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July 29, 2015

Go, Read: Shea Hennum On Attack On Titan’s Story Vs. Star Wars #1 News From A While Back

imageShea Hennum has a well-timed article here comparing a story about the Attack On Titan property from Hajime Isayama having 2.5 million copies of its 15 volumes in circulation and the reaction to Marvel attaching a one million sold number to a Star Wars comic when they relaunched that franchise under its own banner a while back. The one million sold into the direct market was a deeply qualified number, including a substantial purchase for a bundled-together gift package and an ice planet's worth of cover incentives. Hennum also brings in an analysis of heavily-circulated web comics.

I'm not sure beyond Milton Griepp that anyone covers numbers-related stories in broader, reliable, workmanlike fashion; I don't link to any numbers in a systematic way at this point, and I tend to shy away from number stories even when I might think they're important because I lack the tools and skill to vet them properly. I hope I can get better at covering comics this way. I should have covered both of these stories as best I could but covered neither which puts me way behind even those that covered the Star Wars over the Attack On Titan. Ideally, I imagine they both should be covered. Selling one figure into one market doesn't necessarily inform how another figure sells into another market. The formats are even different. You can't accept the publisher's narrative on the Star Wars on its face and you can't countenance the idea that manga sales into a bookstore market isn't a comics story.

So what do I think? While the Star Wars sales seem to indicate the continuing ability of bigger publishers to game their numbers in the direct market and perhaps even manufacture a hit from a solid performer by tying up so much non-returnable money into a single segment, the Attack On Titan sales figure strikes me as positive story that properties that hit with a fan base can be significant publishing events across a series, and that this can be sustained over time with a lot of emphasis at the front of a line. It suggests that Attack On Titan is a legitimate item of curiosity and perceived source for quality comics from North American readers, where the Star Wars comics number seem more like an shotgun wedding with a lot of bells and whistles pushing us to a pre-arranged outcome matching a certain kind of reader with a new comic book that brings a familiar version of prefigured thrills. It should be intriguing how -- and if -- interest is sustained in the Star Wars comics, which isn't at question with the Attack On Titan, or at least not as big a question. There's also a nearly concurrent release schedule with the different languages, which is not how the big hits of the '00s always worked. It would also indicate to me that anime shows need to be covered more effectively for publishing news, which isn't a sorting mechanism I've previously employed.

I'm also always interested when one of the young comics-makers in the manga tradition has a big hit, mostly in contrast to the American model where that's much less common. Not so much the case with Star Wars, which seems like it's been around since 1845. Then again, I should have picked up on all of this a while ago.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

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