Home Entertainment Books KICK-ASS gn hits 100,000 copies

KICK-ASS gn hits 100,000 copies


Publishers who think of comic book movies as multi-million dollar ads for the trade aren’t that far off, as Marvel has announced that the KICK-ASS graphic novel by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. has sold over 100,000 copies, including nearly 40 percent to the direct sales market.

“My first inclination is to try to be clever and say that I have 100,000 relatives to thank…. but I won’t,” said Kick-Ass artist and co-creator John Romita Jr. “I’m extremely proud of this all, and very excited about working on the next two chapters!”
Mark Millar, co-creator and writer of Kick-Ass added, “The idea that a twenty-five dollar book has hit 100,000 sales in a little over a month is just insane. Especially when this doesn’t count all the international orders or the trade paperback we have coming up. That’s roughly ten times what Johnny and I were expecting and we would like to thank the comic-book retailers in America for their support of this book. This was not cheap and they took a gamble on us and I promise that Johnny will buy each and every one of them a drink at every convention he ever hits from now on.”

Since it was an ICON book, with a creator-owned structure, this is a nice payday for Millar and Romita. It’s also, and we mean this in the least snarky way possible, probably a better graphic novel tie-in success than Marvel has had with any of its movies, where there are dozens of books to choose from.

KICK-ASS opens this Friday.


  1. Fantastic news. And it makes the motivation behind Romita’s announcement a few weeks back about a new printing of Grey Area and more creator-owned books to come that much more obvious, eh? I love watching JRJr draw Spider-Man, but I can’t wait to see more books with his full creativity on display.

  2. Remember when Vaughn was going to direct ‘X-Men 3’? It could have been so good….

    ‘Kick Ass’ is a really great comic book film.

    Re: Movies to trade sales. It clearly helps when the films are based on specific comics (ala Kick Ass, Watchmen) and not just comic book concepts. The public clearly understands the idea of a film being an adaptation (from either a book, or play etc).

  3. “It’s also, and we mean this in the least snarky way possible, probably a better graphic novel tie-in success than Marvel has had with any of its movies, where there are dozens of books to choose from.”

    This is a key point. One of the impediments for getting full benefit from movies based on comics its that it’s sometimes unclear for a consumer which book to buy. There are just too many Spider Man books, Fantastic Four books, X-Men books, etc. When you have one book (Watchmen or Kick-Ass or even Ghost World, to pick something from a completely different genre), it’s easier for publishers to market, easier for stores to promote, and easier for consumers to find.

    That said, In my (possibly out-of-date) experience, there is always a short-term boost in sales before and sometimes after a related movie comes out, even when you have confusing situations of multiple books that are related to the film in some way.

  4. Well, I was one of those 100,000. If the series had come out on time, I would have waited for the softcover version but I wanted to read the whole story first before seeing the film, so I ended up getting the hardcover. You can really tell by Millar’s scripting and dialogue that he intended this to be made into a film from the start.

  5. So… will Marvel have enough stock to fill store orders once the movie hits?

    Or will we see a repeat of Sin City and Hellboy? (Signs point to YES. BN.com out of stock; TFAW is out of both DM and regular editions; Ingram, Bookazine, Baker & Taylor appear to be out of stock. Mile High has both editions in stock, Amazon just the Trade edition.)

    Marvel has the paperback scheduled for July 15. Stupid move, as Wanted sales continued to sell well after the movie (and 300 continues to sell as a $30 hardcover!).

    Also… Diamond’s Top 300 GN chart showed the Titan edition of Kick-Ass charting in February. Were those sales to the American market, or just British accounts? (Not to be confused with Titan’s non-fiction book.)

    Hmmm… (ICV2.com)
    TOP 300 GNs — February 2010
    #2 KICK ASS PREM HC (MR) $24.99 9,143

    TOP 300 GNs — March 2010
    #1 KICK ASS PREM HC (MR) $24.99 7,251

    Those 100,000 copies are going somewhere… no listing on Wal-Mart or Target websites.

  6. You can really tell by Millar’s scripting and dialogue that he intended this to be made into a film from the start.

    And as with films, there could be a sequel:

    “In a nutshell, the idea of ‘Kick-Ass’ was what would happen if people in the real world try to be superheroes and that informed the first three issues which was the first movie,” the writer explains. “The second one, the sequel, is what if people tried to be bad guys as a reaction to the superheroes. And it’s just that simple. It’s just the idea of — the same way these guys were contacting each other on Facebook and everything and you know trying out superhero costumes — what if bad kids starting doing this?”

    The movie reportedly isn’t tracking very well, though. The data Rich Johnston provides on how Nielsen and studios gauge interest in and viewing intentions about an upcoming movie — compare that to the market for superhero comics.


  7. Kirkmans’s manisfesto lasted untill he became an Image partner, working on other peoples characters was suddenly completely ok then. Not that it made much sense in the first place

  8. @Torsten: B&N being sold out might have to do with the fact that it was part of the brief hardcover price “glitch,” but it appears to be one of the few that they actually honored the price on: I just got mine 2 days ago.

    @Henrik J: Wow, you’re waaaaay off.

    Kirkman named Image partner: 7/22/08
    Kirkman manifesto: 8/13/08

    Also, his manifesto was that he wants creators to do creator-owned work. The only work he’s done since issuing that manifesto that would count as “other people’s characters” is Image United, but he’s working directly with the artists who created those characters, not with some vast giant corporate entity like Marvel or DC.

  9. Probably the only person as happy as Mark is Mike Malve whose store, Atomic Comics, appears several times as a location in the movie.

    Its a brilliant movie and I wish them lots of luck with it.

  10. The assumption that underlies a manifesto like Kirkman’s is that a successful writer who does only work for hire writing would do better stories, since he’d have more creative freedom, and probably earn more. How often does that happen? Unless his wfh writing and associated activities take eight hours a day, there’s time to tell his own stories. If the writer’s focus isn’t on original and creative material, but only on remixing standard plot and character ideas seen in genre stories, then there really isn’t any point in trying to publish creator-owned work. That work will be compared unfavorably by critics (and readers?) to his own wfh material.

    The Millar/McNiven NEMESIS #1 doesn’t appear to be a model for creator-owned storytelling. The premise is simple; the artwork has been compared to movie storyboards. The differences between NEMESIS and a new series created on a wfh basis seem minimal.

    If someone isn’t concerned with building a reputation based on originality, creativity, artistic sensibilities, etc., then wfh writing makes sense. It’s easier to be an employee than to run your own business.


  11. Jason…. then why do the major book distributors not have any copies? If they don’t have copies, then it would seem that Marvel’s distributor, Diamond Book Distributors, would not have copies either, otherwise they would fill reorders.

    Christian…. Not even close. Watchmen moved at least 400,000 copies after the trailer was shown with The Dark Knight. I believe the actual total is now around 1,000,000 copies sold since 1987. V for Vendetta might be #2. Persepolis is also a contender. Others in the Top Ten: Ghost World, American Splendor, Road to Perdition, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 300, Wanted. If you consider manga, then probably all Top Ten titles would be Japanese movies.

  12. So after yesterday’s news about the Marvel / Diamond Books break-up, knowing that Diamond moved this many books makes it seem like they were doing a pretty good job of Marvel in the non-direct market… 60,000 units – that’s gotta be up near the top of the book store list…

  13. @Torsten: Eh, it was just a theory. I don’t really follow the online booksellers that closely, so I’m not as familiar with the ins and outs of their distribution network. Looking right now, though, BN.com lists the book as “Usually ships within 24 hours” and Amazon has it as “In stock.”

  14. @Torsten: I’m pretty sure Christian’s joke was that the book version of Kick-Ass is an adaptation like the “Daredevil Movie Adaptation” type things Marvel used to put out a few weeks before films.

    The collected edition of Kick-Ass does have pretty similar timing to how those used to be handled.

  15. >>The movie reportedly isn’t tracking very well, though. SRS

    Not sure what tracking information you have but it seems there is a high amount of buzz surrounding this film, that especially kicked into high-gear after the red-band trailer featuring Hit-Girl uttering the infamous “c—” word.

    Despite Hit-Girl’s high profile in commercials for the movie, I do think awareness and interest in the movie is lower among women – which might explain the new commercials I’ve seen lately which feature young women in groups or with their apparent boyfriend talking excitedly outside the theatre after seeing “Kick-Ass” and saying they want to go see it again.

  16. “On 100,000 copies, Millar and Romita Jr will have earnt more than Moore and Gibbons on Watchmens’ recent two million copies sold.”

    I’d check that math. I think (based on an old interview) Moore and Gibbons get a royalty in the 8-10% cover price range, so for the $20 edition of Watchmen, they’d get over three million in royalties on two million copies. That’s more than the cover price of 100,000 copies of Kick-Ass, and as generous as the deal may be for Icon, I can’t see them offering 125%+ royalties. Even if Marvel takes nothing, with wholesale discounts and printing costs I don’t think there’s any way they can be getting more than 30% of cover price, probably quite a bit less.

  17. Ok, I’m glad for whoever is making the money. It’s always good to see comics do well. I will most likely wait and purchase the movie DVD or download, because I actually enjoyed the movie more than the comicbook. The actors personalities really added to the story, not to mention the sound track.

  18. If there’s anyone I’m glad to see raking in the big bucks, it’s Mark Millar. I just hope the crazy success of Kick Ass (which I loved) will direct more people’s attention to Superman Red Son, and other Millar titles.

  19. Matt M. —

    On the other hand, Millar & Romita would never had had the opportunity to make the book (under the Icon imprint, at least), if they hadn’t built up their names in the work-for-hire system. Just rewards for two talented individuals, IMO.

  20. From Marvel’s press release:

    Mark Millar & John Romita Jr’s KICK-ASS is the comic book/ movie phenomenon everyone’s talking about and now the hardcover collection is about to surpass 100,000 copies in print, with nearly 40% of the copies sold to date sold through direct market retailers!

    It’s strange that the first paragraph and the creators’ comments about sales are contradictory.


  21. Despite Hit-Girl’s high profile in commercials for the movie, I do think awareness and interest in the movie is lower among women – which might explain the new commercials I’ve seen lately which feature young women in groups or with their apparent boyfriend talking excitedly outside the theatre after seeing “Kick-Ass” and saying they want to go see it again.

    That’s kind of hilarious, Stephen, I bet you’re right.

    No offense to the creators of Kick-Ass, but my guess is that women tend to be put off by the prominence given to teen boy gross-out humor (Did you really need to tell us who you get off to, Dave Lizewski?), ultra-violence and random profanity in the trailer over the actually interesting plot. Not that these are inherently bad things, but speaking in extremely broad and general terms, on average, I’d wager women would be slightly more likely to see those traits as a bug, not a feature.

    Showing random women in a commercial saying they liked it doesn’t really address any of these isses. I could hire ten people off the street to say “Plan 9 from Outer Space” was the greatest movie of all time, and they’d say it for a few bucks and a chance to get on tv. Honest question: does this advertising approach actually work well?

    I would have thought emphasizing the genuinely cool and charming plot and characters with slightly less emphasis on the gore and sophomoric humor (something the Iron Man trailers did extremely well) would do the job better.

    I say this as a female-type geek who isn’t that into gore, gross-out jokes or ha hah the kid said a dirty word humor, but is going to see the movie anyway because of the extremely positive reviews that have assured me there is more to Kick-Ass than kicking people and asses.

  22. Just to say that one of the larger book retailers in Ireland (where the movie is also already showing) is selling the trade paperback – with a photocopy of Kick-Ass from the movie on the cover – for the excellent value of 11 Euro. I got mine…

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