Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sales Review: December 2011

It's that time again when sales figures for last month's comics come out and I try to analyze just what the heck it all means. I sometimes wonder if I was better off when I didn't know these numbers existed, when I didn't try to survey the comics landscape and try to anticipate just where a comic fits into the pecking order of the almighty dollar.

As always, I thank the folks at ICv2 for doing a great job of not only giving a big picture analysis but also showing some of the details. Here is a link to December 2011's top 300 selling comics:

Now last month's sales showed that maybe things are settling a bit after the explosion of the New 52. Marvel was able to reclaim the top spot in 'market share' while DC dominated the top ten selling books, claiming 8 of the top 10 and boasting 4 books that sold over 100K each. That's incredible.

While there is no doubt that there is a top tier for DC sales, there now seems to be a middle tier and lower tier as well. Not everything is selling as wildly as it did the first month.

Supergirl seems to have settled nicely into that middle tier, performing solidly last month. While sales for Supergirl #4 were down 13% from the prior month, her rank remained stable (rising one spot to #42). As each issue of this title seems to be building momentum, I am glad that readers are sticking around.

So Supergirl selling nearly 40K is wonderful and hopefully sales will remain this brisk. But shedding over 10% of readers a month for the second month in a row is somewhat concerning. And yet, the rank holding steady seems to imply that people are simply shifting their comic spending money around or shedding titles everywhere.

This isn't a big surprise to me. I said myself that I would try a bunch of the new 52, settle on some, try some for an arc, and reassess. (That should be a month to month process really.) Within the next couple of months, I will drop DC Comics Presents (once the Jenkins/Chang arc ends) and I anticipate dropping Hawk and Dove.

And remember, there is that lower tier of the new 52's. I arbitrarily chose 21K as a cut-off mark for sustainable sales. There are 12 of the new 52 below that line. This includes Hawk and Dove (which I currently collect).

How will DC respond to this lower level is the most interesting question. We have already heard about creative team changes and 'new directions' a mere 4 months in. How long will DC keep these lower selling titles afloat to see if they can find an audience before pulling the plug?

And when will the 'new new' batch of title be announced?


Dave Mullen said...

Those sales charts are depressing reading and something I tend to avoid usually. Looking at that list I'm surprised to see what's down there in the Hawk & Dove dropzone, I think Mr Terrific is a pretty good book for example but there it is just one place below the much praised OMAC and the Star Trek/Legion crossover further below... even Voodoo and Captain Atom rated higher.
I know I read somewhere James Robinson tweeted that his Shade mini series might no make it to issue eight, much less aan ongoing series, due to sales and yet there is is ABOVE any of the ones I listed.... and what the hell the terrible Red Lanterns is doing up in the #45 position I just don't know...

I think it does show overall that despite the initial stampede and interest the underlying problems in comics are still there, DC to an extent remortgaged their house on this and it's looking like the gamble might be running hollow.
I hope not, despite the many issues I have with the relaunch there's good stuff in there that deserves to succeed, I was genuinly impressed with the new take On Wonder Woman for example and even the Superman refit is not without a few good points. I worry more about it as DC has repeatedly shown it has serious Impulse control problems, I can see them doing something stupid again though after September's seimic shift I don't know what.

I think they will drop those books down there in the dropzone, it makes no sense to keep them when you have other ideas and books that can replace them in the schedules. JSA is due we know that, expect one or two spin-offs from it as that's the way these things go now. I would not be surprised to see a new Secret Six, nor possibly the Spectre.
As to Supergirl, I think she's fine, the character is a mainstay now and the new book has been pretty decent. I think the Superman universe is still not brilliant as yet but all the potential for it to be is right there. It's just those Impulse control problems of DCs that worry me....

Anj said...

Thanks for the great post!

Impulse control is a great way to describe it.

I would think that when these titles were pitched, that editors were behind the direction and agreed to the plans. So changing things so quickly into it seems crazy and makes me question the motivation of the DC hierarchy. I understand they need to make money. But they need a good product too! And they need to support good products!

And I am also with you that I am trying to see the positives in the Superman books. I have been very pleased with Action. I like Supergirl a lot and anticipate things getting better. And Superboy has been a nice surprise.

valerie21601 said...

The decompressed story telling of the writers on Supergirl did hurt sales. Their taking too long to reveal this DCnU version of Supergirl's personality and what she thinks or feels, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"Impulse control" is one way of putting it. My way of thinking is that DC has always had problems "Saying no to bad ideas".