“Fun” Comics Drop in Sales?

Via Trusty Plinko Stick comes word of an interview with Mark Waid where he states that (in reference to his new series The Brave and the Bold)

“fun” is a death word in comics these days…. Sales were strong on the first issue, but the second issue drop-off was a little steeper than we’d predicted. And I honestly think that was because every reviewer said it was “fun.” “Fun” automatically kills off a lot of your sales. Don’t get me wrong; the book’s still a success in the current market, and no one at DC has expressed anything but enthusiasm. We certainly seem to have a hit on our hands, George and I. I just hope that the “fun” label doesn’t hit us too hard. If so, it’s just another sign that current readers don’t want “fun” comics.

It’s a shame that one of the qualities I think superhero comics should strive for is considered so toxic. Why shouldn’t being able to fly or wield a magic ring be treated joyfully?

Also of note: he’s got a book that’s a success, that his publisher is enthusiastic about, that he terms a “hit” … and he’s still worried about how sales are doing. That’s the state of the market these days, I fear. Always push, push, push to make the numbers. No wonder so many creators get tied in knots and can’t put out their best work.

9 Responses to ““Fun” Comics Drop in Sales?”

  1. James Schee Says:

    I don’t think it is the fun factor for sales. I think it is just that readers have been taught to wait for the collection.

    DC has even made it more important to wait for trades with things like delays, extras, and heck even a better product being found there. (good portions of Infinity Crisis were redrawn and even rewritten for the collection)

    Outside of things like 52 and now Countdown, whose impact are in the “now,” and probably wouldn’t read as well as a whole. (since one change is usually negated later)

    Are there any DC series with consistently high sales? (that doesn’t have some gimmick like movie director or novelist writing it)

  2. Paul O'Brien Says:

    “It’s a shame that one of the qualities I think superhero comics should strive for is considered so toxic.”

    Ah, but superhero comics have become an adolescent genre, and adolescents are pretty much defined by their rejection of anything they see as childish. Hence the popularity of content-free darkness.

  3. Johanna Says:

    James, true, that’s an important factor, and I suspect that trend is still increasing.

    Paul, heh. You’re probably right.

  4. Bill D. Says:

    Thanks most kindly for link Johanna (and for handling the issue with a little more class than I did. ^_^ )

    And I think Paul’s “content-free darkness” is the best definition I’ve seen yet of the past few years’ worth of (most) Marvel and DC books.

  5. Scott Cederlund Says:

    Fun is toxic?

    It’s disappointing if a big creator thinks that a fun book could potentially be in trouble and disappointing moreso if fans avoid the “fun” books.

    I wonder if we sometimes think of “fun” as old school or old fashioned. The 60’s Superman was fun (i.e. now dated.) Superman now is as flashy and “realistic” as every other book out there right now.

    Of course, different people have different definitions of fun.

  6. Chuck Says:

    “Fun” is a draw for me. I’ve used it to describe comics and meant it in a totally complimentary way. Tell me a comic is fun and i’m more likely to check it out.

    Scott may be onto something. “Fun” may mean something different to some fans. It may mean “old fashioned” or “silly” or “simplistic”. There are some comics fans who are absolutely paranoid about their hobby being seen as childish or silly, so they automatically shun anything that could even suggest that. I think _that’s_ silly, but it does happen.

  7. Jim Perreault Says:

    I have to question the validity of Mark’s statement. Is the drop off at the second issue really due to the fact that reviewers called it “fun” ? Or was it just the standard 2nd issue drop off?

    It seems to me that if you bought the first issue and liked it, you would not drop it because of what a reviewer said. How much steeper was the drop off than predicted? How does that compare to other drop offs?

    Are there any other examples of sales dropping because a book was fun?

  8. Johanna Says:

    Chuck, you’ve reminded me of the problems with using the word: does the describer mean the same thing I do? Too often “fun” for some seems to be “disgustingly violent”. :)

    And yes, your speculation seems plausible.

  9. Lyle Masaki Says:

    Jim, that’s a good point. Unless Waid is counting re-orders, second (and third) issue sales mostly indicate what the comic shops think of the series (with a little bit of customers’ reaction to the solicitations — but not the actual series — mixed in).




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