Is the Market Saturated, Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

 

Do we really need another Deadpool title? 

Deadpool Origins cover image Marvel.comChances are, more of you reading this article have asked yourself that question than have excitedly rubbed your hands together at the news of yet another Wade Wilson ongoing. Full disclosure: I’m not one of you. Fact is, I’m part of the Deadpool Nation. I totally get that he’s not a character with universal appeal, but for me he’s worked more times than he’s not. Joe Kelly is in my pantheon of comic creators for what he did back in the day to bring Wade Wilson’s world to life. And snicker all you want, but there’s a place for a Rob Liefeld Deadpool commission in my comic room just waiting to be filled.
 
But I digress. The point I was making is that lots of comic book fans seem to concern themselves with fears of market saturation. And in combing through the internet, Deadpool seems to be the most commonly used example du jour. But there are always poster children for this kind of declaration: Wolverine, Lobo, Foil Covers, Black and white comics in the 80s. 
 
As a long-time fan that buys and reads a ton of comics each month, I can understand the feeling of saturation. In April alone, the following books featuring Deadpool shipped: 
 
 
It’s entirely logical to ask whether Marvel is putting out too much of a good thing. Even if you’re a big Deadpool fan, as I am, committing $32.91 in one month to keep current on the character seems difficult to justify financially. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “why not just buy one or two of those titles to get your fix?” A perfectly valid counterpoint, but let’s be honest, Marvel and DC count on our collector bug to kick in. Some will choose a title or two from this bunch, but other fans may view this as an all-or-nothing proposition.
 
Marvel.com Deadpool Corps #1 cover Variant Rob Liefeld
 
The real question is, has Marvel gone too far? Will this many Deadpool titles turn off the casual readers? Is there such a thing as a casual reader anymore?
 
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
 
In April, Marvel placed 95 books in the Diamond Top 300. The AVERAGE Marvel comic sold 28,460 units into the direct market. 53 books sold less than that average, 42 books sold more. Now let’s take a look at how each of the Deadpool-related books fared:
 
  • Captain America: Who Won’t Wield the Shield? – 32,477 copies
  • Deadpool Corps #1 – 39,466 copies
  • Deadpool #22 – 43,061 copies
  • Deadpool & Cable #25 – 38,424 copies
  • Deadpool Team-up #894 – 28,835 copies
  • Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #10 – 33,803 copies
  • Hulked Out Heroes #1 – 37,665 copies
  • Hulked Out Heroes #2 – 35,065 copies
  • World War Hulks #1 (featuring Deadpool) – 41,398 copies
  • Average Sales – 36,688 copies
 
Two things worth noting here:
 

1) Every single Deadpool related book sold more than the Marvel average

2) The average sales for DP related titles were 29% higher than overall Marvel sales

 
In Wade Wilson we trust. 
 
The Overall Importance of Line Expansion
 
For comic book publishers, line expansion is the Holy Grail. Comic books today are a COLLECTORS market. And history tells publishers that we generally have an appetite for more of the things we like. Long gone are the days when we have one titular Avengers title or one Hulk title or one Batman book (OK, there have pretty much always been at least two Batman books, but you get my point). 
 
Today’s publishers think in terms of FRANCHISES. DC has the Batman Family, the Superman Family, and an expanding Green Lantern universe. Marvel has the Avengers titles (Happy belated Avengers Day, by the way), the X-related titles, Spider-man, Wolverine and, yes, Deadpool. But they’re not alone in the franchise act. IDW has four ongoing G.I. Joe titles now, not to mention the Transformers line. Dynamite has the Project Superpowers line and aggressively pushed its new Green Hornet license. Boom! has an expansive line of Disney/Pixar books. Top Cow now has a universe of interrelated titles including Artifacts, Witchblade, The Darkness and Magdalena. The truth is, if you’re a publisher putting out more than a couple of books monthly, you’ve probably got at least one line.
 
Marginal Rate of Return
 
Basic economics dictate that it’s more profitable for a publisher to have one title that sells 150K copies than three titles that sell 50K each. And having three titles sell 50K each is better than having 10 titles sell 15K each. Yes, in each case the publisher is selling 150K copies. But the costs of attaining those sales are much different. Each book has a writer, a penciler, an inker, a colorist, a letterer, an editing team, and must be marketed. But there are fixed costs associated with publishing, too. Marvel’s offices in New York need to be staffed regardless of whether they sell one book or 200. Those offices have utility bills and mortgage payments to be made no matter how many books are printed. The truth is, there are litanies of costs that occur regardless of how many books hit the shelves each month. 
 
Which is where the concept of marginal rate of return (MRR) comes into play. Marginal rate of return is simply a measure of the expected net profit of a project, divided by the investment required to undertake the project. A basic rule of thumb is, if the MRR is greater than 1.0, then it’s worth doing. There are a ton of variables that go into that equation, but you can be sure that books that fall below an MRR of 1.0 don’t last long. So while producing a 5th Deadpool book may not generate as much profit as the 1st, so long as it adds incremental profit to Marvel’s coffers, it’s worth doing. What the publishers have to decide quite often is whether an alternative book would be even more profitable. 
 
So the next time you scratch your head at that 2nd JSA title or 5th Deadpool title or 9th Batman title, remember that publishers aren't stupid. They're intentionally pushing out as much product as the end market will endure, and if the MRR starts turning against them, they'll quickly reverse course and retrench. Do I think Deadpool will have four or five ongoings in a year or two? History tells us otherwise. But, for now, it's not a franchise that looks to be problematic. 
 

UPDATE: iFanboy member bentheo was kind enough to reference an article that analyzes Deadpool's sales in a variety of interesting ways in the comments section. I was so taken by it that I thought it made sense to throw a link to the site in the main body of the article.
 
 
Thanks to bentheo for the heads up, I wasn't familiar with Deadpool Bugle, but I will be going forward. 
 

Jason is a mutant with the ability to squeeze 36 hours into every 24-hour day, which is why he was able to convince his wife he had time to join the iFanboy team on top of running his business, raising his three sons, and most importantly, co-hosting the 11 O'Clock Comics podcast with his buddies Vince B, Chris Neseman and David Price. If you are one of the twelve people on Earth who want to read about comics, the stock market and football in rapid fire succession, you can follow him onTwitter.

 

Comments

  1. I hate deadpool

  2. Dear gods, those numbers are depressing. Meanwhile, Phonogram can’t sell 5,000 copies an issue.

  3. Those are insane numbers for absolute shit comics.

  4. @vadamowens Honest question, have you actually read any of the issues listed? 

  5. The Deadpool Bugle already posted all the April Deadpool sales data, and there are some graphs that are pretty relevent to this article:

    http://www.deadpoolbugle.com/2010/05/april-2010-deadpool-sales-data.html

  6. I applaud you for taking a public stand on the DP side.  I just wish they’d start making some good Dp comics. the wise cracking gun toting badass does seem to be around much.. just a insane guy in a costume

  7. Jeff Reid Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    I guess I haven’t looked at the numbers in a long time, but the average number of Marvel books sold only being 28,460 seems shockingly low. I’m sure DC is somewhere in that same ballpark. So surprising to occasionally see just how much of a niche market we really are.

  8. To hopefully head off something at the past…this isn’t meant to be a treatise on Deadpool and the quality of the comics versus those that may or may not sell less. This was meant to illustrate how a publisher tests the market for saturation and ultimately decides whether something is too exposed or not. If (when?) more people begin thinking the way the naysayers do and abandoning the titles, Marvel will retrench as they have in the past. But suffice to say, right now plenty of people are enjoying MULTIPLE Deadpool books, myself included.

    It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a backlash from too many Green Hornet books. Or if a 4th G.I. Joe ongoing tilts the scales. Or if a 3rd Green Lantern book sells well enough to keep all three going.

    Marvel’s Spider-man situation is interesting. Recall that they went to a thrice monthly Amazing as a way of reinvigorating interest, believing that having one narrative instead of three distinct narratives was the better approach. Yet sure enough, while we still have thrice monthly ASM, we now have other Spidey titles on top of that (Web, Spidey/Wolverine, one shots seemingly every month, etc…).

    It’s very hard to predict when enough is enough in any formulaic way. 

  9. Comics Economics. Strangely, I can’t get enough of them.

  10. I enjoy these articles immensely by Mr Wood.

    How much does the fight for ‘shelf space’ play in offering or perhaps flooding the market for comics?  I believe this has been an important factor in consumer goods, such soda, toothpaste

  11. @bentheo THANKS for that link!

    I wasn’t familiar with that website but you’re right, it’s very complementary to my article. I really like their analysis of the total market and what % of sales are books with DP in them. Wish I had thought of that.  

  12. Holy smokes, I can’t believe how evenly all of those DP books sold. I really was expecting a poor MRR (see I learned something!) on the newer series.

  13. UPDATE: The article bentheo referenced fit so well into my article I’ve since appended the link to the bottom of the main feature. :thumbup:

  14. That is depressing.

    But the consumers fault. 

  15. @NawidA what’s depressing about it? If I had written the same article and used data on Batman or the Avengers, would it still be depressing?

  16. That explains it. Thanks for the in-depth article Jason! I wonder what my boy @stuclach has to say.

  17. Good article.

    I feel like I hear this complaint too often on comic book sites: "They’re forcing this crap on us!" It’s usually followed by "And then they cancel my favorite (low-selling) book for this!"

    As if we’re held hostage by publishers, a victim to their whims. It simply isn’t the case, and yet I still see these types of comments pop up over and over. I guess it’s either a kind of myopia or egocentrism — "I like this, therefore it must be good. If Marvel publicized it out better, everyone would see what I see. It couldn’t be that OTHER people like to buy/collect Deadpool more than my book."

  18. Hahaha! My evil plan is working!

    That is a bit depressing though. I only buy the one Deadpool (Daniel Way) series now cause the rest is crap. But it seems like a lot of fans want Deadpool. Whether you like it or not, the public wants him and Marvel is answering. That doesn’t make the quality any better. Team-Up, Merc with a Mouth, and Deadpool Corps are pieces of junk.

    There’s also a lot of Avengers, Batman, Superman, and X-Men books too. Other then X-Men I don’t see many people bitching 24/7 on why those characters/teams suck. It’s only going to get worse when the Deadpool film hits.

  19. @daccampo That’s all I’m really getting at. I have TONS of comics that I adore that have pretty bleak sales numbers and I’m left wondering what they have to do. And even being a big Deadpool fan, I personally don’t think every one of these titles is of the highest quality. However, the market bears what the market bears.

     

  20. Also: Good to know Way’s series outsells anything else Deadpool related. It is the best out of the bunch and people should give it a try.

  21. @Wood For me, if the article had been about Batman, Avengers or *anything* it would have been depressing. I understand why the publishers put them out and I even understand why people buy them all if they like Deadpool. It’s just as someone mentioned there are books like Phonogram that really struggle. There are tonnes of them struggling. So while I understand the economics of it I still find it sad that this is the way it is.

  22. @deadspace I empathize with that viewpoint. Most of my favorite books aren’t great sellers, at least in single issue form. Fear Agent, Scalped, Unwritten, DMZ, etc…

  23. I absolutely understand why certain comics are out there and why certain comics get canceled.

    The only thing Marvel needs to worry about (or any company for that matter) is ruining their brand by selling crappy comics.

    (I’m not saying Deadpool comics are crappy by the way)

    Riding the hype to drive readers to empty results is dangerous. We have a lot of connotative feelings associated with company names/logos. Companies should want to keep the masses on the positive side of the spectrum.

  24. Fanboys are by and large whiny and self centered…No matter how good something may (or may not) be, there are always going to be the mass of usual idots proclaiming:

    EPIC FAILURE!!!

    PASS!!!!

     

    THEY SHOULD DO (fill in the blank)!!!

     

     

    Thankfully, they’re going to do what they’re going to do regardless of nerd complaints.

     

    I say, let them run their business…If you don’t like it, you can always stop buying.

     

    But you wont.  I know you won’t…And so do they.

  25. @wood

    With Deadpool it feels especially depressing because

    A) I have tried some of those books and they suck.

    B) Deadpool seems symbolic to me of the whims of the comic book consumer. Instead of trying something new, they try… Deadpool.

     

  26. Oh Deadpool..  Why can’t I stay from your crude, sexist, multilingual, 4th wall breaking potty humor?

    Now the stark truth of what I really spend, ouch!  Fucking Deadpool.

  27. fanboys love to "try things out" for a couple of months and they love taking our money as we do it. How many times have we all bought books for 2-6 months longer than we enjoyed it? They still got our money as we complained how much it sucked. Publishers know this so there is a bit more of a factory approach than a craftsmanship approach. 

     Thats part of the reason why most of my purchases are in trade form. It gives enough time for the dust to settle and I can figure out from others (and this site) whats worth buying and what was junk.  

  28. To be fair, the list Wood gives only has a few of those surviving the next couple of months. Merc is being cancelled so that’s a good start. Then again a new mini-series comes out starting this month which is a bit annoying. So we’ll have Deadpool, Team Up, The Corps, and Wilson’s War…..oh and a one-shot involving the X-Men origins one-shots. Okay maybe it’s still bad…

    Oh and Wood….does Hit-Monkey count cause that’s also going to be a mini.

  29. @TheNextChamp I wasn’t sure if Hit Monkey was going to feature DP, I assumed we’ve already seen that story play out, no? Either way, I don’t know where that title stands but I will say that it certainly won’t sell close to the average Marvel book IMHO.

     

  30. @Wood: Judging from the sales, you’re probably right. Only got about 13,000 copies sold in Feb.

    Although it did beat out notables like Irredeemable, Sword, Jonah Hex, and Sweet Tooth (!?).

  31. Amen Preacher, testify.

    Another point to this is that a publisher will want to put out more material using a known bankable character rather than try something completely new which is more of a gamble for them. This is part of the reason sequels get made in the movie biz.

  32. @rush that’s true. But to be fair Marvel and DC put out new stuff quite often, it just doesn’t sell that well in most cases. 

  33. I cannot wait to get to the Joe Kelly written issues in the Classics collections.  Since I’m told that’s when it gets better.  I’m still waiting for Renee to hand over the first volume she recieved for Christmas from an adorable chap.

    Plus, Priest wrote Deadpool, so the character has that going for him, too, I guess.

  34. @davidaprice I would be careful about that guy who sent Renee said TPB. He’s a charmer. 

    Priest damn sure did write DP. I miss Priest. 

  35. @Wood: "I miss Priest."

    You and me both, boo.  You and me both.

  36. @wood Yes they do try new things and you are right very few of the new ideas pan out. Hence saturating the market with popular characters counter balances the less successful books, that is is just good business sence.

  37. hey people love teh deadpool. what can we do?

  38. Based upon those numbers, I guess it’s fair to assume that Deadpool readers not only buy the flagship title but everything Deadpool related. I know that I buy every Batbook, X-book, and GL book for the most part.

  39. I’m so grateful that I’ve actually LIKED every X-force book has been published since volume 3 was released. Other than that title there’s nothing being spammed in the market that I care for. My wallet is happy and well fed for now…

  40. Are these sales number US or world-wide? I didn’t know us comic readers were such a small community compared to the total population.

  41. @kennyg: Comics is an extremely small community. Estimates of total comic book readers worldwide is around 200,000.

  42. We need to make the comic community much like the manga community in japan. It would make going to an lcs easier.

  43. 200k? that’s it? dang…

  44. @Conor:  I think that 200,000 number is kinda tricky.

     

    I’ll explain, I read a buttload of comics monthly and spend copious amonts of cash.  My brother on the other hand ONLY reads Walking Dead in TPB form.  He has no interest in any other comic title.  I believe their are many other Manga and Indie title readers who follow my brother’s path vs mine. 

    I guess my question is "what defines a comic reader"? 

     

    the Tiki 

  45. @Wood: Who is this Deadpool character you keep talking about?  That is Spider-Man in those pictures.

     

    😀

     

    the Tiki 

  46. @Conor  200,000?!  Worldwide?!  I knew it was low but…damn. Figured it was at least a couple million. Are those single issue readers?

  47. Thanks for painting the market picture for us.  I definitely ponder the need for so many books at all times, but your points make sense.  Love this economics stuff.

  48. @wood 5/9. Nice try though.

  49. @vadamowens, Why do you buy them if they are shit books? 

    @Conor, what are the ifanboy user numbers like?

    If Merc with a Mouth is getting cancelled at 33,000 copies, I dont think these other books will last very long

     

  50. I don’t buy them.  I read them at the shop because my lcs dealer doesn’t care.  Especially, since I spend on an average of $30-60 a week.  Also, I love Deadpool.  Why wouldn’t I give them a shot?

  51. Is it possible that the upcoming Deadpool #1000 is actually the 1,000th issue featuring Deadpool? 

    @JesTr – Sorry. Work has been a mess (new computers and so forth).  This article makes its point very well.  I don’t have a lot to add.  Good work, Mr. Wood.

  52. I hate deadpool.

  53. There has to be more than 200,000 single issue comic readers.

    That would mean like more than half of all single issue comic readers read New Avengers.

    I doubt it.

    I’d say more along the lines of 2-3 million people who buy single issues in a comic shop or through online services.

  54. Great article, Mr. Wood. I enjoy these comics economics articles because 1, I want the industry to thrive, and 2, some of the situations in the comics field are very similar to the one I work in (video games).

    My question to you is this: The numbers you cited, I assume, are the sell-in numbers, i.e., the number of comics sold to the retailers. Do you have any information on the sell-through numbers, i.e., the number of copies retailer actually sell to readers? I wonder how many retailers are just blindly order DP-related titles because they’re under the impression that they sell. Of course, even if that were the case, the same retailers could be blindly ordering a whole slew of other titles as well, which would render the case of DP saturation par for the course. Blind ordering could be good for the publishers, but in the end low sell through will only hurt the retailers.

  55. i was picking up everything deadpool related but yeah i kinda got sick of it since alot of it isnt very good. i just stick with the main series now. oh another series is coming out-a spin off and one shots.

  56. @ScorpionMasada: Oh god, no. If 2-3 million people read single issue comics* this would be a much healthier industry.

    I’d guess the ceiling is probably 400,000, at most.

    *American comics. Not European comics. Not Manga.

  57. @Kodaji … Yes, these are sell-in numbers. But unlike other retail systems, the direct comic market is a bit different because there are no returns. So a sell-in is ultimately a final sale as far as Marvel and DC and the other publishers are concerned. But to your point, yes, LCS owners do overorder. It’s one of the reasons you almost always see a double digit % drop from the 1st to 2nd issues of new series, and that there is a gradual decline throughout the life of a title. Stores continually adjust their orders to best reflect actual demand.

  58. I can’t believe its that small.  It makes sense, but still.  That’s incredible.

  59. @vadamowens Sizing the market accurately is nigh impossible. Lots of casual readers buy comics in the book market, and on sites like Amazon. If we’re counting anyone who buys a comic or graphic novel each year, it certainly numbers in the millions. Watchmen sold more than a million copies in 2 years by itself. But in terms of hardcore fans who support the DIRECT market (aka the comic stores supplied by Diamond), it’s a few hundred thousand regulars. The top selling book is routinely in the 100K-200K mark (generally closer to the 100K) and as I noted today, the average comic sells far, far less.

  60. I’d say 200k is likely the average weekly consumer count of issues.

  61. Its not like sales numbers are comics in people’s hands either…think how many are left on store shelves.  Half the readers may not read new avengers, but I bet shop owners order enough that half could.

  62. i was watching a documentary on the history of comics the other day…they talked about how in the 70s and 80s one Superman book would ship in the millions per MONTH. Then the foil stamped 90s hit and killed the heroes. 

  63. With sixty something issues of New Avengers, I’m sure the comic shop got their orders about right for that series.

    I guess 400K could be about it. You’d know better than me.

    I thought 2 mill was a low number . . .

    It would be cool if someone could get a count of the number of pull lists people have in comic shops nation wide.

  64. man, who are these people keep buying this crap. not me, I’ve never bought a deadpool title in my life

  65. @mansuper So if you’ve never bought a Deadpool title in your life, how are you equipped to evaluate whether it’s good or not? I happen to enjoy the character.

  66. @Wood

    It’s not like the books are much different then what most people are expecting. At least it wasn’t for me. 

  67. This is just a sign that comics are no different than any other medium. And that as other medium show us, most of American have terrible taste. Transformers 2 made gazillions while many award winning and critically acclaimed films struggle at the box office. And Two & a Half Men & cookie cuter cop dramas absolutely dominate the tv ratings, superior shows like Parks and Recreation or Breaking Bad barely register as blips on the radar. Comic book readers are no different. The majority of the population has horrific taste. Most people are morons. No matter what for of entertainment. Order me 3 Double Downs and turn on NASCAR!

  68. Interesting conversation going…  I looked around for quite a while and wasn’t able to find a definitive answer.  HOWEVER, 200k seems low since estimates range between 120k-140k people attended last years San Diego Comic con.  I know people come that don’t read comic books, but I am a die hard fan and have never been to a con and most comic book readers I know are the same.

     Couple of interesting facts I did uncover:  the total sales for comics is around $715million (much lower than I thought).  By comparison, manga sells in the billions of dollars in Japan alone.  Graphic novels sell a little over $100 million a year (may be old data), and there are ~3000 comic books stores in the U.S.  I’d be interested about more market data anybody else has uncovered.

  69. @devildog: Having not been to San Diego you might not know that a good portion of the people who go there have absolutely no interest in the kind of comic books we’re talking about here. They come for the movies and the TV shows and for the manga.

  70. 3000 comic shops in the nation.

    How many do they serve?

    If we divide the 400,000 fans by 3,000, they serve about 1333 people each, which seems too high.

    I doubt most shops have a more than 75 people with a pull list.

    I’d like some comic shop owners to reveal how many consistent customers do they think frequent their shop a year.

  71. @j206–there is something to be said for the value of mindless escapism. Sometimes very sophisticated and intelligent people enjoy a bit of pulp entertainment. 

  72. I officially tapped on everything Deadpool last month.  I was keeping current on single issues for virtually everything Deadpool, but Deadpool Corps just killed it for me.  I’ve dropped every Deadpool book I was reading, they were all just so awful.

  73. @ScorpionMasada – Don’t forget the online guys.  A lot of sales go to them for people who can’t get to a regular shop.

  74. @wood – i get my opinion from other mediums…(movies/tv stuff that deadpools been on…) where else?. its just not for me

  75. @Conor:  What is your source for the 200,000 number?

     

    the Tiki 

  76. @devildog RE: San Diego…in addition to what Conor noted about San Diego being very much about pop culture these days moreso than comics, it’s also important to note that those gate numbers are at the turnstile. If you go to San Diego Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday…then you count as four attendees. In terms of actual, individual, human beings, about 50K-60K attend SDCC annually.

     

  77. @j206 What a delightful weltanshauung you have…

  78. I think most comic fans’ apprehension about oversaturation has less to do with the actual business of comics and more to do with the anxiety of trying to reconcile how our favorite character can be in seven different countries and three different outfits at more or less the same time. As a very smart man on this site said, we make our own continuity. But if we really like a character it can be hard to say, "no, I’m not going to follow Wolverine when he’s with Spider-Man because that doesn’t fit into my personal worldview." So it’s a strange paradox where we may buy more but want less.

  79. Great article.

    You asked whether there’s such a thing as a casual reader anymore. I’m not sure there is. Seems like the casual reader has been weeded out of comics reading. What we’re left with are people who are obsessive about different things. I’m definitely obsessed with the few comics I read. So I can see where people who like Deadpool (or any other character) tend to be obsessed with them, and thus angered or concerned with "having" to drop $3 month to keep up with everything.

    On the other hand, I think some fans just have to LET SOME THINGS GO. I have zero interest in buying a Deadpool book, but it doesn’t annoy me one iota whether Marvel pushes twenty Deadpool appearances a month or not. I mean, it isn’t like Deadpool titles are really even advertised that much (compared to many other franchises that I don’t care about), so why would I care about what sells? I think there’s a tendency for a lot of fans to get annoyed that other people like something that they themselves can’t find a way to like; these people hate all things Deadpool because Deadpool doesn’t scratch an itch for them. They WISH they could happily buy into another franchise, but they can’t. To me, this seems like a lot of misplaced frustration. It’s not like Deadpool is a critical darling–so the discerning reader doesn’t have to deal with articles telling them how "smart" Deadpool comics are, the way everyone has to hear about many indie critical-darling books. And it isn’t like Deadpool is a central, paradigm-shifting force in the Marvel Universe, the way Avengers is. So I really don’t see the problem.

  80. ^ Oops, I meant "$30 a month" to keep up with Deadpool, not "$3 month".

  81. can’t stand deadpool !!!

  82. @froggulper–casual readers still exist. But they don’t go to comic shops. They shop at Borders and Barnes and Noble. They pick up a trade of an old favorite once in a while, and eventually it turns into a bit more often. After a year or so they muster the courage to walk into a comic shop and look for current stuff, or maybe grab a new title…Thats basically how I got back into comics after a decade off.

    you are very right. The comic shop person with a pull list has various degrees of obsession. i saw a guy FREAK OUT last Wednesday at the shop because they didn’t get in some things on his pull list. It was borderline panic attack because he might have to wait an extra day or two to find out what happened to some character he’s following. 

    Lastly, pull lists aren’t the end all barometer. I suspect they may get you 85% there. There are a lot of regulars at my shop that I see every wedensday that buy stacks of books, who don’t have pull lists. They enjoy walking down the new comics shelves and picking out their own stack. 

  83. @scorpionmasada:  Check your math.  400000/3000=133.  That passes the sniff test and as another commenter suggested, it doesn’t account for online sales (which I’m probably going to switch to) or trade readers.  Another point about casual readers interacting with LCBS are the stores are not very condusive to them.  Sure, mini-series are out and are only 4-6 issues long, but they often tie back into the main book making the plot that much more complicated.  In terms of TPBs, my old store carried very few  and the ones they did were full priced and in plastic.  When I buy collected works, I do so online or at book stores where I can flip through them to see if it’s something I’d like to read. 

  84. I’d say it’s 200,000 regular single issue readers. 400,000 seems high.

  85. I’m definitely not known for my math skills.

    So when you see me attempting some math, definitely be skeptical.

  86. @nawid lol. we get it already:)

  87. Nice article, Wood. I believe that comic books tend to following what I call the ‘Rock Star’ model far more than anything else. In this model the property owner is really trying to capitalize while the property is hot, trendy and popular. It occured with the X-Men in the 80’s and 90’s, Avengers in the early 00’s and Deadpool is a current flavor of the month. That is just the property side, when you look at trying to capitalize on popular artists and writers there is a further trend. Remember when Marvel couldn’t use Liefield enough? Or Madueria? Or when Bachalo seemed to write everything in the X-Men world? Just as in popular culture where executives try to keep a finger on the pulse of what the fan is biting on that week, month or year – so do the mainstream comic book companies. Follow the herd, because that’s where the hunting is best.

  88. Yet more evidence that we are comic sheeple! Oh Em Jee! 😛

  89. So how do we find out how many books actually made it into the hands of readers? Also, considering that a number of these are #1’s and one-shots, is this a fair way to tell how popular a character is? Wouldn’t it be better to look at mostly series that’re at least at issue #4, which would be a better indicator of reader popularity? Lastly, would it be fair to say that the number of avid comics readers who pre-order using the Previews catalog is a small percentage of the market? If it is, then any order of a one shot or a1-3 issue is a stab in the dark on the retailer’s end, stipulating that the smart retailer knows his base and can make an educated guess. If it is not fair, then the Deadpool numbers hold more weight.

  90. @BC1: You don’t find out. There’s no widespread system in place to track that.