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Q3? More like CRAP 3


It’s fitting that September’s top-selling comic features an image of Wolverine crouching atop a giant turd, because overall, sales were in the crapper, and the whole quarter was in the dumpster, ICv2 tells us. If you think we’re exaggerating, the normally understated ICv2’s use of the word “Sucked” is a strong indicator.

Now that the third quarter of 2010 is over, it’s clear that the negative trends that comic stores have been bucking for the last two years have finally taken their toll: sales of comics and graphic novels were down a combined 12% for the quarter. Comic sales were down 14% and graphic novel sales down 6%. This is the largest year over year quarterly decline we’ve seen since we started tracking these numbers in 2004.

September sales were a continuation of negative trends for the quarter, with a 12% decline in comic sales and a 2% decline in graphic novel sales.

Year-to-date trends are better, with over-all sales down 5% behind comic sales down 4% and graphic novel sales down 8%.

We’ve yet to get the reassuring posts from John Jackson Miller, Spurge and so on that tell us this drop is really just statistics as usual and there’s nothing to get worried about, so in the meantime, we’ll just freak out, bearing in mind that the folks who see the TOTAL statistics have decided things are going so badly that they need to lower prices.

In the meantime, the doomsayers seem to have exhausted their arsenal. At ICv2 retailer Glen Soustek of Westlake Cards, Comics & Coins, Inc. in Roselle, Illinois writes:

I have to wonder how much of the downward trend in comic “sales” is simply comic dealers abandoning the failed concept of ordering 100 of a book in order to get a variant they can dump on eBay for $10 and then selling 10 of the original 100 they ordered and tossing the other 90 in a quarter bin just days after arrival.  We see this sort of thing in the Chicagoland area all the time–west-suburban landfills are glutted with this stuff.


UPDATE: Whoops, as I was writing this, Tom Spurgeon came out and found no comfort.

Whereas in some cases the failure to meet certain ostensible goals could be seen as a market shift to different points of emphasis, it’s difficult to build an alternative narrative here.

JJM — hurry, you are our only hope!

Sales Chart analysis.”

Top 300 Comics Actual–September 2010.
Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–September 2010

  1. “It’s fitting that September’s top selling comic features an image of Wolverine crouching atop a giant turd”


    Seriously, though, as Wolverine covers go, that one is pretty terrible, and I usually like Jae Lee a lot.

  2. Any word on when we will see the August Month to Month sales charts? My cursory look at the numbers from ICv2 and July’s numbers showed some results I thought were quite surprising, but I was thinking I might have read them wrong, so was waiting for the MTMs to make sure I wasn’t misreading.

  3. I have to say that we took a hit as well, however my customer transaction count was perfectly fine. It was the amount of items that people where buying that went down a bit. With no serious line wide events to drive customers into “I gotta have it”, and the release of mini series and one shots that mean nothing to main titles they stem from hurt a bit as well as people where not sure about picking those up.

  4. I’ve seen posts advocating more events — Richard George at IGN has practically pleaded for them. However, the “illusion of change” policy of the Big Two and the supposed importance of events directly contradict each other. If the outcome of “n” events is a return to the status quo for “n” characters or a return to an old status quo (the stated purpose of HOUSE OF M, since Marvel Editorial wanted to recycle mutant persecution themes), what is the point of any of the material? The readers are being played for suckers.

    I have some residual enthusiasm for cosmic storylines, but I’m skipping CHAOS WAR because the premise — an existing Japanese mythological pseudo-god becomes an entity that threatens the multiverse — is nonsensical. There’s about as much chance of the multiverse being destroyed convincingly as there is of Marvel Editorial quitting en masse and becoming Franciscan monks and nuns. In the current NEW AVENGERS arc, the first four issues are basically toilet paper because Bendis abandoned the premise for issue #1 — that the Eye of Agamotto was needed to prevent the dimension from being invaded by demons — a purpose it never had — and changed the premise in #5 to Agamotto wanting his Eye back as a weapon to use in self-defense — another purpose the Eye never had, and a request that couldn’t reasonably be refused.
    If a fan fiction writer reaches a dead end in a storyline, he has sense enough to scrap the story and start over, and he doesn’t charge for his story anyway. Marvel Editorial is acting as if nothing is wrong.

    Things have reached the point where Marvel might be cutting down the production of titles only because they can’t think of ways to recycle story material without embarrassing themselves.


  5. it’s time to reshuffle the considerable talent that marvel has on their books. wouldn’t it be nice to see avengers books written by someone else other than bendis? so many good candidates to choose from (hickman, aaron, fraction.) Bendis would be great on a book like Shang Chi or Namor. think about it! (he’s already supposed to be working on Moon Knight which is a promising sign!)

  6. People have been wondering for years now how to account for the falling sales of monthly comics. Was it price increases? Event books? Digital piracy? Or was it, as we now suspect, because of how Bendis wrote the Eye of Agamotto?

  7. Or was it, as we now suspect, because of how Bendis wrote the Eye of Agamotto?

    I mentioned the NEW AVENGERS storyline because it’s an excellent example of both authorial and editorial incompetence that have gone unnoticed by readers except for those who know Dr. Strange’s history. If the writing were done as a class project anywhere, from junior high school through college, it would receive a failing grade because the problems with the premise and plot are so glaringly obvious.

    What is someone supposed to read into the non-reaction from readers who aren’t Dr. Strange fans? That they think superhero stories are so junky that even minimal editorial standards can’t be applied to them? Or that those readers buy the comics primarily for the artwork and whatever the characters do and say doesn’t matter, as long as they look good?

    If the quality of the storytelling in any particular issue isn’t a factor in marketing the product to people, what else is there, besides gimmicks that don’t appeal to a reader’s intellect?


  8. I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying. If a majority of people who read New Avengers (and I’ll admit now that I am not one of them) don’t have a deep enough understanding of Dr. Strange’s history to recognize that apparently Bendis has contradicted some of it, why does it matter then? Why would that cause readership to drop? Are you saying that NA would be selling over 100,000 copies if they catered to people who remember Dr. Strange comics from the 70s? Because the relative merits of those comics aside, do you really believe that they even factor into a comic buyer’s mind when he is opening his wallet at the comic shop? “I’d buy this, but it doesn’t seem to jibe with what I read in Strange Tales 123”?

  9. There’s two markets to serial fiction (and anything with a dedicated fan base):
    1) The fans who know chapter-and-verse, and who will notice mistakes.
    2) The casual reader just looking for a good story.

    I saw it constantly at the bookstore. People would see “Wicked” on Broadway, and want to read the Maguire book, who know the MGM movie, but haven’t read the book by Baum. They don’t care that the movie or play contradict canon from the Baum books. They just want a good story they are familiar with.

    For fans, it might be something as simple as “Peter Parker would never make a deal with the devil.” Or, “Superman never curses”. If the fan is disenchanted, they’ll find something else to bespell them. It could be girls, or cars, or a video game.

    One can read “Kingdom Come” and enjoy the story of how superheroes “work” in the real world. One can also read it and look for The Cosby Kids, Wendy and Marvin, and Heidi MacDonald.

    The best stories, they have the Bullwinkle Effect. You notice things on the second or third reading, or you discover things you didn’t notice as a child or teen.

  10. I agree with RJT but I think the point is that Bendis not following Dr. Strange continuity may be a symptom of a larger problem with his writing. I think it’s stupid to have him write TWO Avengers books with almost identical casts. I admit though that he does write a good Namor.

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