Home Indies The Cowboys & Aliens “scandal”

The Cowboys & Aliens “scandal”


We’re the very last person to link to this, but last week A. David Lewis was up in arms about PLATINUM’s first actual book, COWBOYS & ALIENS, being named as the #1 graphic novel in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

What smarts most is that C&A is listed as the top-selling graphic novel. Yes, Entertainment Weekly crowns it as #1.

First, that’s crap. I think we all know that’s crap. And, by “we,” I mean people who actually go to comic book shops on an almost weekly basis to stock up on the newest, the best, and the guilty pleasures (not always mutually exclusive). Even folks who are only casually aware of the comic book industry — as either a consumer, a producer, or a critic (again, seldom mutually exclusive) — know that this is crap. Entertainment Weekly naming Cowboys & Aliens is the #1 graphic novel is like saying Girls Gone Wild Spring Break Sex Riot is the #1 DVD over Pirates of the Carribbean. Numbers don’t lie, you say? Sure they do. Entertainment Weekly is quite clear that this report only comes from Midtown Comics in NYC; they list Midtown as the source at the bottom of the list as well as name-drop them at the top.

For that matter, EW is actually quietly clear, not explaining to the mainstream reader exactly what Midtown is nor suggesting that, perhaps, this is one source of many. (Hell, why not ask Wizard, for that matter?)

Lewis refers to rumours that have been circulating for quite a while at LYGIN IN THE GUTTERS that Platinum paid retailers to order C&A in numbers high enough to top the charts. Dirk has apparently launched an investigation of this, and even in our weakened state we can say that we’ve heard an odd thing or two about it, as welll. Follow all the links and then let’s meet back here at the ranch!


  1. The manager of the comic shop I go to (which will remain nameless for now) told me that Platnium paid for the copious copies of Cowboys and Aliens that he’s now selling for $2.00 each. Even at that price no one is buying them, and he may just give them away to get rid of them.

    I’m waiting until they’re free.

  2. Actually, the day I got the issue, I sent EW a very nice note explaining the situation with this particular book. It irritated me that such a crass promotional ploy could get this book so much visibility, especially when the rest of the books on the list were of much higher quality.

    That said, it did seem pretty clear to me that the list was just th weekly sales list for one store, so I don’t think that part was mis-leading.

  3. Well, the I’ve seen the tpb available from anywhere between $0.75 and $2, so you know something’s up. Truth is that it’s basically just a squarebound 100-page one-shot comic with a cover price of $4.99, so I’m not sure it’s on the correct sales chart anyway…

  4. I enjoy Freds writing, and am awaiting his Marvel stuff anxiously. I enjoyed C&A. It was fun, at times a bit strange. But it’s Aliens and Cowboys so I was expecting it to be wierd. I didn’t have high hopes after hearing all the negativity, but I think the creators did a good job. Oh, and I paid 4.99 for mine. I don’t know why everyone is getting so upset, it’s a comic book. Whatever. If Marvel had done with or GIVEN away a Spidey 3 type book, to promote the upcoming movie, no one would have said a word. Oh, and I think you can already read it for free Ethan, it’s online as a webcomic now too, you can save shelf space for something else. I take it all with a grain of salt. Lewis’s stuff is hosted on Moderntales. And Manley doesn’t hide his hatred of Platinum. Just seems like another person jumping on that bandwagon to me. I like Lewis and Manley doesn’t mean I have to like THEIR propoganda any more than they like Platinum. I’ll keep reading webcomics at Moderntales, I’ll keep buying books from Lewis, he’s a good writer. I’ll probably buy more books from Platinum. And I’ll just ignore all the drama and enjoy my comics.

  5. True, Anonymous, no one would have said a word, but I’m also betting that the comic wouldn’t have shown up on any sales charts.

  6. My report should be ready tomorrow morning, but I just wanted to note that Midtown Comics appears to be dealing with this in a fairly upfront and straightforward manner. That said, if you’ve picked this book elsewhere for less than cover price, I’d love to hear where and how much — email me at dirk@tcj.com and let me know.

  7. Anonymous and Chad: I appreciate where both of you are coming from (and I’m particularly glad to hear, in all sincerity, Anon., that my viewpoints won’t affect your reception of my works. That’s always a concern for a vocal creator). Chad’s point is my own as well: This tactic to promote their wares is absolutely fine. However, counting it as the top-selling graphic novel is at least disingenuous if not outright false. It’s really only this aspect of the affair that caused it to stick in my craw as pointedly as it has.

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