Paul O’Brien’s monthly analysis of Marvel’s sales for November 2005 has several interesting tidbits sprinkled througout that suggest speculation isn’t dead.
“…NEW AVENGERS, still Marvel’s top selling ongoing title. It’s actually now below the normal sales level of ASTONISHING X-MEN, mind you, so things might be different when that book resumes publishing. With the lengthy run of variant covers over, NEW AVENGERS has gone into a fairly normal decline.”
“‘Decimation’ has had strangely erratic effects across the X-books, as we’ll see. It’s entirely likely that Decimation, and the hype for the storyline, has played a big part in the sales jump. But on the other hand, this book has a variant cover, and WOLVERINE issues with variant covers often do better than this.”
“The first of this month’s Spider-Man stories, as ‘The Other’ enters its second month. It also means that the variant covers reach the stores, so last month’s issue #525 sells a further 9,977 copies. No doubt issue #526 will have re-orders on next month’s chart as well.”
“Back to ‘The Other’, and once again variant covers play a big part here. The variant edition of issue #1 charts at number 141 with a total of 14,669 extra copies. That’s enough to nudge the issue over the 100K mark.”
“The third ‘Other’ issue, and once again MARVEL KNIGHTS SPIDER-MAN lags noticeably behind the other parts of the crossover. The variant cover of issue #19 sells 9,321 to chart at number 177, giving that issue a decent-looking total.”
“A big jump for this month’s issue, giving NEW X-MEN its highest sales of the year. Once again, there are several factors behind this jump. It’s the first issue by the new creative team. There’s a variant cover. The popular X-23 joins the cast. And it’s a Decimation crossover.”
“Virtually no change from last month. When it isn’t being boosted by crossovers or variants, CAPTAIN AMERICA sells very solidly in the mid-40K range. The six-month comparison is a little misleading because May’s issue #5 had a variant cover – in reality, the trend is much more stable.”
Back in February of last year, I wrote a piece where, among other things, I estimated comics readership to be around 150,000, in response to Brian Michael Bendis’ guesstimate of 200,000 “loyal readers”. Among the data I looked at was the fact that only three titles broke the 100k barrier in January 2005, average sales figures for the Diamond Top 100 were only 40,592/title, and Wizard‘s declining circulation figures heading into 2000 which apparently led to their discontinuing their annual audit. (Does anyone have a copy of their November issue? It should contain their Statement of Ownership which, by law, discloses their actual circ numbers.)
One of the things I put forth was that many of the top sellers’ numbers were likely boosted by collectors buying duplicates, estimating 10-15% of total sales, plus the extra copies purchased by straight-to-CGC pushers like Wizard, et al, which I estimated at another 10%. Total shot-in-the-dark percentages there, but the basic point remains that speculation hasn’t gone away and many of the series that launched with over 100k in sales were likely boosted by it, especially as Marvel and DC have jumped back on variant cover bandwagon. Because, really, I’ve been reading Dan’s copies of “The Other,” and beyond speculation – and, of course, it’s evil twin, completism – there’s no good reason in the world to buy a second copy of any of those issues! :-O
Seriously, though, the question that comes to mind is: after the speculator-driven industry collapse of the 90s, who exactly is still dumb enough to be playing the speculation game?
(PS: Note to self, revisit that piece with updated data.)