Friday, June 17, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics!

CBR just posted the new comics sales chart for May, and because I'm weird this is an exciting thing for me.  Here's what I discovered while crunching the numbers.

The Hat Is About Out Of Rabbits

Well, we were told by the Marvel brass that the world had been allowed to breathe long enough, and that we were all secretly dying for another Can't Miss Change Everything Forever Super Event.

Uh huh.

Fear Itself does top the chart at # 1, but it's under 100,000 units.  Flashpoint is # 2, but also obviously under 100,000 units.  It wasn't that long ago that New Avengers could eclipse that just by being New Avengers.  The magicians at the Big 2 keep going for the same tricks over and over and over and over again, and the numbers tell the story - the hat is about out of rabbits.

Nobody cares any more.  Nobody could possibly care any more.  These Can't Misses are already known frauds.  Brevoort's talking about next year's Big Thing in the summer.  Flashpoint is around not because it's awesome, but because something needed to create the Big Thing in September, and those things will exist only to promise the Next Big Thing.  (Something "Dark", if the early press is to be believed)

It's all a sham, there's never any narrative money in the account, and I think May's sales numbers are demonstrating that the powers that be had better start looking at another hat.  Because empty hype just aint cutting it any more.

Movie Bumps Are Bullshit

Speaking of hats empty of rabbits, can we finally now put to bed forever the idea that every comic movie needs 1,000 junk titles on the racks?  Mighty Thor # 2 is 31,598 issues from last month, or 38.5%.  Thank Christ we gave that mass of movie civilians a "clear jumping on point".  whew!  That was a close one, huh?

Just like the army of civilians that didn't want Iron Man: Legacy, and the army of civilians that couldn't wait to ignore Wolverine: Weapon X.  Just in case you weren't paying attention, they're both gone.  Give it up.  Please, please...just give it up.

Captain America: 1st Vengeance clocks in twice on a double ship for 13,689 and 12,116 copies.  Wow, really capitalizing on the movie buzz there.  How about Cap: Hail Hydra checking in at an embarrassing 9,637 units?  What is the point of that?  Are you going to make it back with the 800 copies of the trade paperback you'll sell later?  Good luck with that.

Let me assure you that Marvel will in no way learn anything from this, by the way.   When the Avengers movie hits, do expect a glut of material that will literally drive civilians away from the comic racks.  Don't believe me?  Let me show you how it's done.

Walking Dead Is A Golden God

Walking Dead # 85 sits like a shining beacon of hope in the 40th position.  It sold 5,622 more issues than it did last month.  Think about that for just a moment.

In a down market and a crushing economy, a fucking black and white indy horror book is up 17.61% month-to-month.  There's no television show on right now spiking that, no new DVD release, no creative shake-up, no new # 1, and to fully up the ante let's acknowledge that Walking Dead is also on the same day digital plan.  If our worst fears were correct, digital should be eating into the print book's numbers.

It's up 5,622 issues this month.

Why is that?  Because Kirkman knows what nobody at Marvel or DC know - keep it simple, stupid.  Walking Dead comes in a lot of sizes.  You've got six issue trades, 12 issue hardcovers, phone book sized compendiums.  But it's the same product.

There are no spin-offs, no re-numbering gambits, no re-boots, no bullshit.  Here's an ass kicker of a story every month that you can follow and understand.  Sound good?  Good.  See you next month!

Where do I start?  I don't know, how about at # 1?  Cool.  Then keep reading.  Is anybody out there paying attention?  Marvel thinks the world wants 11 Captain America books because a movie is coming out.  Wrong.  It wants ONE.  Walking Dead is a golden god, it's handing out all the answers, and nobody is noticing.  Pity.  But you know, we'll definitely have four Lantern books coming out, so we've got that going for us.

Butcher Baker Spiked Hard

Let's talk about stuff that isn't so goddamn depressing, like Joe Casey's Butcher Baker, The Righteous Maker.  Issue # 3 landed at position 210, which isn't that impressive.  But it's up almost 1,300 issues, or 25.48%, and that is impressive!

Image had a few books with increases this month.  Carbon Grey took on a few more readers.  Green Wake added some.  This is encouraging.  Nobody gains 1,300 copies at issue # 3.  And for the record, this is all word-of-mouth, and Butcher deserves it.  I get more out of the back matter of that comic than I do in the meat of most other comics.

Don't be afraid to join the party, is what I'm saying.

Kids Books Are Ramping Up

Another positive trend for Mays chart - "all ages" titles trending upwards.  Nothing extraordinary, mind you.  But in an age when everything goes down month-to-month, even a one copy increase puts you way ahead of the competition.

It wasn't specific to any one publisher, brand, or genre, either, which is extra promising.  All of these titles saw increases from April:  Sonic, Scooby Doo, Young Justice, Batman Brave/Bold, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, Tiny Titans. 

I don't know what to attribute this to - Free Comic Book Day, maybe?  I saw a lot of kids at my local shops for FCBD.  Maybe this is a trend, and shops were filling re-orders for May after the first weekend saw some new blood asking for copies of their favorite characters?

I don't know what did it, but it's damn promising, in its own small way.  We need some more Tiny Titans, so that someday we can poison them all with Crossed.  Yeah, baby!

- Ryan

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