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Marvel Comics: The CB Cebulski Generation Is Upon Us!

They lost a lot of their Fox licenses like Stars and Buffy. Mignola has cut back his Hellboy universe, Miller stopped doing Sin City decades ago. They really don’t have any marquee titles anymore. They’re sort of in the same boat Vertigo was in a few years ago.

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I asked the owner and manager of my LCS about Marvel and DC sales. They said both are in decline but not at a concerning level yet. Marvel stills sells better than DC. The Bendis DC titles are doing poorly. The preorders for Marvel Comics #1000 are non-existent. Outside of subscriber orders, they order about 5 copies of most titles (Marvel and DC included) for the shelf. And they absolutely hate Robert Kirkman for his “surprise” cancellation of The Walking Dead. It left shops in the lurch not being able to fill demand and pissing off old and new customers. The surprise drop of the book Die! Die! Die! not to long ago left a similar bad taste in everyone’s mouth. They do agree that the industry needs something to jumpstart it out of its current doldrums.

The owner mentioned something interesting about DC and Bendis: When he signed on to DC, he was supposed to guarantee a certain level of sales for his books. It didn’t happen and he lost some bonuses because of it. Supposedly, he is very unhappy. I have not heard this before and have no idea as to its veracity. It could very well be some bullshit rumor he happened to hear. I just thought it was interesting and wonder if anyone else has heard anything to that effect.

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sorry if this was brought up, but it contains a very good point

With 104 new comic books and 43 graphic novel’s published in June, Marvel more than doubled DC’s output of 50 and 20, respectively, which is a continuing trend.

So DC is sticking to their word of producing less while Marvel is throwing everything and more out to see what sticks.

What does John Jackson Miller of Comichron think of the continuing trend of Marvel vastly out-voluming DC?

“We can say two things for sure about the first half of 2019: DC released a lot fewer comic books, and Marvel came close to taking every shelf space its rival vacated. The result was that Marvel beat its own dollar sales performance from the first half of 2018, though not by as much as all those new releases would suggest — whereas DC’s total dollar volume slipped during that period, but not by as much as its fewer new releases would suggest.”

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I don’t believe a word of it.

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Yeah, that doesn’t pass the smell test.

If it were true, the internet would’ve let us know at this point.

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Yeah, Dark Horse seem pretty fucked right now. Stan Sakai leaving after 20 odd years was a real sign that things aren’t looking too rosy there.

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Anyone have sales figures for the Major X series? Did it go well? I want Marvel to do well, but I read the first issue of this series and I really, really, don’t see the appeal.

X-Cellent at least has a creative team that makes me want to read it. X-Command? X-communicate…

edited to add:

bild

Look, Major X is wearing platform shoes with high heels!

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It’s not great but they do seem to be a pretty well run operation. The licence departures being mainly out of their control. They look better in the graphic novel charts too and we know now from Comichron that it’s developed to be worth about double the periodical business.

I hope they can weather the storm and get some new properties to push them forward.

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It’s done okay, the latest issue shows at just under 28,000, which is comfortably in the profitable section without doing much else. There’s a strong nostalgia appeal with this one and as such probably a decent audience with a ceiling.

The guys that got into comics at the turn of the 90s seem all in but probably nobody much else.

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Most of my LCS purchases for the last 20+ years have been from Image and Dark Horse, but with the latter’s loss of the Conan license and the completion of many of the Mignolaverse ongoing titles, my DH purchases are few and far between now. It’s sad, especially when I recall that they gave birth to Hellboy, Sin City, John Byrne’s Next Men, Give Me Liberty, Monkeyman & O’Brien, and so many other exciting characters and products that appealed to people like me who were sick of the Marvel and DC gimmicks of that era.

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Yeah, my DHC hitlist is:

  • Final Complete Elfquest volume
  • Harrow County LE 3-4
  • Isabellae HC1-2
  • Empowered 11
  • Witchfinder HC1

Hoping for a BPRD: Devil You Know HC

It’s way down from what it was.

Still, they do have the manga sales left, they might be enough to keep them afloat.

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This may be a dumb question, but is Elfquest good? I’ve seen it for years and years and always been this close to picking it up, but never have.

I’ve enjoyed quite a bit of it, but have held off finishing until I had the final pieces.

The first collection is a good trial run, won’t cost that much and you get loads of material.

The seventh collection will be a repackaging of the four Final Quest trades, so DHC is presenting it well.

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Image too. Walking Dead done and Saga close to ending. Somehow the indie comics have failed to capture a firm base of business when Marvel have been at their weakest. And I don’t think any of the upstart publishers are going to make a splash either.

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To be fair once Saga resumes there’s another 54 issues left.

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I wouldn’t hold my breath. BKV has a new TV deal going for the next few years that’s going to take up most of his time.

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He is ending Paper Girls which may allow that time, it depends on the individual, Brubaker has been working on multiple TV projects, reduced his comic output from what used to be 3-4 books to just the one he does with Philips.

Either way though it is undeniable that the absence of The Walking Dead will take a big chunk out of Image’s market share.

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The whole industry seems like it’s in a malaise. There is good stuff out there but nothing is grabbing the zeitgeist. The industry as a whole feels stuck in neutral. Each month, I wade through Previews cover to cover and nothing jumps out as a potentially big thing. I’d say 95% of Previews as always been shit but it seems like in the last few years a lot of smaller companies are trying to survive on licensed properties.

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You keep saying this but it’s really just Todd’s perception and his LCS owner. The numbers say it’s really just business as usual with a boost for trades, which he won’t see as usually that comes outside the direct market.

Nobody can artificially infuse an enthusiasm if not much interests you but we all have to wary of extending personal opinion to what does well. A bit like Christian wondering how Netflix is doing well because of a trailer of a thriller aimed at women he (and I) think looks rubbish. I hated Transformers, it made big business.

I’ve mentioned before that some of those zeitgest titles when this board was formed really just did ‘okay’. A snapshot of the beloved Ultimate books in 2006 and they all sold less than the much reviled Tom King Batman did last month (and that’s without any digital sales to add on).

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Both things can be true. Sales can be steady and good and it can feel like a creative nadir. It’s been a long time since an indie comic blazed the industry, Marvel haven’t felt exciting since Secret Wars (maybe a blip for the Hydra Cap stuff) and DC’s biggest hits were Tom King and Bendis and results have been mixed for both.

The industry grows through momentum like most industries. It’s a big ship even if it doesn’t feel like it. But like so many industries it feels like we’re not in an era of new ideas and new things but instead holding on to what we had a decade ago. When was the last exciting soft drink, of fast food franchise? Or new car design? Or must use website? Maybe we got used to 30 years of new things, but it feels like there’s nothing new and exciting these days.

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