- Posted by Johanna on October 28, 2010 at 8:30 am
- Category: Comic News
One of my favorite companies to deal with as press, Boom! Studios, sent out a press release touting the success of their new Stan Lee series Soldier Zero under the headline “Stan Lee’s Soldier Zero #1 Bestselling Boom! Studios Comic of All Time!”
OK, that’s nicely hyperbolic, which makes it eye-catching. What makes is different from the usual announcement of such things is that Boom! was willing to cite numbers.
BOOM! Studios is proud to announce that STAN LEE’S SOLDIER ZERO #1 has sold over 24,000 copies through all channels and broken all records for the five-year-old publisher, making STAN LEE’S SOLDIER ZERO #1 the bestselling BOOM! Studios comic of all time.
Let’s think about that number a minute. Certainly, this is a product targeted for the direct market, prominently promoting the name of the man who made the Marvel Universe, even though he doesn’t write the book. It’s superheroes with one of the biggest brand names of them all attached.
On the other hand, it’s a new character, with less-well-known creators (writer Paul Cornell and artist Javier Pina) working on it. If I recall correctly, Peter David used to have a formula for predicting comic success in the direct market. The more points out of ten you could get, the better. You got four points for publisher (DC or Marvel got all four), three for character (Batman, X-Men, etc. got three), two for artist (a name creator with a fan following), and one for writer. (Anyone know what “But I Digress” column that was?)
So using that predictor, this book gets only 1 or 2 points for publisher (since Boom! isn’t front-of-the-Previews-catalog Premier), none for character (new creation, no familiarity), none for artist (since I can’t name anything else he’s drawn), and one for writer (based on Lee’s name). That’s three points (being generous) out of 10. If you assume a truly best-selling, record-breaking book would sell about 100,000 in today’s market, then selling under 30K works out about right with the formula. Go Peter David!
On the other hand, depending on Boom!’s expectations, they could be thrilled. It’s excellent for an independent comic to sell 10,000 these days, and Boom!’s more than doubled that. Then again, since
SOLDIER ZERO #1 … ships with seven covers, including A & B covers in a 50/50 split by Trevor Hairsine and Dave Johnson respectively, a 1-in-25 incentive by Phil Noto, 1-in-50 Undressed Trevor Hairsine Variant, 1-in-75 Undressed Dave Johnson Variant, 1-in-150 Undressed Phil Noto Variant, and a special 1-in-300 Stan Lee signed variant cover with all new cover art by Kalman Andrasofszky.
That’ll jazz sales, for sure. Especially if retailers were required to buy a certain number of copies to qualify to buy the rarer variants. The book only came out October 20, so this is all based on a week of sales, but that’s about the shelf life of a superhero periodical these days. If you’re curious about the content, here’s a review.
I was just stunned to see such a relatively low number touted as such a resounding success, but it’s a very different market these days from the boom times. For comparison, I noticed that today’s issue of Captain America, #611, carried the federally required “U.S. Postal Service Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation”. According to this filing, the title Captain America sold an average of just under 68,000 over the past year, with the “actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date” equaling 61,645. Just over 4,000 of those are mail subscriptions.
That’s a big-name, well-respected title with public awareness. And it does under 70K in a country of 300 million. This is the comic market propping up how many publishers aiming for serialization and how many retailers? Greater diversity means more books available to choose from, but fewer potential top sellers, since it’s less likely any given book will appeal to a mass number of people.