Image has announced that with 730,000 copies ordered, February’s THE WALKING DEAD #163 is the Direct Market’s highest ordered comic in nearly 20 years, a feat achieved, they note, without the aid of a subscription box such as Loot Crate.
Now let’s add the asterisks.
Although not a Loot Crate comic, TWD #163 does have a 25¢ cover price, as part of a 25¢ initiative from Image and Skybound, Kirkman’s imprint. Other comics in the promotion include INVINCIBLE #133 and OUTCAST #25. It’s all part of the big Image Day promotion. The issues cost retailers 10¢ to order, but there are also incentive variant covers.
Image compares the numbers to Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure from January 2002, one of the first low priced incentive comics. Image calls this promotion “a definitive and quantifiable move to pay it forward to retailers who have long supported growing the creator-owned readership.”
“The Direct Market helped make THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, and OUTCAST the successful series they are today, and acknowledging that support is a big part of our agenda as Image turns 25 this year,” explained Kirkman. “Comic book stores have made it easier for us to accomplish everything we’ve done since our last anniversary, so giving back just makes sense, even though it means we’re not making a dime off these books.
“Don’t get me wrong,” he continued, “Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, and Rus Wooton are all being compensated as usual for their contributions to THE WALKING DEAD #163, but neither myself nor Image will profit off this issue. As with most of our decisions at Image, we’re looking instead at the long-term benefits of getting more readers into stores and more of the world’s best creator-owned comics into those readers’ hands.”
Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, added: “When we first began discussing how to celebrate our 25th anniversary, one of the first ideas that came up was offering some of our best titles at 25¢ in an effort to reach as many readers as possible. We knew we’d be selling the books at a loss—no matter how high the orders—but our number one goal is always to get books in front of as many readers as possible, and the best way to do that is by giving comic book stores something they can quite literally put in people’s hands for pocket change.”
The issue also kicks off a new storyline, and introduces a new character. I haven’t read the print version in a while, so please don’t tell me it’s a baddie who makes Negan look like the thieves from Home Alone.
THE WALKING DEAD #163 will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 1st—just in time for fans to celebrate “Image Day”.
INVINCIBLE #133 (Diamond Code DEC160639) will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 15th. Final order cutoff is Monday, January 23rd.
OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #25 (Diamond Code DEC160664) will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 22nd. The final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, January 30th.
THE WALKING DEAD #164 (Diamond Code DEC160746) will hit stores on Wednesday, February 15th. Final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, January 23rd.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.