Marvel Month-to-Month Sales — January 2010

by Paul O’Brien

The first month of a new year brings event season again, thanks to SIEGE and FALL OF THE HULKS. There’s also a new Ultimate miniseries, ULTIMATE COMICS ENEMY, and the “Nation X” branding continues in the X-books. But the big release this month is SIEGE.

As usual, Marvel were the biggest publisher in the North American direct market, leading DC by 43% to 35% in unit share, and 39% to 30% in terms of dollars.

Thanks as always to Milton Griepp and ICV2 for permission to use their figures for these calculations.

1.  SIEGE
01/10  Siege #1 of 4 - 108,484

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

The Magical Interweb has decided that SIEGE isn’t doing very well. But let’s keep some perspective. It’s the top selling comic of the month. Clearly it’s successful. Less successful than usual for Marvel’s event titles, to be sure, but it’s not like we’re talking about FANTASTIC FORCE. We’re talking about degrees of success.

That reality check duly applied… these are indisputably low numbers for the first issue of a Marvel event miniseries. By way of comparison, the first month sales for SECRET INVASION #1 in 2008 were 250K. WORLD WAR HULK #1 in 2007 sold 178K. CIVIL WAR #1, in 2006, managed 261K. HOUSE OF M #1, in 2005, got to 234K.

So yes, a launch figure of 108K is quite some way short of what we’ve come to expect of a book like this. It’s the sort of number that NEW AVENGERS was regularly getting in mid-2008.

This issue has four variant covers, with incentive ratios of 1:25, 1:75, 1:200 and 1:300. But we’ve seen in recent months that really high incentive ratios don’t seem to be terribly effective in driving sales these days, so that might be misleading. Nonetheless, it’s hard to see how this number can be viewed as anything other than disappointing.

Given the success of DC’s BLACKEST NIGHT, you can’t really blame event fatigue. Before SIEGE #1 shipped, people were saying that there didn’t seem to be as much buzz as you’d expect. So my guess is that people simply weren’t convinced that this story “mattered”.

I suspect that part of the problem is that it’s by no means obvious why the siege of Asgard is supposed to be a big deal for the rest of the Marvel Universe, other than because the solicitations say it is. The same premise could have been used for a throwaway DARK REIGN: THOR miniseries, and it wouldn’t have looked out of place.

Marvel’s marketing angle for SIEGE is to bill it as an event “seven years in the making”, implying some sort of link to all the event stories of recent years. Readers don’t seem persuaded. For one thing, “Avengers Disassembled” came out in mid-2004, which is not seven years ago. But more to the point, people don’t seem convinced that this is a pay-off for any long-running storylines beyond Dark Reign.

It might also be significant that this is only a four-issue miniseries, putting SIEGE on a much smaller scale than previous events. Now, I think that’s a good thing; for my money, eight months of SECRET INVASION was at least three too many, because there just aren’t that many different stories to tell about the Skrulls. But much as it pains me to say it, perhaps readers are so accustomed to bloated epics that a four-issue mini just doesn’t seem like a proper event to them.

Of course, in fairness to Marvel, they’ve been promoting a change of direction for the line after SIEGE. This sounds like a move away from big events and towards a more traditional Marvel Universe set-up. So if you do think the lesson here is “fewer events” – well, they were going to do that anyway, it seems.

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Housekeeping: Advertising

If you are interested in advertising on The Beat, shoot us an email at heidi dot macdonald at gmail dot com. As you can see, we now have a scary green “YOUR AD HERE” banner in the sidebar — please help us replace that with something people will want to look at! There are other placements and schedules available as well. Whee!

Must read: Handley’s attorney comments

The Comics Journal has run a statement from Eric A Chase, attorney for Christopher Handley, the Iowa man who pled guilty to “possessing drawings of children being sexually abused.” The statement lays out the reasons why defending Handley in court would have been difficult, but also the absurdity of the crime:

Chris, like most everyone else who had only heard about Ashcroft from news accounts that shoddily reported that the Supreme Court had “legalized virtual child porn,” believed the magazines were legal when he bought them.  As importantly, Chris was not a collector exclusively of lolicon.  He was a collector of all things manga.  Of the thousands of books and magazines found by the Feds at Chris’ home, only about twenty had questionable content and ultimately only seven were charged as clearly depicting the violent sexual abuse of obviously very young children.

UPDATE: Jeff Trexler has some comments on the Handley case that give it a bit more context, including the fact that between the prosecution and sentencing a new prosecutor took over the case.

Marvel’s women star in HERALDS

Whatisheralds
G4 broke the news that Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic will collaborate on HERALDS, the “Marvel Women” event that there’s been some rumbling about. She-Hulk, Emma Frost Valkyrie, Hellcat, Agent Brand, and Monica Rambeau will get involved in a weekly five-issue mini dealing with a long lost herald of Galactus. Here’s the segment.

To be honest, this is kinda a cool idea. These are all strong characters, easily able to carry their own story. In the segment, Zonjic’s art looks very appealing. No one is being felt up by a squid on the first cover, and if it stays that way, things will be just peachy.
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To Do: GIRL COMICS signing at Hanley’s

Girlcomics
Via:
Stephanie Buscema, Valerie D’Orazio, and Nikki Cook, and editors Jeanine Schaefer, Lauren Sankovitch, Rachel Pinnelas, and Sana Amanat will sign from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Jim Hanley’s Universe.

Speaking of GIRL COMICS, there’s a lengthy piece in USA Today quoting many folks involved in the anthology. Although it does perpetuate a little bit of the “Omigawrsh! A gurrurl is doing comeeks!!!” attitude that seems to surround this project, it’s nice to see people like Ann Nocenti and Amanda Conner getting some national play.

A cat that cooks ramen, and a boy and his gorilla

A couple of publishing announcements that caught our eye the other day.

Strip1

• Tokyopop will publish Kenji Sonishi’s NekoRamen. a manga about a cat who cooks ramen. SOLD. Via Johanna, who has a rundown of the busy marketing campaign, which includes weekly online comics.

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• Slave Labor has announced CAPTAIN LONG EARS, the debut graphic novel from Diana Thung. It’s about a boy, whose father recently died, who pretends to be a space ninja. With his imaginary gorilla friend, he attempts to rescue an elephant at an amusement park. Looks Sendakian but cute.

Cast PIRATE GIRL

Cpg 1Cvr
Jeremy Bastian’s CURSED PIRATE GIRL is one of those comics in periodical format that in an earlier era probably would have gotten a great deal of support as an independent project by a talented cartoonist with a distinctive vision, kinda steampunk, kinda old school illustration. However, in a day and age inhospitable to the serial comic, only three issues have seen print. But now a cast recording is underway, with Stephanie Leonidas in the starring role. Leonidas is best known as the star of MIRRORMASK, the Dave McKean-drected, Neil Gaiman written fantasy film. Making a cast recording for a comic is a bit unusual, and so is the distribution method — it will only be played at various signings in the fall. A quirky promotion for a quirky book.

Lost Episode 6×06 — The Bad Sayid

606-11
Well, well. Things are really happening.

While we’re waiting for Mark Coale’s official write-up, here are a few of our own quick observations. SPOILERS BELOW THE BREAK!!
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End Times: Gilligan’s Island, The Movie

gilligan
If you were going into the end of the world in 2012, with a cold, empty feeling because Gilligan’s Island had not yet been turned into a feature film, rest easy: you will not be cast into the void unfulfilled. Co-producer Charles Roven previously worked on the GET SMART movie, so you know it will be…a movie. The series creator Sherwood Schwartz is attached as executive producer. Variety dryly states “Logline’s being kept under wraps,” but for those who have not been near a TV for the last 40 years, the story involves hapless castaways who are tortured by the ineptitude of a skinny sailor who manages to keep them on a desert island despite weekly appearances of rock bands, mad scientists and doppelgangers.

While it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the title role capturing the essential “little buddyness” of the late Bob Denver, Schwartz envisions Michael Cera as Gilligan. Maybe Megan Fox can play Ginger and Arianna Huffington can play Mrs. Howell.

Casting ideas, anyone?