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BOOM! Studios announced via press release this week that the first printing of Hellraiser #1 has sold out, with a second printing on the way. While Hellraiser #1, which was released last week, is no longer available from distributors, your local comic shop may still have copies on store shelves.
These sorts of announcements are fairly common nowadays, to the point that it’s probably pretty rare that we’d even blog about them. Michael May did a really thoughtful interview with the Archaia folks earlier this year about sellouts and what they mean. Looking back at Michael’s intro, he highlighted some questions that I know go through my mind when I see these sorts of press releases, things like whether retailers under-ordered, was the print run really low, did the comic just really click with the audience or was it marketed really well?
While no doubt it doesn’t hurt to have Clive Barker, a writer with a built-in fanbase, returning to write one of his signature creations, BOOM! gave credit to that last one in the press release. The company released a PDF copy of Prelude to the Hellraiser #1 on the day the comic came out.
“Given the tremendous fan response online and how well Hellraiser #1 sold in comic shops nationwide, I feel confident in saying the online PDF worked just as we’d hoped,” Chip Mosher, BOOM!’s marketing director, told Robot 6. “But beyond selling out, we wanted to make it as easy as possible for comic book fans and non-comic book fans to host and share the all-new, all-original Prelude to the Hellraiser #1 PDF and give as many people a chance to experience the beginning of an all-new Hellraiser series. We know there are plenty of horror and Clive Barker fans who may not be comics fans, so by having a quick, easy and completely free way to read and share the Prelude to the Hellraiser #1 we hoped this would be enough of a catalyst to get more people interested in comic books.”
And according to Mosher, that’s what it did. The goal was for the PDF to go “viral” — they sent it out to the press and asked sites not to break up the PDF so that fans could download it and share it with their friends — meaning that tracking how many people actually downloaded it was nigh impossible. But they did get a lot of feedback on it, from both fans and retailers.
“The response has been tremendous from comic fans and non fans alike,” Mosher said. “We even got messages from fans over Twitter saying that they’re buying their first comic ever with Hellraiser #1, and that is really gratifying to hear. Comic book retailers have also hit us up saying that they had a sizable influx of new customers coming into their store asking for Hellraiser #1.”
He added that they worked with shops, specifically through the retailer organization ComicsPRO, as well as Diamond Comics Distributors to ensure the PDF included information on how to buy the comic.
“When we implemented the Prelude to the Hellraiser #1 PDF we worked with ComicsPRO and Diamond Comic Distributors to include information listing a number of amazing comic book retailers nationwide as well a page pointing people towards the Comic Shop Locator so they could find their nearest comic book retailer,” he said. “We also made sure to include an editorial page explaining how comics work to people who might not be familiar with the monthly nature of the comic book medium. BOOM! is always looking for ways to grow the comic book market whether it’s by driving more customers to their local comic chops or spreading the word and having comics in the digital space. We believe drawing and retaining new readers is key in order to grow this industry we love so much.”
Finally, going back to that set of questions that ran through my head, I asked Mosher about the print run for the comic, especially in the context of other BOOM! comics.
“We did a healthy overprint of Hellraiser #1 knowing there would be plenty of fans clamoring to read Clive Barker’s glorious return to Hellraiser,” he said. “But even with the overprint, I haven’t seen sales velocity this high since Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1, our bestselling single issue of all time.”