Okay, so I do have something else to say about Captain America #25.

§ March 9th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Okay, so I do have something else to say about Captain America #25.

I’ve seen a few comments here and there admonishing retailers for not listening to Marvel Comics when they told us that we’d better order lots of copies of Captain America #25.

Well, sorry, but no.

1. If we jumped every time Marvel said “JUMP,” and bought into their hype, I’d be adding an new wing to the back room for all the extra unsold overstock.

2. We’d already ordered what we thought were plenty of copies. First, it was a Civil War tie-in, and for all of Civil War‘s many storytelling and scheduling problems, “not selling well” was not one of them. Second, it had two different covers, so we bumped orders up a little bit more to accommodate that percentage of customers who like buying one of each variant.

3. …And the one thing we did not do was order under the assumption that there’d be last-second real-world media coverage would drive the general non-funnybook-reading public to our store seeking out copies. That media coverage is the only reason this book sold above and beyond our (or anyone’s) expectations, and when we placed our orders two months ago, and when we had the opportunity to adjust our orders just a few weeks back, there was no way we could predict or depend on media-driven sales. Even if we’d been told that Marvel sent out press releases to every outlet in the world plugging this event, even that’s no guarantee of coverage. A silly puff-piece on funnybooks is very easily bumped for celebrity news, or arrested politicians, or, oh, I don’t know, a war in Iraq or something.

You know what you get when you order a comic based on the assumption of real-world media coverage? You get a back room filled with Adventures of Superman #500, that’s what.

The “Death of Superman” issue, Superman #75, was another example of retailers ordering what they thought would be plenty for their customers, only to be ambushed by last-minute media coverage that drove the masses to their shops.

So when it came time to order Adventures of Superman #500, the beginning of what was assumed to be the “return of Superman” storyline, retailers thought about what they ordered on Superman #75, thought about what they could have sold if only they knew that the news had some time/column inches to fill and gave them free advertising…and ordered accordingly.

Of course, by the time AoS #500 came out, the “Death of Superman” was old news, there was no media coverage…and while #500 sold relatively well to comic book fans, there was no panicked rush by the non-fans like the one #75 inspired. And, to this day, you can easily find copies of #500 in bargain bins across the nation.

On a related note, apparently common perception was that the first issue of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 comic was due this week, given the number of people I had asking for it. (Perhaps it did ship somewhere, but maybe Diamond’s L.A. accounts got the shaft again…I haven’t checked yet.)

Now, when we placed our initial orders for this comic, we placed what we thought were very generous numbers…easily five times what we were selling on Dark Horse’s previous Buffy series, and probably ten times more what IDW’s Angel series are selling. This was based on the fact that creator Joss Whedon was going to have a more direct hand in the series, and on how Whedon’s work on Astonishing X-Men has sold…

…And on the fact that, before we even placed the order, I started to have lots of customers ask me about it, and those with comic savers started adding it to their lists. That can (but not always) be a positive indicator of good sales.

Plus, a couple weeks back, there was a large article on the series in the L.A. Times, which bumped up interest even more. Granted, that kind of coverage is most effective when it’s actually during the week the book is released, but I’ve had a number of customers (some of them new) still talking about that article and how excited they are for this new Buffy series.

So judging from the extra interest in the series I’ve been seeing from our customers over the last few weeks, and judging from the number of people who came in Wednesday expecting the first issue to be out…I just doubled our orders on the comic with Diamond. It’s a risk, perhaps, but my direct observation of our clientele tells me that demand is high.

Compare with Captain America #25, which nobody asked me about until they saw it in the papers. I had a few customers comment on the rumors about Cap’s impending “death” ahead of time, usually in the context of “yeah, right, whatever,” which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence that the comic in which he did die was going to be the Best Selling Comic Book Ever. So, yeah, I saw nothing in the weeks leading up to this book’s release that pushed me to bump up orders even more than we already had.

Also, I find this interesting: the second issue of Stephen King’s Dark Tower is mostly just kind of sitting there. It’s selling, but not crazy-selling like the first issue did. Is it just overshadowed by the Cap hype? Did the non-comic-reading King fans already abandon the series, deciding just the first issue was enough to represent this particular endeavor in their collections? Do they just not know it’s out yet? Am I panicking about the loss of sales on this comic too early? (Probably.) It’s worth keeping a closer eye on, at any rate.

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