Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 27, 2004

Beware Their Power

imageHere's one of those comics business stories that by virtue of the way mainstream comics is set up has dubious legitimacy as news.

The return of original Green Lantern alter-ego Hal Jordan in a DC Comics mini-series has been announced as sold out in advance of being put on sale.

What this means is that DC has received early re-orders from comic shop retailers who want to fortify their original order on the book. These orders are enough to wipe out the stockpiles of copies in reserve with which DC planned to fill such orders as the title rolled out. On the surface of it, this sounds noteworthy. And might be. On the other hand it's hard to prove how noteworthy because:
1) The system can be easily manipulated for just such a press boost.

2) DC never releases actual figures so there exists nothing to quantify the numbers involved.

3) In the North American comics industry orders are tracked in terms of retailer purchases for stores rather than customer sell-through. So the news indicates high retailer confidence in the title, but whether it really sells out in the way people generally think of something selling out remains to be seen.

4) The Hal Jordan as Green Lantern plot featured in the mini-series has its own fan base, fans who in this day of generally modest comic book sales are capable of distorting the breadth of interest in the mini-series by ordering and buying multiple copies. They might do this to encourage DC to continue their preferred storyline.

It's likely that there will be a bump of interest in the character for the "old-fashioned" reasons of icon manipulation and flat-out nostalgia. For now, it's good to remember some of the peculiarities of the modern comics market when reading the "news."
posted 9:03 am PST | Permalink

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