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#459998 - 03/01/01 06:14 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
toddfrye Offline
Member

Registered: 03/29/99
Posts: 244
Loc: Harrogate TN USA
Commenting briefly on the question of whether Marvel's characters may be popular 30 years from now - (just to argue with Jeff) -

I think some of them very well could be popular 20 or 30 years from now, or longer - it's not at all outside the realm of possibility. Superman and Spider-Man, which (who?) were immediately mentioned, represent their companies' greatest intellectual assets and, rather than becoming irrelevant and unpopular as time goes on, seem to be holding on pretty well. After all, Superman's been around since 1938; a feature film is being planned, he's still one of the most popular comic characters, and the background and basic situation of the character are virtually unchanged.

Spider-Man, too, though 'only' going back to about 1962, is still very popular today, with a feature film cast (and in the can, I think), several different comic titles, and other venues that keep the character popular and in the public eye. And, again, though the details change (marriage to MJ, death of Aunt May), the setup remains the same (or is at least retconned to do so).

Tarzan goes all the way back to 1912 or thereabouts, but he's still immensely popular - just a few years ago the world's largest animation studio released a feature starring him. He continues to appear in comics, merchandise, etc., etc.

The odds are against a character being popular for decades, to be sure, but DC and Marvel are in the front with many of their properties.
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#459999 - 03/01/01 06:26 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Broken Shakespeare Offline
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Registered: 07/06/00
Posts: 43
Loc: Maysville, Kentucky
Well Chris, I can just as easily qusetion the numbers Mike publishes. It January, Mike listed Ultimate X-Men #2 as 88,700 issues with a decline of 25% from the previous month. Now the list you posted shows Ultimate X-Men #3 as 88,700 issues, with an increase of 13.4% from the previous month. Maybe you're better at math than I am, but how is 88,700 an 13.4% increase compared to 88,700. Mike's number often contain many errors and don't accurately reflect actual sales quantities (and ICv2's numbers could as well).

If you do a full comparison of the list, you'll see that on some comics the ICv2 list show an increase in sales from Feb. to Mar. when compared to Mike's Feb. list. Other comics show a decline.

A 2k swing on a marginal title like Lucifer doesn't mean anything. It definately isn't a reflection of inaccurate numbers as you seem to claim. It just means that out of all the comic shops in America, every other shop decided to pre-order one fewer issue because it isn't selling as well. Abra-Cadabra, you 2k fewer issues pre-ordered.

Sorry Chris, I think you're way off in left field. Come back when you have Mike's March numbers. Then you can compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.

And people say that only looking at these pre-order numbers is deceiving, but that is a deception in itself. One, the retail market does count for some additional sales, but it is only on a select few comics (Batman, Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, etc.). You don't see many (if any) retail outlets selling Lady Death, Powers, 100 Bullets, etc. So retail sales only effect the total sales of maybe 5-10% of the books that are listed in Diamond's Top 300.

Two, adding reorders also doesn't help that much for the typical book. The majority of the books on the Top 300 are lucky if they even get reorders equal to 10% of their initial preorders. Every month you may have a few "hot" books that get reorders in the neighborhood of 20% of pre-orders. Then once a year you might get a book that even gets more than 20%, but those books are few and far between and in no way are indicative of the rest of the books being published. So again, for 95% or more of the Top 300 comics, they can expect to see a reorder rate of 10 of pre-orders or less each month.

Add 10% to the pre-order numbers for your average title and the numbers still suck hard. Heck add 30% to the top 10 selling comics and the numbers still suck when compared to the same numbers five or ten years ago.

Face it. Given the current direction of the industry, comic books are going the way of Communism. The big establishment falls, leaving a fragmented industry where small factions fight it out for control. Meanwhile, the rest of the world looses interest and stops paying attention anymore.

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#460000 - 03/01/01 06:37 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Chris Knowles Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 875
Loc: USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Rick Veitch:
Chris,
The top selling Diamond preorder at 104,000 in February deserves the same headline as the top selling Diamond pre-order of 98,000 in March: "COMICS SALES TANK!" Doesn't matter who's doing the estimate.

You're blowing your own argument by trying to paint ICv2 as a nefarious ex-Diamond competitor. A quick read of the ICv2 site will show you that Milton and Tom are working closely with Diamond. They've had four terrificaly informative interviews with all Diamond's top people, except Geppi, since they went live (and Tom Flinn used to work for Diamond). If you really believe Milton is cooking his estimate to damage Diamond you are nuts.



My speculation on Griepp was just that- speculation and skepticism pertaining to source. The main thesis your article was that sales were tanking becuase Xmen was selling under 100K, a fact that has not been established to my satisfaction. But, if they were working so closely with Diamond why didn't they get their numbers directly from them? Since their numbers don't jibe with numbers we've been seeing, why should accept them at face value? I don't know Milton Griepp, know little of him- I was just pointing out facts. As I said before, I wasn't trying to cast aspersions. I miss Capital City- wish they were back. But I have serious questions about the information he supplied.

And what "good things" come about from wallowing in bad news about the market? With people working hard to help the Industry recover, what good does an article based on questionable sales stats do for anyone? The most specious aspect of the article was the 1991 comparisons. I used to work in a comic store (that later became a chain) that would buy an entire longbox of Xmen to put away on speculation. There used to be people who would buy multiple copies of hot books. By quoting inflated pre-order figures from the height of the speculation boom you might make dramatic copy, but it doesn't tell the truth about what's really going on in the stores.

You know, George Bush thought he was being clever by talking down the economy in order to help get his programs through Congress, but last month's consumer confidence index was the lowest it has been in 5 years, and now he may face a full-blown recession. I think talking down the Direct Market could have a similar effect. The whole Industry needs to be rebuilt, and maybe feel-good propaganda isn't desirable, but neither is feel-bad propaganda.

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#460001 - 03/01/01 08:38 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Rick Veitch Administrator Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 3531
Loc: Vermont, USA
Chris,
No one can publish Diamond's numbers because Diamond doesn't release them to the public.

The main thesis of my article was that sales are lousy not because they dipped under 100k, but because they are lousy. Sure, the 100k mark has psychological significance, but lousy is lousy.

Quote:
And what "good things" come about from wallowing in bad news about the market? With people working hard to help the Industry recover, what good does an article based on questionable sales stats do for anyone?


If you want to fix your old car, first you have to recognize its broken, then figure out which parts are shot and that need replacing. If you drive down the road singing cheerleader songs about how wonderful the car is, it won't be long before you're left high and dry. Face it, Chris, for two decades the world of comics has been filled with pr people blowing sunshine up butts about how great and vibrant the mainstream comics scene is and guess what? It's not so great and vibrant right now. It's in the midst of one of the worst downturns in its history. If it wants to survive, it needs to be rethought and retooled and the people on both ends of the spectrum deserve an unflinching and honest picture of the situation.

Quote:
The most specious aspect of the article was the 1991 comparisons. I used to work in a comic store (that later became a chain) that would buy an entire longbox of Xmen to put away on speculation. There used to be people who would buy multiple copies of hot books. By quoting inflated pre-order figures from the height of the speculation boom you might make dramatic copy, but it doesn't tell the truth about what's really going on in the stores.


1991 wasn't the height of the boom, Chris. April of 93 was. Let's not forget that the same pr guys I mentioned above spent the late 80's and early 90's pushing quick buck collectibility when they should have been building a real readership to last the ages. Now note that Milton follows his "specious" comparison by demonstarting how they had to raise the price of comics 95% over inflation to compensate for loss of profits after the crash in collectibility. These brilliant guys deserve our support, right?

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#460002 - 03/01/01 09:34 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Chris Juricich Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/99
Posts: 721
Loc: Berkeley, CA USA
I think Tom Spurgeon hit the nail on the head here-- comics sales are tanking, whether you think the figures are from Diamond or some guy from Milpitas with a monthly website. The numbers are different? Are they both positive? Probably not.

That the alternatives/independents sales according to Kim T are still rock-solid is a positive indication, primarily as that area is where the most dynamic and exciting comics work is truly being done.

If DC or Marvel 'tanked' into bankruptcy, I could really care only a little. Comics are currently in their most exciting phase ever, despite the fact that the business is not adjusting well to the economic times.
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#460003 - 03/01/01 09:51 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Broken Shakespeare Offline
Member

Registered: 07/06/00
Posts: 43
Loc: Maysville, Kentucky
Your naive at best if you think that George Bush is in anyway responsible for this economic downturn. The economic slide started last November when Clinton was in office (and it wasn't is fault, even though he probably could have put some pressure on Greenspan, or pressured Gore into concession instead of drawing out the election battle). By the time Bush took the office, the slide had built up so much momentum that there wasn't anything he could do to stop it.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program.

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Broken Shakespeare
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#460004 - 03/01/01 10:08 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
Chris Ekman Offline
Member

Registered: 03/07/00
Posts: 266
Loc: Barre, MA, US
Chris Knowles wrote:

Quote:
I know a lot of folks have a beef with Diamond and the Direct market system as it stands, but if we barrage the remaining readership with negative propaganda about sales, who's to say that they won't just find another hobby?


Um. How on earth would Splash drive people from comics? It's read exclusively, I should imagine, by industry professionals and avid fans who closely follow industry news. These people already know sales suck. Nobody is going to jump out of a window just because someone quantified how badly sales suck.

The comics industry is awful at making accurate sales numbers available. Sales is such an obsession in other media that I can pick up any Sunday paper and find out precisely what the top 10 movies, books and TV shows were, and probably how much they grossed. But in comics, these numbers- which you'd think would be absolutely vital for retailers, when they're faced with the monthly 600-page catalog and have to guess what demand is- these numbers are kept shrouded in mystery. And that's just for pamphlets- graphic novel sales are an utter enigma.

So let's not cry foul when somebody actually tries to distill some facts from the confusion, ok?

(Funny you should mention Warren "Old Bastard" Ellis, who in his Come In Alone column at Comic Book Resources was often as negative as one can get, and attacked for it by people who prefer happytalk...)

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#460005 - 03/01/01 11:15 PM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
brent Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 11
Instead of talking pre-orders or any such nonsense like that, let's talk about actual SALES! Hey, anyone got figures on how comics are selling in total? This number would of course include comics sold at Price Choppers, Kinney Drugs, B+N, and Borders.

Anyone?

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#460006 - 03/02/01 03:24 AM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
UncommonCon Offline
Member

Registered: 05/23/00
Posts: 119
Loc: Dallas, TX USA
Hey Chris K.,

You're really barking up the wrong tree trying to talk down Greipp. Even when he WAS a competitor of Diamond, he did so with aplomb and professionalism. He is a seasoned and educated professional and has shown over and over and over that he has nothing but the best interests of the industry at heart. If you have not, I sincerely suggest you take a look at his site.

As to how he got his numbers, I'll give you the short version. Diamond does NOT release their numbers, but they do release a comparitive chart. Basically, they take some issue and mark it with a value of 1, then they compare each other issue to it. For example, let's say Batman sold 50,000 and it was chosen as the "base" issue and given a value of 1. Then, if Superman sold 75,000, this would have a value of 1.5. If Batgirl sold 25,000, then it would have a value of .5. Diamond ostensibly does it to help fledgling retailers figure out their numbers. (For example, if you think you could sell 10 copies of Batman, then you might think you could sell 15 copies of Superman and 5 copies of Batgirl.) However, I have to admit that I never bought that explanation, and still do not. As a retailer I NEVER found those numbers to be of any use, except to help people figure out the initial pre-orders of the comic books.

So, if you have the total sales from one issue on the list (like you got them from the publisher or creator), then you could easily extrapolate the sales of the rest. This means that, yes, all the publishers have a pretty good idea of what their competitors sell. But, in Griepp's case, he mentioned that he got his base value from Kevin Smitt (if I recall correctly, somebody, anyway) and extrapolated from there. If I know Milton, he probably got several other hard numbers to check his extrapolations.

If this is how your guy on the usenet does it, then the discrepency can probably attributed to minor errors in their base numbers (that is, if your source says they sold 45,000 of their book, when they were really rounding up from 44,699, then that could put your numbers off a bit).

Brent, If you are talking about how many copies the customers actually buy, as opposed to how many the publishers sell, I can say pretty much categorically that there is NO way you can get actual sales numbers. You might be able to get close, but not with better than 10%-20% error. Why?

The main thing is that you would have to get the sell-through percentage of all 3000 comic book shops left in America. That is, if you order 100 copies of a book and sell 85, your sell-through percentage is 85%. Then you ALSO have to get that from every single mass market retailer (K&B, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, etc). Some specialty retailers do not even track those numbers very well. And, pretty much all of those mass marketers will absolutely not release their numbers. So, given that, there is almost no way to get real numbers.

Plus, of course, there is the problem of how long do you track it. For example, you order 100 copies, you sell 70 in the first week, 10 in the second, 5 in the third, 1 in the fourth, then the next issue comes in and you take the previous one down, so your sell-through right now is 86%. But, a couple of weeks later, some new folks move into the neighborhood and come in and buy 2 more out of the back-issue boxes. That means your sell-through is now 88%. Still relevent? Then, three months later, you have your Labor Day sale and blow out 5 more copies at 50% off. So, technically your sell-through is now 93%. Still relevent? Even though some were sold at 50% off. Two years later, you have an inventory clearance sale and blow 6 more out at a mere $.25 each. So, after two-and-a-half years, you achieved a sell-through of 99%. Of course, who gives a damn at that point? Especially since some of those went at a significant discount. Would they have sold otherwise? Who knows?

So, anyway, you see the problem.

(Wow, did that go on a little too long?? Sorry about sucking up all the space, Rick.)

$.015 (that's $.02 at 75% sell-through),


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James Echols
Festival Producer - UncommonCon, www.uncommoncon.com
Business Coach - Uncommon Solutions
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#460007 - 03/02/01 06:23 AM Re: Top comics drop below 100,000
jack Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/99
Posts: 12596
Loc: Just south of NYC
I was amazed to see some books had gone back up over 100K to begin with!!!

Remember, print runs of 40 to 60 K are still not so uncommon for a mainstream book.

Talk about reversing the binoculars on an issue.

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