- Sep 16, 2014
- United States
Look, I'm not defending comic book grading or whatever, but that's true for every book on the list, and this comic's "68,000 Diamond copies" is true of literally every comic book. Stores don't order reorders of comic books unless people want to buy them, because why would they order more backstock for books that aren't selling? Even if comic book shops are only selling to speculators, and there's no actual evidence of this outside of the fevered imaginations of youtubers, a sale is a sale, and comic books shops are reordering floppy copies.The article says Diamond's sales are up. Diamond no longer distributes for DC, and hasn't for a year. DC's distributors are Penguin House, Lunar, and UCS. Which means Diamond's yearly or monthly sales figures have absolutely zero impact on DC's sales.
" When Diamond Comic Distributors returned to releasing indexed sales charts in June, it became clear not only that comic-book order volumes had swelled during the pandemic, but that its comic-book sales of other publishers had completely made up for the loss of DC comics items."
Literally the first sentence in the article. And in the second paragraph,
"... Looking back at the last pre-pandemic July, we find that all comics sold in July 2019 by Diamond amounted to 7.62 million copies for around $33.4 million. That's an increase of 13% in units and a 16% in dollars — and remember, the July 2021 tally doesn't include items above 400th place or DC's reorders."
I just explained this.
Now, I want to be clear I'm not opining on the state of the industry, DC, or politics in comic books, though I certainly have my opinions on it. I could give a toss who or what DC decides any iteration of Superman is, and I haven't since the "Death of Superman" arc damn near twenty years ago.
If anything I support the decision, because I do feel that if there's to be LGBTQ+ and better PoC representation to comics, the solution is not to retcon existing characters or play "mantle" shenanigans but rather to pull from past characters with established pedigrees or create new ones. This is precisely what DC has done, and I hope they can back that decision up with good quality writing, compelling storylines, and a substantive place for the character within their own mythos. As opposed to play identity politics shell games, to shield themselves from rightful criticism based upon poor quality work, as Marvel does.
That said, I've put my "take a step back and observe the situation impartially" hat on.
Due to how periodical print sales figures are accounted, they don't actually reflect readership -- or interest in the books themselves. Periodical print figures are predominantly driven by the collector market, and this is something the industry exploits to drive sales figures. That was the cause of the '90s comics crash, and the situation never really improved -- comics collectors simply forgot the lessons of the crash, and went straight back to CONSOOMER mentality once the industry recovered. If anything, the situation is worse now than it was prior to the crash itself, and is only really buoyed by consumer stupidity and stubbornness.
68,000 copies sold doesn't necessarily mean the comic actually sold well, or that there's interest in it. It means comics stores ordered 68,000 copies, and in all likelihood 15,000 neckbeards (at most) gobbled them up to polybag and box them, and stuff them in a closet somewhere never again to see the light of day. Because the state of comics collection and condition grading is actually so fucking stupid that merely inspecting a comic for print defects is enough to drop its condition from "near-mint" to "very fine" on account of spine stress from simply opening the thing. It's literally dumber, more consumer-unfriendly, and a bigger scam than cash-for-gold and gold assay.
And I'd lay cash most of 'em are probably the exact same people whinging on social media about how Jon Kent likes penis in his mouth, and they bought it because they think Jon Kent putting penis in his mouth actually means those comics will be worth something some day (it won't). Because that's how neckbeards do.
That's why the digital and TPB sales figures matter. People buy digital and TPB when they're actually reading the damn things. And DC's silence on digital sales is fairly telling, along with a decision to reprint periodicals rather than move the title straight to TPB. That's where I see a shell game at play.
You're absolutely right to say it's better to under-print and reprint if the demand's there, than it is to over-print and have to pulp unsold copy. But, that's a two-edged blade: sure, it's cost-efficient to do it that way, but it also means the company can pronounce they sold out as a marketing and PR move to drive buzz...or in this case, what has been and will be the kind of controversy-for-cash clickbaitery to which we've all been hopelessly inured since the rise of viral marketing. That's just good business...but it doesn't necessarily mean the reality meets the marketing.
If DC had faith in the title, and if the reality did meet the marketing, the smart move right here and now would be to announce the publication of a TPB for its first issues, and open pre-orders for it.