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Meanwhile, in Occidental comics news


The January numbers are out, and while the sales estimates have yet to be tallied. John Jackson Miller suspects that January comics sales will not be the kind of thing that makes people click their heels:

I have only done some thumbnail estimates — and while they are too preliminary to post, my belief is that, the contribution of the Barack Obama Amazing Spider-Man aside, this appears to be a good-old-fashioned Bad January. Unit sales in the Top 300 could be off in the double-digits — with Top 300 dollars off by much less, but still off. It’s looking more like January 2006 than either of the past two years — and reminiscent of the older “Dead Quarter” years where the number or releases dropped in the winter. Marvel, which had placed 119 books in the Top 300 in December 2008, only had 92 entries this month, one less than DC. That drop of 27 entries tells the tale, I’d expect.

Brace yourselves.

  1. This past January was the best one we’ve had in 15 years of being open in Indianapolis. And February is on track to be a record Feb as well, knock on wood. Lots of trades being sold and our dollar section of back issues has seen record business as well.

  2. Still churning on the math — it would be good to be wrong on this one. The back-of-the-envelope work was more likely to be wrong on the low side than on the high side, but the preliminary indicator seemed worth mentioning.

  3. But…according to Brian Hibbs, the Obama Spiderman issue is going to equal the best January ever! Hee hee – he’s so silly when he tries talking economics.

    I only buy a few floppies from my LCS (RASL and Madman), but the guy who runs it is a friend, and according to him, he’s barely keeping the store open. (This is in NE Ohio.) He’s not an alarmist, but he’s terrified. So, just going off his anecdotal evidence, I’m expecting dismal numbers.

  4. Best January I’ve had in 20 years of retailing, and, in addition to the two posters above, I can think of at least another dozen stores who have told me the same thing.

    So, unless we’re ALL outliers, I would expect that if Jan’s numbers are down as JJ suggests, the reason for that would be store closings — which wouldn’t be a weak January problem for those stores, but rather a weak 3rd and 4th quarter 2008…


  5. Most places are down. These are the ‘dead months of retail’ for more major chains anyway following Christmas. I take all this with a grain of salt and think it will pick up.

  6. Still working, but gaining confidence in the estimate. Enough so I posted some new context for January performances historically…


    ..to recall as the numbers start rolling out from the various analysts. Important notes are that Januaries with year-to-year increases are not the historic norm for comics — and that several recent years with January dollar and unit drops ended with increases overall. All months in comics are not created equal — many times, a strong August has erased six weeks of winter. Possibly a handy link to share as the discussions go forward…

  7. And that’s good information to have from everyone. If Brian’s expectation is the operative one, that’d mean traffic from whatever end-of-year closures there were hasn’t been lost to the base. We might see orders drop in absolute terms one month and then picking up as the subscribers migrate.

  8. I’m with Hibbs and Kilmer on this one. My January was good. The charts may look awful because of mid tier books falling by the wayside and DC having serious editorial issues right now, but business on the whole was fine.

  9. Milton at ICV2 has January Top 300 off 9% dollar-wise, which is close to my estimate-in-progress; that would put the month worse year-to-year than any drop in the 2000s, but better than the drops in the late 1990s. Units will come off much worse, in the double-digits as I expected. And Spider-Man/Obama will look to hit the mid-300s I suggested earlier. Unit drops look consistent with fewer accounts, with the lowering tide moving everything at once regardless of price point.

    Overall comics-and-backlist figure yet to come on my site; we’ll make up ground there.

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