Retailing | Retailers are “cautiously ecstatic,” ICv2 reports, ecstatic because comics sales have increased in the direct market every month for the past 12 months, and cautious because this “return to floppies” comes after years of a seesawing market and they know things can change at any time. The article contains links to the news and analysis site’s lists of the top graphic novel properties in a number of categories, including superheroes, manga, and kids’ comics. [ICv2]
Creators | The Sri Lankan political cartoonist Prageeth Eknelygoda has been missing for 1,000 days as of Tuesdayy, and his wife is convinced the government has something to do with that. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Creators | This article about T. Casey Brennan, who wrote for Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, takes a number of weird turns, not least when Brennan claims to have shot JFK — and when he shows up in the comments section to dispute everything in the article. Brennan’s life seems to have taken a turn after he was injured in an automobile accident, and he now is homeless and but apparently happy. [The Washtenaw Voice]
Publishing| Comics sales in the direct market were down in September relative to last year, but that may be because the launch of DC’s New 52 pushed sales unusually high in September 2011. Graphic novels were up by 14.4 percent, making for a slight uptick in the overall market. Year-to-date and third-quarter sales were also up by a goodly amount from last year. [ICv2]
Editorial cartooning | The position of editorial cartoonist as a staff job on a newspaper is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but attendees at the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists meeting in Washington, D.C., don’t seem too downhearted; new opportunities are opening up, and this year’s presidential campaign is presenting them with plenty of material. “Times are tough for the old idea of cartoonists, but all kinds of other things have opened up,” said cartoonist Chip Bok, “And editorial cartoons, all cartoons, are more popular than ever. You see them all over the Internet. The problem now is figuring out how to get paid.” [Voice of America]
Graphic novels | The seventh volume of Sailor Moon was the top-selling graphic novel in bookstores in September, according to BookScan, followed by Naruto,Vol. 58, an Avengers character guide, the third volume of Batman: Knightfall, and vol. 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Promise. ICv2 notes that, the Avengers book aside (and it is published by DK Publishing), Marvel is completely absent from the top ten, although DC makes a strong showing. [ICv2]
Creators | Hope Larson, who adapted Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time into graphic novel form, chats with Margaret Ferguson, her editor on the project. [Publishers Weekly]
Retailing | ICv2 analyzes the August direct market numbers and comes up with some interesting patterns: While the market as a whole is up, the number of comics with sales of more than 1,000 has been declining; sales dropped a bit for most ongoing comics series in the Top 25, but strong sales of Before Watchmen and two annuals more than compensated for that; and graphic novels sell in far lower numbers than comics, but because many of them are backlist titles, the numbers still increase from year to year. ICv2 also posted lists of last month’s Top 300 comics and graphic novels. [ICv2]
Publishing | Yet another big publisher spawns a graphic novel imprint: This time it’s Penguin, whose Berkley/NAL division will launch a graphic novel imprint, InkLit, next month. Helmed by former DC vice president and Yen Press co-founder Rich Johnson, InkLit will publish both original graphic novels and adaptations of prose works. The line will begin with Vol. 1 of Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, which collects the trades published by Dynamite; the second volume will be all new material. Also in the works are books by Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Sage Stossel. [Publishers Weekly]
Comics | The August direct market sales numbers are in, and things look good: Comics sales are up almost 20 percent over August 2011, and graphic novels are up 15 percent. This isn’t just a fluke, either: Year-to-date sales are up about the same in both categories. DC had a slight edge in market share, Marvel did slightly better on unit sales, and interestingly, the Big Two stole back a bit of market share from everyone else. And as with bookstore sales, Batman ruled the direct market: “The influence of The Dark Knight Rises is more obvious in the bookstore channel with its tendency to foster backlist sales (Frank Miller’s 1980’s classic, The Dark Knight Returns was tops in the bookstores), while the direct market sales are concentrated more on the most recent releases such as Johns’ Batman: Earth One, which was released in July and Snyder’s New 52 volume that was out in May.” [ICv2]
Passings | Illustrator and panel cartoonist Art Cumings has died at the age of 90. Mike Lynch describes Cumings as “an illustrator’s illustrator and a cartoonist’s cartoonist”; his work appeared everywhere from Dr. Seuss books to Penthouse magazine, and it’s worth hitting the link to see his Balloonheads cartoons from the latter. (NSFW, but in a cute, colorful way.) [Mike Lynch Cartoons]
Retailing | DC Comics dominated bookstore graphic novel sales in August, probably because of the release of The Dark Knight Rises and a “buy two, get one free” sale on DC graphic novels at Barnes & Noble. Six of the Top 10 titles are Batman comics, with The Walking Dead, Watchmen, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Naruto each taking a slot as well. [ICv2]
Creators | Judge Dredd writer John Wagner talks about the origins of his character, the importance of U.K. publisher DC Thomson, and his dislike of digital comics. [The Daily Record]
Creators | Nick Spencer guests on Kieron Gillen’s podcast to discuss Morning Glories. [Kieron Gillen's Workblog]
Publishing | Kodansha’s Attack on Titan, the action-fantasy manga by Hajime Isayama, has sold more than 9 million copies in Japan, according to the Sports Nippon newspaper. The eighth volume was released last week in Japan; Kodansha USA will publish the second volume next month in North America. [Anime News Network]
Publishing | Alex Zalben pays a visit to the Valiant offices and talks shop with editor Warren Simons: “Asking whether the idea was to set these up so that you can go right to TV, video games, or other properties, Simons strongly denies that was behind the relaunch. ‘I think you have guys who really love comic books,’ said Simons. ‘I’m just interested in publishing comic books. Obviously in this space, in this day and age you want to pay attention to everything – just like everyone does. But I think it all derives from publishing … [The publishers] just wanted to read comics about the characters that they loved growing up!’” [MTV Geek]
John Jackson Miller takes a hard look at the July sales charts, starting by parsing the numbers for the month’s top seller, The Walking Dead #100. Diamond Comic Distributors estimates place sales of the regular comic at 335,000 copies, plus almost 31,000 of the $9.99 Chromium Edition. That’s a bit less than the 383,612 copies Image Comics announced, but as Miller notes, the Diamond numbers don’t include reorders, overseas sales, newsstand sales and other channels.
Anyway, just adding those first two numbers, U.S. direct-market sales of the regular issue and the variant cover, this comic sold 366,000 copies, setting a new record for the highest orders for a comic in a single month, handily beating The Amazing Spider-Man #583 (the Barack Obama issue), the previous top seller for the 21st century, and The Darkness #11, Image’s previous all-time top seller.
Miller spends a bit of time contemplating whether variant covers should be included in the one-month total. I paused to wonder how many of the variants are being bought by collectors who are picking up the standard cover as well, but in the end, a sale is a sale, regardless of why it occurs.
While all this is great news for Image, Miller makes an observation further down in the post that should give readers pause: “As reported last Friday, the market overall continued to percolate, up nearly 20% over the previous year. A gap is developing between the sales of the Top 300 graphic novels and graphic novel sales overall; the Top 300s for the last seven months are up 25% over last year, whereas everything in the category is only up 14%. That suggests a list that’s been top-heavy with unit volume and/or dollars.”
It would be interesting to take a closer look and see where the drop-off occurs; it may not be at 300, and if it’s further up the list, that would suggest a winners-and-losers scenario that could be bad news in the long run.
Publishing | ICv2 sits down for a three-part interview with DC Comics Co-Publishers Jim Lee and Dan DiDio that takes the long view of the past year, covering the launch of the New 52, the effect of digital and the loss of Borders, and the recent discussions around creators’ rights. “It’s a cyclical thing. It’s an issue that constantly comes back,” DiDio said. “We hear about the great jobs and the great books that creators might participate in, but what we don’t hear about are all the books we’ve invested in over the years that never delivered, where we’ve invested in the talent and the time to make sure they had the opportunity to tell the stories they tell. It’s a very big picture, and it’s a very complex issue that can’t be boiled down. One thing I feel the most strongly is that I feel extraordinarily confident that we do everything we can to make this a very creator friendly company, to make sure they have an opportunity to tell the stories they want to tell with our characters and also in their creator owned stories too.” [ICv2]
Legal | In a motion for summary judgment filed Monday in the long-running legal battle for the rights to Superman, attorneys for Warner Bros. are revisiting their 2009 argument that the estate of Joe Shuster has no grounds to reclaim the artist’s share of the copyright to the Man of Steel. They point to a 1992 agreement in which the estate relinquished all claims in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included DC Comics paying Shuster’s remaining debts follow his death earlier that year, and providing his sister Jean Seavy with a $25,000 annual pension. Daniel Best has the documents, while Jeff Trexler provides context, noting that the new filing “filing wasn’t a Perry Mason-esque unveiling of surprising new facts. Rather, it was a routine motion for summary judgment.” A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20. [20th Century Danny Boy, The Beat]
Retailing | Sales of comics and graphic novels in the direct market rose 18.6 percent for the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, reports the retail news and analysis site ICv2. John Jackson Miller adds that, “Retailers have already ordered more material through June — nearly $223 million in retail dollars— than they did in last year through July.” He also points out that the second half of the year has outperformed the first half every year for the past decade, by an average of 10 percent, meaning we can probably expect 2012 to finish strong. [ICv2.com, Comichron]
Publishing | The new Valiant Entertainment would like to follow the movie “blueprint” that Marvel has laid out, according to a new profile of the reborn company. “Investors like to be able to compare concepts to other concepts,” said Valiant chairman Peter Cuneo, former CEO of Marvel. “With Valiant, we very much have a blueprint to follow, which is Marvel.” The profile mostly focuses on the business side of Valiant, as well as some of its history. [The New York Times]
Hit-Girl, apparently, is a hit. The first issue of the miniseries starring the supporting character from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s Kick-Ass has sold out its first printing, which according to Millar was over 70,000 copies.
“Pre-orders for Hit-Girl #1 were over 70,000 copies, and we’ve completely sold out of first printing, the Noto variant and the limited edition white variant in 36 hrs.,” Millar said on his MillarWorld site. “Marvel cleverly had an emergency second printing on stand-by and only 1700 copies of this left. So a third printing has not been ordered.
“… This is outselling even Kick-Ass and reaction has been amazing. Johnny and I very chuffed.”
Millar followed that post up with another saying that the second printing was sold out. “Third printing on the way, people,” he said.
Those numbers are especially impressive since Hit-Girl #1 was apparently left off of Diamond’s initial retailer’s order form.
The Hit-Girl miniseries takes place between Kick-Ass volumes 1 and 2 as the title character, a.k.a. Mindy McCready, tries to settle into life as a regular school-girl. According to the solicitation text, “Her mother and step-father think she’s doing her homework, but in reality she’s taken Kick-Ass on as her sidekick and training him up to punch, shoot and stab” … and apparently sell a bunch of comics.
Publishing | May was a huge month for comics sales in the direct market, and John Jackson Miller quantifies just how huge: It was the biggest month for dollar sales in the “Diamond Exclusive Era” (i.e. since 2003): “Diamond’s Top 300 comics had orders totaling $25.72 million, an increase of 44% over last May and the highest total since Diamond became the sole distributor in 1997. It beats the total of $25.37 million set in December 2008.” [The Comics Chronicles]
Comics | Art Spiegelman is contributing a prescient New Yorker cover from 2001 to the Occupy Comics anthology; other creators who are contributing work include Alan Moore, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dean Haspiel. [Underwire]
History | Joe Sergi takes a look at the comics burnings of 1948, a series of disturbing events in which children, no doubt goaded on by well-meaning adults, collected comics door to door and then burned them in a public bonfire. [CBLDF]
Best-seller lists are tricky things, because no one except the people who put them together knows what the numbers really are. Now Publishers Weekly is ripping off the veil and will publish the top 25 listings in the weekly BookScan sales charts with actual numbers attached. Heidi MacDonald explains what’s going on at The Beat; this week’s chart is free, but after that PW will put it behind a paywall.
This information is fascinating but comes with a couple of caveats. BookScan, which is a service provided by A.C. Nielsen, tracks books sold in bookstores, including Amazon but not including the direct market, mass-market stores such as Wal-Mart, book fairs, or sales to libraries. So when you look at the list, it’s useful to keep in mind that some books will do better in comics shops than bookstores, while for others, such as manga and graphic-novel memoirs, the opposite will be true. What’s more, BookScan doesn’t cover the whole market— Heidi says it captures 80 percent, but her commenters dispute that. In other words, the charts only give a piece of the picture, and it’s more accurate for some books than for others.
To me, the most interesting column is the last one, which shows the number of copies sold this year to date. My rough rule of thumb is that a book has to sell about 3,000 copies to break even, and by that measure, most of the non-superhero books are doing well (and the superhero ones are probably selling gangbusters in the direct market).
Publishing | Eight months after the launch of DC Comics’ New 52, Marc-Oliver Frisch takes a look at the reboot and concludes that it is not the “game-changer” it was touted to be. After an initial burst of sales when the series was launched, DC’s monthly numbers have settled down to about half the September sales, above the previous year’s levels but best described, as Frisch puts it, as “solid but not spectacular.” [Comiks Debris]
Digital comics | Anthony Ha looks at the success of the Pocket God comic, which is marketed alongside the game; more than 200,000 copies of the first issue have been sold, and sales for the whole series total 600,000. Dave Castelnuovo of Bolt Creative thinks the strong sales are due in part to the 99-cent cover price: “Meanwhile, the traditional publishers don’t want to undercut their print prices, so they’re usually charging $2.99 or $3.99 for new issues. (Some older comics are available for considerably less.) Castelnuovo says that’s ‘just too expensive’ for digital comics, especially when they’re competing with something like Angry Birds, which offers more content for just 99 cents. And although Marvel and DC are sell digital collections, Castelnuovo argues that they should be doing more to bundle dozens or even hundreds of issues together, so that readers can ‘blaze through them’ the way that they will consume entire seasons of Mad Men or Game of Thrones.” [TechCrunch]