Robot 6

Warren Ellis reveals ‘a thing that I probably shouldn’t': ‘Trees’ numbers

trees1In an industry that’s quick to trumpet distributor-level sellouts and multiple printing, publishers and creators are generally reluctant to reveal any actual sales numbers. Sure, there are those monthly direct-market sales estimates, but they’re just that — estimates (and most anyone who attempts to divine meaning from them is usually quickly reminded of their inaccuracy).

And so it was refreshing to see Warren Ellis disclose orders for the first issue of Trees, his new Image Comics collaboration with Jason Howard, in his Orbital Operations e-newsletter. Or, as he puts it, “I am going to tell you a thing that I probably shouldn’t.”

Retailers ordered about 38,500 copies — “I don’t recall the precise number and can’t check it right this second,” he writes — and he and Howard authorized a print run of 50,000.

Ellis confesses, “That’s a big overprint, and it could easily blow up in our faces — if the overprint doesn’t sell, then the print cost is taken out of our hides. On the other hand: if you go looking for it, and your store tells you it’s sold out or that they couldn’t get any, you can tell them that I told you we printed 12K extra copies.”

“I’m not expecting an instant sell-out like Moon Knight 1-3, for several reasons,” he concedes, “chief among them being that ‘traditionally’ the audience for my original work has never been a Wednesday crowd — they have always tended to trickle in over the month of sale. I mean, it’d be nice to be wrong! But right now, my victory condition is moving most of that 50K over thirty days.”

Of course, if the debut issue does sell out, we’ll now have some context for the inevitable press release. Trees #1 is available today in print and digitally.



Interesting. As a subscriber to his newsletter I can see this is nothing more than a rewritten press release. No reporting at all.

Hey Ben, not everyone gets his newsletter, so I think it is reporting something interesting.

Someone clearly shoulda dug deeper for the EXACT numbers.

“Was it 35,500, or 35,499? What’re you trying to hide, Warren Ellis?!”

I’m buying one . . .

But how will those digital sales affect that overprint margin cost? Does it create a deeper divide between sold print issues and created copies? Does this matter?

Jake Earlewine

May 29, 2014 at 5:01 am

I wish Ellis had mentioned how much his print run cost. I’d like to do the math and figure out how much profit can be made.

“I wish Ellis had mentioned how much his print run cost. I’d like to do the math and figure out how much profit can be made.”

For that, Ellis would need to let us know their expenses as well. He and Howard should probably just let us see their bank accounts for complete transparency.

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