Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vertigo and WildStorm Month-to-Month Sales: The Long View

DC’s Vertigo and WildStorm imprints have been through tumultuous times. While WildStorm closed its doors in 2010, Vertigo just saw another round of cancellations and new title launches. Time to take a closer look at the long-term performance of both publishing labels.

Vertigo was established in 1993 as an outlet for darker, more mature, partly creator-owned stories at DC Comics, as created by British writers like Neil Gaiman or Grant Morrison. The imprint has since published such signature titles as Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Grant Morrison’s Animal Man and The Invisibles, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan, Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Y: The Last Man and Bill Willingham’s Fables, among many others—all of which were first serialized as 20-page comic books before being collected in bookshelf editions.

Through the 2000s, though, Vertigo’s business model has been increasingly put to the test.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The ‘New 52’ and DC Comics Month-to-Month Sales: The Long View

In September 2011, DC Comics relaunched its line of superhero comic books. Eight months later, the numbers have settled down. Time to take a look at the big picture.

When the first issues of DC’s much-publicized “New 52” relaunch debuted last year, retailers greeted them enthusiastically. “To quote one comic store owner,” a gushing Forbes piece said in September, “‘The New 52 is the biggest game changer in comic books we’ve seen in 30 years.’”

Eight months on, the sheen is off.

As of April 2012 (the respective “DC Month-to-Month Sales” column should show up at The Beat any day now), sales have settled into familiar patterns, and six of the lowest-selling “New 52” titles were cancelled at issues #8. A Nielsen survey among initial “New 52” customers finds that 93% of participants were male, 95% were current or “lapsed” comics readers and 98% were aged 18 or older. And a recent article at The Wall Street Journal suggests a “failure of the big publishers to take advantage of the public's obvious fascination with men in capes.” It doesn’t even mention the “New 52.”

From “game-changer” to “failure” in eight months?

Let’s look at some long-term month-to-month graphs, based on the first-month comic-book sales estimates provided by ICv2.com, which, in turn, are based on the chart and index information provided by comics distributor Diamond.* (Please click on the graphs to enlarge them.)