Saturday, December 11, 2010

Numbers Game!

I went to ICV2 and looked at the November 2010 numbers as reported by Diamond to retailers.  I've been looking at them all day, actually, because I'm just wired differently.  For every Ryan Lee and John Mayo there's about 1,000 people who look at that string of Matrix code and say "what the hell's wrong with you...that's a big boring mess!"

Well, you're half right.  It is a mess.  But it isn't boring.  Here's some of the stories the data are telling me:

I'm about to bleed half my readers. Shit.
And the Pretty Poison Award goes to....
Uncanny X-Force, which topped last month's chart at 95,639 units.  This month # 2 drops all the way down to position # 18 and 56,518 units.  WOW.  You just hemorrhaged half your circulation.  That is what we in the industry call a "catch me, I'm falling" scenario.  All # 2s suffer, but that's insane.

Did you know that X-Force was selling in the 60,000s before the Marvel brain trust decided we needed reboot number 8,367?  How's that workin' out for ya, boys?  Brock Lesnar couldn't pull me off Marvel right now.

What's Grant Morrison Worth?
Apparently, about 10,000 buyers.  Batman & Robin # 16 checked in at position # 5 for 80,343 units, and the Paul Cornell scripted Batman & Robin # 17 went for 70,600 units. I expected a slightly bigger dip.

I'm all the way in. Ouch!
The Ol' Iron Cornholing
Unbeknownst to me when it shipped, Invincible Iron Man # 32 tip-toed up to the $3.99 price point.  What's awesome about that is the fact that I go on my show, get in front of a mic and loudly proclaim "I am not an idiot!  You cannot put stuff past me, you bastards!"  And then I have to have Nick point out that in fact I am an idiot, and the House of KY did in fact put stuff past me.

Apparently, others noticed the floor lamp inching its way into their rectum, because that issue took 40,978 orders, while issue # 31 at the $2.99 price point took 45,507 orders.  And that's pretty significant.

Only One Is Actually Fantastic
Jonathan Hickman's legendary and inspirational run of Fantastic Four continues with issue # 585 coming in at position # 36 and 37,740 units.  Next on the list is the very forgettable and marginal Generation Hope # 1 in position # 37 and 37,398 units.

How does that happen?  I guess that tastes vary, and people can like what they like, and can people can buy what they want to buy.  But how in the world can the most important and consistently best-executed book at Marvel sell an identical number of copies as a paper-doll mutant mini that nobody will even remember exists a year from now?  I don't know how that happens.  When we figure that out, we might have the answer to our troubles, though.

Mark Millar is Superior
Unstoppable Scottish Beast
Say what you want about the crazy Scottish git...he sells books.  He sells creator owned books, which is impossible.  Superior # 2 came in at # 42 for 34,688, and down only about 6,000 copies from the first issue.  Hard to explain how extraordinary that is.

Consider that you don't find Scarlet # 3 until you get down to position # 70 and about 25,000 units.  Brian Michael Bendis has some clout, friends, and Millar is killing him.  And Scarlet is a far superior product, if you'll pardon the pun.  If Brubaker had an issue of Incognito or Criminal out, I think we could expect to see that in the 10,000 copy range.  Which is just a long, boring way of stating the fact that Mark Millar is a unique and powerful beast.  And if one had access to his nail clippings, you should grind them into powder and create a potion, that one might imbibe his magical powers.

OK, the guy writes a comic book that shall remain nameless (*cough*Nemesis*cough*) where the villain somehow rigs a woman's womb to collapse if her brother's fetus is aborted from it.  And we all just take it, like nothing happened.  "oh yeah, rig a woman's womb to kill her if the incestuous fetus is aborted, yeah, I can see that.  It's Millar.  Whatever."  What???  What's wrong with us?  How do we let him get away with this shit?  He's magic.  That's it.  He's a magical Scottish creature which has cast a global spell on us.  Well played, sir!

I'm not this slutty inside.  Shit, that came out wrong.
People Will Still Pay For Boobs
Dynamite pushed out yet another Vampirella book, and on the show I questioned why.  Well, apparently because if you do that, then people will buy 29,215 copies, that's why.

That's an exceptionally strong performance, I would say.  So strong I don't quite believe it.  Either my thumb is just not on the pulse, or maybe something like Hastings went crazy on it?  I just have a hard time believing that an Eric Trautman (not saying anything against him, he's just not a household name at this point) penned Vampirella (#57) could outsell a Jonathan Hickman penned Astonishing Thor # 1, (#58) but it did.  Hooray for boobs, I guess.  What's extra odd is that inside the cover, this one isn't even a T&A book.  She's just a hard-ass chick who stole Wonder Woman's jacket. 

Morning Wood?
I was very curious to see where Morning Glories # 4 would land on the list. There's a lot of people like me who spend all day with a hard-on talking about this comic, but does any of that wood translate into sales growth?
I'm the best comic you aren't reading

Sort of.  Morning Glories # 4 hit the list at # 151 and 11,292 copies.  Which is exactly 34 more copies than it sold last month.  This is actually a big win, because pretty much nothing beats attrition these days, and simply avoiding a loss should be headline news.  It really seems like the audience for this book should be a LOT bigger than 11,000 copies, though, so it feels disappointing.

I guess the big test will come in say....March.  The first TPB hits in February, and we should see a spike right after that.  By the way, that trade will collect the first six issues for a suggested retail of $9.99.

Somebody at Marvel needs to be taking notes on this.  You don't sell a guy a sell a guy 10 cars over a lifetime.  Morning Glories is awesome product.  Spencer knows that if he can just get people in the door, and they walk away feeling as though they've received value, he's got them.  That's where we need to be - in Morning Glories Town.

- Ryan


DJ said...

Dear Mister Lee,

A few explanations for your quandries. I bought Generation hope #1, why? cause I like it. You have to understand the appeal that these type of books have to people. I think it's why X-Men is even still standing. It's a story about a group of children who wake up one day and realized somethings wrong, that they can shoot and kill people with their eyes, lift cars etc, etc, and they have to cope with these new powers. There's something appealing about that to me as a reader. Generation Hope is just the next book to go back to this formula in a while. Will it be forgotten in a year? Probably, simply because it will becomed bogged down with x-men continuity issues but I'm enjoying it for now (although #2 did kinda suck). This fills the void I've had ever since New X-men got Cancelled, you could argue morning glories should (and does) but I still love the marvel universe (god help me) and it's 2.99 so I'm there.
I also know that you're not a huge art guy but let me explain. J. Scott Campbell has a group of crazy devoted followers who will buy anything he does, incidently he did a varient for Uncanny X-Force #1, so that's why the numbers on the Vampirella book and X-Force book are high and then both will drop on #2. People still do buy books just because of covers regardless of the terd on the inside. Good wrapper = consumer pick-up.

Happy CHRONIKA Scrooge
(I know, bad pun, but you can use it as a title for next year since you missed this years jewish thingy).


Chronic Insomnia said...

Yeah, yeah, I completely understand. I haven't read Generation Hope, but listening to you talk about sounds a lot like my feelings on Ultimate X and Teen Titans. Objectively, I recognize that neither book is going to win an Eisner or make us look at comics in a new just scratches a particular itch I have, and I quite enjoy them.

The point is not so much that people shouldn't be reading Generation Hope or Vampirella. I think there's a place for those should just be WAY down the list from something like Fantastic Four. It just doesn't make sense that something could be that good and sell so marginally.

- Ryan