It’s become a truism of the current comics era that a movie or TV show based on a comics property will only spark big book sales if there is a clear and defined book that ties in closely with the movie or TV show. Thus big sales for things like 300, SCOTT PILGRIM, WATCHMEN, KICK-ASS, WALKING DEAD, and so on. We’ll call it the Naruto Effect, since Naruto manga sales surged upwards when it was broadcast on the Cartoon Network.

The Naruto Effect is problematic for Marvel and DC because most of their movies are based on comics that are up to issue #500 or so. JUmping on one of these old-timers is like jumping on a moving train from a cliffside. Even a collection is not that definitive, as every book — Batman, Spider-Man, Hellblazer — has dozens of volumes to choose from. In fact Marvel has, in the past, pretty much given up on having a graphic novel tie in to their very successful movies for just this reason.

However, there can be “spin-off” sales hits. The last one we can think of was The Joker gn by Azzarello and Bermejo which sold gangbusters in the year THE DARK KNIGHT came out — the book had nothing to do with the movie, but the dark, adult portrayal of he Joker felt a bit like the movie, and people may have sought it out because of that. (It was also a pretty good book on its own.)

The next Marvel movie is THOR, opening May 5, which has the usual jumping on point problems. However, it appears that one book may be having a “spin-off” Naruto Effect, namely the Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus just out this month. At 1192 pages for $125, this is no impulse purchase — however it’s already at #9 in the Amazon GN bestseller’s list and an impressive #559 in books overall.

Now we all know Amazon’s sales rankings are easy to game, and the different between the #100 book and the #1000 book might be just a copy or two. Still, even at the discounted price of $73.03, that’s a pretty nice piece of change. And the movie hasn’t even opened yet, and the book hasn’t officially shipped yet.

It helps, of course, that Simonson’s Thor work is assured, lively storytelling that stands the test of time, and is reckoned as one of the most definitive runs on Thor.

Hype for the Thor movie is entering its peak phase, so we’ll see how the Thor books track.


  1. Yeah, for sure the Omnibus is pricey (even with the Amazon discount, as Heidi noted), however this is about as definitive as you get for a Thor run…

    …there’s always also the “Visionaries” TPBs, that might provide a more palatable point-of-entry price point for those looking to get into the Simonson stuff.

    As for the hefty poundage of this new collection? “Whosoever holds this Omnibus, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Simonson.”

    VF / NM

  2. I always resist Omnibus’ as they are too heavy to read. But I’ve never read Simonson’s Thor and I’ve heard nothing but good things….


  3. #31,543 on BN.com

    The #2 Thor bestseller?
    Thor the Mighty Avenger at #112,700.
    Then the Marvel Masterworks trade.

    DC’s success has been in co-op titles offered to comics shops. With superheroes, you don’t need an origin story, since the movie already has established the character. You just want to read more cool stuff about Batman, stories just like that intense movie you just saw. So with both movies, there was a high tide which lasted through the holiday season, so that the “classics” sold consistently (dominating the graphic novel list), and still do.

    That’s why DC publishes “deluxe editions” of Killing Joke, and V for Vendetta, and Batman: Year One. It sells to the fans who want a nice keepsake copy, and to those who are curious, either about the book the movie was based on, or about the character.

    Marvel doesn’t have that backlist of mini-series (although the Premiere library tries to fill that need). They tried to create one last year for Thor and Captain America, which caused lots of complaints from retailers when the shelves were FUBAR’d each month with multiple series.

    Were I creating a display?
    Essential Thor, Volume 1
    Ultimate Comics Thor
    Thor by J. Michael Straczynski, Volume 1
    Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor, Volume 1 (TP)
    Thor Visionaries: Walter Simonson, Volume 1

    (recommended for younger readers or parents)
    Thor and the Warriors Four
    Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Volumes 1 and 2
    Marvel Adventures: Thor: Bringers of the Storm
    Thor: Son of Asgard

    Add the Klutz “Draw the Marvel Heroes” (if you can find copies… out of print?!) as well as “How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (in print since 1978!) and “You Can Draw Marvel Characters” by Dan Jurgens. Team-up these books with the Canson Create Your Own Comic Book Kit! (Or the Blitz series of kits, based on the PBS series.)

    A third display, high end items:
    All three Thor omnibuses
    Thor statues and replicas.

    Leave those displays up for three or four weeks in front of the store. Then move them elsewhere and replace with the multitude of comics movies coming out this summer (Cars, Planet of the Apes, Transformers, X-Men, Kung-Fu Panda, Green Lantern, Captain America, Smurfs, Conan, Priest…), adjusting product to box office popularity.

    Around Labor Day, put up a “Back To School” display featuring academic titles like Persepolis, Watchmen, Maus, and beginning reader books. Middle of September, start preparing for the Holidays. Judging on the success of the summer blockbusters, recycle your summer displays, as well as promoting Tintin and Harry Potter.

  4. It’s everything good about comics. I had a VERY bad day and it showing up on my doorstep turned things around for me.

    It’s too expensive to be an impulse buy for people who really dig the movie (unless they are incredibly affluent)… but there are cheaper alternatives.

  5. If I didn’t already own those Simonson THOR issues I’d buy that Omnibus in a heartbeat.

    My favorite era’s/writers of Thor are:


    Anyone know if the John Buscema era has been collected/reprinted anywhere? I’ve always wanted to read those, love JB’s artwork…

  6. Thor: Ages of Thunder by Matt Fraction is really, really good — all Asgard. I’d be surprised if that isn’t one they’re being told to push as well. I also echo the shout to Jurgens — that arc where he fights Thanos? Great Kirby-esque stuff.

    How great is it too that Thor is getting all these great early reviews? Me in the past at ten years old: a Thor movie in 2011? will it be in 3-D? which once would have been more believable?

  7. Although not officially an ‘Omnibus’, should the 506 pg Thor by J.Michael Straczynski collection released in Dec/10 be considered THE movie tie-in book? The movie’s look and feel seems to be based on this collection.

    As of this writing it the #65 GN and #25,372 book but has been out almost 5 months. And for those on a budget it is about $35 cheaper

  8. Snikt- there is the Roy Thomas Eternals Saga (two tpbs) that has some Buscema (and maybe Keith pollard as well…? I don’t quite remember)-

  9. I picked up the Simonson Thor Omnibus from Amazon. It truly is gorgeous. Amazon had it as one of my gold box deals so I got it for $65 shipped.

  10. i hope this does well, it’s a great run by Simonson.

    maybe the best example of the “spin-off hit” phenomena would be Morrison and Mckean’s ARKHAM ASYLUM and the Tim Burton BATMAN movie.

    in the TALKING TO GODS documentary we’re given a slight idea of how incredibly well that particular one did in ’89-’90, when royalties could make a comic author rich.

  11. This should sell regardless of any movie coming out as Walt’s run is the definitive run on Thor in my mind, much like Byrne’s Fantastic Four run and Frank Miller’s Daredevil run. If someone generally wants to get into Thor outside of the Essentials that Marvel does, Walt’s stuff is usually what is pushed.

    I think my problem is that the Omnibuses are hard to hold comfortably to read since they are heavy so I kinda prefer the normal trades.

  12. The best $68 I’ve spent in some time. I’ve been running around the house wielding it like Mjolnir itself. “You refuse to get off the sofa, kitty!?! So BE IT!”

  13. RE: Keyser’s comment:

    I think those examples hit a chord with the folks who read them in the 80s, and who have now grown up and become loudmouths on the internet.

    And yes, even though I have three of these Marvel Omnibuses, it did take a few minutes to figure out, logistically, how to read this fucker. It’s not for the bowl.

  14. I don’t know much about the mechanics of royalty payments in the comic book industry, but is Walt Simonson getting some money out of each $125 book sold? I would certainly hope so, given that it’s being promoted on his strength as a writer.

  15. >>>Nick, artists & writers are paid royalties ANYTIME their work is reprinted…

    ONly by Some publishers on SOME material.

    For instance, Marvel does not pay royalties on foreign editions of their comics. For various reasons.

  16. I was going to pass on it, until I learned it was being reproduced from the original art. I guess Simonson saves all his orginals?

    Anyway, it’s both gorgeous, and a good read!

  17. I’m apparently one of those crazy comics collector people, as I ALWAYS prefer the original floppy issues of a book to a hardcover/trade paperback/ominbus (even though sometimes you do get larger images/cool extras!) You’d be surprised that most all of the Simonson run can be snatched up for about a $1. an issue, give or take! I’m slowly working on the run!

  18. “ONly by Some publishers on SOME material.

    For instance, Marvel does not pay royalties on foreign editions of their comics. For various reasons.”

    Ah ok, I didn’t know this.

    I recently read a story online (maybe Jim Shooters blog?) that Simonson left Marvel after discovering HIS work was being reprinted overseas and he wasn’t getting paid a dime for it. :-(

  19. What does it tell you that the content of Marvel’s tie-in of choice for the Thor movie is nearly 30 years old?

  20. Can’t curl up in bed with a book like this, but I’m buying anyway, which is crazy since I have most of the single issues, and all of the Simonson Thor Visionaries TPBs.

    I only do that for those comics stories that are worth it. And this story is definitely worth it.