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In which I look at some August direct market sales figures of books I’m reading, and I fret and stew a bit. This is a long ramble that is informed mostly by me reading a lot of discussion and articles at Comic Book Resources, so, I am no expert. Corrections welcome!



(Quick reminder, ‘direct market’ is code for Diamond, the distributing company the distributes comics to comic book stores in North America. I nabbed the numbers here from CBR. These figures do not include subscriptions, digital sales, or certain other sales like Amazon and Barnes & Noble that are mostly more relevant to sale of trades than of individual issues. I don’t believe they include sales outside of North America, either.

Basically, these numbers are much more useful to consider relative to each other than as an absolute measure of sales. At a very rough estimate, anything consistently doing 60k or above in the direct market after 10 issues – or even 3-4 issues - is doing quite well in today’s market; anything from a major publisher that’s fallen under 30k may be in trouble.

That said, even as relative measures these aren’t perfect predictors of sales; there’s nothing to say Comixology sales are proportional to comic book store sales. Specifically, a lot of people are suggesting that more of the female reader market buys digital, which would mean that titles with a larger female readership are underrepresented here, although by how much, we don’t know enough to say.)



I’m not reading Guardians of the Galaxy, but hey, it’s doing Quite Well according to my rough and dirty definition, and I’m including it because I had a conversation with the gal at my local comic store who said that sales for this and for the Rocket Raccoon solo had skyrocketed after the movie came out, which made me very happy indeed. She added that movies like Captain America don’t seem to affect sales much, because everyone already knows Captain America, but she sees movies for less well-known properties – she gave me another example, but I’ve forgotten it – driving a lot more sales. Basically, yay, comics evangelism. (She was in fact completely out of both issues of Rocket Raccoon, or I would have bought it.)

Saga is still holding steady. W00t, Saga. It’s been sitting happily in the 55k range for a while now and doesn’t seem inclined to go anywhere, despite the fact that this latest six-issue arc has been, erm, a little slow? So, good work team. The trades are doing great business, too.

X-Men was only ever good because Oliver Coipel drew three issues of it, and it has been a disaster basically ever since. I honestly don’t know enough about these things to say why it’s still in the top 60 after 18 issues, unless it’s just that people are still invested in the premise. Yay for that, I guess?

Ms. Marvel! Is delightful! I’m a little dismayed its sales are still dropping at the rate of almost 9% an issue; I’d hoped it would level out by now.

The Wicked and the Divine is an Image title, which makes it a creator-owned property and therefore not under the same kinds of constraints Marvel titles are. If I understand correctly, basically Image titles keep going for as long as the creators are willing to continue to work for the payment afforded by the sales, and that payment is likely going to be higher than for a Marvel title selling the same number of issues, because the creators own their own work. So this book is selling at less than 30k but is in fact doing just fine, especially since comparing the #2 to #3 sales figures suggests that it seems to have already leveled out after only three issues, which is fantastic.

It’s the Storm numbers that really bum me out. 25k on only the second issue? That is not good, because history says that sales are going to continue to fall from here on out. (As do the vast majority of comics in today’s market, FYI, with a very few exceptions like Hawkeye that see sales go up based on word of mouth. This is presumably why it seems like Marvel relaunches a title every fifteen issues these days; the longer the title goes, the lower the sales.) I have really loved the first two issues and want this comic (with this creative team) to go on for a long, long time. If you take away only one thing from this long rambly numbers examination, it should be: BUY THE STORM SOLO.

The Mighty Avengers numbers are not great, but I am sanguine, because it only has one issue left in this run and is then going to get relaunched in a couple of months as Captain America and the Mighty Avengers with the same author, a new artist (aka NOT GREG LAND), and a whole lot more fanfare.

X-Force: also not doing great. I’m not surprised; Spurrier is a clever writer doing clever and interesting things, but he is not the easiest to follow if you just drop into the middle of an arc (or, let’s be honest, at the beginning of an arc), and maybe more importantly, the art on this book is really ugly. Really, remarkably, stupendously ugly in ways surpassing the usual ugliness of bad comics art. (To be fair, this opinion is not universal.)

Lazarus! Another Image title that is doing fine, although obviously not as fine as Saga or The Wicked and the Divine. Still, may Rucka write it for many issues to come.

Bleeding Cool has it that Elektra’s on the chopping block, and with numbers like these it’s not hard to see why. Marvel titles selling at less than 20k are pretty much toast. It’s too bad, because Mike del Mundo is doing some just fantastic things with the art, but unfortunately the writing has left me pretty cold. This needed Hawkeye levels of writing brilliance and subsequent word of mouth to get it very far, IMO.

I’m not up to date on Red Sonja, but I grab a few issues from Comixology every so often when they’re on sale. I have no idea how Dynamite’s metric for cancellation compares to Marvel’s, but given these numbers, one presumes their cut-off is a lot lower.



Resources, in case you’re interested in where I read about this stuff: CBR publishes monthly sales figures. Also included at that link are the Mayo Reports, where John Mayo makes observations and picks apart trends. Sometimes there are graphs! I’m also a fan of Tilting at Windmills, Brian Hibbs’ mostly-monthly column about his experiences owning and running a comic store. The forum discussions attached to those articles and columns can also be illuminating.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
inboots
Sep. 11th, 2014 07:08 pm (UTC)
that storm drop is brutal. maybe they should have gone the 2.99 route.
snickfic
Sep. 11th, 2014 10:21 pm (UTC)
It couldn't have hurt. They have hardly any 2.99 books these days, though.

I really am confused, though. I thought Storm #1 was really solid, heartwarming, had some forward momentum, was gorgeous - I don't get it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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