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Another Retailer Reports Marvel Sales Drops Pulling Down Their 2017 Totals – This Is Not Isolated

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Yesterday, Big Bang Comics in Dublin, Ireland had a truly epic tweet thread about the state of the comics market in 2017.  It’s worth reading the whole thing, but if you don’t have that kind of time on your hands, here are the annotated highlights:

  • As with almost every other retailer who’s been talking about the market, their Marvel sales are way down.  How down?  They don’t have the same POS software as US stores do, so they don’t have an exact percentage, but it’s pretty significant.
  • When Marvel sales are down like this, they feel it causes some Marvel fans to come into the store less often, which in turn lowers sales on comics from other publisher that might be seen if those fans were shopping more regularly, so the sales problem trickles down and spills over.
  • Some of the newer writers at Marvel are starting to get a little traction, particularly Donny Cates.
  • Big Bang, like most other retailers they’ve talked to, think Marvel has to have a proper relaunch if they’re going to regain consumer confidence.
  • Big Bang is another store seeing Image titles having good sales on first issues and then sales dropping off quickly.  Big Bang, however, is seeing people come back for the tpbs, so perhaps those first issues are effectively samplers in this store?  (Not all stores report people coming back for the tpbs as actively.)
  • There’s a problem with smaller publisher not getting issues out on a regular schedule and that’s hurting sales on some titles.
  • DC was their big mover for single issues and they sell a LOT of Batman.
  • Their single issue sales were down 7% for the year.

And the quote of thread:

This is not an endorsement of the current Direct Market and its… weird quirks.

I strongly believe that retailers and publishers and Diamond can sit down and work out something better and fairer for everyone.

A lot of what they’re saying is consistent with what other retailers have been saying about 2017 sales, so we definitely are seeing some trends here.

And now the Epic Twitter Thread

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics

5 COMMENTS

  1. Usually the “Top 10 of each month” doesn’t *actually* map correctly to the “top 120 of the year”, unless BBC has an unusually flat sales curve. I also find that, historically, the “best selling” comics selling each week can have amazingly significant sales after week 1. On a BATMAN, we might see 20%-ish more copies sold over the next six months, but on something like DOOMSDAY CLOCK its entirely possible for it to be 250% or more.

    Doing ordering/sales tracking by hand… whoof, I can’t even *imagine* running a store like that any longer. Far FAR too many SKUs, too many man-hours tracking stuff that isn’t directly profitable. As far as I am aware there’s no reason they can’t purchase a copy of MOBY or ComicsHUB (dunno about ComicsSuite) ? Seriously, we gained back 10+ hours of labor each week, super super conservatively. I’d make that 2018’s top plan, if they’re listening to advice from outside (they don’t need to)

    Marvel had their chance to do a reboot after SECRET WARS. I’m not convinced that that would be anything but a short-term band-aid. They mostly need to address over-production and over-priced comics with thin content first, IMO.

    -B

  2. As a prospective reader of any new Marvel series (I try quite a bit, and consider even more), I’m most scared off by high entry cost ($4.99 first issues and tendency to go twice monthly at $3.99). On the monthly cycle, I just don’t get an extra $2 of enjoyment from their biweekly series compared to one from DC. And after getting wrapped up in Secret Wars and all the tie in series, I thought the convenience of “8 months later” to completely alter status quo but then not really change much was just weak. Whole series became placeholders between events. I got bored, and DC filled that boredom with compelling (usually cheaper) stories that didn’t get tossed out 3 months later.

    As for Image, etc., there is a tendency for new titles to be used as pilots for television or movie scripts. The creators put out one okay arc and call it quits. It’s hard to get excited for another post apocalyptic fantasy series pitch stretched out over a whole year. At least with publishers like BOOM! or AfterShock, there is reasonable belief that a miniseries will have a conclusion or be sold mostly on time.

  3. “Big Bang, like most other retailers they’ve talked to, think Marvel has to have a proper relaunch if they’re going to regain consumer confidence.”

    Oh, god, please, not another fucking relaunch.

  4. Heard a retailer say he was making more profit selling Valiant vs. Marvel. Which was ironic because he was actually spending many times more dollars buying and stocking Marvel books – – just not making much money off the Marvels.
    partly from the tricks, gimmicks and hoops they’d force the retailer to go thru, to get the few comics (or covers) that would sell.

    And he couldn’t stock only Valiant though, as there’s a limit to how many of those are gonna sell, regardless.

  5. Purely from a customer standpoint. As a lapsed reader who started 10 years ago, “graduating” from library trades in high school to weekly runs in college, Marvel Legacy got me excited again for reading Marvel single issues, and I spent probably a month or two back in the habit of visiting my local comic shop to follow my favorite title, and try out new ones.

    Marvel’s subscription service is way cheaper than buying the weeklies from my shop. So I’ve basically converted 4 titles that I know I’ll follow, into subscriptions through their service, and occasionally stop by the shop when I can, to pick up my DC titles (not very many, certainly less than 4) and titles I want to try out.

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