Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sales Review: October 2013

Sales figures for October have been released and, as always, I like ICv2's coverage of the market. Here is the link to the top 300 comics from last month:

I have really hammered DC Comics recently on the direction of their universe, their missteps with classic characters, and their poor understanding of some of their audience. Well, DC Comics can laugh at me. Because last month, DC got, by a whisker, the biggest share of the market. In a business where dollars are everything, that trumps any whining I might do. At least in the short term, and with 'events', gimmicks, and variants puffing things up, DC's dark universe sells.

So go ahead and fire your rotten tomatoes at me DC. Maybe I don't get it.

Last month' Supergirl #24 was the last issue of the Michael Alan Nelson 'era' on the book. Zor-El recreated Supergirl, keeping her body and psyche intact, and allowed her to escape by becoming the Cyborg Superman again.

The issue ended with the I'noxian collective telling Kara to find happiness. We knew that Tony Bedard was on the book the next issue. Things seemed to be looking up.

Unfortunately sales remain in a tail spin. Just around 1500 fewer copies of this comic were sold. Maybe the Villains' Month pause, where there was no Supergirl issue, was a good jumping off point (as I feared). Of course, the comic has continued to crush Supergirl, getting darker and grimmer and sadder.

As I have said before Supergirl fans don't typically want a Dark Supergirl. And fans of Dark characters don't want to read Supergirl. The sales numbers don't lie.

Will a Red Lantern Supergirl continue to fall?

I will point out that My Little Pony outsold Supergirl. I think MLP knows its audience. The primary creators add some humor and nuance for the older readers. It is a high quality all ages book. And it sells.

And what about the other super-book reeling under some creative uncertainty?

Superboy #24 completed Kon's battle with the Psycho Pirate. It was a wild story but with a high school Superboy which was umpteenth rethinking of the character. Who is/was this Superboy?

No surprise that this book also seems to be plummeting in sales. At 18K in sales, the book seems to be on life support unless the villain-led Jon Lane Kent book catches fire. Of course, I won't be there. So sales will go down by one.

I should stop doing these sales reviews as they are depressing. It is clear that the Bat books and big name books continue to flourish while the periphery of the universe seems to struggle.

I worry that 6 months from now Supergirl will be below 20K in sales and then I'll be talking about cancellation.


Saranga said...

I think that if the Red Lantern Kara doesn't bring in new readers - and it might well do if the GL family is as popular as I think it is - then the title risks cancellation.

Count Drunkula said...

BIRDS OF PREY also dropped by roughly 1,000 copies from August's issue #23 to October's #24 (like SUPERGIRL, there was no Villains Month issue for BoP). I've been waiting for this book to get canceled for a long time, hoping that it might lead to bigger, better things for Black Canary, who is getting lots of exposure in non-continuity places. Unfortunately, I think this month's "Zero Year" tie-in will give it enough of a false bump to warrant its continued publication.

AndNowInStereo said...

I was wondering how likely that possibility is, Saranga. The announcement of Supergirl joining the Red Lanterns didn't just get some cautious support on Reddit, it actually got right up at the top of /r/comicbooks and close to the top of /r/dccomics so it's definitely attracted A LOT of attention. I've seen more discussion of Supergirl and Red Lanterns online in the last five days than I've seen in months so this has really stirred things up. The discussion threads underneath the reddit posts seemed to think the idea was exciting, but I don't know how much of that translates into support for actually buying Supergirl. I asked one redditor who's a massive Lanterns fan and he thought it wasn't hugely likely unless it's a direct tie-in/crossover. I have no idea how other Lantern fans will feel about it because I don't talk to many online, I might have to do into some fansites and ask. Some of the handful of Supergirl fans I speak to over reddit and tumblr are cautiously optimistic, especially the one guy for who SG and RL are his two favourite books, but even they say this will only work if it's for a short arc and no more- most of them don't want to read much more angry Kara in the long run.

I will give this a chance. I will read GL/RL 28 and Rl 29 (what I have seen of it so far do make it look interesting even if it's not something I'd go out of my way to read) and I will keep reading Supergirl, but they have a very narrow window to keep me on board with this, it had better be good for her character-wise. For me this Kara is my first Kara, I mean this book was only my second comic, and like how most Doctor Who fans have their favourite version of him, this Supergirl is my Supergirl. I'm going to be very sad if I have to say goodbye to her now.

Here are some interviews with Soule from a few months back when he took over the Red Lanterns book that might be of interest.

Anonymous said...

Sure gimmicks are always good for a bump in sales but that bump almost never lasts. It takes a concentrated effort by a good team of writers, artists, and editors to build a book up and keep the numbers stable. Something the Super books are sadly lacking right now.

Superboy has really suffered. He has gone through several different origin stories, or at least several major additions to his origin, and never found a stable direction. Or writer. Even when Lobdell left the book he still seems to be pulling the strings. In fact, in an interview over on CBR he said that to him it doesn't really matter who the person with the name of Superboy is. It could be Conner, but it could also be Jon Lane Kent. So the character he rebooted and spent so much time building up doesn't really matter to him. So why should we care about his JLK creation?

I think Supergirl has been handled a little better, but none of the writers seemed to really care about progressing Supergirl past being an angry young woman. Or at least once the H'El On Earth storyline came about. Before that I think she would have moved beyond her anger and become a great heroine.

Lobdell really needs to leave the Super-books. He has written a few decent issues but overall I think he has done more harm than good.

It's sad. I read an interview where Snyder said he wants to make Batman an inspirational figure to the people of Gotham. Nothing wrong with that. But at the same time DC is trying to darken the Superman family by replacing Superboy with a homicidal maniac, turning Kara into a vomit-spewing Red Lantern, and having most people distrust Superman. It's a bad time to be a Superman fan. Thank god for Smallville, at least.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I do wonder if these 'Jon Lane Kent' and 'Red Lantern' directions are last ditch efforts to bump sales so the titles don't get canceled.

With the upcoming '5 yrs later' gimmick I am assuming DC is going to clear the deck of dying titles and start a whole bunch of new books. It would be a shame if Superman and Action were the only super-titles out there given that Batman seems to be able to sustain a dozen books.

Dave Mullen said...

I worry that 6 months from now Supergirl will be below 20K in sales and then I'll be talking about cancellation.

It looks highly likely I agree. I'm sure like me you know that there is nothing about Supergirl that isn't fixable, since her first appearance she has been stuck in this repetitive rut where her character is forever repeating the same stupid mistakes and not growing or learning from anything. Her attitude has very deliberately been engineered to be constantly confrontational, unreliable and ultimately unlikable. It's for these reasons as much as anything that support had bled away, and yes, I'm sure villains month was a good jumping off point for many more looking at this drop.

Unlike Superboy though there's nothing about Supergirl though that isn't easily fixable, Superboy is a lost cause at this point and about the only way of salvaging it is to banish Kon-el and relaunch the book with a recasted character in the role, as Marvel did with Nova.
Supergirl on the other hand just needs stability, in more ways than one. She also needs her purpose and relationships on earth made clear, for too long she has been presented as someone with a very low or indifferent opinion on our world and a little too happy to lash out at those around her, and this is another factor that has turned people off - She's Superman's own cousin after all, not Namor!

But the sales, they do make sense of why DC ditched Michael Nelson and have opted for the Red Lantern crossover, for reasons that are unfathomable to me Red Lanterns is one of their best sellers and clearly has some appeal, which bright spark thought making Supergirl a new member would be a great idea though wants demoted....

Anonymous said...

Supergirl is broken because DC has stumbled into an ambivalent relationship with it's core asset character, cousin Superman.
Moving Supergirl into her continuity might be a good start, but jobbing her out to the Red Lanterns (what is she gonna do with that cockamammie ring anyway??) is the worst sort of desperate fan service. The history of comics IS FULL of catastrophic ideas that got great pop on line....I agree with Our Host in a year cancellation will be the main topic...either that or something infinitely worse.


Anonymous said...

Unlike many of you, I have read Supergirl through four incarnations (Silver Age, Matrix/Earth Angel/Linda Danvers, Belly Shirt Kara and New 52 Kara) and I do not like a character fueled by anger and rage (like a Red Lantern). I will drop Supergirl somewhere between #25 and #28, leaving it to those who are excited by this new development.