Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Updates on Cons and Deadworld

Time to play some catch-up on the updates. First off, on the convention appearances, I will be attending the Cherry Capital Con in Traverse City on August 29-30. For those of you who don’t know, Michigan is known for their cherries and Traverse City is the spot for them. Traverse City is a small city in Northern Michigan and is pretty much the big city once you get above Lansing and Grand Rapids. It’s not only a resort town but one of the fastest growing cities in America. Beautiful place. I’ve been to dozens of coastal cities on the East Coast and Traverse City is comparable if not better than most. Some of the publishers there will be Oni Books, Top Shelf, Desperado, and Slave Labor so the slant is definitely for the independent publishers. I will be doing a presentation which will be announced shortly and if you’re there, you can get a free Deadworld comic…autographed if you want…or not. It will be my first appearance at the Pittsburg Comic Con in September 11-13. I will be in Artists Alley. I have a panel discussion on Saturday at 1:00 where I’ll talk about all the things going on with Deadworld. Jeff Erb, one of the producers on the Deadworld movie, will join me and we may have more news to announce at that time. Everyone attending the panel will get a free Deadworld comic plus be entered into a drawing to win some Deadworld stuff (t-shirt, action figure, CD collection, etc.) At both the Pittsburgh and Traverse City show, I am also making copies of my young adult novel, Spirit of the Samurai, available free for some kids but not sure how the organizers are going to handle it yet. Speaking of Deadworld, here’s the update on things: The action figure, King Zombie, is schedule to debut at San Diego Con. The t-shirts are still available from Rotten Cotton as is the CD collection from Eagle One Media.. The Frozen Over trade paperback from Desperado is still not finished but there’s only a few pages left. The artist is so busy with DC work that another artist may be put on the book to finish it. That’s a last resort kind of thing but it’s been delayed quite a bit. The Slaughterhouse graphic novel has been done for awhile and is being rescheduled by Desperado for October and will join the new format of doing hardcover editions. The mask is still scheduled to arrive in time for Halloween. The novel will probably come out early next year. There is an all new graphic novel in production right now which is tentatively entitled The Last Siesta as King Zombie waltzes down to Mexico but it’s not for the beaches. Written by Gary Francis and myself (though Francis did the initial part), it will be drawn by Mark Bloodworth. As for the movie, well, you now how Hollywood goes. But suffice to say, things are moving along. There’s some stuff I can’t talk about yet but all in all, I feel pretty good about things. Other projects that I’m working on are still going but no sense bringing them up again until they get closer. I have a new blog coming out soon from Comics Related. Called Talking Transfuzion, it will focus on the publishing end of Transfuzion and be confined to that area. So, it’s an extension of this blog in a sense. Check out my interview from The Furnace. There’s also plans to do a podcast which I’ll post here when it happens. That’s it…just want to get the updates out there. Usually I try to keep things updated on the Transfuzion or Desperado message boards, both of which are on Comic Related. If you haven’t been to that site, it’s a great site and I find I can keep up with a lot of things from there.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comics Market...worse than I thought.

I don’t pay much attention to the monthly releases of sales figures in the comics direct market. But this last month, I was interested because there was a new publisher launching and I was curious if their sales matched the expectations they had. I remember thinking at the time that their numbers were hopelessly optimistic and unrealistic…in fact, bordering on self delusion.

Of course, I was right. Not that I have any great insights but it’s just a case of how bad the market really is. And it’s worse than I thought.

I’m not going to go through all of the numbers as it’s easy for anyone to do simply by going to for the listings ( But I made a few notes about some of the sales. First off, I find it shocking that the highly covered Captain America #600 only did as well as it did. Is this where Steve Rogers returns???---I don’t keep up with it and the only reason I know of Cap’s death is because of all the coverage. Apparently this issue is only a teaser but it got incredible coverage. Marvel even broke the standard Wednesday release day and made provisions for a Monday release….apparently, it was that BIG of an issue. It sold about 112,000 copies.

Unbelievable. With all the coverage it had and it barely eked out over 100,000 in sales.

What I found in the lower tier of books was even more stunning. Now, being a publisher, I know what it costs to print books and the cost is considerably higher than it used to be when I was running Caliber and even back then on some of these numbers (and we printed in black and white), it would have been a struggle.

Mainly the books I looked at were generally licensed titles. Everyone knows that the Marvel and DC universe titles have their built in audiences (although I didn’t realize how small that was) but it’s the licensed titles with established properties that have the hope of bringing in new people to the stores or at least getting comic fans to venture into something different, depending on what their tastes run on these licensed characters. Not all of the titles I bring up below are licensed as there were some surprised in the traditional superhero titles as well.

Books selling in the 9,000 to 10,000 range include Star Trek and Transformers. If these can’t sell now after the incredible successes of the movies, when will they? I was also surprised to see Madame Xanadu and Authority in this range.

Under 9,000 but over 8,000 included popular characters such as Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Spirit, Incredibles, another Star Trek title, Simpsons, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Also in this range was the Amazing Spiderman Family title.

From 7,000 to 8,000 had Conan, StarCraft, FarScape, Riftwar, and Zorro. Those are some pretty big properties floundering at pretty low numbers.

6,000-7,000 sales included Fringe, Army of Darkness, Bart Simpson, Toy Story, and Battlestar Galactica. In the more traditional comics, I was surprised to see Gen 13, Savage Dragon, and Hack Slash.

The 6,000 to the 5,000 range included Terminator and Flash Gordon. It was stunning to see Mike Allred’s Madman Atomic Love.

Skipping to the under 4,000 but above 3,000 (which is the cut off for Diamond’s Top 300) there were some titles that I’m familiar with because of the coverage they get. Dynamo 5, Elephantmen, PVP, and Rex Mundi. Moonstone’s Phantom was here although that’s not a surprise as worldwide, Phantom is still a very popular character but in the U.S., he just never made the jump to an icon.

I realize that many of these titles will be reordered and sales will go up. Some have other forms of distribution but the fact is that these are what were the initial orders from comic book retailers.

Funny, if you were to browse all the websites, forums, blogs, and social sites, it would seem that things are doing well. But the comics market is pretty insulated and sometimes I forget that a lot of people don’t step back to see what kind of situation the market is in.

Is it any wonder that publishers are scurrying to find out what will work for them in the digital format. I know there are many retailers who are worried about the impact but I think that most of the switch to digital will be from smaller publishers and apparently, most of the retailers are not buying (whether justified or not) their titles anyway.

I bring up these numbers simply because I was surprised at just how low the numbers were. I think I go through this checking phase every year or so and it just gets worse.

Oh, that publisher that I wanted to see how he did. I saw his numbers. I have no idea of what he pays the talent and it’s a color book so that’s more expensive to print, of course. Based on the numbers, I don’t think his sales even cover the printing costs. I’m looking forward to the press release that announces what a success it was.

Next time I’ll give an update on the goings on with Deadworld and some news on upcoming conventions I’ll be attending.

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