Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Comics Inventory Control Observations 

Marvel seems to be forgetting that a "new #1" is not only a good point for new readers to pick up a comic, but for old readers to drop it. Case in point: Captain America #1, which, given that it's Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, is actually a pretty good comic, despite the fact that's it's, y'know, Captain America, and like Thor and Iron Man, I've never had any interest in the character at all. I mean, maybe if they wrote him as a sly satire of jingoism and unthinking "patriotism" I would be interested, but that's unlikely to ever happen. In any case, this latest release seem to have lost more readers than it's gained, so it's a net loss of readership overall.
In contrast, the new Iron Man has been a very strong seller. The Iron Man fans didn't drop it, the Warren Ellis fans picked it up, and good word-of-mouth has prompted lots of other people to pick it up.
Another point about these relaunches that Marvel seems to be forgetting is that the general public (i.e., just about everyone else in the world) is not aware of the politics and economics of comics publishing, so they see "#1" in big letters on the latest issue of Captain America and they get confused, because as far as they know, Cap comics have been continually published for years and years.

Sales on Gemstone's Disney comics seem to be slowly trending up, and that's sales to kids, not collectors (though the number of adult collectors interested in Disney material would surprise's not necessarily the usual suspects buying them. I was asked about a new edition of Don Rosa's "Life of Scrooge McDuck" series from a customer I would have never expected to be interested in Disney books, given the kinds of thing he usually buys). On the other hand, sales on DC's kids line seem to be dwindling. The most recent two issues of Powerpuff Girls, usually right behind Teen Titans Go as our best-selling kids book were terrible. If this $2.95 price point stays on the books, I'd expect sales to decline even more. $2.25 is seen as just about reasonable for parents, who probably spent less than $1 on a comic the last time they bought them for themselves...$2.95 for a flimsy paper pamphlet is a bit much.

Variant covers: I'm noticing that for the most part people are ignoring them. They're buying just the cover they like. Which means strong sales on one cover, and lots and lots of extra copies of the other cover. Superman/Batman #13 is a great example of this trend. That Supergirl cover, despite what you may think of Turner's talent as an artist, was a nice, iconic image of Supergirl. It's sold very fast, and we probably only have a few left. The other cover, a muddy brown collage shot of Supes, Bats, and D. Seid is just sitting there, stinking up the shelves.

Intimates has sold very well, but I want to see what the second and third issue do before I declare it a success. I'm guessing that the style of the book may grate on people's nerves before too long.

Ocean has so far sold much better than any of those three-issue minis Ellis did for Wildstorm recently. Make of that what you will.

We appear to have not sold a single copy of Spider-Man: India. I'm not terribly surprised.

IDW books are selling like Image and Marvel books. And by that I mean, any copies we do sell, we only sell during the first four days of the book's release.

Reprints: Identity Crisis is still picking up new readers. Yes, some people are buying the reprints, but the vast bulk of sales on the reprints and back-issues have been people hearing about the book from friends or reading reviews and wanting to check it out. A lot of people who don't normally buy many DC books are picking it up as well. In contrast, these latest reprints of Secret War aren't selling. We seem to have hit the wall on sales on that title. Of course, if we'd had a current issue to sell alongside the reprints, that might have been a different story...

Oh, and Humankind has proven a strong seller for us as well. I can only bring myself to look at it in small doses, but it looks utterly and absolutely like every other book Top Cow has ever published, so I can't imagine why it's got so much appeal when the rest of Top Cow's line has been trending down for months.

Speaking of Top Cow's sales, the two year wait between issues of Rising Stars has killed sales on it dead.

Antarctic Press is also on a strong, downward sales trend, with the sole exceptions of Gold Digger and Neotopia, which sell to a small, cult-audience. If I had to hazard a guess as to why this would be, I would say that the easy availability of actual manga has lured people away from the strange, manga-doppelganger material Antarctic exclusively publishes.


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