Robot 6

Quote of the day | Ultimate bestsellers

When Marvel VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort answered the following question on his Formspring account this weekend, he answered a question I’ve had for a long time as well:

what are Marvel’s most popular selling comics in bookstores?

As a group, the Ultimate titles.

Veteran chart watchers have no doubt tracked the slow decline of the Ultimate line — or Ultimate Comics, as they’re currently called on their covers, if not their indicia — for years now, something the Ultimatum event and subsequent title revamps and relaunches didn’t really stop. Moreover, several of the big selling points for the line when it was created — a lack of years of convoluted continuity, more timely cultural references — necessarily get diluted as the books age. Marvel has long justified the continuation of the Ultimate Universe by referring to it as a place where the “rules” for the mainline Marvel books do not apply, a place where some of the company’s biggest writers (Bendis, Millar, Loeb) can run wild. But if Brevoort’s right and comics branded with the “Ultimate” moniker have a leg up in the bookstore market, that’s probably reason no. 1 why Marvel still has the books’ back.

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Similarly, a lot of people might wonder why they kept publishing new House of M minis years after the main event ended (House of M: Civil War, House of M: Masters of Evil). Apparently it’s because all the HoM tpbs were very popular in libraries, and librarians requested more of the same from Marvel.

Another reason: Every single volume is NUMBERED. Just like manga.

Say I enjoy a graphic novel of Amazing Spider-Man. How do I easily locate the next volume in the story? I have to check the indicia to see which issues were collected, then FIND another volume and check the indicia to see if it follows. With the Ultimates, I just look at the spine.

I think that’s also why the Essential volumes sell so well.

(Unfortunately, Marvel has not continued the sequential numbering on Runaways volumes, even though that series is mostly self-contained.)

Also, remember that libraries are the OTHER Direct Market. They order the book, they catalog it, it is SOLD. No returns like bookstores.

Oh, and Marvel kept the entire line in print, unlike many of their other titles, so it was always easy to reorder.

I would suggest Marvel relaunch the Marvel Adventures trades in regular size format, number every volume, and make them affordable. Possibly even “Essentialize” the collections, making them more affordable to libraries and parents.

funkygreenjerusalem

October 19, 2010 at 1:19 am

Another reason: Every single volume is NUMBERED. Just like manga.

Say I enjoy a graphic novel of Amazing Spider-Man. How do I easily locate the next volume in the story? I have to check the indicia to see which issues were collected, then FIND another volume and check the indicia to see if it follows. With the Ultimates, I just look at the spine.

I think that’s also why the Essential volumes sell so well.

Actually, I’ve read elsewhere that once a series hits double digits on the spine, sales for the entire run go down.

Basically, people see how many there are, and get scared to try it out.

That’s why numbering always changes with creative teams, or with each arc, or just isn’t there on some books.

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