§ November 24th, 2004 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

So my headache from this morning has mostly gone away, but I can still feel it lurking in my head somewhere. Boy, that was nasty.

But you don’t want to hear about my head…you came here for some comic talk! And awaaaaay we go!

1. Pal Dorian was talking about how some comics were and weren’t selling at our store, and that reminding me of a related topic…my X-Men comic sales theory. It’s not 100% perfect, not all-inclusive, and only barely tested in the wild, but my observation of our store’s comic saver service has brought me to formulate this theory, which may be stated as follows:

The critical acclaim of an X-Men series is inversely proportionate to the number of regular longtime X-Men fans that series has as readers.

Okay, maybe a bit wordy, but it’s just a little something I’ve noticed. For example, New X-Men by Grant Morrison, District X, X-Force/X-Statix by Milligan and Allred, and (to a lesser extent) Madrox…all X-titles mostly rejected by our local X-fans, but read by people who normally don’t get any X-titles. I had people on my comic saver lists who asked for every X-title except Morrison’s X-Men, and added it back on as soon as Austen took over. And I had just as many people on my savers who only got Morrison’s run.

I’m not trying to slam X-fans…I mean, if your favorite comic in the world is Academy X, God bless you, I’m glad you enjoy it. But it’s interesting to notice that the X-titles that mangage to attract a non-traditional audience (rather than forcing the regular X-fans to squeeze another $2.99 book into their budgets) seem, in general, to repel the people who normally enjoy the X-Men.

2. A fun thing we do every week is the Marvel Order Adjustments, where we get to alter our initial orders of Marvel titles about three weeks before the titles are released…presumably so we can adjust our orders based on actual sales of the previous issues. This is a little tricky to do with first issues, certainly, but boy, I appreciate it when I can do it to second issues of Marvel’s latest turkeys. For instance, Spider-Man: India – Sweet Mother McCree, this comic couldn’t be more of a dog if it were humping my leg. We sold three…one to a person who gets all Spider-Man, regardless; one to a person who gets all Marvel first issues; and the third to parts unknown. Points to Marvel for trying something different (sorta), I guess, but boy, I’m slashing orders on #2 to the bone.

Identity Disc was another Marvel dust-collector…there was nothing really wrong with it, I guess – it’s Robert Rodi on writing chores, after all – but Marvel fans just plain didn’t want it. When I was calling in the order adjustments on that issue, the distributor rep on the other end of the line replied “popular choice,” so I’m guessing every other retailer on the planet had the same experience with this title. (In fairness, Identity Disc did have a brief flurry of back issue sales, but that was quite some time ago.)

One I really thought about this week was the forthcoming Offical Marvel Universe Handbook – Golden Age. We didn’t order a lot on this to begin with, but given how much of a hard sell even the Wolverine handbook was, I had to reconsider. Particularly since, when I was talking to someone about this comic, I actually had to pause for a few seconds to recall Marvel (rather, Timely) Golden Age heroes. Me. A person who sells these funnybooks for a living. Who has to know this stuff. Sure, anyone can remember the easy ones right off (original Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, and, God help us, the Whizzer). Maybe Namora. But how about Sun Girl? I only remembered her because we’ve had copies of her comics in the store. Anyway, the point is that if I, Mr. Sad Old Fanboy, had to hesitate to think of the names of Marvel’s old heroes, most modern comic fans certainly aren’t going to remember, or care, about them. It’s not like DC Comics, who have managed to keep their Golden Age heroes, if not active, then at least in the public eye, making it easier to sell products featuring them.

Well, who knows? Maybe we’ll sell a few to people genuinely curious about the pre-Marvel Age characters. I might even pick it up myself.

3. On the other hand, we get to increase orders on the successful Marvel titles, but there’s an inherent problem in that, one touched upon by Dorian and myself on repeated occasions. Say you order 50 copies of Spider-Man’s R/C Racers #1, of which you sell all 50. You get a chance to adjust your orders on #2, so while you originally ordered 45, you bump it up to 70. Then you receive your copies of #2. You sell 50 right away. You then sell maybe another 5 or 6 copies…you might have sold more, but some of the late-comers who pick up #2 ask you for #1. You tell ’em sorry, but #1 is sold out, and Marvel has none for reorder and no plans to reprint it (except in the eventual trade paperback, as soon as #6 hits the stands). Thus, #2 goes back on the shelf, unbought.

That’s why I’m not planning on upping orders on Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes #3. We can’t get more 1 and 2, so why bump up orders much beyond what we sold of those issues? It sold fairly well for us, and people seemed to like it, but I don’t want to be stuck with extras.

I did bump up orders on Strange #2 and Madrox #2, but as Dorian has noted, the lack of #1s has hurt their sales.

4. We did sell out of Space Ghost #1. Luckily, I was able to order more from DC. Okay, I know, you know, and Dorian knows this comic isn’t any good…but boy, people sure snapped it up. I ain’t sayin’ no to that money.

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