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October 7, 2013

John Jackson Miller: Initial Estimates On September Sales -- Villains Month Books = Big Sales Driver

My favorite number cruncher John Jackson Miller has his initial estimates up for September 2013 comics and hobby shop sales, a report I'll mention here because I seem to have gotten out of the habit of running detailed synopses of DM sales estimates month-to-month -- why, I couldn't tell you.

As expected, orders on the Villains Month promotion that DC did -- where the bad guys took over oddly-numbered issues of the regular titles -- were super-strong. There has been a rolling controversy about that promotion in that DC was unable to fulfill orders on a special 3-D cover series of those books. I'm still talking to some retailers to sort out what that was like in their shops. One thing that was expected is that despite this failure to meet those standard-ordering practice generated levels of demand, the event would be highly ordered and that as a result there would be a positive spin on the event that might provide a counter-narrative to the cock-up aspects of it. With the retailers on board before fulfillment became an issue and with a certain quality to the comics market where things not being available drives a collectible impulse and interest more generally, I think any "we rocked it" summary statement has to be taken with a grain of salt.

However, I do think there's a lot that gets revealed that an effort like this does pretty well. My general take is that we have an audience out there with a massive amount of goodwill towards superhero comics and their favorite characters in those comics but is a bit battered by the number of choices and maybe even frustrated a bit by the consistency of reward that comes with serial comics buying. Some have become serial trade buyers. A lot, though, seem to want to be directed within the general towards those specific things that are the most worth buying. And there is still a modest to significant completist/collector element that manifests itself. So I think comics like these might be expected to do very well right now unless there's almost no engagement with the audience. My worry is that there's either little ability or even little desire to carry out these kinds of things in the framework of building a solid, long-term readership for a number of titles across the board. Ironically, it was weaknesses in the middle of the line on down that some folks believe drove DC and then Marvel into their current sales eras.
posted 8:10 am PST | Permalink

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