Friday, November 25, 2016

Sales Review: October 2016

In the States, the Friday after Thanksgiving is known for its crazy store sales so I figured why not review last month's sales numbers today.

Also it is a pretty dry topic and on a day when I suspect traffic is going to be low, this isn't a big post to miss. As always, I think the coverage is best over on ICv2 so I will provide the link:

The idea of Rebirth had fueled a nice bump in sales for DC and they actually led the market throughout the summer. October saw Marvel reassert itself as the top dog. But DC still was pretty robust in sales. That said, the novelty of some of these titles might be wearing off and books are slowly receding to what I think are expected numbers.

You might recall that the Supergirl Rebirth Special sold over 100K and Supergirl #1 sold just over 90K. These were incredible numbers, maybe too good to be true. But with the popular show on the small screen and the rejiggering of the character in the book to sort of mirror the show's themes, maybe this was a sales bonanza that could be maintained?

Supergirl #2 came out in October and continued the Cyborg Superman arc, a story which (I assume) will once again have Supergirl declare Earth as her new home and put Krypton behind her. Of course, the problem is we already have had this as a story in the New 52 ... maybe even twice within that run. So this Rebirth has a little more of a reboot feel.

So how did it sell?

While I anticipated a drop in sales, I didn't expect it to be such a precipitous fall.

Supergirl #2 sold just over 45K, a drop of 50% from the prior issue.

Now 45K in the current market is a healthy number. But a 50% drop in orders isn't something to be cheered by. In fact that is downright scary.

It is still better than the 28K that Supergirl #40 sold. In the end, I think Supergirl as a book is probably a 30K seller. I hope DC recognizes that as a solid number, especially when, even in the New 52, the readers were loyal and kept sales around that number throughout.

I would love if the book sold around 45K monthly. Then we wouldn't have to worry.

As for the Superman books, they are also inching towards a new norm.

The Action Comics book, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Patch Zircher and Stephen Segovia, is enmeshed in the Mr. Oz mystery. This is the book that seems to be most tied in with the future of DC and whatever the next big crossover is going to be.

Superman, by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, seems to be a bit more stand-alone. Less invested in the bigger DCU, this has been a title exploring the Super-Dad/Super-Son relationship and included the wonderful New Frontier homage.

Both books are selling well.

Action Comics is hovering over 50K in sales.

Superman is leading the pack, selling just under 70K.

Both books seem healthy in their sales especially given these are twice a month books.

I don't know if I will always comment on this book but as a fan of Shade The Changing Man and as someone intrigued by the Young Animal imprint in general, I wanted to see how Shade The Changing Girl #1 sold.

This is peripherally attached to the Shade character but is a sort of new character.

I think that 32K in sales for a wonky character like Shade is pretty good. In my mind, this will settle out in the 15K range. Will that be good enough for DC to continue publishing? My guess is Young Animal will have some room to run a bit. I doubt books will be canceled early.

Hope the holiday weekend is treating people well here at home.


Anonymous said...

Maybe a lot of people doesn't like Brian Ching's art? May it be a factor?

At the very least, Supergirl is selling more than any non-Superman Super-book, and it is pushing more units than Batgirl, for example.

Anyway, I wonder sometimes whether DC has ruined Supergirl's chances to become a popular, mainstream comic-book character after mistreating her and mishandling her for six decades.

For twenty-six years Kara was moved from a book to another. Her books never got a long run or and she never had a stable supporting cast and Rogues' Gallery because they were replaced every time a new creative team took over.

Then DC decided that Supergirl was a problem and a burden. They killed her and tried to replace her with substitutes that never became popular (Linda was well-liked, I'll give you that, but her book's sales were terrible according Peter David). Kara Zor-El ceased to exist for nearly two decades.

After twenty years, DC finally gets a clue and Kara is reintroduced and stars in a new solo book... and DC hires Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly to write her new adventures. No more words are needed. Even in 2010 people still bashed and put Super-Britney down.

However, Kara's fifth book gets traction and regains momentum, becomes well-regarded... and DC reboots their universe. Mike Johnson portrays Kara like a emo loner with anger issues, but she was still a fundamentally good person who helped people... and then "H'el on Earth" ruins her reputation and derails the character to the point that becoming a Red Lantern was a GOOD thing.

Finally Supergirl behaves as Supergirl... and then DC cancels her book, right when she was getting her own live-action series. Why? I don't know. Her book did not sell so poorly. Maybe they were frightened that poor storytelling would hurt the show... but I think their actions hurt them economically, because a tv-show should improve sales. Why else would they hire Gates to write a new Supergirl series?

One year later Supergirl has a new monthly... and Kara lives in a new city -again-, and has a different cast of supporting characters -again- and new villains -again-. In addition to that, she is not interacting with other DC characters, is not making guest appearances in other books, is absent from her cousin's books and Ching's art is controversial (several reviewers in Superman Homepage utterly hate it).

If you want to describe Superman you would tell: He came to Earth from planet Krypton, his adoptive parents are Jonathan and Martha Kent, his Earth name is Clark Kent, he was raised in Smallville, his childhood friends are Lana Lang and Pete Ross, he lives in Metropolis and works for the Daily Planet together with his life's love Lois Lane and his pal Jimmy Olsen, his boss is Perry White, his arch-enemies are Luthor, Brainiac, Zod, Darkseid...

If you want to describe Supergirl, you would tell: she was born in Argo City and her parents Zor-El and Alura sent her to Earth... and then what? She was raised in Midvale? Her secret identity is Linda Danvers, Linda Lang or Kara Danvers? Her foster parents were Fred and Edna or Jeremiah and Eliza? Is Linda Lang her "aunt"? She lives in Midvale, San Francisco, New Athens, Chicago, Metropolis or National City? What's her profession? Who are her main love interests and friends? Who are her main villains: Lesla-Lar, Reactron...?

My point is... Explaining Superman is easy because writers always kept and respected several core elements of the mythos reboot after reboot. Explaining Supergirl is not easy because every writer felt the need to reinvent her. Sixty years and she still lacks a stable identity and supporting cast.

And that is a big problem.

And DC created it. And they can only blame themselves.

Anonymous said...

And I would add:
There are four main versions of Supergirl:
1) Silver Age (1959-1986) Kara Zor-El,foster parents Fred and Edna Danvers, lived in Midvale, San Francisco, New Athens, Fl, Chicago.
2) Matrix/Earth-born Angel/"White Belly Shirt" Linda (1988-2003), not Kryptonian, but an adjuct to Superman, lived in Smallville, Midvale, Metropolis, Leesburg.
3) Revived Kara Zor-El (2004-2011) Kara Zor-El, known for Michael Turner designed "Belly shirt" costume. Foster Aunt Lana Lang, secret identity Linda Lang Lived through New Krypton revival.
4) New 52 Supergirl (2011-)Current version.
Then someone would say to me, that this is too much to keep straight. (You see the problem?)

Anonymous said...

How foolish of me to forget the most prominent version:
5) TV Supergirl (2015 -), Kara Zor-El, foster parents Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers, foster sister Alex Danvers. Kara Danvers lives in National City and works for Catco Media. Supergirl is an agent of the Department of Extraterrestial Operations which fights hostile alien incursions.

KET said...

"Anyway, I wonder sometimes whether DC has ruined Supergirl's chances to become a popular, mainstream comic-book character after mistreating her and mishandling her for six decades."

Doesn't seem to be the case. The TV show has elevated the character in the public eye far more than most of DC Comics' often-mishandled reboots. For example, the show has been the #1 most-popular topic at for two consecutive weeks now. These days, the 'big two' comics simply are potential IP generators for other media...and that seems to be the way the publishers are treating them as well.

However, in the case of Supergirl during her Silver and Bronze Age periods, the character remained popular, even when her first two solo series misfired and faltered. She was a consistent draw as back-up series in Action Comics, but when DC moved her stories to Adventure is when things became relatively unstable for years afterward. Several factors came into play in the 1970s as Supergirl gradually lost prominence among the DC superheroines: Marvel's growing dominance in mainstream comics, changing attitudes towards women in society and the workplace, the introduction of new female comics characters that seemed more 'hip' and 'modern', plus the impact of the Wonder Woman TV show all contributed.

To say that the current Supergirl comics run lost sales on its second issue due to something else than what is merely standard attrition is a rather insular argument that doesn't hold up when one looks at the bigger picture. Next month, she has a prestige series coming out; that's certainly not a sign of weakness for the character.


Anonymous said...

I wonder about the artwork, I like it but it is also cartoony and vaguely reminiscent of editorial cartoons at that.
But lets face it it is the nature of comics these days that sales decline its a job mostly about managing and pacing the loss of readership.
As for Supergirl incarnations let me also add Helen Slater, Laura Vandervoort and the key component to Supergirl's current revival, Bruce Timm's "Kara In Zee" from STAS.
Sales are what they are, all we can do is promote buy and hope for the best, but I dearly wish DC would make up it's mind about getting Supergirl a Team Affiliation, she has knocked around almost every team imaginable from the Legion to the Titans....and I don't rule out The Metal Men (hey she is the Girl of Steel after all) going forward....but nothing quite sticks. The Legion is her most persistent affiliation but I'd like a contempoary type team. Back in the depths of the Bronze Age I idly thought about an "All Female" super team comanaged by Supergirl and Batgirl (both of whom were notably team-less in those days)....I suppose that ship has sailed though.


Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

While I agree that the character is going strong, I don't think I should be looking at a 50% sales drop as a positive.

Still, this is a great time for Supergirl fans.

Anonymous said...

"To say that the current Supergirl comics run lost sales on its second issue due to something else than what is merely standard attrition is a rather insular argument that doesn't hold up when one looks at the bigger picture."

No one made that argument.