories featuring the same characters. There is some bleed over, and previous events do impact subsequent issues, but for the most part you could have happily read any issue of the series when initially released without reading the previous. This style gives the collection a really rewarding feeling as you go through it; you’ll notice subtleties to the art and writing that may not impact the stories hugely, but certainly add to the enjoyment of those who pick up on them.

Thematically, the stories touch on some very relatable topics, from acceptance, companionship and the need to help others, to the more supernatural side of things. Following the journey of these characters is incredibly rewarding, and at times touching, especially for those of us who have a pet at home (ironically enough my cat is sleeping on my lap as I write this). If you prefer a more typical-to-comics superhero style story, there is still something here for you; the Burden Hill gang feel very much like a classic super team where almost everyone gets along.

There’s genuinely something here for all walks of comic fandom to enjoy.

Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites can be found for between $20-25 at your local comic store, depending on where you are (I’m in Canada and the hardcover cost me $25ish – your LCS may have discounted graphic novels).

So why did I want to spend an entire Underrated talking about Beasts Of Burden: Animal Rites? Because it’s one of the best collected editions that you’ve probably never heard of.  I do not exaggerate when I say this was one of the best hardcover collections I’ve read, and held, in my hands in a long time – both because of the content and the presentation.

And that, my friends, makes it criminally Underrated.

By The Numbers: December 2016

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’s fascinated by the fact that DC has got him interested in a mini event called ‘The Button‘.

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’s undergoing a transformation into a monster which was brought on by the finale of Civil War II.

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!

Full top 300 for December available here!

Glenn: Welcome fellow survivors to 2017!  Times are changing and the future may look uncertain but you can set your watch (mostly) on ‘By The Numbers!’  We’re here to look at how companies fared at the end of 2017 and there’s a lot of interesting launches and news to get through.

This chart is slightly unusual to previous ones we’ve talked about.  In an attempt to maintain their Sith like grip on market share, Marvel has been sending comic shops extra copies they didn’t order.  This bumps up the numbers on Marvel books that may otherwise, be selling less.  How much less and how much this effects the truth behind Marvel’s numbers are open for debate.  The news from retailers on the sales of Marvel’s latest batch of relaunches following Civil War II haven’t been overwhelmingly positive so this could be some serious damage control.
Basically, for lack of a better term, Marvel are cheating.  How much by, is hard to say but it casts a shadow of doubt across their sales so keep that in mind.

Ray: Looking down the charts, I see a lot of suspicious numbers for Marvel. The impact seems to be heaviest when it comes to mid-low level Marvel books that are having their previous orders matched. To be blunt, Marvel is making it very hard to discuss their sales, because it’s impossible to say what’s legit interest, and what’s just astroturf sales. As such, take anything Marvel releases this month (except for #1s and already cancelled series) with a giant lick of salt.

Glenn:  Maybe Marvel is messing with us in particular?  The conspiracy starts here!

Last month not many books cracked 100k but we ended the year with quite a few achieving that.  Right at the top of the chart with the first six figure book (despite the Marvel stuff already mentioned) is DC with the first issue of Justice League vs Suicide Squad with sales of just under 180k.  This taking the top spot should be no surprise since its the first big Rebirth crossover, promises to have some follow up from the Rebirth one shot, leads into the new Justice League book by Steve Orlando and features a lot of big characters punching each other.  It also helps of course the series is drawn by a-lister Jason Fabok and written by one of DC’s hot new writers in Joshua Williamson.  This book has a lot going for it so its placing on issue one is no surprise. What might be seen as a bit of a surprise is the second issue losing 90k in sales and not making the top ten.  I think this is probably an effect of event mini’s seeing over saturation more than anything but if the series can remain there through the rest of its run over the next month or two its another big win for DC.

jl-v-ssRay:  The head-to-head event launches that kick things off are a good illustration of just how much the game has changed in DC’s favor, I think. IvX had close to a year of set-up and is being treated as a full-on event with lots of tie-ins, while JLvsSS is a weekly miniseries with only two titles tying into it. That taken into consideration, JLvsSS winning by 12K is a very strong showing for DC, and should indicate huge numbers for whatever the Snyder/Capullo event come next summer is. The fact that it loses over 50% of its sales with the next issue, though, is a pretty bad indicator for the market as a whole. Maybe event overkill is hitting DC as well as DC? There’s also the weekly pace – this is a pretty big investment DC is asking retailers and readers to make for December and January. Still, given the fast pace, it’s going to come out as an overall hit for DC.

Glenn:  Speaking of events and over saturation, the number 2 book is IVX issue 1 which sells just over 167.7k.  Assume we can take these numbers at face value, that is a lot better than expected and underlines the point we made last month about what point the 0 issues have in these events when they never sell as well but are seemingly the first part of the story.  Its a great launch for the event considering it features one franchise that has seen much better days and another that people barely care about in terms of sell-ability. It’ll be interesting if it can manage a healthy drop.

Ray: The numbers for IvX are pretty much what I was expecting for the first issue – it’s about double the issues of the #0 issue last month, which is roughly what Civil War II did as well. The problem is, Civil War II immediately dropped below the sales of the zero issue with #2, and never recovered. If IvX holds that pattern, the sales for #2 are going to be in the 70K range and it’ll be lucky to finish above 50K. Those are not line-wide event numbers, and launching another hero vs. hero event right after the last one may not have been the best idea. However, the lower initial ceiling may keep the floor a bit higher.

Glenn: Mid 70’s sounds about right for IvX. Marvel are already talking about the next big event coming in a few months so either this isn’t seen as a ‘main’ major tie-in or Marvel are going for multiple big events a year.

Its time for the Bat section of the top ten, to the Batcave!

At number 3 is the slow to come out but still superb selling Dark Knight III which manages over 119k on its 7th issue. Going back to their classics and bringing them back seems to be working well for DC and I expect to see that continue in 2017 and maybe 2018 as another series that is lauded as the original Dark Knight also gradually makes its return to the DC universe proper.

4 and 5 is old reliable Batman selling over 111 and 108k.  Still remarkably stable even if it might be headed out of the 100k club soon. Its place at the higher end of the chart is locked in though and the book seems to always get a bump with a new story which is just around the corner. We also have the recently announced ‘Button’ tie-in between this and Flash which will probably see both series benefit hugely in terms of sales so DC has nothing to worry about that sweet bat milk going dry.

Ray: Essentially, Batman seems to be bulletproof right now. We’ll talk more about another incredibly performing Bat-book in a bit, but DKIII seems to have a hardcore fanbase that barely declines at all, and that bodes very well for DC’s collections. The main Batman title is still by far the top-selling ongoing on the market. The sales are still declining, yeah, but they’re declining roughly in proportion with most other books on the market. It may lose its spot as the only ongoing above 100K in a few months, but it’s not likely to lose its spot near the top of the charts.

5602565-13Glenn: Leaving the cave, we’re back to Marvel and the end of Civil War II at long last at 6 with sales of over 105.6k.  The book managed to sell all in the six figure range which is impressive, even if it didn’t match the success of its predecessor. Taken as its own thing, despite the delays it can be counted as a win but as a line wide event, I think we’ll see the aftershocks of CW II for a long time and not in a good way.

Ray: Yeah, this can best be described as CWII crawling over the line. 105K ending is not good for a mega-event like this at all, and the bigger problem is the toxic reception of the event as a whole. It seems to have been the last straw for a lot of people when it comes to Marvel’s line-wide events, and its new direction has been met with mediocre reception overall.

Glenn: At 7 and having a huge bump is Star Wars back in the top ten with sales of over 104.5k. This book had settled into a decent level but it seems to have come back in force (get it?  get it). Is it Marvel Jedi tricks or is it maybe because of the new story line starring Yoda?  It’s hard to say but impressive at face value.

Ray: I’m not sure what caused this Star Wars bump, but it’s more like what I expected for the #25 issue, which got no bump at all – and then this one promptly jumps 30K. Puzzling. The power of Yoda? This doesn’t seem like the title Marvel would be boosting sales on – it’s one of their healthiest books and doesn’t need to worry about survival.

Glenn: Launching strong at 8 is the other Marvel ongoing, Doctor Aphra which sells over 99k.  Very impressive for an original character but this is no doubt helped by the fact that this is a direct follow on from the Darth Vader series. A lot of fans will flock over here to continue the story and its a decent launch. The book then sinks to 25 with its second issue sales of over 61,4k which is what myself and Ray imagined its level would be. Still very good for a Star Wars character that is very, very new and has never been in any of the films. If Aphra can settle around 55-60k that would be great.

Ray: That’s a bit lower than I would have expected to start for Doctor Aphra, but I suppose the lack of a movie connection caused retailers to be a bit more cautious. The sales for #2 are fairly healthy. I’m seeing this following the pattern pretty closely of a book like Poe Dameron, which this month is at #62 with about 38K. I don’t see Aphra doing better than that in the long run, as Star Wars sales as a whole are declining a bit.

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Glenn: Another surprise in the numbers for Hulk which sells over 89.9k at number 9. This title in fact stars Jennifer Walters aka She-Hulk and since her books with a light hearted tone have never caught on to great effect, they’re seeing if a darker take on the character will work.  The book has a big lead in from Civil War II so I expect that’s the reason for the large issue one order (historically for She-Hulk this is a big number, any other Civil War II launch you might have expected more given how much Jennifer is linked to the fall out of that event).  It won’t stay here of course so we’ll probably have a more realistic picture of the demand of this book very quickly.

Ray: That’s a solid number for Hulk #1, the top-selling Marvel ongoing debut of the month. I’m wondering if it’s simply the “Hulk” effect. Something similar happened with Ironheart’s debut in Invincible Iron Man last month, where it debuted a good deal above the sibling book with Doctor Doom. Totally Awesome Hulk and Infamous Iron Man felt like second-tier books, but these didn’t based on the title. We’ll see if the effect holds – or we won’t, given that the sales books are being cooked.

Glenn: Unless we get more number fiddling next month (and really, we probably will) I’m expecting Hulk to have a hard drop next month. If it can do about 30k though, that would be great for a She-Hulk led title but Marvel might be wanting a little more.

Last book in the top ten is the final part of the first arc of Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman which sells over 87.4k. This is perhaps low for a Snyder Batman title but this is an ongoing that is priced at 4.99 so it was never going to achieve the sales of its parent title (even though two issues of that book cost more than one of All Star). Still selling incredibly well for a book of this price and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight bump next issue for the reunion of Snyder and Jock.

Ray: That’s a pretty hefty slide of 12K for All-Star Batman this month. Also interesting to note that this is the final part of Snyder and Romita Jr’s storyline. After this issue the book becomes an anthology of sorts, featuring 1-2 part stories focusing on individual rogues with guest artists. I think that might drive the sales further down, unfortunately. There’s been hints that this is a one-year project, though, with Snyder saying he has roughly a year of stories to tell. If so, the sales should remain healthy for a $4.99 project till the end.

Walking Dead stays rock solid at #11 with sales of 85K – a 3K slide from last month. It’s perhaps a long shot, but if Batman keeps its slow decline going twice a month, there’s the possibility that Walking Dead could wind up the #1 ongoing on the stands eventually.

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Glenn: Batman will keep enough buzz through mini-events and new stories and such to probably keep it slightly ahead but being more stable than all of Marvel’s regular line and the rest of DC’s line is nothing to sneeze at. Lets not forget how dominant Walking Dead is in collections either.

Ray: Invincible Iron Man, which had a muted debut of under 100K for Riri’s hero debut last month, keeps a surprising amount of those sales, selling 81K in 13th place. On its face, that’s very impressive – or is it? This is the first book where there’s some odd stuff going on with a stronger-than-expected hold. We’ll see if it continues in the following months. If it does, it could be genuine momentum for the character. If not, the sales this month were likely “enhanced”.

Glenn: The double edged sword to the enhanced sales is that we can’t give credit where credit is due. Its impossible to tell if this book held incredibly well or Marvel is performing a big magic show. Given the performance over the past year and usual patterns, the drop seems almost too good to be true. Maybe we’ll get a clearer picture next month, maybe not. Given that their bills are paid by Disney, Marvel could play this game for quite some time.

Ray:  Another strong debut for Hawkeye #1, selling 70K at #16. This is about 2K above the sales of Jeff Lemire’s All-New Hawkeye, which had its sales blunted by being a quickie relaunch of a book that was only one arc in. Kate Bishop has a genuine fanbase that’s followed her through the Clint books and Young Avengers for years now, and the title has good buzz for its first two issues. I think this could be one of those mid-level hits for Marvel that stays healthy for a while.

Glenn: Better than I would have expected for a Hawkeye book not starring Clint but then again, given Fractions run had her very much as a co-lead on his run then this could be seen as a long term way of making a little known character hold their own.  Its probably good for around 30k sales and performing mid tier, just like you said.

Ray: Detective Comics continues to chug along, remaining the most steady book in DC’s stable and one of only three to chart both its issues in the top 20. (Justice League, steady as always, is a few spots up). That’s six Batman issues alone in the top 20 this month, ten if you consider Justice League and JL vs. SS. Clearly, he continues to be the most popular character in comics – and Detective is especially impressive given that it barely drops a thousand copies from issue to issue.

Glenn: Detective’s hold is incredibly impressive. The fact that this book features a lot of characters that don’t seem to be popping up in Batman or All-Star probably helps a lot.  Fans of the larger Bat cast need to buy Detective and considering how closely associated Tynion has been with the franchise the last few years, that’s bound to help also.

Ray: We’ve been waiting so long for a Gamora title that the question was, is anyone still excited? The answer seems to be…kinda? Gamora #1 has solid first-issue sales of 65K at #19. Not bad to start, and the best Guardians debut of the month by a fair margin – but as always, the question is how those sales will hold. A 50% drop for a #2 issue for Marvel is commonplace these days.

Glenn: Decent launch for Gamora and given that its been hyped so much and has a writer with connections to the movie, the launch number is both not surprising in a good way but a little underwhelming. This probably could have seen sales as much as 15k higher or so when the Guardians had their run of major run when the movie came out.   If it can manage to do around the same level as the ongoings, it’ll be good enough. Even though this is a mini, this was the largest debut among a few of Gamora‘s fellow team mate books which is interesting.

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Ray: Avengers #2 has a decent drop from #1, losing only 17K sales to land at #21. This seems to bear out my theory that the problem with the sales last issue was just that retailers were done buying into Marvel’s #1 hype and ordered it with only a small boost. Unless the sales are cooked, of course.

Glenn: We speculated that the sales on Avengers might see a soft drop. Retailers aren’t really playing Marvel’s game any more and we’ve seen more new Avenger number one’s in the last few years than I have honestly lost count. If it can stay here then that’s very good considering how most books at Marvel and DC are doing.

Ray: A nice-sized jump for Guardians of the Galaxy #15, which is the start of Bendis‘ final arc on the title. It more than doubles the sales of #14, landing at #23 with 63K. That’s a massive increase for the arc, which is either an indicator of lots of incentives and the company treating the arc like a new jumping-on point, or…something else. We’ll see next month if any of these new sales are kept, but a relaunch has already been announced for March.

It’s business as usual for the likes of Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Trinity, Nightwing, Harley Quinn, Action Comics, and Teen Titans. All of them stay in the top 50 with (in most cases) two issues apiece, and sell at least 50K in most cases. These books are all pretty healthy and form the core of DC’s non-Batman line (although several of them have Bat-ties). Superman in particular can be said to be a big winner here, with both titles selling well above their previous levels. Nothing much to report here – Rebirth is still a winner for DC.

Glenn: You mentioned on the Stew (dong!) that DC had 25 of the top 50 and half sure ain’t bad. The bi-monthly $2.99 strategy has really worked for titles like Flash, Wonder Woman and the main two Superman books. We might see some major changes to rankings in a few months as was announced today that all the single issue monthly DC comics are going to $3.99. Out of the books you mentioned that could have an impact on Trinity and Teen Titans. There are other books much lower that the price tag will be a death warrant for but I think it’ll hurt the books up here while the bi-weeklies seem to be settling in at their current levels. In theory DC will still come out ahead but they shouldn’t be rocking the boat at this juncture.

Ray: Four new space-related Marvel titles debuted below Gamora this month, and the news is mixed. The highest of them is the relaunch of Rocket Raccoon, which sells 59K at #29. Rocket’s probably got the biggest fanbase of any Guardian, so these are decent numbers – albeit well below the Skottie Young heyday – but this new, darker relaunch doesn’t seem like it’s what the fans are looking for.

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One spot and roughly 1K lower than Rocket is the launch of Nova #1, which continues the trend of pairing OG and replacement hero together in a title. We’ve got Sam Alexander and the newly returned Richard Rider sharing a title, and bringing Richard’s fanbase with it. Nova books tend to debut fairly decently, but then crater in sales. We’ll see if Rider’s presence can help break that pattern.

Glenn: Well below the six figure Young book sold but that was back when Guardian’s fever was at an all time high.  Its an okay issue one launch but if current patterns hold true, the issue two numbers might not be pretty.  I’m curious why Marvel just didn’t wait a few months and launch these books to tie in with the movie.  I suppose they want trades on shelves but there are already plenty of those.

Ray: With Clone Conspiracy and two issues of Wonder Woman between Nova and the next book, we get The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 up next, selling 53K at #34. This is interesting, because it’s a #0 issue for no apparent reason. This isn’t an event book, and this is roughly what I would have expected for the #1 issue. I’m guessing #1 next month does close to the same numbers and it falls off precipitously from there. This character has never caught on sales-wise despite Marvel’s best efforts. Although they’ve put a popular YA author on the title this time, I think the damage done to the character in CWII is going to hurt sales here a lot.

Glenn: So if there was over shipping here then that’s really bad. I’d like to think no as those sales aren’t the strongest anyway. Zero issues seem to have little indication on the demand for the book but the reviews were pretty middling and Captain Marvel is another character who has had a long history of relaunches that retailers will well be over. Might be time to give her a break until the movie, putting a character on a shelf especially after something like Civil War II isn’t a bad thing.

Ray: The lowest-selling Guardians-related title debuting this month is Star-Lord #1, one spot below Captain Marvel with sales of 52K. The past Star-Lord titles have struggled in sales too, since Guardians is Star-Lord’s title and a solo in addition maybe feels a bit superfluous. The good news is, it has Chip Zdarsky and Howard the Duck on board, so I could see this one getting that book’s devoted fanbase and keeping it from falling off a cliff in future months.

Glenn: With Zdarsky on board, I thought there would be more interest, especially since Star Lord is the leader of the team. Of course leaders of teams don’t always get the sales boosts. I still question whether we really need some of the Guardians to have individual titles, interest seems to be drying up.  If this book is to find a cult following as you suggest, it’ll have to do it fast.

Ray: Champions fell off a cliff last month, losing 80% of its first month’s sales. This month, though, it pretty much stays flat, landing at #43 and selling 47K – down only 2K from last month. Time for another round of “genuine momentum or cooked books”! In this case, I think it might be genuine – if Champions was selling much lower than this right away, Marvel would have massive, massive problems.

Glenn: Big drops and then steady waters seem to be the new normal for Marvel if these numbers are to be believed, at least on what books are supposed to be the higher profile ones. There are others we’ll get to where the bleeding just won’t stop. If the numbers are genuine, Marvel are probably sad that its not say…20k higher but extremely grateful they’re not 20k lower.

Ray: Black Panther: World of Wakanda has a fairly gentle slide as well, losing 12K to land at #46 with sales of 45K this month. Acceptable numbers for a Black Panther spin-off – and it’s worth noting, this is actually about 6K above where the main Black Panther title currently is. It won’t keep that, but it seems like Black Panther’s heyday as a megahit for Marvel is over as a whole. It’s settling down into the middle of the pack with their remaining hits.

Glenn: Middle of the pack for Black Panther is still extremely good in historical context but yeah, this spin off will probably be able to sustain itself for 12 issues.  Sometimes getting one character to have one solid hit should just be enough.

Ray: Unfortunately, a fairly harsh slide for the popular Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, which goes from #6 with 96K sales to #50 with 43K sales. That’s…not great, but as an alternate universe side story, it shows there still is some interest in the married version of the character. Worth noting – Superman: Lois and Clark was not a sales hit either at all, and now that status quo has taken over the main Super-books!

portrait_incredibleGlenn:  I’d hoped for a similar story for this that we saw on Spider-Gwen had before some…questionable decisions but awesome Spider family has not caught on the same as awesome female Spider character. Still, its a very good book and I think old school and new school Spidey fans will help keep it here.  Not bad for an out of continuity book if that’s the case.

It’s worth mentioning again that Amazing Spider-Man (number 22 at over 63.3k) outsold Clone Conspiracy (number 31 at over 56k) for another month. Good news for Amazing as it continues to be one of Marvel’s most dependable books with regards to sales but you would have thought that the sales for CC would have been a lot better than what they are. This was also the issue that Slott tried again to tell retailers would have a high demand but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. A lesson will be learned here…hopefully.

Ray: Marvel really screwed up with the Clone Conspiracy promotion. This is one of the best Spider-events Slott has done, with huge implications, but it wasn’t promoted effectively. Maybe this is a product of too many events running at one time? The best of the lot got short shrift.

Glenn: We’ve discussed this in the past but I’d like to reiterate that the past Spidey events Slott has done were all contained in Amazing and saw the book get a huge sales boost that lingered on after the story was done. Hopefully for whatever his next story is, they’ll go back to the strategy that worked.

Second issue of Unworthy Thor performs decently at 36 at over 50.5k. Not bad for a spin off mini but the pairing of Coipel and Aaron would have brought in more eyes one would have thought.  It still outperforms the main Thor book by quite a bit so maybe this is just the ceiling for Thor in the current market?  Again it just tells me that people aren’t going to object too much when the male Thor returns later this year, at least in terms of sales.

Ray: This is pretty close to what I would expect a relaunch featuring Jane Foster to be doing as well. Thor as a whole is a much stronger franchise than it was in the past, thanks to Aaron.

Glenn: I’m sure IDW and DC are happy with the second issue numbers on Batman/Turtles the animated crossover. At 65 with sales over 38.5k that’s very good considering these are not the in continuity versions of these characters and we just had a crossover with them not too long ago. I’m looking forward to the Lego Batman/Lego Turtles team up by end of the year at this pace.

Ray: This is closer to what I expected for an animated crossover like this one, so these are still very strong numbers, I think. The first issue was just abnormally high. IDW has got to be very happy to be in the Batman business right now.

Glenn: Crashing hard after its very puzzling debut is Venom sinking all the way down from its top ten spot last month to 67 with sales over 38k. I still don’t think this is too bad considering it’s not Eddie Brock or Flash Thompson or even Aunt Petunia. If it can hold here, it could warrant survival I think.

Ray: Oof, that is just an awful drop for Venom. Close to 2/3rds of its sales gone right away. Makes me wonder what was up with the sales on the first issue, because there was nothing really driving them and it doesn’t seem like it was genuine interest. Either way, with Marvel not showing much interest in fudging the numbers here, I see this one being gone quicker than the last two Flash Thompson series.

Glenn: The oddly numbered Avenger’s point mini’s second issue sells just one spot below Venom at 68 with sales of over 37.7k.  Taking these numbers at face value, this is probably a little lower than Marvel would have liked but this is a mini set in the past that again doesn’t star one of the better known Avenger’s teams. This was likely green lit because Mark Waid wanted to tell a story with this particular team and for that, these sales are okay if it can maintain it for its run.

The second issue of Ghost Rider also has a better than expected hold on issue 2 with sales of over 37.2k at 72.  Rider has never set the sales chart on fire (ha!  Get it?) but this is decent enough considering his sales history. Again, the key thing is managing to hold onto these post issue one drop numbers. Marvel’s books haven’t been managing it over the last few months but historically, this isn’t too bad for Ghost Rider.

Ray: That’s a roughly 50% drop for Ghost Rider. Not the worst drop, but also not the healthiest. It feels to me like it’s going to drop to the level of the previous title soon enough, even if Marvel is trying to boost the sales with the presence of their new Wolverine and Hulk.

Glenn: Yet another big drop but still decent second issue performance from Thanos which is at 78 with sales of of over 35k. This is a title that will benefit from the critical buzz around what Jeff Lemire is doing, much like Moon Knight. Villain books are always going to have an uphill battle and no matter how many movie cameos he has, Thanos has not got a sales pedigree enough to expect much more.  I very much think the team of Lemire and Deodato are driving interest here and the book will survive as long as they have interest in being on it.

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Ray: This feels like another critically acclaimed 12-issue maxiseries that will slow its decline after the first few issues. Not great numbers, but a softer drop than most of the #1s and Lemire brings a fanbase of his own to books like Moon Knight. If it can settle down around the same level, it’ll be fine.

Glenn: Selling over 33.2k is the Gwenpool holiday special at 81. Very good for a $5.99 that sees the ghost of Hitler teaching the Red Skull the true meaning of Nazi Christmas. No seriously.

Another Merc For Money spin off debuting with less than stellar numbers is Slapstick at 82 with just over 33k.  I don’t think any number fudging is going to help this book last longer than the already silently cancelled Foolkiller and Solo. I’m just wondering to myself how much more life a ‘Deadpool presents‘ precursor would have bought these books…probably not much and I really need to stop giving out ideas like that for free…

Ray: This is actually the top-selling of the new Mercs for Money spinoffs by about 10K, and the only one to debut in the top 100. Slapstick actually does have a small fanbase from his New Warriors days, and that helped. That being said, not nearly enough to keep this healthy for more than five issues. This is a digital-first book, so that might help it as well.

Glenn: I wasn’t aware Slapstick was digital first. That will definitely buy it a little but of time but I don’t think it’ll make it a regular staple in the line.

At just under 33k is Occupy Avengers at 83. When Ghost Rider and Slapstick is outselling a new Avenger’s title (even if its not really one, it still has the name) then you know something went wrong.  I don’t think this one will be hanging around much longer either and will likely never be mentioned again.

Ray: We’ve talked a bit about how the promotion here was all over the place, and this book never really had a chance as a result.

Glenn: Ray mentioned some questionable numbers for Invincible Iron Man and we have the same again at 88 for the third issue of Mosiac which ships over 31.6k. I say shops instead of sells here because that’s just not a realistic number considering patterns on other books and the market as a whole. Will giving retailers extra copies make a difference? I really doubt it. It could end up hurting Marvel because retailers might cut their orders if they’re just going to have extra’s for free.  Will retailers take that gamble?  Hard to say but I still don’t expect Mosiac to last long, no matter what the numbers say, the book still needs to make money.

Ray: To put this into perspective, Marvel is claiming that Mosaic has dropped only about 10% from issues #1 to #3. To say that this is unrealistic is putting it lightly. No book has ever performed like this – even the rock-solid Vision had a few heavy drops right away and then settled into a groove in the 20K range. Far more likely is that Marvel put a lot of faith into this property, and they need to save face for a few months.

Glenn: The strategy is clearly that by giving extra copies it’ll mean it makes the book more visible and gets more genuine buys. I don’t think that strategy will hold for Mosiac and no matter what the numbers show, if the book isn’t making money on genuine numbers sold then it won’t be around for long.

Ray: The Doctor Strange/Punisher random team-up mini “Magic Bullets” debuts at #90 with sales of 31K. Given that this is essentially a burnoff mini without a name creative team at $4.99, that’s decent. Both characters are sort of riding a hot streak at the moment.

Glenn: Yeah, both had good years last year on movies and Netflix respectively and both are experiencing popular runs.  It’ll be here one minute gone the next so these are good sales for that type of thing, especially for $4.99.

Ray: Speaking of odd team-ups, the Dynamite crossover Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman debuts with sales of 29K, at 97. Dynamite very rarely charts in the top 100 at all, so this is a big win for them. Crossover fever continues for DC, but there may be some diminishing returns, as we’ll see in a bit.

Glenn:  It’ll probably depend on the crossover and the creators involved. I’m expecting Batman/Shadow by Snyder/Orlando to be pretty big despite the Shadow not exactly being as high profile as say, the turtles.  I think this mini’s sales are a lot more to do with Wonder Woman who could be having her biggest year ever in 2017.

Ray: DC recently announced that they’d be moving their monthly titles to $3.99. I don’t think that’s a good idea at all, because except for a few (Titans, Teen Titans, Trinity) all their monthly titles are their lowest selling. This month, the only books DC has out of the top 100 are Hellblazer, Superwoman, New Superman, Blue Beetle, and two issues of Cyborg (now DC’s lowest-selling title, and going monthly next month). Supergirl and the two Batgirl books aren’t far above them. The last thing any of these books need is a price hike, and I expect a lot of them to suffer in sales and be gone by 12.

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Glenn: Even the ones that are doing better may suffer. It’ll be interesting to see and what the strategy is for books like Supergirl who DC will want to keep a part of the line despite her numbers. Its still doing about 5k (just over 31k at 92) better than the previous run but the $3.99 price hike could eat into that as people possibly switch to trades.  On the Stew you mentioned maybe making the book bi-monthly which I think could work following a big enough push from a larger story line.  Maybe they should have Kara adopt Bubastis for a few issues?

Ray: At #102, we have Seven to Eternity selling 25.7K. This is mostly significant because this Rick Remender Image book has essentially locked down here, losing only a few hundred units from last month. Much like Black Hammer, we’ve got a book that’s clearly clicked with the audience and retailers are very secure in its month-to-month performance.

Glenn: Much like a lot of former big name Marvel people, Remender has built himself a solid fanbase. Retailers will know the demand for the monthlies and not have much risk factor. Remender seems to be on a hot streak with regards to critical acclaim for his indie work so he’s just got that reputation that will buy his books regardless.

Ray: The DC Rebirth Holiday Special sells 23K at #106. Disappointing compared to things like the recent Batman Annual (and in no world does it deserve to sell less than the Gwenpool Holiday Special), but given that this was a $9.99 book, these are decent numbers.

Glenn: Given this had more Paul Dini writing Harley and some really big names involved, I’m surprised it didn’t do more. I’m sad it lost out to Gwenpool too, I didn’t read that holiday annual but I have a hard time imagining it was better than this one.

Ray: AD: After Death loses less than 1/3rd of its sales for its second issue, clocking in at #109 with sales of close to 21.8K. We talked last month about how the unusual roll-out may have blunted initial sales a bit, and that pattern continues here. I still think this book will find a much bigger audience when it’s collected as an OGN like it was originally intended, so these sales can essentially be seen as a bonus.

Glenn: Incredibly solid which we speculated on and yeah…these singles are just icing on the cake.  The collection will be something that sells well for a long time, especially when the rumoured movie adaption comes out. I’ve been enjoying it a hell of a lot but its very different and that can put off a lot of people in terms of a single issue $5.99 comic (no matter how big it is) but book shops and comic retailers will lap up the collection.

Ray: The Batgirl team of Fletcher, Stewart, and Tarr has a strong Image debut with Motor Crush, landing at #110 with sales of 21.8K. This creative team is more of a cult favorite, so a debut of over 20K for an Image book with no A-list name on board is definitely a win for them.

Glenn: Their Batgirl run had a small but dedicated fan base that has probably followed them over to their own properties. Definitely great numbers for a group of creators that didn’t spend as long establishing themselves at a bigger company like most big name Image people did.

Ray:  It’s been a while since DC did Prestige Format comics, which were much more popular in the ’90s. The offbeat Supergirl origin story “Being Super” (by the same writer as Hulk, actually) manages to sell just under 21.5K at #111. Given that it’s $5.99, in an unconventional format, and is out-of-continuity, these are decent numbers, although it seems DC has yet to find the Supergirl book that will break out for them.

Glenn: This seems again to try to find the audience that watches the show but its an expensive book (although it offers a good sized read for the price) and I expect it to do better in collections. Still not too bad at this price considering it doesn’t matter to the overall current narrative of Supergirl.

Ray: Talking about crossovers and potential crossover fatigue, the sequel to Star Trek/Green Lantern for IDW has a disappointing debut, landing at #115 with sales of 20.8K. Not bad for IDW, but this is fairly close to where the last series ended. Retailers essentially treated it like a straight continuation with little boost. Makes me wonder how other crossovers will do in coming months, like GL/Planet of the Apes from BOOM!.

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Glenn: Going back to do more than one crossover across companies is risky.  The novelty is great at first but the more you do it, the less special it seems. IDW also doesn’t have the scope DC has and they’re taking their turn at publishing this one so a drop was to be expected. Still good numbers if you consider it against IDW’s usual offerings but I doubt they’ll go for a Vol. 3.

Ray: Standard numbers for Injustice: Ground Zero, which debuts this month with sales of 17.5K at #134. It loses 4K the same month for its second issue as it tumbled to #158. DC didn’t put much into promoting this bridge miniseries, so if there’s a bounce for this series, it’ll come with the official launch of Injustice 2 later this year.

Glenn: This is a mini focusing just on Harley, right?  DC are putting a lot of chips on Harley at the moment and considering this is a video game tie-in there’s going to be a different scale of what its sales potential is. Considering DC have been managing to crank out a video game adaption for five years and still have a 15k audience is not too shabby. Like you said, the sales will push up with the release of the games sequel tie-in but it’ll probably have a much faster fall than the first game tie-in did.

Ray: The Power Man and Iron Fist: Sweet Christmas Annual (amazing title) lands just about the level of the parent title, selling exactly 55 copies more. That would be great news for an annual…except that the parent series is selling about 17K right now. There’s a new Defenders series coming soon with the two main characters in it, and I expect to see this book end to make way, unfortunately.

The third Divinity miniseries, Stalinverse, debuts at #141 with sales of just under 15K for Valiant, their top-selling book this month. Decent numbers, but I don’t think Valiant promoted this event nearly as much as their past ones like Armor Hunters or Harbinger Wars. As such, it didn’t get the big first issue sales those did, despite the fact that it’ll be releasing tie-ins for a few months. One of those tie-ins is much further down the charts.

Doom Patrol doesn’t ship this month, but the other Young Animal books are still finding their level. Mother Panic‘s second issue lands at #126 with sales of 18K, a rather steep decline. Cave Carson‘s third issue charts at #145 with sales of 15K, and Shade the Changing Girl‘s 3rd issue is about 1K lower at #151. These are all critically acclaimed books, but these sales are looking rather Vertigo-esque quickly. If they level off quickly a la Vision, they’ll be fine, but if not…

Glenn: So yeah, the Young Animal books are needing the stablize soon for sure. They’re still doing better than I think they would have done otherwise and its interesting they’re kind of all grouped together. I still think that when it returns, Doom Patrol will have a sizable lead as its the ‘main’ book but DC will be happy with these numbers as long as they stop dropping right about now.

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Ray:  As we reach the halfway point of the charts, there’s a new Locke and Key one-shot from IDW, “Small World”, which lands at #146 with sales of just over 15K. At this point, retailers probably know who their Locke and Key fans are, so I imagine a surprise sequel like this would get low orders that would be very likely to sell well.

Glenn: Locke & Key seems to have a lot of mainstream appeal so people will buy the HC version to go along with their other Locke & Key collections. Its always interesting to see a property go back after the main story is told and try to tell a different story in the same universe. It usually only works if the main creators return and this is about what the audience was for the brilliant series of mini’s was when they were coming out.

Another new Transformers book from IDW in Optimus Prime at 153 with sales of over 14.3k. I would have expected a little more for a book starring the best known Transformers character there is but these books always have a finite but very loyal audience. I’ve joked in the past how often we see new Transformers books in the chart but clearly people are willing to buy all of them because otherwise, IDW wouldn’t bother.

Ray: Those numbers for Optimus Prime and below it, GI Joe are pretty standard for what IDW does these days. There was a time in the past when their Transformers titles were top sellers, but now they’ve just slipped into this comfortable groove. We’ve talked a bit on Rabbitt Stew (ding!) about how IDW is very steady and seems to work based on selling a lot of books to a loyal audience rather than having a single big hit.

Glenn: Spider-Woman and Thunderbolts are at 155 and 156 selling just over 14.2k and are outsold by Scooby-Doo Team Up which is not the crazy post apocalyptic adaption of the Scooby Gang but a comic with the tone of the cartoon that started over 45 years ago. I don’t think these books will be around much longer and there’s still Marvel books lower than this.

Ray: I’m expecting both of those books to just end at some point, along with Scarlet Witch and a few others. Squadron Supreme just ended this past week with zero fanfare, so that seems to be Marvel’s latest MO. Spider-Woman might get a relaunch at some point, but Thunderbolts has fallen much faster and likely won’t be so lucky.

Glenn: The Thunderbolts franchise really peaked with the Ellis run and has not seen the same amount of fanfare since. Back in the day, Thunderbolts was a very different and interesting premise but I think it might be time to let it rest.

Prowler is one of those aforementioned ‘unlucky’ books at 159 selling just over 13.3k. This is still a Clone Conspiracy tie in so the sales without that are hard to imagine. I’m expecting this to be silently turned into a Clone Conspiracy tie-in mini and never mentioned again.

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Ray: Man, Prowler…I guess it’s clear that Marvel isn’t goosing the sales on this one. A Prowler series was never going to sell well, but given how it spins directly out of the lead-in to Clone Conspiracy, Marvel had to be hoping for a bit more. I agree that this will likely end with Clone Conspiracy. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it missing from the April solicits.

Glenn: A new GI Joe book launches from IDW at 162 with sales just under 13k, Go Joe!  I would say that retailers will know what fans they have coming in that will want the blast of nostalgia that this book offers. There’s a lot of books from IDW that are raiding old toy boxes for new books, they’re probably just expecting them to find a small but dedicated nostalgic audience, there won’t be any new generation fans wanting these.

Ray: Much like with IDW, this is pretty standard numbers for their Aliens and Predator books. Dark Horse still has a few decent licensed properties to keep them afloat, like these two plus their Whedonverse books, but their future is probably more in finding more buzz-worthy books like Black Hammer.

Glenn: On that there’s a new Alien vs Predator book from Dark Horse as they take advantage of two of the popular franchises they have left.  This sells over 12.8k at 164 which is probably what the company would expect since these two fighting each other is no longer a novelty. I’m sure Dark Horse will be hoping Alien: Covenant is a hit so they can earn some money from their massive Alien back catalog which this will soon be a part of.

A new book starring the regular villain of Riverdale Reggie and Me debuts at 172 with sales just over 11.7k.  A lot of the initial excitement from the major Archie relaunch a few years ago has died off. The main book still performs very handsomely in retrospect (its at 169 with 12.4 sales at 15 issues) but with debut numbers like these, it doesn’t inspire confidence. Perhaps Archie is banking on new people coming in to buy their various books featuring characters from the upcoming Riverdale TV show but I’m not sure if that will happen.

Ray: We’ve talked a bit about how Archie may be expanding too fast and hurting their long-range prospects. The fact that this spin-off’s first issue debuted below the 15th issue of the main title is a good example of this. Reggie isn’t a character who could consistently carry a series before, and that hasn’t changed. I don’t think the prospects are great for Archie’s “pilot season” books in March, based on this.

Glenn: The pilot season books are a little outside the norm also, very much going against the more ‘realistic’ image that the company was going for when they had the initial relaunch. I don’t think many people will be interested in what the pilot season has to offer and if they aren’t, it might be time for Archie to start to scale back.

Down at 174 is the second issue of the already cancelled Foolkiller with sales of over 11.4k. At least it can be proud its not as bad as some other books below it.

Very decent number for the Klaus & Witch Of Winter one shot at 179 with sales at exactly 10.8k.  Its from BOOM! and is priced at $7.99 so I would consider this a great number. The Klaus mini Morrison completed seemingly had a lot of fans that would like to see more from the characters.

Ray: Klaus was a definite hit for BOOM! when it came out, and I think this bonus story did well for the price tag. It’s going to be included in the eventual Klaus hardcover, which will do very well, so these sales are just a bonus on top of that.

Glenn: The prestige $5.99 mini with the awesome title Deadman: Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love sells just over 10.2k.  Not great but its Deadman and its $5.99. I wonder if it would have done much better if it had been included in the Young Animal line.

Ray: This was originally announced as a six-issue miniseries before it became a double-sized three-issue prestige format mini, so that’s probably driving the sales down a bit just like it did with AD. This book definitely has more of a Vertigo/Young Animal vibe, so I think DC might have misfired a little on how they promoted it.

Glenn: Second issue of Harbinger: Renigade has the typical small but solid Valient hold at 184 with sales just over 10.1k

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The all ages Super Powers from DC second issue drops a fair bit down to 185 with sales just over 10k. It’s primarily seen as a younger readers book so its going to always have a lower sales potential.  Back in the day these were known as ‘Johnny DC‘ but I don’t think that’s a thing anymore.  Given that Scooby Doo is targeted at the same audience and is doing a lot better might indicate this book won’t last long. It’s sometimes hard to judge with books like this.

Ray: Super Powers is a six-issue miniseries, actually, and these numbers are more like what I was expecting from a new Baltazar/Franco miniseries. The first issue numbers were abnormally high, and these books always do most of their business in collections.

Glenn: If Super Powers is only a mini then that makes the numbers a bit easier to swallow. It’ll definitely make a good bit of change in collection form when parents are looking to brainwa…erm, get their kids reading comics.

A new Image book, Rockstars debuts at 186 with sales at just over 10k too. About what you can expect from an Image book with no major creators of note attached.

Ray: Yeah, Joe Harris‘ past books have always struggled a bit in sales. This title debuting in the five-digit range can probably be considered a win here.

Glenn: At 188 is the Nerdblock Inhumans special edition which sells 10k flat. I know Nerdblock is similar to Lootcrate so I guess this comic was produced just for that? The sales don’t probably matter in the larger scheme of things as its part of a group of products paid for by Nerdblock so its likely a ‘demand only’ comic that the main company (in this case Marvel) loses much on. There is a price though so maybe this is a reprint of a Nerdblock thing? I have no clue. I could Google it but its the Inhumans so I don’t really care enough to.

Ray: This is the first I’ve heard of Nerdblock, which is interesting. When LootCrate did an original Harley Quinn one shot, it didn’t chart at all. So consider me puzzled as well on this one.

Glenn: Second Transformers launch this month from IDW in More Than Meets The Eye: Revolution which ties into that big 80’sfest event. It sells just under 10k. Probably more appealing to people who are following that event rather than the usual Transformer fanbase. I doubt the hardcore fans that are buying Optimus Prime and such will be interested in a larger event starring other toy based cartoon adaptions. Pretty standard for this square into a triangle type crossover.

Decent hold for Terry Moore’s Motor Girl selling 8.8k at 195. Much like a lot of small press creators, retailers will know who wants this comic and will likely have very few unsold copies as a result. Very decent number for something that is very, very small press and shows how much of a fanbase Moore has gotten over the years.

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Ray:  We should mention Black Hammer again, which once again seems locked down at the 12K range. It only sheds about 600 copies from last month as it settles in at 170. This is clearly the biggest hit Dark Horse has had in a while, and well deserved.

Glenn: Solid as a rock for Black Hammer which shows what genuine critical praise can do for a title.  I wonder if we’ll see the bleed stop all together or maybe after the first trade, we’ll start to see it creep up a bit?

Ray: Zenoscope’s got a new #1 for their ongoing Grimm Fairy Tales series, selling 8.7K at #197. Apparently there’s still a market for Zenoscope’s brand of edgy, sexy fairy tale retellings, but I think it’ll resume it’s standard place at the bottom of the charts once this #1 boost wears off.

Glenn: It’s rare Zenescope charts anymore but they seem to still manage to catch some interest with their new number one’s cause they’re basically doing this…but with comics

Ray: So, anyone wondering just how low Solo can go before it’s done? Well, this issue the answer is #213 with sales of just over 8.1K! Insert the Arrested Development “I don’t know what I was expecting” image here. Marvel’s attempts to make these characters happen was doomed from minute one, but even I wasn’t expecting this spectacular a failure.

Keeping up on what’s left of Vertigo, their top-selling book this month is Lucifer, selling 7.7K at #218. Several of Vertigo’s other books, like Unfollow and Clean Room (although that has been promised a season two) are ending in April, so the slow folding of the line continues.

Glenn: We were also promised more Prez so…but I do expect Clean Room and Sheriff Of Babylon to return but I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t through Vertigo…

Ray: The first spin-off for Divinity III: Komander Bloodshot, charts at 223 with sales of 7.3K. This is right in line with the current arc of Lemire’s Bloodshot run, Bloodshot USA, so these are pretty solid numbers by Valiant standards. Divinity III is definitely not being treated like an event by retailers, though.

Glenn: It’s hard for small press to get people to buy into events when the bigger companies have more bells and whistles attached to theirs. People can only afford to buy in to so many events so there’s naturally going to be more demand for a Marvel or DC event than anything starring the Valiant universe. Still, like you said the small but solid fanbase they have does show a little support.

Ray: Dark Horse’s latest Richard Corben miniseries, Shadows on the Grave, does typical numbers for a niche book like this, charting at #224 with sales of 7.3K. Much like other cult creators, Corben has a loyal audience and retailers likely know exactly who they’re ordering for here.

IDW treats most of their licensed properties like franchises, doing spinoffs as soon as possible. That includes Jem and the Holograms, and this month their villains get the focus. The Misfits debut at #227 with sales of 7.2K, which is acceptable for a cartoon spin-off, and about 700 copies above where the parent book sold last month.

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Glenn: Considering what that book is…that’s not bad at all. I mean who would have thought there would be enough Jem fans to warrant another buy in on a separate book?  This has likely been pushed out by IDW knowing who is going to be wanting it so they’re probably getting what they expect from it

Ray: Both All-Star Batman and Batman/TMNT Adventures chart again this month, with a director’s cut and a reprint respectively selling in the 6K range. The power of Batman!

One of BOOM!/Archaia’s less known publishing ventures has been their stories set in the world of Jim Henson’s creations. They’ve just launched a new anthology focusing on giants, and it sells 6.3K at #235. These books have never done strong numbers in the direct market, but Boom seems to have faith in the line, so I’m guessing they’re geared towards the bookstore market.

Glenn: There seems to be a large bookstore market for comics starring the muppets and such, probably to market towards younger readers. The logic for those books might apply here for younger people and for the dedicated cult following Henson studio films like Labyrinth and Dark Crystal have.

Ray: John Arcudi’s new Dark Horse prison thriller Dead Inside lands at #245 with sales of 5.8K for its first issue. Not good, clearly, but this seems to be the standard level for new Dark Horse originals without any top creators or established fanbases attached.

Glenn: Yeah, Dark Horse don’t have the pull they did to encourage people to try out new books by people they don’t know. At least they’re taking chances with unknown properties, probably hoping that they catch lightning in a bottle somewhere.

Ray: At #246 is Vigilante: Southland, selling 5.8K, which is shockingly poor numbers for a main line DC book. So poor, in fact, that DC apparently canned the series midway through its run. This is its final issue and it’ll only be concluded in collections, apparently. There were a lot of behind-the-scenes issues with this book, including the fact that it was solicited as a regular DC book but is actually a mature readers title. Look, DC screws up too once in a while!

Glenn: Disastrous for Vigilante and shows that although DC has gone to a lot of effort to improve a lot of things, they can fall back on some bad habits. This was likely green lighted to take advantage of the character appearing on Arrow but I doubt fans of the TV show will be watching going ‘I need a comic of this guy in my life!’

Right below poor Vigilante is a new book from Avatar press (who I didn’t know were still going so there you go) in Uber Invasion with sales of 5.7k.  Given this is written by Kieron Gillen I thought there would be a lot more interest. The guy has been a top name at Marvel and has a steady Image following on his books there so you would have thought this would have been good for at least 10k more on his name alone.  Not sure what happened here.

Even the X-Files get a Christmas special with sales just under 5.3k at 256. Given that this is another mega priced special ($7.99 here) and the main X-Files audience are picking up the comic anyway, it was hard to imagine it doing much better.

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Speaking of comics priced at $7.99, the Stephen Universe special from BOOM! charts at 260 with sales just over 5.2k. This is for purely dedicated fans only and I’m sure retailers knew that.

Ray: BOOM!’s cartoon-based books are sort of niche titles, and they all seem to do roughly in the same range. This was another oversized special with a $7.99 price tag – seems to be a lot of those this month – so these low numbers aren’t a surprise.

Glenn: Remember that A Year Of Marvels comic a few months ago that sold dismally? Here’s another one, seemingly showcasing the X-Men based on the title selling also just over 5.2k at 261. A regular Marvel universe comic that features characters people know selling down here is just astonishing. I have to wonder what the point in doing any more of these is.

Ray: The characters here were Kate Bishop and Punisher, both fairly popular. That likely accounts for the slight – very slight – increase from the previous installment, but Marvel should probably not be counting on any further forays in the anthology genre.

Glenn: Lowish sales from a new Valiant title in Harbinger Renegade selling just over 5.1k at 266 seemingly not capturing the attention of Valiants usual fans. I’m not too familiar with their output but perhaps Ray you can tell us what might have put people off this one?

Ray: This is actually a reprint of the first issue of Harbinger: Renegade from last month, which did over 20K then. This has been one of Valiant’s stronger performers all around, as it’s rare to see a Valiant book re-chart the following month like Marvel and DC books do.

Glenn: Shows how much I pay attention.

A new Green Hornet title from Dynamite debuts at at 287 with sales over 4.3k.  Its the Green Hornet and its Dynamite so the sales are never going to really be up to much.

An unusual book from Titan at 291 in Hookjaw, a rare original property (I think) from the company that sells just over 4.2k. There are no names I recognize here and Titan is very much known as an existing property company, not something to publish an IP through. They just don’t have any access to that market that Image and others have well locked down.

Ray: Hookjaw appears to be an environmentalist comic starring a shark. No, really. The shark is the hero and eats polluters. This is now my favorite thing ever and that comic is going up in sales by one!

Glenn: Last at 300 is another holiday special celebrating the New Year in Zombie Tramp New Years Special selling just under 4k. This sells about 150 copies less than the regular Zombie Tramp title at 294 showing that the audience for this book is pretty loyal. I’m sure this company is just thrilled to see their book chart at all.

Ray: Good ol’ Zombie Tramp. Worth noting that this may be the first time in a while that the #300 comic sells under 4K copies. That’s kind of depressing – and also illustrates just how shockingly low books like Unfollow, Backstagers, and Namesake – all worthy titles – have sunk to be below this level.

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Glenn: Next month should be interesting with the continuation of IvX, the launch of Monsters Unleased and we’ll see if Marvel continues their sales games. I’m going to wager ‘most likely’ but we’ll see.Ray: January is going to be a chaotic month to start the year. Marvel’s got two events going at the same time, and it’ll be interesting to see if the hype for Monsters Unleashed pays off. I’m guessing high sales for the primary mini, while the tie-ins go mostly ignored. We’ve also got the likely #1 book of the month, U.S.Avengers, which shipped with 55 covers – and will then likely lose 90% of its sales in the same month. There’s also launches for The Unstoppable Wasp, plus a weird little mini called Deadpool the Duck. There’s also the final act of Civil War II, a one-shot called “The Oath“, which serves as a bridge between CWII and their next big event.

DC is far from taking the month off, though. In addition to four more issues of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, there’s the four Steve Orlando one-shots leading into Justice League of America the following month, all of which have been critically acclaimed. There’ll also be a new Captain Atom mini, a flashback tale featuring the Amazons, the first meeting between Batman ’66 and Wonder Woman ’77, and most significantly, a big-scale Justice League/Power Rangers crossover mini which may do similar numbers to the Batman/TMNT crossover last year.

Image has got a few major debuts coming this month as well. The two most-hyped are probably Donny Cates’ rural mythology epic God Country, which has debuted to some of the best critical reception for an Image book in some time, and Charles Soule’s Curse Words, an offbeat magic-based adventure. There’s also Jason Latour’s hard-boiled crime thriller Loose Ends and Sean Lewis’ The Few from Image, the launch of the new feminist fantasy adventure Ladycastle from BOOM!, a new launch for Red Sonja, and a giant-sized special from Black Hammer!

Like what you read?  Any questions or comments?  Let us know here or on Twitter @glenn_matchett and @RayGoldfield

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