The Scale of Success: Ninjago #1 Prints Almost 200K Copies

The Papercutz licensed graphic novel Lego Ninjago: The Challenge of Samukai has the biggest initial print run we’ve seen in the last few years for an American comic: 190,000 copies.

This 64-page comic retails for $6.99 and will be available November 8. It’s written by Greg Farshtey, who, according to the press release “penned the hugely successful BIONICLE® graphic novels, also based on a LEGO property. To date, Papercutz has sold over 250,000 copies of its BIONICLE line.” Art is by Paulo Henrique, who previously worked on the Hardy Boys Papercutz books. In addition to successful comics, “the ninja-themed playsets have spawned a made-for-TV movie, an upcoming TV series, a video game for the Nintendo DS system, and an animated series … in the pipeline with Cartoon Network.”

I’m assuming that there are strong preorders that justify this high a print run; otherwise, it could be very risky for the company when returns come in from bookstore sources. Better to have the books out there to buy than to disappoint potential customers with sell-outs. There will be a second issue of Lego Ninjago, “Mask of the Sensei”, planned for February 2012.

This is quite a huge number for American comics, as I’ve said, where books can be considered great successes selling only half as much. However, to put it in perspective, compare the new Batman video game: Arkham City sold 4.6 million copies worldwide in its first week, or 24 times as much. It would be interesting to know how sales of the Lego Ninjago toys compare to the comics.

6 Responses to “The Scale of Success: Ninjago #1 Prints Almost 200K Copies”

  1. kris larsen Says:

    My son saw this looking over my shoulder and started to jump and down asking me to get it for him. I’m sure it will be a fav with the Scholastic book club and school book fair.

  2. Reeve Says:

    The Arkham City sales figures actually aren’t as clear-cut as that:

    Undoubtedly, though, the game has probably sold very well so far.

  3. Johanna Says:

    I hear some Android tablet makers do the same thing, Reeve. Any idea how much of that market is returnable? After all, comics sales are considered determined by what makes it to stores (not what actually makes it into customer hands), because (for the most part) those shipments are non-returnable.

    Kris, good point. There’s an entire market out there through schools that some comic creators have successfully tapped into but many industry watchers are unfamiliar with. I hope your son enjoys reading it!

  4. Matt I Says:

    I’m 19, and I was one of the kids who was really into Bionicle. The thing is, all of the issues of the comic I received through Lego magazine for free. I’m pretty sure I have all the issues… But yeah, how big is Lego magazine’s distribution? Because they would need to make at least that many issues, if things are still like they used to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if circulation of the magazine is over 150k.

  5. Reeve Says:

    Johanna: I have no idea (re: returns). Games these days, even big releases like Arkham City, tend to drop in price within a couple months, so I’m guessing the game industry’s not big on returns.

  6. Papercutz Launches First Original Graphic Novel, Announces Second WWE Series » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Witch is due out March 17, 2015. Previous Papercutz publications have been licensed properties (Lego Ninjago) or translated comics (such as Dance Class and Geronimo Stilton), much like their sister company […]




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