The official announcement on Tuesday of a new horror series by Robert Kirkman looks promising, but can it repeat the success of The Walking Dead? The co-creator of one of most successful comic books of the past decade has become one of the high-profile figures in the industry, so the new project (with artist Paul Azaceta) calls out for a closer look.
When his zombie comic debuted in 2003, Kirkman was primarily known for superhero comics, like the more traditional Invincible, which had launched only months earlier, or the parody Battle Pope. A black-and-white horror comic that had none of the Spider-Man-style lightheartedness of those early Invincible issues or the dark humor of Battle Pope was unexpected from the writer. Even his lesser-known work, like Tech Jacket, Brit, Superpatriot or (how’s this for obscure?) the Masters of the Universe: Icons of Evil one-shots and Space Ace, all typically fell somewhere within that spectrum, never getting too dark and sometimes heading into outright comedies. Of course, any writer worth his salt can do more than one genre or tone. The Walking Dead definitively stepped out of his known territory, immediately proving itself to be startlingly tense, dark and dead serious. And like 30 Days of Night the year before, it demonstrated once again that comics could do horror.
Word of mouth about the series soon spread, with sales of each issue improving during an industry-wide slump. It became a cult hit, and by the time the first collected edition was released, back issues were beginning to spike on the resale market. Each subsequent year, sales seemed to grow exponentially, until it became the perennial hit that it is today. Needless to say, this led to a television deal with AMC and the pop culture phenomenon that it’s become, which has helped accelerate a zombie craze.
Offering “incentive” covers to retailers for ordering a certain quantity of a comic isn’t new, but BOOM! Studios is putting a bit of a twist on it for their new ongoing series Outcast — a limited run cover by Joe Jusko that BOOM! founder and CEO Ross Richie estimates will have a print run of around 40 copies. The book already comes “slabbed,” so to speak, as a CGC-graded 9.8 edition. Retailers have to order 200 copies of the book to get one.
“Measuring this against the promotions we did for the Stan books with incentive covers, we estimate that at most there will be 40 copies of this book on the market,” Richie said. That’s a very low print run from a company of BOOM!’s size, and, as Richie points out, “It would certainly be the lowest print run item and hardest to find comic for Joe Jusko in a 30 year career that he’s had.”
Now I’m not one who buys comics in the hopes that they’ll be worth something or to seal them in plastic, but I could see that if you were a hardcore Jusko fan this might be something you’d be interested in. It’s also worth noting that the regular comic itself costs a buck, meaning a retailer would have to spend $200 retail (i.e. before their discount with Diamond) to get a copy.
The first issue arrives in December from writer Michael Alan Nelson and artist Matteo Scalera, with regular covers by Liam Sharp, Cary Nord, Alé Garza and Trevor Hairsine. It’s a fantasy book about a warrior king who is killed in battle and resurrected as one of the walking dead — “an outcast with only one purpose: to restore his lost soul!”