Tuesday, June 4, 2019

April 2019 Sales

Looks like I missed the ICv2 article on April sales when it first came out and maybe that was a good thing. Here is the link: https://icv2.com/articles/markets/view/43193/top-500-comics-april-2019

I have been watching the sales on the main Supergirl title steadily erode for any issue not blessed with an Artgerm variant. The sales on Supergirl #29 with it's charming Amanda Conner variant continue the trend.

After a whole arc in space and an unappetizing opening chapter in the Superman Leviathan Rising special, I have to say that it might be time for DC to start thinking about who to let take over the book in Marc Andreyko's place. Or, more likely I fear, is waiting for the dreaded *Final Issue* label in some upcoming solicit post.

And that is because we once again find ourselves in the Dan Didio Supergirl Cycle of Death.

Step 1: Supergirl gets a creative team who wants to write her as angry and gritty.
Step 2: It doesn't sell.
Step 3: A new team comes on writing Supergirl as a young optimistic hero learning the ropes.
Step 4: Sales increase and stabilize in the middle of the pack.
Step 5: DC thinks it can do better.
Step 6: Cancel the book or go back to step 1

Proof is out there.
Step 1 folks: Loeb, Spencer, Green, Andreyko
Step 3 folks: Gates/Igle, Bedard, Johnson/Perkins, Orlando

Supergirl #29 came out in April.

In it an irate Supergirl seizes Rogol Zaar's axe and attacks.
Zaar's men call her The Queen, Lady of the Axe and swear allegiance.
The space-faring mystery behind Rogol Zaar is rushed to its ending in inane ways.

Not surprisingly, this dark Supergirl and stilted story didn't work for me.
But how did it sell?

It landed at the 94th slot in sales, having 19,550 units ordered.

The 20K mark always gives me pause.

So the question is will DC pull the plug? Or repurpose?
And I wonder still just why Orlando and Houser were pulled off the book just as it seemed to be hitting its stride.

Perhaps as interesting is that Naomi at #97 (selling 19,282) is considered a big enough hit to go to reprints.

I guess this is supply and demand talking.

I very much like the Naomi book. It has the feel of what a Supergirl book should be. Unlike the current Supergirl book which is a tongue-ripping, hand-removing, Omega Men spotlight book focusing on a Kara that isn't like the one which came before.


Anonymous said...

"Step 1 folks: Loeb, Spencer, Green, Andreyko"

Hmm... I don't remember Nick Spencer wrote Kara particularly "dark" in his single issue. Are you sure you're not thinking of someone else?

As for Loeb, apparently he was more comfortable with the idea of writing a Linda Lee-style Supergirl, but he thought it would be rejected, so he pitched a grittier, "Terminator" meets "Splash" version instead, which obviously was accepted.


Otherwise, I agree with you. DC is running Supergirl into the ground, and if the book is cancelled, you KNOW they'll blame the character instead of their incompetence.

Unfortunately, I'm afraid it may be late to right the ship. I suspect most of the fanbase is out of patience and gone. And it isn't only Supergirl's fans. Sales are low all across the board. Mainstays like Green Arrow or Teen Titans have been cancelled, Green Lantern barely can keep a book, and Superman's sales are stuck below the 50,000 range saving events.

So, how can Supergirl find success again when there're no new fans and she's dismissed by most of existing fans?

This, at an era where she has her own show and is having a new movie. Mind-boggling.

Anonymous said...

A cheerful little earful eh? The book has been written either from subdued hatred or a sense of bitter defeat for a while now, its a wonder it sells at all. I'm back on the cancellation train but with no team affiliation for Kara it may be a while before she re-emerges in a solo book. I agree with the above poster, for the first time ever in cartoons and prime time TV Supergirl is a source of revenue, with a viewership to match and yet, she is pretty much abused as a comic book character...that part I don't get at all.


Martin Gray said...

I’m amazed Naomi sells so few copies, DC has been promoting it as a monster hit. As for Supergirl, I’d like DC to give the book to a sassy editor - female or male - who can work with a proven creative team to give us Kara on Earth in a college setting, negotiating the world of TODAY!

Oh, and Nasty would be nice.

Anonymous said...

Oh my Supergirl dream team...Mark Waid and Amanda Conner...just if anyone was curious...


Anonymous said...

I liked Kelley Pucket's brief stint. He wrote interesting forays into space, and fascinating time paradoxes. I think that was the time when Supergirl was trying to save a boy with a terminal disease and was learning some lessons about limits. But she wasn't angry so much as defiant and sad, and felt guilty because, due to a total misunderstanding, she had promised this poor kid that everything would be ok.

He brought in a cool interaction with Resurrection Man. And mysterious space missions to try to help the Green Lanterns and Superman with some unspecified interstellar activities.

Personally I would like to see G. Willow Wilson have a shot at Supergirl. I'm enjoying her work on Wonder Woman, and people loved her work on the Kamala Khan version of Ms. Marvel.

Wilson has written 2 funny stories so far for DC - one in this month's Dog Days of Summer one-shot featuring stunning art by Stjepan Sejic, and one much funnier story in Wonder Woman. You just don't see that many funny stories these days.


Anonymous said...

Thought I would separate out my comments into different posts. This one about Naomi.

It has sold out of several printings, and you have to look through sales of several months to get the full picture.

Naomi #1
Jan - 25,252
Feb - 3,664
Mar - 894
Apr - 6,100

So far, total sales to retailers: 35,910. And those are going to be real sales to the reading public, since it has gone to multiple printings. (And/or sales to speculators, of which there are many for this title.)

I don't know if that encompasses all of the printings, nor if these numbers tell the final story.

And we don't know what the digital sales were, of course.

The final printing was 19th in pre-orders during the week of Apr 29-May 5. so those sales aren't accounted for yet.

35K is not an amazing number, but well exceeded expectations, and there is pent-up demand of people waiting for the TPB.


Anonymous said...

Dan Didio, for whatever reason, has never believed that Supergirl could /should behave "maturely" (which, IIRC, was why he pushed Gates off Supergirl's book)... although to be fair, Orlando and Houser leaving the book coincided with Bendis' arrival, and Bendis obviously had an overall story arc that involved Kara (unfortunately, IMHO). It's difficult to say if the grittiness in the current run is due to editorial, Bendis, Andreyko himself, or some combination of all.

All that being said, I think it's safe to say that DC's comics act mostly as storyboard ideas for WB (and they can even measure audience reaction in advance at almost no cost!).

Looking at Box Office Mojo (https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=supergirl.htm&adjust_yr=1&p=.htm), even 1984's Supergirl sold 4.2 million tickets.

The TV show, after 4 seasons, still draws in over a million (same day) viewers per episode. In its first season, it debut at almost 13 million and ended with over 6 million viewers per episode.

No Supergirl comic will ever compete with those numbers (for better or worse, depending on the comic... but right now, probably for the better). Heck, there are probably more former readers from the early Rebirth run who were confused about why Alex Danvers was missing than are currently reading the comics.

My guess is that the run will continue even with low sales as long as the TV show goes on (and depending on the new movie's performance).

Also of note is this pre-Crisis nugget of info: https://www.comicsbeat.com/the-unbeleivable-world-of-80s-comics-sales/

Marvel was crushing DC, but there were a few June 1984 DC titles on sale that made the top 100:

#26: Legion of Super-Heroes #312 - 43500
#27: Batman and the Outsiders #11 - 40500
#47: New Gods #1 - 26300 (pretty good for a book from *1971*)
#50: All-Star Squadron #34 - 23500
#53: Justice League of America #227 - 22600
#59: Detective Comics #539 - 19800
#60: Batman #372 - 19600
#63: Green Lantern #177 - 19200
#66: Saga of the Swamp Thing #25 - 18100
#75: Supergirl #20 - 15800
#76: Action Comics #556 - 15700
#77: DC Comics Presents #70 - 15500
#80: Superman #396 - 14700
#83: The Flash #334 - 13900
#84: World's Finest #304 - 13800
#87: New Adventures of Superboy #54 - 11000
#89: Wonder Woman #316: 9800

Aside from the LOSH (I'm not counting the mangled version on "Supergirl"), All-Star Squadron , and DC Comics Presents, all of the above have live-action adaptations (I'm counting BvS as World's Finest). The team books (and New Gods) drew in the most sales. But for the Super family, from a purely DC Comics perspective, no wonder they were worried about Superman: the "barnacle" was as big as the ship itself!

... But from a Warner Brothers' perspective, the number of domestic tickets sold:

Superman: 57.4 million
Superman II: 38.9 million
Superman III: 19.0 million
Supergirl: 4.2 million

So I don't buy the "comic sales were poor" argument... but I buy the "WB no longer considered Supergirl to be viable on the big screen, why bother promoting her with comics" argument.

~Crisis on Infinite Earths~

Superman IV: 4.0 million

... Oops.

Anonymous said...

And, whew, finally, regarding Titans, and Green Arrow.

People have suggested that Green Arrow is going to be heavily involved in Leviathan and they are waiting for that event to clear before bringing his book back.

And, it was Titans, not Teen Titans, that was cancelled. I don't think Titans was selling that much less than Teen Titans, but who knows what other factors DC considers.

Its history over the last year is really strange. It went from monthly, to twice monthly (briefly), then back to monthly, before cancellation.

The solicitations announced loudly the move to twice monthly; then said nothing when it slipped back to monthly. Not only that, but there was not a single mention of this anywhere on the web, and my local comic shop didn't even know what I was talking about! I guess I'm the only person in the world who noticed?


Titans Special #1 on sale 6/13/18

#23 on sale 7/18/18

#24 on sale 8/8/18

Switches to twice monthly, with fanfare:

#25 on sale 9/12/18. Solicitation states "NOW SHIPPING TWICE MONTHLY!"
#26 on sale 9/26/18. Solicitation states "NOW SHIPPING TWICE MONTHLY!:

#27 on sale 10/10/18
#28 on sale 10/24/18

#29 on sale 11/14/18
#30 on sale 11/28/18

#31 on sale 12/12/19 (issue was omitted from the solicitations)
#32 on sale 1/2/19 - this is the 2nd December release. All DC books due on 12/26 were delayed a week and went on sale on 1/2.

Then it switched silently back to monthly.

#33 on sale 1/16/19 - this is the only true January release. I guess because an issue was also released on 1/2, people didn't notice there was just one official January book.

#34 on sale 2/13/19

#35 on sale 3/13/19

#36 on sale 4/10/19 FINAL ISSUE

So, not only did no one know anything about the weird Titans publishing schedule, or notice that #31 wasn't even solicited, but also no one really knows that Titans is not Teen Titans. And if you search for Titans on eBay, almost all search results bring up Teen Titans.

Regardless of its sales, maybe this is why DC cancelled the book. Nobody knows what it is! I bet many people who bought it thought they were buying Teen Titans? They should have renamed it "Previously Teen Titans" or "Not so teenaged Teen Titans."

Or maybe DC decided that with Young Justice now being published, three younger team titles were too many.

This Titans bunch didn't really gel, the leader Nightwing could no longer service on the team (bad planning - if Nightwing's plot had been planned, would DC have started a team book with him at the helm?), and the stories meandered. It was certainly time reboot it.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

I don't know if it's come up here before, but that quote attributed to Albert Einstein certainly fits DC's history with Supergirl: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." No matter how poorly it sells, the dark, edgy, angry Supergirl keeps coming back-over and over and over again.

DCs helter skelter approach to Supergirl since 1970 has been detrimental to the character. I wouldn't be surprised if the frequent changes in location, jobs and supporting casts back in the 70s and early 80s were a factor in DC deciding that Kara was expendable. Since the Crisis, we've had 3 Supergirls, and things aren't getting better. Consider her history since 1959. Her secret identity (when she had one) has been Linda Lee, Linda Danvers (which made sense, as she was adopted), Linda Lang and Kara Danvers. Her foster parents have answered to Fred and Edna, Fred and Sylvia, and Jeremiah and Eliza. She's been Superman's younger cousin and his older cousin. For awhile, she wasn't his cousin at all (I realize that there have been different continuities). It's interesting that the TV show had to make up a supporting cast, since the comic version hasn't had a consistent one in years.

Kara in a college setting sounds good. I'd also be satisfied with a high school situation.

If I was writing Supergirl (don't worry, I'm not) I think I would take a Stan Lee-Steve Ditko-John Romita Spider-Man approach. Those 1960s Spider-Man stories featured a rich supporting cast, a great rogues gallery, and Peter Parker's private life was just as important to the stories as his Spider-Nan doings.

I would buy a Supergirl book by Mark Waid and Amanda Connor. The art HAS been good lately. I would like to see Doc Shaner do another issue or more.

Anj said...

Thanks for great comments and insight here.

Sales are always tough to use as markers of quality. But when the same take fails over and over, it should at least show what the public wants.

I'll remain hopeful. But this whole series looks like it is going in the wrong direction.

KET said...

"So I don't buy the "comic sales were poor" argument... but I buy the "WB no longer considered Supergirl to be viable on the big screen, why bother promoting her with comics" argument."

Well, to correct the record here, WB didn't actually distribute the 1984 Supergirl movie stateside; the film division had passed those duties off to then fledgling Tri-Star Pictures, which had never promoted any type of imagined 'blockbuster' popcorn fare before. Naturally, the film flopped...but not before pirated copies from the overseas summer release of "Supergirl" had flooded the black market, thus already diluting the film's potential.


Anonymous said...

"Well, to correct the record here, WB didn't actually distribute the 1984 Supergirl movie stateside; the film division had passed those duties off to then fledgling Tri-Star Pictures..."

True, but ultimately, Warner owns DC Comics, which meant that it also owns the rights to Supergirl. Regardless of distributor, Warner probably didn't see Supergirl as a viable character for the big screen after 1984.

I do, however, wonder whether Warner/DC would have been more forgiving had Superman IV been released before Supergirl since the latter did manage to sell more tickets. Certainly, Supergirl's comics were selling in the ballpark of her cousin's in June 1984, and she was outselling the likes of the Flash, Superboy, and even Wonder Woman.

Or perhaps Warner/DC would have looked at the diminishing returns from Superman's successive big screen appearances and decided that Supergirl was "diluting the brand" and decide to kill her off in COIE anyway. Certainly, the fact that they had to refer to her as "S*p*g*rl" after COIE (and only if they had no other alternative) was bizarre... unless they really believed that they needed to save Superman or something.