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.
Legal | Ryan Matheson, who was stopped at the Canadian border in 2010 and charged with criminal possession of child pornography because of a manga image on his computer (which even the officials who arrested him couldn’t agree was child pornography), talks about his ordeal in a personal statement on the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund announced Thursday that the Canadian government has dropped all criminal charges against Matheson. [CBLDF]
Comics | Leah Moore sees two things: a huge number of women who like comics, and a comics industry that is in serious trouble, and thinks it’s time to connect the dots and start making comics that appeal to the other 50% of the audience. “Okay, well, let’s say, instead of jumping in and writing comics designed to attract women readers (Minx comics discovered this is harder than it looks), how’s about writing comics which don’t actually put women off? How’s about a bit less objectifying, a bit less sexualisation, a bit less pervy gusset shots and tit windows? Just a bit? Make some of the regular mainstream big name books everyone enjoys reading a bit less eyewatering and weird about women. That would be a great start.” [Warren Ellis]
For a time, comic book subscriptions were a big part of any comic fans’ repertoire. Back when comics were available primarily on newsstands and the rare comic specialty shop, subscriptions provided by publishers promised a surefire way for fans to get every issue of their favorite comics in a timely manner, and, in most cases, at a discount. But in recent years, direct subscriptions from publishers have taken a back seat, with only Marvel and DC offering them, and only for a portion of their comics line. But now Top Cow is bringing it to their pasture in an inventive subscription plan for their entire line.
Announced on its own website TopCow.com, the California-based publisher is offering a subscription to its three core ongoing series — Witchblade, The Darkness and Artifacts – along with a surprise comic with a variant cover each month. This service is available for $15/month ($10 a month plus postage) for either 6- or 12-month increments, and would be shipped USPS First Class each month in one bundle to ensure no damage to the books.
When asked about the availability to add in mini-series and special one shots like Pilot Season to the package, Top Cow’s Filip Sablik said it’s in the works.
“We haven’t worked out the details,” the publisher explained,” but if the customer wants to order other items in a month and have them ship with their subscription, assuming they fit in the envelope, it shouldn’t be a problem.”
It’s an interesting prospect, and who knows — maybe we could see other publishers pick up on the idea.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Image Comics, the company formed by a group of artists who left the security of work-for-hire comics to create and own their own comics. It’s been 20 years of ups and downs, but one thing that has remained consistent is a focus on creator-owned work.
With 2011 in the history books and their big anniversary kicking off with the first Image Expo, a new ad campaign and high-profile series by big-name creators like Brian K. Vaughan, Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and many more, I thought it was a good time to chat with Publisher Eric Stephenson about the state of the company, the year that was, their upcoming plans and anything else he was willing to talk about. My thanks to Eric for taking the time to answer my questions.
JK Parkin: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Eric. Incidentally, another feature we’re running as a part of our anniversary bash is one where we asked various comic industry folks about what they’re looking forward to in 2012. I got one back yesterday where the answer was basically “everything from Image Comics.” I find that interesting, because there’s a lot of diversity in Image’s line and although I think you guys probably publish something for every kind of taste, I wouldn’t think that every title would appeal to every comic reader. And yet I also find myself checking out at least the first issue of everything you guys have done lately. So from your perspective, what’s the unifying factor (or factors) right now among your titles, if there is one?
Stephenson: I think the main thing is that we’re moving forward and creating new things. We’re not content to just recycle the same old ideas month in and month out and then market it all as brand new. If this was another publisher, we’d be debuting our latest spin-off of The Walking Dead in March, but instead, we’re launching a new series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, a new series by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra, a new series by Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz, and so on. For 20 years, Image has put its faith in creative people, and it’s the power of their imagination that links all our titles together, now more than ever.
Three down, one to go … here’s a list of the major comics-related announcements made at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Saturday:
• A number of new projects were announced or promoted at Image’s Creator-Owned Comics panel, not the least of which is the return of Brian K. Vaughan to comic books. Vaughan will write a book called Saga, which is co-created and drawn by Fiona Staples. Vaughan told CBR that the book is “an epic drama chronicling the life and times of one young family fighting to survive a never-ending war. 100 percent creator-owned. Ongoing. Monthly. Fiona and I are banking issues now.”
• Image also announced that Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman is collaborating with Charlie Adlard on a new series of graphic novels called Album. The books will be released roughly 18 months apart, 60 pages long, with different themes each year, with the first being Passenger. It’s co-published with Delcourt in France and will be available simultaneously in English and France.
• Jonathan Hickman and Nicky Pitarra will team up for The Manhattan Projects at Image. Hickman is also doing a book called Secret with artist Ryan Godenheim.
The surprise about reading all of the comics Top Cow sent over as a result of my admission of blind prejudice wasn’t that they weren’t as bad as I’d lazily expected — I was actually expecting that, to be honest — but that I ended with realizing that I was going to have to go out and catch up on the collections of one series in particular… and it was the one I’d been expecting to like the least.