I’m certainly not complaining about the sales.

§ January 17th, 2011 § Filed under retailing § 20 Comments

Those of you unfortunate enough to have been reading my site for nearly six years may remember me mentioning this before, but briefly: several years ago, I received over the course of a week multiple calls from buyers all across the country seeking the last issue of Marvel’s Masters of the Universe series. And, as far as I can tell, there was no connection between the callers…or, at least, none that any of those folks were willing to admit to me. Anyway, you can read more about it that that link.

I bring that up because it’s kinda sort happening again, only with the customers who are actually walking into our shop, and with DC’s 1994 “event” series Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.

Now, I thought part of it may be that the trade paperback collecting the series was just recently reissued in a new printing…but that printing was dated 2006, which isn’t as recent as I thought.

It basically started when Employee Aaron noted that we were out of the Zero Hour trade, so I put in a reorder, and when it showed up, we just put in on the new arrivals bookshelf, intending eventually to file it onto the regular bookshelves. And it sold. Immediately. So I ordered another one, and when that came in, we put it on a little “featured graphic novels” shelf that we have. And it sold again.

And it keeps happening. And it isn’t just that we’re displaying it to customers and it’s an impulse buy. I’ve had multiple requests from folks looking for the copies of the five issue run of the series, whether or not the book itself is on display. Sometimes I get requests before I’ve restocked the Zero Hour bin after the previous sale, and I have to scurry back into the backroom and pull more sets.

I realize I’m making it sound like we’re selling hundreds of these things, and we’re not. It’s more like a dozen and a half or so over a few weeks, but given that sales on both the back issues and the collection have been hovering around slim-to-none for well over a decade and half, this sudden upswing in demand can’t help but stand out. I’ve probably sold more Zero Hour, in either format, in the last month than I have in the previous five years.

So, I’m wondering what’s the deal. When I noted this on the Twitter, pal Andres, who was one of the folks who purchased a copy of the trade from us, replied that he’d simply missed it the first time around and picked it up. He also opined that it may be a result of the current popularity of the Green Lantern franchise (as Hal Jordon is prominently featured in the series), which is possible, I suppose. Plus, there’s the fact that Dan Jurgens wrote and drew the series, and he’s one of DC’s more dependable creators, and a lot of the time-travel themes and characters he likes to explore (recently in Booster Gold and currently in the new Time Masters mini) are in this comic. (And there was that Booster Gold Zero Hour tie-in in the most recent series, but that was published a couple of years ago and doesn’t seem to have a whole lot to do with the current interest.) Or maybe it’s just that it’s a fun and colorful superhero story, with lots of guys and gals flyin’ around and punching each other, with some time travel stuff mixed in, and some nice Jurgens/Ordway art.

None of that explains why people are deciding to look for it and buy it now. Just coincidence? Something in the comic news media or a price-guide push or a footnoted “* see Zero Hour #3 for details! – Editor” in a comic I didn’t read? I suppose the next step is quizzing the customers about it, but I probably annoy them enough as it is.

Of course, simply by making a big deal about it here, we’ll now never sell another copy. Wouldn’t that just figure.

If any of you folks out there have noticed a similar upswing in sales of this series, or perhaps have your own theories, or even just believe I’m thinking about this too much, let me know in the comments.

20 Responses to “I’m certainly not complaining about the sales.”

  • Leroy Hart says:

    Only thing I can figure, and this is a pretty far-out guess, is that “Zero Hour” is the name of one of the Worlds in the DC Universe: Online game, and people are maybe curious about the connection. It’s probably the most intriguing of the World-names.

  • I’ll take fifty!

  • Matt Jeske says:

    well, this is another wild guess, but DC is currently publishing “DC Universe: Legacies” By Len Wein and a rotating cast of artists, which retells the history of the DCU. The last 4 issues were: 2 issues devoted to Crisis on Infinite Earths, 1 issue devoted to Knightfall/Death Of Superman, and 1 Issue devoted to Knightfall/Reign of the Supermen with Parallax thrown in at the end. (Hal Jordan/Parallax had something to do with Zero Hour, right? I’ve never read it.)

  • Nimbus says:

    Yep, Hal Jordan/Parallax had something to do with Zero Hour.

    I also thought that, as Parallax and Hal Jordan are both in the upcoming Green Lantern movie, maybe this has added to the interest. Though you’d expect to see interest in other Green Lantern stories too (Rebirth and perhaps Emerald Twilight, for instance).

  • Bully says:

    I’ll buy one so I can draw pictures on the cover in crayon!

  • Alex says:

    One thing I found a little while back was that the original Secret Wars trade paperback is now out of print, and so the prices are sky high on eBay or anywhere else you can find it. Which sucks.

    Maybe people are slowly catching on that the Zero Hour trade is still available, and snagging a copy so they don’t get burned later, like they might have with Secret Wars (or something similar)? I mean, if I would’ve had to make a prediction, I’d figure that Secret Wars would still be in print, and Zero Hour wouldn’t. But, I don’t have the retailer insight into how DC and Marvel work (differently) on this stuff, so what do I know!

    Just a few thoughts… keep up the great work!

  • Kid Nicky says:

    I started noticing copies of the trade at Borders a couple months ago,which I thought was weird since IIRC it was a world-changing event that didn’t really change much long-term,just like most events,plus Borders tends to have either recent stuff that still “matters”,classics like Long Halloween or Death of Superman,or nostalgic stuff like Cable or Venom/Carnage stories.

  • Andres says:

    I guessing there’s no one reason but a mix of things. Matt has a point that DC’s “DC Universe: Legacies” just covered Zero Hour and it’s just old enough that some readers (like me) didn’t get it around the first time.
    Now, this won’t explain why you’re getting requests for the floppies but I think a big reason why you’re selling the trade at your shop is because you displayed it in the ‘featured trade area’. If you had filed it with the other trades I wouldn’t have seen it. Same thing goes for Wednesdays when the new trades/HCs/etc. are temporarily on the long boxes in the middle of the shop. So what I’m getting at is that YOU might be responsible for some of the Zero Hour sales.

  • Nimbus says:

    @Alex – Re: the original Secret Wars TPB – the Panini version of Secret Wars is still available here in the UK (for the low price of just over 11 GBP on Amazon.co.uk).

    Sorry for going off-topic.

  • Joe says:

    Mike, put The Dark Knight Strikes Again as a featured trade and see if you can prove Andres’ point. I’m leaning towards his side, that the initial interest may have been a fluke or one of the other reasons mentioned, but that you perpetuated the sales through marketing.

    By the way, I have a full set of the floppies bagged and boarded, probably VF/NM if you want them. Make an offer!

  • Martin Wisse says:

    I was with you until the “fun and colorful” bit. Hate, hate, hate Zero Hour. Hate Parallax. Hate Hate Hate [-end of tape-]

  • Ian @ TRO says:

    I’ve been including this one on my Crisis recommended reading lists and referring to it in continuity posts. Not taking any credit, but I think it’s part of a general trend to try and “read the story” of the DC universe. It’s one of those linchpins, and not nearly as terrible as say, millennium.

  • Zachary says:

    “not nearly as terrible as say, millennium” is how I’m going to start describing myself on Jdate.

  • I think I’d chalk it up to what Andres said, with a dash of nostalgia thrown in for taste in some cases.

  • Rob S. says:

    Zero Hour is selling because I have gone back in time and made it better than Watchmen.

  • Ian @ TRO says:

    Zachary, perhaps it’s because I’m also jewish, but your choice of dating websites for that one liner made it infinitely more hilarious.

  • Kyle Garret says:

    I would guess that it’s because DC is on the verge of another event involving their timeline, one that is heavily tied into the book that Jurgens is currently working on.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    On Amazon, it’s their number 130,000 seller (approx.)… which means it’s well behind, say, Crisis (around 26,000), and even behind the full-price hundred-buck Secret Wars omnibus. So no, they’re not seeing a particular sales uptick for it. It’s just you.

  • I picked the trade up about six months ago, when I was finishing (for the first time) a long marathon read of everything from Rebirth to that point. Needed homework material.

  • JRC says:

    My guess is, because it’s a Jurgen’s joint, and involves time travel. Readers are expecting it to have something to do w/ the forthcoming FLASHPOINT story, which has gotten some teasing in Jurgen’s current VANISHING POINT mini w/ Booster Gold, Rip Hunter, GL, Sups all hunting for Batman in time.