Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sales Review: January 2014

Sales numbers for January 2014 were recently posted and the news for DC Comics continues to be concerning. As usual, I will refer you to ICv2 for the whole story:http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/27835.html

DC's market share continues to shrink while Marvel continues to hold a dominant percentage. I am starting to wonder if next year at this time, Image will be the #2 comic company. One thing that I have to tip my hat to Marvel about is the way the conglomerate it is one with uses its power to advertise.

Marvel is owned by Disney, as is ESPN. Driving into work, listening to ESPN radio, there was commercial for ... Marvel Comics ... which name checked not only Guardians of the Galaxy and All-New Xmen, but also the story 'The Trial of Jean Grey'. Incredible.

Supergirl #27 came out in January, the second part of the Tony Bedard Lobo story and the last issue before the Red Lantern arc.

This was a good issue with Shay Veritas' origin partially revealed, the re-introduction of Blaze to the New 52, and a Supergirl struggling to hold it together. Yildiray Cinar's art was great.

Unfortunately, the new team and promise of a new direction hasn't budged sales. The book dipped below the 22K mark, down 3% in sales.

It looks like sales on many DC titles is slowly eroding. I will be very interested to see if the Red Lantern issue brings people in. And I wonder if a bump in sales will make DC think that people want an angrier Kara.

More surprising to me, to be honest, was the sales numbers of Action Comics.

Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are just crushing it on this book right now. The stories are universally lauded by critics. It feels like the perfect amalgam of Superman ages.  Visually it is stunning.

I thought for sure this book would be in the upper echelon of sales. That buyers would notice.

Instead, the book is selling just over 36K, about half of what I thought.

Maybe word hasn't spread yet??


Count Drunkula said...

DC has twelve books in the mainstream DC continuity that sold under 20,000 in January. Some have already been announced as canceled, and some have had recent creative changes, but it seems like creative changes don't bring readers back. Green Arrow is currently written by one of DC's three resident Golden Boys and it has a popular and successful TV show to tie-into. Yet GA barely makes the Top 100.

The current publishers and editor-in-chief are dependent on stunts to make a dent in the market share and sales, but those stunts are getting old and unimpressive. Is it time to have some turnover at the DC offices besides writers quitting because their editors make changes without notice?

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that Green Arrow isn't selling that well, considering that the TV show has been successful enough to spawn a Flash spin-off after less than two seasons on the air. DC has been having a lot of success on TV and direct-to-DVD projects over the last decade. But it seems like they can't seem to get a film franchise going other than Batman, which is a shame.

Off topic, but I find it really hard to accept that the Legion of Super-Heroes, my favorite team, has been cancelled indefinitely. Meanwhile, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy is poised to make millions and millions of dollars at the box office. How does the Legion fail, while another company's 30th-century team is such a success? Is it all about marketing? When did Guardians of the Galaxy become so popular??

I guess my point is that Marvel and DC are media companies now, rather than comic book companies. I'm not sure how important the sales of monthly pamphlets are when there are movies, TV shows, toys, and other products to be marketed that make so much more money.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon, at a certain point, and we may well be at thet point now, the sales of floppies will become superfluous in respect of a copyright's porfitability. Sad...but it's been Shape of Things to Come for over a decade now. The current vogue at DC Editorial for a "Cheap Heat First" Policy does nothing to stave off the suspicion that sooner or later the bean counters will shut off the printing presses. And if sales continue to flag then the plug may be pulled sooner rather than later...

Please someone contradict me, I don't like this any more than you do...

Anonymous said...

A lot of older fans take one look at the DC New 52 and simply shake their heads sadly while walking away.

A whole separate group are convinced it's all a stunt and at some point there will be an anti-Flashpoint moment that will reset everything back to old continuity, making the New 52 pointless to get into.

Hardly any new fans were pulled in by the reboot.

Anj - did you see the solicit for Supergirl 31? Apparently she's even more alone! lol...

Anj said...

Thanks for great comments.

In the end, I think the New 52 reset has been a big mistake.

I picked up Green Arrow about 6 issues ago based on word of mouth I heard about how great it is. It is a fabulous book! But I only found that out from another reader ... not because DC has been pushing it.

I do wonder if the move to the West Coast is going to shake DC up. But the sad part is there have been people whose work I respect who have quit the company to stay on the East Coast.

And the Supergirl problem is a double edged sword. If sales improve as a Red Lantern, DC might look at that as the go-ahead to make her darker!

Dave mullen said...

Good comments up above and all make points I agree with.
Green Arrow is good example of what might be wrong at DC in terms of their marketing - a hot TV show but the critically lauded book is now left unheralded and unsupported. I think as pointed out this is indicative of DCs shift from Publishers to Media copyright owner, Green Arrow did its job in getting Warners/DC a TV show, so the comicbook is now superfluous - on to the next big thing for DC, i.e. the mooted Flash series.
It seems to me that more and more It's all about television and media today, the books can stand or fall regardless. I don't see the evidence that they're much bothered anymore.

That Supergirl falls to such a low average from the initial years worth of three times that is perfectly in line with the majority of DC books - but look to Legion of Super-heroes or Savage Hawkman for but two examples of books that deserved to fail, and it is no good blaming this situation on just a naturally shrinking marketplace, that isn't addressing the actual problem, nor the fact that suddenly launching 52 new books a month asks far too much from a very limited talent pool. That sort of a sales drop over the course of two years is damning, Marvel on average manage sales attrition very well, DC have lost their sales these last two years though not through some 'natural' process but because their books just weren't given enough thought and were not rewarding enough to keep the audiences interest and loyalty. And let us be honest - Supergirl isn't good enough. Like Legion of Super-Heroes I stay with it out of loyalty and in the hope it will turn around come the next issue, but for reasons unfathomable DC doesn't grasp the nettle and tend to what is obviously wrong with the books. Nontheless the fact it has lasted this long is impressive in its own way, with even the genuinely impressive Superman books dwindling though I have no idea what DCs answer to this problem is going to be ultimately. They've played all the cards, where to next?

Without a doubt DCs fading sales are partly down to the rise of independents and a sea change in creators priorities, DC and Marvel due to their dominance used to have a steady supply of impressive new talent that would work and create for them, now though this talent either goes straight to work for themselves or bides their time working for the big two until the time is right to go off and do what they really want to do. There has never been such a pressure on the big two from the independent sector and such prodigious and impressive output from talented self publishers. It's something the Big two are really going to have to confront at some point...

Anonymous said...

Hi! New commentator here, just found your blog from trawling the Internet out of concern for the direction of one of my favourite DC titles (Supergirl, of course)… Anyways, thought I'd add my two cents.
On the one hand I am concerned, like most of you, about DC's declining sales/titles losing talent, and so on, but on the other hand I don't think the comics industry is going anywhere soon. While, yes, the Big Two are now "Media Companies" part of their media strategy is to continue to invest in, produce, and market comic books. Marvel is sure doing a good job of it right now (despite, in my opinion, a slurry of uninteresting crossovers and confusing re-numbering and branding). But DC is owned by TimeWarner. It's big. It makes billions in one movie, whereas Marvel needs three to even launch the Avengers. And all of this came from, and will continue to come from, the comics.
What we shouldn't really expect anymore is five, ten, or twenty years of continuity. We live in, alas, a faster, more media-"savvy" world. And as such, the comics universes will be rebooted, rebranded, relaunched, retitled, and renumbered many more times in our lifetimes than they were in previous generations of readers. On the one hand, this sucks. On the other hand, if you don't like current Supergirl, just what two years--she'll be different. And I'm sure DC will be wiling to sell us reprints of the Old Ages of Comics.
Ultimately I'm an optimist. I'll pick and choose the good talent when it comes to DC/Supergirl, as it will, because there will will always be faith in, and hope for, truth, justice, and the spirit of super-heroes.

Dave Mullen said...

What we shouldn't really expect anymore is five, ten, or twenty years of continuity. We live in, alas, a faster, more media-"savvy" world. And as such, the comics universes will be rebooted, rebranded, relaunched, retitled, and renumbered many more times in our lifetimes than they were in previous generations of readers.

While this is likely true it also points to the problem as well - I am convinced that a fundamental reason DC has suffered such a decline in fortunes in the last decade or so is at least partly due to the constant tinkering and rebooting of their continuity. If there are no ground rules or guarantee of stability then the audience that develops will be transitory, which is what we are seeing now I believe.
In an ideal world all or most of DCs books would have A-list creators and daring new directions, the reality is though that such talent is hard to find and getting harder to keep. Launching 52 brand new books as they did was a killer because of that, not enough genuine talent to draw upon for such an overly ambitious gamble and not the same audience as there was in 1985/6... if you lose your audience's faith and they are now suspicious that what they are investing in is purely transitory then yes, obviously they will not commit to a book or character longterm.

Anj said...

Thanks for stopping by Clan. Welcome.

I think there is a difference between a mild reboot and razing the Earth as DC did with the New 52. (As an aside, I think it was even worse with the New 52 because Batman and Green Lantern did not reboot - best sellers at the time - while everything else did around them.)

Anyways, I don't think I would want to see Kara crash to Earth every 5 years as it is hard to get loyalty or history with the character.

Let's look across the aisle. All of XMen's history is in continuity. They have never rebooted. Daredevil's continuity is intact. And writers and artists can draw on that even if things from the far past are rarely mentioned. But Bendis is exploring all of the XMen's history right now.

More locally, we have read Superman Man of Steel and Superman Birthright and Superman Secret Origin all in my lifetime. But while the origin has been altered slightly, the stories and history have remained.

I just hope Supergirl survives this reboot.

And Dave you are right. Launching 52 books with such variation in talent and storytelling was a gamble - one they lost in my opinion.

Thanks again for the comments.

Green said...

You guys talking that Green Arrow lacks promotion, last month(february) channel 52 was all SMWW book promotion.
They should boost green arrow, harley quinn,flash or even swamp thing.