Saturday, September 26, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/30/09

Two Blackest Night tie-ins, including Green Lantern, the second anchor for the series, bodes well for the week. There are also a surprising number of mid-list sellers from DC and Marvel, as evidenced by the fact that counting ties, my top 10 this week has nearly 30 items on it. After doing this for a little over the month, it seems to me that when there are fewer ties and fewer titles, it means there's a larger week, with more legitimate big sellers and less mid-list books.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Green Lantern #46
2. Blackest Night Titans #2 (tie)
2. Thor #603 (tie)
3. Dark Tower The Fall Of Gilead #5
4. Star Wars Legacy #40
5. X-Force #19 (tie)
5. Justice League Of America 80-Page Giant (tie)
5. Knights Of The Dinner Table #154 (tie)
6. Teen Titans #75
7. Amazing Spider-Man #607 (tie)
7. Thunderbolts #136 (tie)
7. Wolverine Weapon X #5 (tie)
7. Gotham City Sirens #4 (tie)
7. Superman #692 (tie)
7. X-Factor #49 (tie)
8. GI Joe Cobra Special #1 (tie)
8. Hulk #15 (tie)
8. Justice Society Of America #31 (tie)
8. Aliens #3 (tie)
9. Jack Of Fables #38 (tie)
9. Marvel Zombies Return #5 (tie)
9. Runaways Volume 3 #14 (tie)
9. Wonder Woman #36 (tie)
10. Astro City Astra Special #1 (tie)
10. Batman Widening Gyre #2 (tie)
10. Punisher Annual #1 (tie)
10. Usagi Yojimbo #123 (tie)
10. X-men Forever #8 (tie)

Tied For 11th: Boys Herogasm #5, New Mutants #5, Secret Warriors #8 & Terry Moores Echo #15.

Wednesday Comics is gone, so for now, I'll be benchmarking numbers against Amazing Spider-Man, which is another relatively consistent weekly book. However, Spider-Man doesn't sell as well as Wednesday Comics did, so it's probably not quite as effective a measurement.

At any rate, last week's Amazing Spider-Man sat at #8, this week it's at #7, which gives the impression of a slightly lighter week than last week. Green Lantern sits comfortably atop the charts, and comfortably ahead of Blackest Night Titans, which has pretty respectable preorders, and both have great shelf sales. Blackest Night is selling, for us, like Civil War did, making it the most successful event for DC or Marvel in the last three years.

Even with JMS leaving, the relaunched Thor continues to do well. Shelf sales have dropped pretty significantly, but it still sells better than Thor ever has for us. The "put them on the shelf" strategy is a great one, judging by the success of Thor and, prior to that, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow and it seems like one DC should have followed with Flash or Hawkman, for instance. If Marvel and DC would occasionally "rest" their characters by putting them away for a year or two and then giving them a high-profile relaunch, I suspect they'd see bigger sales from their big icons. You can't do it with Superman or Spider-Man, obviously, but the second-tier A-listers? Definitely could benefit from such treatment.

As always, licensed books have high preorders, lower shelf sales. Dark Tower, once a huge hit for us, now sells almost entirely to preorders. Star Wars Legacy, on the other hand, has pretty decent shelf sales and sells well enough to match up with higher tier Marvel and DC books, even more than three years in. The further you get down our preorder list, the likelier it is that the majority of those sales come from preorders. That's not always true, for example Batman Widening Gyre sells a lot more copies off the shelf than it does in preorders, and Aliens does quite well over time on the shelf, but in general, everything at the #7 spot and below on this chart doesn't sell a ton to casual customers.

Our anomaly this week is again, due to the GI Joe love in the store, the high ranking of GI Joe Cobra. Most stores also wouldn't find Knights of the Dinner Table in their top 5, but: A) we're a gaming store as well and B) That one only sells one copy over preorders from the shelf. Sometimes zero copies over. So it's high ranking is a bit illusory.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 23, 2009

28 Days Later #2 (Dug the second issue as much as the first, a good zombie/action thriller for those finding Walking Dead a touch too slow-paced)

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 (A weaker issue, a little silly and disjointed, with art that is not really a fit for the book)

Incredible Hercules #135 (Still mostly wish Cho was in a backup, because the Hercules-Thor story is fantastic, but this was a really solid issue)

Monsters, Inc. #2 (Another fun trip into the Monsters, Inc. universe)

Nova #29 (A lighter story after the long Worldmind/Ego arc, with a cheesy space bounty hunter that makes an interesting foil)

Uncanny X-Men #515 (Really? Mutant island? Again? The San Francisco X-Men was such a great status quo, it's a shame that the tired Dark Reign story blew it all up. This story is all about Cyclops trying to make the best of a bad situation... I can't help but feel that's what Fraction is trying to do that as well. Land's porno-referenced art isn't helping matters)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/23/09

It's another relatively light week, although there are representatives from both Blackest Night and Dark Reign, as well as the long-awaited conclusion of another late Mark Millar book (Old Man Logan this time), so it's going to be a satisfying book for a lot of folks, I'd guess.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Blackest Night Superman #2 (tie)
1. Uncanny X-Men #515 (tie)
1. Dark Reign List X-Men (tie)
2. New Avengers #57
3. Detective Comics #857 (tie)
3. Anita Blake Laughing Corpse Necromancer #5 (tie)
4. GI Joe #9 (tie)
4. Justice League Of America #37 (tie)
4. Wolverine Old Man Logan Giant-Sized #1 (tie)
5. Wednesday Comics #12
6. Conan The Cimmerian #14 (tie)
6. Guardians Of Galaxy #18 (tie)
6. Nova #29 (tie)
7. Enders Shadow Command School #1 (tie)
7. Incredible Hercules #135 (tie)
8. Amazing Spider-Man #606 (tie)
8. Invincible #66 (tie)
8. Superman Secret Origin #1 (tie)
9. Immortal Weapons #3 (tie)
9. Wolverine Origins #40 (tie)
10. Supergirl #45 (tie)
10. Superman Batman #64 (tie)
10. Marvel Zombies Return #4 (tie)

Tied for 11th: Halo Helljumper #3, Hellblazer #259, Doctor Who Black Death White Life & Power Girl #5.

This is the last week for Wednesday Comics, which means: A) It's the first weekly book we haven't been left with tons of on the shelf - because of the limited run, it never had a chance to lose momentum as fast as 52, Countdown and Trinity did and B) I need to find a new benchmark against which to compare preorders.

But for this week, Wednesday Comics is again the benchmark. Last week it was ranked #8, this week it's #5, which gives the general impression of a lighter week. Blackest Night again tops the preorders, and the majority of the orders for Blackest Night Superman are for All Blackest Night. In fact, the Blackest Night Superman has more than twice as many preorders as Superman, the highest-selling Superman book. We're pulling Superman: Secret Origin #1 for all of those subscribers, and we'll see how many wind up wanting it. Given that it's Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, we're betting it'll be a significant percentage, and that it will do well on the shelf as well.

Dark Reign The List is not really moving the needle. It's doing OK, but it's clear that in terms of momentum, DC's event Blackest Night is doing much better than Marvel's scattered deliberate non-event Dark Reign. I can't help but think that if Dark Reign had been a six-issue miniseries with the premise of "Norman Osborn vs. the now illegal heroes in the Marvel Universe" it would be selling a lot better, and probably pushing the tie-ins better as well. The Dark Reign The List X-Men one-shot this week is being pulled for our Uncanny X-Men subscribers, and I wouldn't be surprised if several of them are put back on the shelf. Uncanny X-Men, however, is holding up nicely in sales... it didn't really gain any readership from the Dark Avengers crossover, but it's a solid seller anyway.

Our anomaly this week is probably that due to overwhelming GI Joe love, that book charts pretty high in our top 5 chart.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Runners is Back!

This is a press release I got from Sean Wang... before I run it, let me just say that I've been reading RUNNERS online since he began reposting the original story (with commentary on many of the pages), and I couldn't be more excited to see it return. If you haven't checked it out yet, go and do so as soon as possible.

The eagerly-anticipated new story arc of the sci-fi adventure comic RUNNERS starts this September at Sean Wang’s acclaimed action-comedy about alien smugglers continues as a FREE webcomic and follows the first story, RUNNERS: Bad Goods, which has recently been posted online in its entirety.

In the new FULL-COLOR story, RUNNERS: The Big Snow Job, hard times have fallen on Roka Nostaco and the smuggling crew of the Khoruysa Brimia. Tired of scraping by on small-time runs for petty criminals, they take on a big job to get back into the top tier of mob-level work. But high pay comes with high risk, and if the freezing climate of Planet Ciceron doesn't kill them, the hostile native population might. Assuming they don't all kill each other first! Success could put them back on track, but are they in the driver's seat or just pawns in a much bigger double-cross? The new story arc begins September 3, with new pages posting twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

As with the first story, Wang will continue to include commentary with the new series online. “When I started posting Bad Goods, I decided to add notes, trivia, and behind-the-scenes info to almost every page as an incentive for readers to check it out even if they had already picked up the graphic novel,” says Wang. “Everyone seems to really love the commentary aspect of the online content, and I really enjoy doing it as well, so the new story arc will also run with plenty of behind-the-scenes info and trivia!”

To celebrate the start of the new story arc, Wang is also offering a special deal on the original issues of the first arc. At, readers can pick up a set of all five original issues for just $5 (not including shipping). “While the Bad Goods graphic novel is also still available at its regular price,” explains Wang, “I thought the $5 issue set might be a nice, cheap way for new readers to get the whole first story before jumping into the next one. And while the entire story is available online, I know some people still like to have physical copies to read.”

“Along those lines,” continues Wang, “the second series will be collected into graphic novel format eventually, since I still love print comics myself. But the collection won’t come until after it finishes posting online, so readers should definitely check it out there in the meantime. It’s free, it’s color, it’s alien smugglers in space! Plus commentary! What more could you ask for?”

The complete Runners series can be read online at:

Weekly Comics for September 16, 2009

Agents of Atlas #11 (A rushed conclusion makes me wish they could have gotten twelve issues, but it's still pretty solid... I'll definitely pick up the Agents of Atlas collections)

Batman and Robin #4 (I miss Frank Quitely... this is OK, but I'm beginning to realize that as much as I love Morrison's take on Superman, I'm not sure I'm in sync with his take on Batman)

Beasts of Burden #1 (One of my favorite comics of the year, with beautiful art by Jill Thompson, a nice story of humor, pathos and the supernatural from Evan Dorkin... expect to see this at the Eisners next year)

Brave and the Bold #27 (A little hokey, and doomed due to: A) no new #1 and B) Straczynski isn't gonna have time to stick around that long, but a good solid single issue story with really nice art. Old school in all the right ways)

Captain America Reborn #3 (We're more than halfway through and I remain pretty convinced that bringing Steve Rogers back is a huge mistake. I really enjoyed the Falcon/Bucky/Thunderbolts stuff, but all the flashbacks to Steve "unstuck in time" bored me)

Dark Reign The List Daredevil (Otherwise known as Daredevil #500.1. Diggle's first run at the book, and damn... it's great. I'm a little troubled at seeing another moral character give up his morals, but DD's been through a lot, and he's always been a little brutal, a little pulp, so I can sort of buy it. And besides, it's a fantastic read)

X-Men Legacy Annual #1 (This book continues to surprise me by making characters I absolutely hate interesting. This time out, it's Generation X villain Emplate. Best X-Men book on the stands by a wide margin)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/16/09

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/10/09

Despite the two big "summer" events (Blackest Night and Dark Reign) just now hitting their stride, it seems like we're out of the big summer week pattern. There aren't a ton of books this week, but there are a lot of books folks seem to be anticipating.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Blackest Night #3
2. Batman And Robin #4
3. Thor Annual #1
4. Angel #25
5. Captain America Reborn #3
6. Dark Avengers #9 (tie)
6. Dark Wolverine #78 (tie)
6. Fables #88 (tie)
7. X-Men Legacy Annual #1
8. Wednesday Comics #11 (tie)
8. World Of Warcraft #23 (tie)
9. Mighty Avengers #29 (tie)
9. Action Comics #881 (tie)
9. Batgirl #2 (tie)
10. Amazing Spider-Man #605 (tie)
10. X-Factor #48 (tie)

And Tied For 11th Place: Agents Of Atlas #11 & Ex Machina #45.

Wednesday Comics has become the benchmark to measure preorders, and by that measure, this week is definitely bigger than last, as Wednesday Comics is at #8 instead of #6. In addition, the numbers of preorders up at the top are significantly higher... Blackest Night is probably our highest preorders of the moment, and Batman and Robin might be #2, amongst everything we sell. Thor and Angel are both high up on the preorders, but their shelf sales have plummeted. Also this week, Thor and X-Men Legacy are annuals, which tend to sell less than the main book. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our regular subscribers to those titles decide to pass on the annuals.

Dark Reign The List Daredevil doesn't chart here, even with Daredevil orders figured in. Despite the long-standing quality of creative teams on Daredevil, it's still a niche book for us, and the Dark Reign List hasn't really gained event status. One could argue that the strong showing of Dark Avengers and Dark Wolverine is an argument for Dark Reign bringing in some interest, but honestly I'm not sure how much the Dark Reign story has to do with the popularity of Wolverine, and you probably could have gotten the same sales results by putting Bendis on a relaunched Thunderbolts based on Warren Ellis's revamp, which is essentially what Dark Avengers is.

No huge sales anomalies this week, I don't think. The World of Warcraft books may do slightly better for us because of our gaming crowd, and X-Factor is in the top 10, which I think is not where you'd guess based on its placement in the Diamond Top 100, but other than that I think the sales are in-line with general trends.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 10, 2009

BPRD 1947 #3 (Otherwise titled, "How not to fight vampires" - nice creepy scenes in this one)

Hellboy The Wild Hunt #6 (Well, that's a pretty notable revelation about Hellboy's origin... one I like a lot, too. And Fegredo's art continues to amaze)

Incredible Hercules #134 (One of the funniest (and most fun) comics I've read all year, Herc in Asgard is turning out to be one of the best stories this very good book has seen)

The Marvels Project #2 (Should work, but I'm just not feeling the vibe. Think I'm out)

Models, Inc. #1 (Not as fun as I'd hoped, but it's still kind of fun seeing these various model characters together, and it's a different type of comic than the one Marvel usually produces)

Nomad #1 (Giving Rikki Barnes a new spin, this is good solid superhero stuff with very nice artwork)

Red Robin #4 (Seems to be back on track after last issue, and I like that Red Robin is actually making progress in his search)

Superman: World of New Krypton #7 (It's a really good read... not sure it's worth derailing the rest of the Superman books without their main character, but I'm liking this one)

The Unwritten #5 (Wow. A great standalone featuring Rudyard Kipling and Samuel Clemens, a really scary spotlight on the bad guys of the book and a further underscoring that it's much more ambitious than "What If Harry Potter was a real boy?" Loving this book, the best thing Vertigo has produced in years)

War of Kings Who Will Rule (Nice coda to the War of Kings stuff, and it definitely feels like they've handed the entirety of Marvel space over to Abnett and Lanning, which I heartily approve of)

Hold On... It's Gonna Get Bumpier From Here

I took the Disney/Marvel news in stride. It was a shocker, sure, but as a fan of comics, and a retailer of comics, I truly believed (and still do) that we're more likely to see positive ramifications rather than negative in the direct market, and any changes we do see probably won't roll downhill to us for at least two years.

I would have had the same reaction to Warner Brothers restructuring DC Comics. It's all corporate BS, about where the money goes, and I don't have enough money to invest in a decent HDTV, much less a giant conglomerate that makes dog food, missile guidance chips and comic books. So what do I care where the money's going?

But the announcement that gave me pause, that gave me that "oh shit" reaction everybody else had when they decided that a Disney-fied Marvel was gonna end their MAX line tomorrow and put Mickey Mouse in the Avengers, was the announcement that Paul Levitz was stepping down as President of DC Comics.

Others, notably Kurt Busiek and Brian Hibbs, have covered what exactly Paul Levitz has done for comics in the last three decades or so. Some (some might call them judgmental, sanctimonious assholes, but not me, I'm a diplomatic kinda guy) have taken this as a chance to get the knives out and vent anger at Levitz over perceived failures. Never mind that many of them are not even remotely his failures, and most of the failures Levitz had were being over-cautious, something that our always-on-the-brink-of-collapse industry could probably use a little more of, rather than less.

But the point is this: Paul Levitz is the best friend the direct market had at DC, with only Bob Wayne even remotely in the running. (And hopefully Bob will stay where he is, because Lord knows we're gonna need the advocates with the new status quo).

Disney buying Marvel? Eh. Time Warner restructuring DC to maximize movie/videogame/Slurpee synergy with its comics characters? Whatever. Motion comics? Seriously, have you seen those? They're about as much of a threat to comics as pogs were. The Kindle? Online comics shops? iTunes for comics? All manageable, worth keeping an eye on, but nothing that seems likely to utterly shake the direct market and the way comics are currently delivered.

Paul Levitz no longer at the head of DC?

Well honestly, that just scares the shit out of me.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Top 10 Preorders at Rogues Gallery 9/10/09

The date is for Thursday, not Wednesday, due to the Labor Day holiday. Btw, just for the record, the one-day delay that we occasionally get for comics usually winds up costing us a not-insignificant chunk of money. I don't know if this is universal, but it's been true of all three of the shops I've worked at.

This week is technically, in terms of volume and money, a smaller week than last week, but because it features several "big" books like Green Lantern Corps, Dark Reign The List, the finale of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny crossover, Red Robin, Ultimate Avengers and the long-awaited seventh issue of Kick Ass, I expect it will be a better new comics day than last week, even with the Labor Day delay. We shall see.

This doesn't measure sales, just pre-sales, as we see how many subscribers had preordered on various titles, just to gauge relative interest levels.

1. Green Lantern Corps #40
2. Blackest Night Batman #2
3. Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-men Exodus
4. Red Robin #4
5. Dark Reign List Avengers
6. Wednesday Comics #10
7. Ultimate Comics Avengers #2
8. Thunderbolts #135 (tie)
8. Enders Game Command School #1 (tie)
9. Incredible Hercules #134 (tie)
9. Kick Ass #7 (tie)
9. Marvel Zombies Return #2 (tie)
9. Amazing Spider-Man #604 (tie)
9. Secret Six #13 (tie)
10. Hellboy Wild Hunt #6

And Tied For 11th Place: Adventure Comics #2, BPRD 1947 #3, Superman World of New Krypton #7, Titans #17 & War Of Kings Who Will Rule.

To compare again to last week: The biggest number for last week is the #3 slot this week, and there are a lot more titles below 11th place this week than there were last week.

Also of note, four of the books in the top 10 are boosted by having event tie-ins, whether that event is Blackest Night, Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover or the new Dark Reign The List. Our actual numbers for The List are our Dark Avengers numbers, as we're pulling the Avengers issue of The List for all of those subs. Same characters (Hawkeye/Bullseye), same writer (Bendis) and an important tie-in to the Dark Avengers continuity. Some may put it back, but I'd bet on 90% of the people we pull it for wanting it.

This week, the line between what sells on the shelf and what pre-sells is straighter than usual. The first discrepancy between the number of subscribers and the number of books on order is Wednesday Comics, which sells a large percentage to preorders and has a lot less shelf sales than the others. Everything else in the top 7, I'd guess those will be our top 7 sellers in single issues for the week. I would also guess that the highly anticipated Kick-Ass will be much higher on the sales chart than #9, maybe even in the top five, bumping one of my top 7 preorders down a slot.

If we have a sales anomaly this week, it's probably how well we do with Thunderbolts, which owes to our appreciation for the Warren Ellis relaunch and the work of Andy Diggle. And though it just barely didn't make the chart, we have a lot of preorders for Amulet Volume 2, by Kazu Kibuishi. I know I'm excited to finally get my hands on that one as well.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Weekly Comics for September 2, 2009

Agents of Atlas #10 (Terrific, maybe the best the book has been since it launched. I'm loving the Terror of the Jade Claw arc)

Batman #690 (I've been enjoying this, but thought this was a weaker issue, and the action scenes were kind of meh)

Chew #4 (Just keeps getting weirder... and I just keep loving it more)

Dead Run #4 (Still great art, nice action, but I'm a little disappointed in the happy ending, which feels tonally inconsistent with the rest of the book)

Incognito #6 (Finishes strong, and though it's not up there with Sleeper for me, it's a great read. I'm really looking forward to the return of Criminal, though)

Sweet Tooth #1 (A fantastic opener, moody and engaging with beautiful art by Lemire. I thought this might be a little weird and off-putting, but instead it's strange in a very compelling way)

Strange Tales #1 (Some funny stuff, some nice art... the Paul Pope story is the standout, but Dash Shaw's "poison soup" gag is what made me laugh the loudest)

Witchfinder #3 (I'm still liking it, but it's more in that Abe Sapien/Lobster Johnson realm, not as must-read as BPRD and Hellboy itself for me)