By Todd Allen

Challengers' Patrick Brower makes a friend

Sometimes it feels like people forget that different comic shops have different sales patterns, looking at the comments on the various industry website postings.  Challengers Comics + Conversation, a shop in Chicago with one of the higher profiles in that area, has released their top 200 sellers for 2011 in the both the monthly issues and graphic novel categories.


  1. Justice League #1
  2. Action Comics #1
  3. Batman #1
  4. Pilot Season Seraph #1
  5. Superman #1
  6. Fear Itself #1
  7. Batwoman #1
  8. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 (All-New)
  9. Batman #2
  10. Justice League #2

Now right off, you’re probably saying “Pilot Season?!?  WTF?!?”  That issue was co-written by Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.  Briggs isn’t just an all-star football player, he’s a dyed in the wool comics geek.  Challengers’ Patrick Brower tells me, while it wouldn’t have taken over the #1 spot, Top Cow sold out and they could’ve used a more issues.  Briggs and his cohorts, Phil Hester and Jose Luis were at Challengers for a signing.  Hopefully Challengers lived it up while they can.  Briggs has been in a contract dispute with the Bears (as is normal when dealing with the Bears notoriously “frugal” front office) and there’s no guarantee he won’t move elsewhere in the off-season.  The Oakland Raiders, for instance, would be much closer to the Image offices in Berkeley.

The next thing you may notice is that Batwoman’s a little higher on that list than you might expect.  I’m under the impression, much like Sandman was in the 90s, that Batwoman has a network of stores where it sells significantly higher.  Fear Itself charts high for the year.  The Ultimate Spider-Man relaunch is big.  Nothing’s too surprising, outside of Pilot Season, though perhaps Vertigo performs a bit better for Challengers than other places.

Challengers is known as an indie-friendly store, so where do the non-Bears-related indies start showing up?  Walking Dead #80 turns up all the way down in the #85 position.  Walking Dead and Pilot Season: Seraph are the only indie titles to show up on the top 200 list, though several issues of Walking Dead turn up.

Graphic Novels

  1. Sixth Gun TP VOL 01
  2. Serpent’s Storm
  3. LOEG III Century #2 1969
  4. Walking Dead TP VOL 14 No Way Out
  5. Daytripper TP
  6. Petrograd GN
  7. Batman Noel Deluxe Edition HC
  8. Sixth Gun TP VOL 02
  9. Fables TP VOL 15 Rose Red
  10. Batman Year One Deluxe SC
  11. Walking Dead TP VOL 01
  12. Batman RIP TP
  13. Locke & Key TP VOL 01 Welcome to Lovecraft
  14. Walking Dead TP VOL 02
  15. Chew TP VOL 01
  16. Batman Hush Complete TP
  17. Morning Glories TP VOL 01
  18. Blacksad HC VOL 01
  19. Fables TP VOL 14 Witches
  20. Chew TP VOL 02
  21. Batman the Long Halloween TP
  22. Oz HC Ozma of Oz
  23. Chew TP VOL 03
  24. Demo TP VOL 02
  25. One Soul HC GN
  26. Off The Record Collection
  27. Walking Dead TP VOL 03
  28. Batman Dark Knight Returns TP
  29. Scott Pilgrim GN VOL 01
  30. Chew TP VOL 04

And now you know where all the indie books went.  Serpent’s Storm, by the way, is a novel by Amber Benson of Buffy fame and I seem to recall there being a book signing involved.  17 of the top 30 graphic novels are indies.  Two prose books.  Ozma of Oz is the only Marvel graphic novel and that sure isn’t the Marvel universe.

Interestingly, not all of the books on the list have Diamond Distribution.

#98: reMind — that’s a webcomic available in a small number of retail outlets.

Having something like reMind in your top 100 sales list really is the definition of an indie friendly store, don’t you think?

Now, Challengers’ sales stats probably aren’t representative of the industry as a whole, and that’s the point.  Challengers might be a little heavier into graphic novels than other stores.  They certainly seem to be heavier into indie graphic novels or the industry sales charts would look a lot different.

It does look like Challengers knows how to work a signing for big results… though if you haven’t lived in Chicago, it may be hard to describe exactly how beloved a figure Lance Briggs is to the at-large population.  He’s a top 5, if not top 3 player in a very sports-obsessed town.  A Lance Briggs signing in Chicago is probably bigger than having Jim Lee, Grant Morrison or Brian Bendis signing.


  1. It’s very intriguing to look at lists like this and see that Marvel has so few trade paperbacks on it. Granted, Marvel has only really been collecting its books in trade for about a decade, but it’s still something to look at.

    It should also be noted that because Marvel hasn’t been in the trade business as long as DC, they don’t seem to have a Watchmen, DKR, or Batman Year One to provide yearly sales.

  2. “It should also be noted that because Marvel hasn’t been in the trade business as long as DC, they don’t seem to have a Watchmen, DKR, or Batman Year One to provide yearly sales.”

    To the best of my knowledge, Marvel gets its behind kicked in bookstore trades sales as well. Marvel’s initial graphic novel line didn’t survive long past Shooter’s ouster and the following regimes never embraced the idea. And the current creative folks at Marvel have been great as producing stuff to satisfy the fan boy ghetto, but not so hot when it comes to fare the mainstream wants to read.


  3. Challengers Comics + Conversation is one of best comic shops I’ve ever been to! I love their design, layout and general philosophy. The first store I’ve ever seen that has a drafting table for visiting cartoonists! They definitely an example of retailers trying new and interesting things to stay relevant in the changing marketplace.

  4. Matt, Marvel has been publishing trade paperbacks as long as DC has, circa 1984. One of their first books was a Star Trek paperback adaptation.

    But their publishing strategies are awful. Nothing stays in print long.
    There’s not much of a backlist… just look at those deluxe hardcovers which reprint notable miniseries and story arcs… how many would you place on your bookshelf.

    Even their omnibuses, which should be popular for the holidays, sell horribly.