§ August 3rd, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 19 Comments

Reader Leroy had a question in response to yesterday’s post:

“…Do the ‘Deadpool’ books sell as well for you guys as Marvel claims they are across the country?”

“…I just keep finding it harder and harder to believe so MANY ‘Pool books are being supported by such a fragile market. It’s just hard to believe, seeing as though the character made a brief, mostly-horrible appearance in the “Wolverine” movie, he’s suddenly seen such a huge resurgence, which I assume will only peak and crumble once Deadpool sooner than later has his own movie. And is this trend in your opinion caused by people STILL thinking they can retire on comic books sparked by movie interest?”

I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but in general, as each new Deadpool series appeared on the stands, sales dipped slightly across all the series across the board. Not at first…sales were reasonably consistent and stable, if not high. Deadpool was in the lower-middle tier of sales for us, but in recent months it’s dipped lower than even that. A major problem is that as each new Deadpool title (or any other new title that effectively duplicates an already existing series) is released, there’s not suddenly another 30,000 new readers entering the marketplace to read that comic. It’s the 30,000 people already reading the one (or two, or four) Deadpool comics that suddenly have to decide to 1) ignore the new title and just keep reading what they’re already reading, 2) expand their comic budget to add yet another series to their regular reads; 3) stop reading another title to make room for this new title, or 4) decide that it’s too much to keep up with, and drop most of them, if not all. For a while, we seemed to be experiencing more of #2, but #4 is on the rise, it appears.

And if you’re curious, the multiple Avengers titles are going through #2, since it’s all Fresh and New…er, relatively speaking…but I suspect we’ll be going through #4 soon enough, with sales shaking out so that the comic actually called The Avengers will be the top seller, with the other titles selling only about a half or a third as much. I hope not…as a funnybook seller, I want every comic to sell lots and lots of copies, and for our customers to shove tons of money our way in order to buy them all, but realistically, something usually has to give. (I’ve written before on the topic of different sales levels for what are essentially the same books.)

As for movie interest sparking interest in Deadpool…there was some excitement for a while over the possibility of a forthcoming Deadpool movie, but mostly among the already-converted. If/when an actual movie actually approaches release, we may get some increased sales from new readers curious about the character…though, depending on the advertising blitz and the public’s reaction to it, I’m thinking those new readers may simply come from people already buying comics and not, um, “civilians,” I guess.

At this point in time, I don’t think too many people are buying movie-related comics in the hopes that they’d be good investments. I’m sure some people are (like the fellow who bought all our copies of Amazing Spider-Man #252, the first appearance of the black costume, in anticipation of the third Spider-Man film), but a lot of the interest in the comics spurred on by movies seems to be genuine interest from curiosity, not from financial concerns. Like I’ve said plenty of times before, that curiosity is usually satisfied by the actual film, rendering the comics redundant.

Well, that was a lot to write, considering I was just planning on slumming it today. Ah, well. I hope that sort of answers your question, Leroy. If you (or anyone else) have any questions or need for clarification, hie yourself hither to my comments.

19 Responses to “Dyingpool.”

  • KentL says:

    There are also people like myself, who like the character, but were turned off by the creative team for the main Deadpool series. I welcomed Deadpool Team-Up (though dropped it pretty quickly when I realized it wasn’t that good). I like the character. I’ve liked the character for years (Joe Kelly and Ed McGuinness really sold me on him), but it’s been a while since I’ve been interested in any of his series. So I was not among the 30000 already buying his regular series when I started getting Team-Up.

    On the flipside, JSA was on the fence for me. When they added JSA: All-Stars, it prompted me to take Path #4.

    One thing that I think Marvel does better than DC is making it so that you don’t have to read all of the titles to know what is going on. I don’t feel the need to read all of the Avengers titles to get the whole story. However, when I tried just reading Green Lantern, I found that I was missing chunks of the story because I wasn’t also reading GL Corps. It got worse when Blackest Night came out, and then they added a third title.

  • g23 says:

    Ah, leave it to Marvel to run something into the ground.

    I personally am feeling #4 this with the Avengers books. Right now, I’m still on board with Secret Avengers, but can’t bring myself to care about the simultaneous threats of Kang, possessed Luke Cage, Wiccan-who-might-be-the-new-scarlet-witch, and the academy with the oh-boy-do-I-care combo of Tigra, Quicksilver, Speedball and schlubs.

    I’ll just stick to the well written & interesting one by Brubaker, thanks.

  • corey says:

    Avengers Academy has actually been the best one out of the whole bunch so far.

  • g23 says:

    Really? I didn’t care for it all. Ah, well. To each their own.

  • Sean says:

    Strangely enough, I was thinking about this as I walked to work this morning. Adding a Deadpool title probably doesn’t add a Deadpool reader, unless it is the right title.

    (I’m totally getting Deadpool Max though, even though I could care less for every other Deadpool title)

    What I wonder though, if the over abundance of titles makes Deadpool more popular with his existing reader base. If love is primarily a function of face time, Deadpool is getting a lot more time in front of his reader’s face than most other characters. I don’t imagine it increases the fan base, but I wonder if it strengthens the existing fan base.

    Who knows? People and comics are weird.

  • Leroy Hart says:

    Wow, thanks for not only answering my question, but making it today’s feature! Much appreciated, Mr. Sterling. I was pretty much expecting this to be the answer, what with it being “They’re mostly getting overloaded”, which is totally unfortunate but like I said, expected.

    I don’t BLAME Marvel for this, of course, because as you said it does indeed spike sales…for a little while. Their largest problem I can see in this instance is knowing when to quit while they’re ahead, or at the very least, quitting before they alienate their own audience.

    This has been happening off-and-on with Spider-Man and Wolverine for the last couple decades (at least), where suddenly one of them will have a dozen or so titles each, which will soon be the case for Wolvie & “Family”, but then the market collapses upon them and it’s back to one solo book. Honestly, I just can NOT see this market supporting a solo “Daken” comic for longer than a short run, but who knows…Perhaps I’ll be eating crow before long, flipping through the latest “Daken Team-Up Presents: Stabbitty Guys!” 22-pager. I suppose it’s still just really, really odd to me that during the heyday, Deadpool was fighting to keep ONE comic on the stands, by a couple teams of insanely talented people, and now that the market is constantly teetering on oblivion (if you would believe some of the “Sky is falling!” peeps out there), there’s like fifteen different DP books to choose from.

    I am easily confused, you see. Deadpool’s popularity, while understandable because I do like him, just seemed to hit REALLY out of left field this time ’round. I suppose my main point in all this is, WHY another Deadpool book, if indeed their numbers aren’t what they should be, when “Atlas” gets canned AGAIN? Yes, I know the heartbreaking answer…but it’s just so unfair, Mike.

    So unfair…

    (This has been a moment of quiet regret, with Leroy Hart)

  • adam barnett says:

    I don’t think it’s wise to have the same character in multiple titles. It’s daunting enough for a new reader to a title to jump in when there are years of back-story with which to get acquainted, much less to find out I have to buy three other titles as well!

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    It’s a shame that some people are reaching Deadpool Fatigue, because there have been some good Deadpool books. Merc With A Mouth was one of the best things the Big Two have published in quite a while – I anticipate its collected edition might finally turn some heads. Some of the recent issues of Deadpool Team-Up have been a hoot – but the revolving creative teams do make the book kind of hit or miss.

    And Avengers Academy is the strongest new launch I’ve seen in quite some time. Totally awesome book.

  • Mikester says:

    I should clarify that the actual quality of the books isn’t in question. These could all be the greatest books ever, but if the market is getting flooded with too many seemingly similar books, they all suffer.

  • Leroy Hart says:

    “Academy” reminds me of the very first “Thunderbolts” launch, what with the twist reveal and the familiar faces doing unfamiliar things type angle. Most excellent goings-on, for sure.

    “Secret Avengers”, though? That’s pretty much been concentrated Avengers Fan Gold, in my most humble opinion. Which was pretty much what I expected, coming from the creative team…

  • Deadpool notwithstanding, I am already burnt out on all the AVENGERS nonsense.
    Of course, that might totally be because I’m tired of Brian “One-Voice-Fits-All” Bendis’ antics.

    For now, since DOCTOR STRANGE is appearing while Bendis is destroying …er… “fixing” Marvel’s MAGIC system, I’m on board with NEW AVENGERS.
    As soon as BMB is done crapping in that sandbox, and salting the earth so other writers won’t be able to work in it, I’ll dump the book.

    I’ll be burned as a heretic, but John Romita JR’s rushed-looking artwork has already turned me off of the Avengers “main” title.
    I know JRjr USED to be awesome, but I just don’t see it any more.

    On the other hand, I am LOVING that MAN-THING is appearing all over the place!
    THUNDERBOLTS is a GREAT new title! Well written and beautiful to look at!
    It would have been my vote for favorite ongoing in your survey, if it wasn’t only 2-issues into the run.

    That said, Manny is also going to be in TOMB of TERROR # 1 and SUPER HERO SQUAD # 10 released for Halloween.
    If only Marvel would make October MAN-THING MONTH and have him be in EVERY comic they publish, and also make about 10 special NEW series (one-shots, minis, whatev), I’d buy ’em all!
    Manny has been featured heavily lately, even alongside DEADPOOL, so… that got me to buy ‘Pool books.

    As long as DC doesn’t follow suit and stink up the waters with their “Swamp Thing” mess, that would leave the comic buyin’ public with more than enough murky goodness to satisfy their boggy desires.

    That’s all for me.
    “Mr. Crankypants… OUT!”

  • Tom K Mason says:

    I’m marketing’s problem, I guess. I bought the Merc With A Mouth run because it was written by Victor Gischler – whose books I love (he’s got a new one out called The Deputy that I can’t wait to read). I loved MWAM, too, but it didn’t make me rush out and buy non-Gischler Deadpool comics.

    @Mike: “These could all be the greatest books ever, but if the market is getting flooded with too many seemingly similar books, they all suffer.”

    Speaking as a sometime practitioner of that particular school of publishing, that’s very true. But there’s also a magic number that for a while makes it a win for the publisher. If you have one Deadpool book selling (and I’m making all these numbers up as I go along) 35,000 copies and you create a spin-off, the first one might drop to 32,000 and the spin-off might sell 30,000 after the first issue drop-off, so instead of having one 35,000 seller, you’ve added a book to the line that probably sells better than a brand new title might. If you add a third, you might be able to have three books selling a total of 80,000 copies where before you only had the one at 35,000. Your creative costs have tripled, but you’re still making bank on the sales.

    Also, since comic book publishing is entertainment driven, it never hurts to be able to walk into a pitch meeting to say that your character appears in three monthly titles that sell 80,000 units per month which is nearly 1 million per year. Just think of the ticket sales!

    And if a Deadpool movie or TV series comes out, there’s a lot of material to pull from to create the tie-in graphic novels.

    A publishing plan like that will eventually wear out fans of the character/series and harm your retail accounts by sticking them with books that no longer sell (and retailers have – rightfully – long memories), but the return on the investment by the publisher will drive the expansion until sales drop. And then it’s on to the next thing.

  • C. Elam says:

    I don’t have much pertinent to add to this discussion, except to point out that glutting the market has been standard Marvel practice since the days of Martin Goodman. It’s a big reason Independent News set limits on the company when they had them at their mercy.

    Given the turnover in staff over the years, it’s been a remarkable consistent pattern. It’s definitely worked for them, too.

  • steve says:

    Mike, there is a science term for effecting what you are studying by studying it. The closer you study it the more you effect it by studying it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Do you find this to be the case in terms of you blogging about sales etc.?

  • philip says:

    Pardon me being a day late to this conversation. In regards to the fellow who bought out your entire stock of Amazing Spider-Man #252, have you ever had someone buy up a bunch of your stock like that (with what seems to be an eye on striking eBay gold), then try to sell back the copies they couldn’t move? Would you buy them back? Please note this is not something I’d every try. I guess I’m just curious about your return policy or something.

  • ykw says:

    “[G]lutting the market has been standard Marvel practice since the days of Martin Goodman.”

    That’s been standard practice for =every= publisher with the capacity to turn out large numbers of books. Marvel. DC. Fawcett. Charlton. ACG. Harvey. Archie. Dell/Western/Gold Key. The only ones who survive that game plan, though, are the ones who don’t skimp on quality during the boom =and= can make their inventory scalable when the inevitable bust portion of the cycle kicks in. That could end up being a real problem when the Deadpool craze craters, as Marvel will have significant issues with shoehorning leftover DEADPOOL CORPS and DTU pages into a single 22-page monthly ongoing.

    “It’s a big reason Independent News set limits on the company when they had them at their mercy.”

    Well, no. The sole reason Independent News did that was that they were not, in fact, independent at all but a division of National Periodical Publications’ holding company. IN/NPP was fine with selling a few of their rivals’ books as long as they could limit just how many of those books the competition actually =could= sell.

  • KentL says:

    Y’know, I can see how Marvel and DC can do this, but what about the smaller publishers. Specifically, IDW’s G.I. Joe and Transformers lines, BOOM!’s Muppet line, and Dynamite’s Green Hornet line. IDW and BOOM I can kinda understand because they already have some large built-in audiences, but the Green Hornet? Really? Don’t they have like 6 GH titles out right now? That said, it seems to be working for them. IDW was just made a premiere publisher, and the other two seem to be gaining on Dark Horse and Image.

  • Tom K Mason says:

    @ KentL: “But the Green Hornet? Really? Don’t they have like 6 GH titles out right now?”

    Me again. I don’t know the terms of the deal for GH, but in general a license is a two-year term renewable at two-year intervals. And it typically involves payment of a licensing fee – usually upfront – along with a royalty from the sales of each issue (that may or may not be payable against the licensing fee). If there are 4 months of prep-time before the first issue is released, the publisher then has just 20 months to earn back the licensing fee and make a good enough financial – and quality control – impression on the license holder to warrant extensions. The easiest way to earn that back quicker and maximize the value of the license for both publisher and license-holder is to put out more than one title per month.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    Speaking of small publishers with a new license, don’t forget that the market is changing from monthly comics to collections at bookstores. Dynamite’s end goal is probably not to have six miniseries coming out at odd weeks for several months, but to have six collections at Borders and Amazon in a year. But because we’re still in a transition phase publishers still put out the single issues because they are expected to.