Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sales Review: September 2015

Comics are dying!
We have heard this over and over for such a long time that at times I think it is like Chicken Little saying the sky is falling. After all, superheroes are everywhere.

Then I see reports on sales, especially months like September 2015, and I think maybe there is a death knell. Comics overall were done last month and last quarter and the numbers are sort of sobering for me. Here is the link to ICv2's excellent coverage:

Last month, Superman #44 caught up the the current timeline, finally bringing the title up the speed. This showed the immediate post-reveal life that Superman was living. It was the last chapter of this new reality with the superstar team of Gene Yang, John Romita Jr, and Klaus Janson.

Has this new Superman been embraced?

The issue came in remarkably high, ranked #24th overall.

Looking at the numbers, it sold only 43K. It amazes me that the 24th most popular comic in sales sold so few issues.

But this isn't huge sales. It doesn't seem like this new approach to Superman have brought in new readers.

I have said all along that the Pak/Kuder Action Comics is the best Superman book on the rack.

But even this book, which I have really think is magical at times, has been sinking into the darkness of the grim new approach. Heck, the cover certainly depicts that.

The Soviet Supergirl is flying high in the DC Bombshells book. This Kara seems a little hard but certainly determined and strong. This is one of two books were Supergirl is currently a character.

Both Action Comics and DC Bombshells sold around 37K.

This certainly is a new world. Bombshells is an out of continuity book based on merchandise. And it is selling as much as Action Comics. In fact, both are selling just above Silk, a book I love but based on a Spiderman derivative.

I think the quality of Bombshells and Silk are great books. But I wonder if Action would sell better if DC just let Pak and Kuder write true Superman stories.

Lastly, Justice League 3001 has the most classic take on Supergirl. We have barely seen this Kara in the book. But what we have seen is great. I want to see more of this Silver Age-y Supergirl interacting with these flawed clones.

Hopefully the creative team will get to some stories where she plays a big part soon. Because sales are slipping. The book was ranked 129 overall, selling just below 17K. Those are cancellation numbers.

I wish more people were reading this book. It is a hoot.

And I want to be able to report on a true Supergirl book. When will that happen???


Supertorresmo said...

I think that until we also have a report on digital sales we can't really say if comics are dying or not. It could be just a stronger move to digital. Digital also open up new markets. I for one am in Brasil and I used to buy the local and late version of the books, now I can buy them digital.

Also, there is people who probably are buying digital and leaving to buy the print version later in the form of collected editions.

So I would really like to know how digital sales are doing...

Uncle Screensaver said...

Comics as we have known them are items that are ever increasingly being luxury items. The cost of an average comic around $4 US, and now that the Canadian dollar is so poor, with some comic shops charging 30% on the exchange rate, that averages to around $6.00 CDN. With the creators being paid more and the page count getting lower, not to mention the word count, it is difficult to see a future for print comics outside of hard copy trades.

With the price of a single hard copy comic and certain comic books being swept up in droves whether good or not, with like 20 different books for certain popular characters, it's not surprising that sales are so low for some. Do these sales numbers reflect the amount customers are buying or just the comic shops?

As Supertorresmo mentioned, these sales don't include digital, which I think are much more popular than print these days. As I read incredulously, someone posted the following quandry concerning print comics "I only buy digital, and so I don't understand what someone who buys hard copies does with them after they're read. Do you just recycle them? They would take up a lot of room quickly if you didn't." Still, when one sees what others are putting on their pull lists on message boards, some are buying almost every book a company releases. However, that must be reflecting only a small number of buyers overall.

This is, in some regards, sadly reflective of the times. Hard copies of "book-books" don't sell anywhere like they used to. Hard covers are giving way to more soft covers so that a cheaper price may entice readers to purchase a print version of the book. Brick and Mortar book stores are, like record stores, closing and putting people out of work because customers are buying digitally.

TV show ratings need to be changed to take into account those that DVR but also the ever greater numbers watching digitally, bought or streamed off a network's website the day after. But, like comic books, for some time now, the number of episodes and minutes of an episode of an average American TV show have been lowered due to cost by cast and need for more advertising room.

While I have been thinking the comic book industry will be dead in maybe just a decade, I'm now reminded that it will probably not be a place for the "collector" (unless they want to put out a pretty penny to get a hard copy for an issue - it may be a subscription only thing, or through some websites but just not as easily available to the average retailer), it will most likely transformed into the digital landscape. Of course, if the price goes up, even if it gets cheaper after one month online, it may prove still inaccessible for many.

My Creative Writing professor mentioned that there is a debate going on how anything is worth anything now with reproductions being so available. Most people have seen or own a work of a famous painter due to the reproductions, not the actual painting, for example. But, also, the demand for a first edition of a book these days are changed when that very book is released at the same time digitally.

As for JL3001, I think what might save it will be the new "all-female" version of the League, but if not, and it is cancelled, it will be because it's not grimdark enough or just not connected enough to current Bat/ Harley amounts of comics. It doesn't help that aside from there was some comic book website attention on an all female status, it's not marketed well, but again, with Batman, Harley Quinn, The All-New All-Different Marvel Universe, and Star Wars taking precedence, a grimdark looking book with humor and positivity might be a hard sell. Still ... with all the Supergirl hype right now, maybe seeing her look angry and front and center (in her hideous new costume) surrounded by other women and a huge "Hulk-Buster" Batman/girl? behind them might entice people to pick up the book.

Anonymous said...

I still think the best shot at saving JL 3001 is to rename it as "SUPERGIRL (and the Justice League of 3001)" or something along those lines. Heck, even on DC's page for JL 3001 #8, the lone starring character is Supergirl.

What is there to lose from a simple name change? Thanks to the anticipation for the TV show, this seems like it was a lost opportunity. Giffen even did the work of making sure there's a good representation of Supergirl in a monthly comic while DC brass was basically going, "Supergirl? Is that still a thing?"

Uncle Screensaver said...

Anon, I like that idea, sadly they'd probably go back to when a book became "Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes," and sales began to sink, eventually removing her from the cover before removing the character and her name altogether.

With yesterday's announcement that DC Universe Online would have Supergirl "reskinned" to look like TV Supergirl, DC might actually start to care about confusing the public with a very different looking Girl of Steel. However, I agree that NOW would be when DC should be trying to cash in on Supergirl even more. Warner Bros. and DC missed the boat, they could have launched DC Super Hero Girls dolls right now as well, had Halloween costumes out ... of course, you have people complaining about being asked to vote for Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart for the Golden Globes when the show hasn't been out yet - these so called fans on Facebook ... but I digress.

If they wanted to help the book, DC could have had figures released and revealed at NYCC, including Supergirl. They have DCU Bombshells on DCU Online, so they could always have a campaign with JL3001 ... even make reference somehow to Teri on The Flash tv show. I realize that with a book selling low they may not want to do this but when you have veteran writers and a Justice League book ... While it may wreck some of the storyline, and while it may not be set in the same universe, why not have a crossover with Justice League? What were the sales figures on the recent "Gods and Monsters" animated film and comic books? Surely they could make an animated movie based on JL3001. End of (this) rant.