25 October 2005

COMMENT: September's G*ddamn Sales Figures

Over on the Buzz Blog, I posted some comments on September's sales figures that saw All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder #2 top the list with approximately 178,000 copies pre-sold to the direct market. Further down the chart, though, something else caught my eye:

ARANA #8 (13,758) and #9 (12,920) both outsold the series that spawned her, AMAZING FANTASY #12 (11,983), though Araña can presumably look to its digest collections to justify its continued existence. She's also outselling Indie darlings (and Premier Publisher counterparts) GIRLS #5 (12,002), INVINCIBLE #26 (11,574) and SEA O/RED #4 (4,764), despite Marvel's pretty much abandoning its promotional efforts on behalf of the series.
Girls, Invincible and Sea of Red are three of Image's most promoted, highly regarded series around, and yet they're not outselling Araña, which by most accounts, has been a relative disappointment over its 15-issue run (including Amazing Fantasy #1-6).

Wassup with that?

The cynical answer, of course, is that the average comics fan doesn't read beyond their Marvel/DC pull lists and their favorite characters. But cynicism, as much as I prefer it to optimism, sometimes masks other truths. Whatever you might think about Araña - IMO, a well-intentioned, but ill-conceived mess of a comic book - you could make a similar case for the other three titles. Personally, I think Girls is one of the lamer indie darlings on the stands, featuring clichéd dialogue and cardboard thin characters hiding behind a somewhat intriguing plot. (Though not intriguing enough to keep me buying it past the the 4th issue.) Sea of Red is a similarly overrated, pretentious muddling of genres in an attempt to lift the artform, or some such hyperbolic crap; and the little bit I've read of Invincible left me as cold as my first reading of Ultimate Spider-Man, Vol. 1 last week, both trite rehashes of been-there-done-that superheroing that pale in comparison to their inspirations.

Now, Image is a "Premier Publisher" - a point some of the creators under its umbrella are way too fond of pointing out - with invaluable front of Previews real estate, and arguably the recipient of far more Wizard-love than Araña ever received, and yet...

Funny how Araña's numbers are spun as being a result of it being a bad comic book, while the others are given a free pass because, you know, comics fans teh suck!



Kurt said...

Guy, what are your thoughts on the Seven Soldiers numbers? They seem low to me but I'm having a hard time finding a frame of reference for them.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

Marc-Oliver Frisch does a great monthly analysis of DC's (and select indies') sales figures - the latest one is here - and from what I've seen of Seven Soliders' numbers, I'd say they're largely a measure of Grant Morrison's individual popularity. Compared to other DC titles featuring relative unknowns like the one's Morrison's using (Zatanna being the lone exception, barely, and the best-seller of the group as a result), and considering they don't tie in to Infinite Crisis at all (supposedly), the maxi-series (?) could even be considered a huge success.

Depending on how the whole thing ties together and how they package it, my guess is the trades will do pretty good business, too.