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Brian Hibbs

You can find the newest TILTING AT WINDMILLS up at CBR. Go read it!


14 Responses to “ New TILTING up ”

  1. the flaw in the analysis is that you assume that you can discern a book’s profitablity the same way you discern a periodical’s.

    you have a picture of the sales to date on SUPERMAN, but unlike a monthly periodical, the book will keep selling.

    an analysis of the profitablity of the JOKER OGN looks vastly different after a year than after two weeks.

    also not sure why you continue to posit this as an either/or. why can’t publishers do BOTH?

  2. Just starting in, but….did they not get approval to run JMS’ quote, or is that an oversight?

  3. svenj:

    “unlike a monthly periodical, the book will keep selling.”

    Have you not heard of this new invention called “the trade paperback”? (HC, TP, Absolute Edition, etc.)

    “also not sure why you continue to posit this as an either/or. why can’t publishers do BOTH?”

    A publisher can do whatever the heck they want, certainly — the question for me is “which way makes more money for them?” Which, I believe, will nearly always be answered with “Serialize first, then collect in multiple formats”


    Someone else just pointed out the missing quote to me…. not a fucking clue what’s happening there. I’ll be asking Jonah, after I get home to my copy of the column…

    My guess is it got swallowed because of the Indenting I did (though Shaenon’s quote didn’t get eaten, but I might have set the margins differently…)


  4. Hey Brian,

    Before I stared really reading your columns with an open mind, I was of the mindset the DM was killing comics because of a co-dependency with Marvel & DC. Now, however, I’m starting to really see your line of thought and I’m beginning to think you have a very good concern there.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems your saying comics I like – the Bones and Love & Rockets and Ganges etc., they kinda need the DM to buy enough to give some liquidity to the creators so they can do other projects. You’re not advocating serialization should totally replace an OGN or whatever if it’s, I dunno, L&R. You’re advocating not declaring the monthly format dead when there’s reason to believe a serialized work would bring more money into the DM than an OGN of that same work.

    Since I can’t imagine you’re burning stacks of $100 bills to heat your house, I can understand why you’re concerned with the loss of cash flow and I think that’s a valid concern. I can also understand where you’d think declaring the “floppy” dead is a bit premature. Clearly it’s not dead and can exist side by side with the OGN format for some time.

    Would it be possible to give us a little more analysis of All Star Superman? Particularly against Earth One Superman? I’m asking because both books seem rather similar from a marketing perspective, so it’s not quite apples to imaginary apples.

  5. I’m not sure there’s a clear enough picture of how well the book has done yet. Not that there ever well be outside of DC’s offices and royalty statements, but I’ll be curious to see the final 2010 sales on Bookscan and the estimates based on the year-end Diamond charts. I’m going to guess, assuming DC’s able to get it back in print quickly and keep it in print for the rest of the year, it’ll be at least 60,000 from those two sources (the Joker book from 2008 was 62,000 from those two sources in that year, and and with 2009 Bookscan and accumulated Diamond reported sales to date is over 106,000. I’m not sure how many copies that might have sold if it was a Joker mini-series first, but I’m guessing less).

    Anyway, even if they don’t maximize profits on this one project, I’m sure they’re making good money. Direct market retailers are also I’m sure making money on it, maybe not as much as they’d have made otherwise, but with less effort and risk. It’s clearly the type of comic Straczynski wants to write for a while, and the type DC wants to hire him to write, so that’s what we’ll get unless sales really tank on the next one.

  6. “Have you not heard of this new invention called “the trade paperback”? (HC, TP, Absolute Edition, etc.)”

    indeed i have. apparently, you have not, since they are not part of the financial “analysis” you are promulgating all over the web.

    either learn how to run a full P&L when you write about finances, or better yet, stick with analyzing what RETAILERS do, since that is the group you represent.

  7. Reading the comments on CBR has lead me to realize something…. Marvel/DC readers don’t realize that until Marvel/DC comics bring in as much (or more) money through digital channels and bookstores, Marvel/DC comics *need* the DM in order to exist. By that measure, those comics need to be sold however they can be in order to maximize profit for the DM.

    I think indie comics will always exist through either handmade mini-comics or webcomics, but indie people usually are doing it more for the love rather than aspirations of keeping at it as a day job. Yeah, there are the Kirkmans and Cookes, who sustained themselves for a bit with corporate work, but indie comics don’t *need* the DM the way Marvel/DC comics do. It’s nice the DM can provide an income to indie people, but I don’t think indie comics will go away were the DM to collapse. I think Marvel/DC books would, though.

  8. The quote should be fixed.

    Chris Hero: Thanks for your thoughts, you have my sense pretty well (except that, yeah, I sold more units/dollars of L&R as a periodical than as an “annual”)

    What are you looking for RE: ASS? Issue #1 sold like 170k as a comic….

    Certainly I’d argue that without the DM, Kirkman wouldn’t have gotten to the position where he could have a TV show, or Jeff Smith gotten the Scholastic deal. There’s way WAY more money outside the DM, potentially, but the DM is a very very useful tool in identifying properties that can have that greater life (the same is as true for Iron Man movies, or whatever, IMO)


    You’re right, more time will have to pass to get the full picture (and, really, I think it will be SEO v*3* that will be the telling one), but I’d broadly argue that JOKER HC was an aberration caused specifically by “Dark Knight” and Heath Ledger’s passing and the attention that the character had at that one single moment in time. I don’t think that book, if released this week for the first time, would have performed nearly as well.


  9. Sorry, Brian. I didn’t mean to diminish the importance of the DM in the overall economic market of comics. Would Los Bros or Jeff Smith have been able to pay the rent off their comic work without the DM? No, of course not. But I think even if the DM were to magically disappear or if single issues were to disappear and be replaced by OGNs, I still think there would be hungry young artists out there finding some way to make comics.

    Conversely, I think if the DM were to disappear, Marvel/DC comics would disappear with it. I don’t think the economics are such yet that Marvel or DC could make a big enough profit selling just to bookstores? So, why hurt that very important market by skipping out on serializing a comic like Earth One Superman?

    I also think the DM has played, and continues to play, an integral part in supporting a book like, say, the Walking Dead or Ganges. Kirkman’s not getting a TV deal without the DM being there for him.

    With All Star Superman, I was wondering how many copies Thr collection sold its first month and first year and what the average sales a month were. If it averaged more than 50K/month, I think you have your supporting case study right there.

  10. Here’s what we know about ASS — but remember these numbers aren’t “carved in stone”, and there’s a SIGNIFICANT FUDGE FACTOR that can added.

    Periodical sales that can be tracked:

    All Star Superman
    #1 11/05 170,802
    12/05 2,469
    #2 11/06 124,328
    02/06 3,415
    #3 03/06 110,585
    04/06 4,461
    #4 06/06 111,420
    #5 08/06 109,746
    #6 01/07 98,802
    #7 04/07 92,295
    #8 07/07 83,329
    #9 11/07 78,706
    #10 03/08 73,574
    #11 05/08 70,355
    #12 09/08 70,423

    So, what we can see totals 1,204,710 copies, $3.6m gross dollars.


    As for the books….

    This chart needs some notes. First and foremost, I have no access to BookScan (“BSN” below) numbers for 2010 yet — I usually get them mid-January. Where you see question marks with the Diamond numbers (“DCD” below) it is because the book “failed to chart” for some of the time period — this *could* mean that the book still sold 300-ish copies that month! Which means that a book CAN sell 3600 copies a year, year-in, year-out, and never once make the Diamond charts! I think you can add at least 1000 copies to any Diamond number with a “?”. Finally, don’t forget we have only 10 months of Diamond numbers so far for 2010!

    v1 HC (04/07)
    DCD2007 6675?
    BSN2007 5466

    DCD2008 ????
    BSN2008 1524

    BSN2009 17

    At least 13,682 copies, $342k

    v1 TP (09/08)
    DCD2008 7273
    BSN2008 3347

    DCD2009 5625?
    BSN2009 6651

    DCD2010 4801?
    BSN2010 ????

    At least 27,697 copies, $360k

    v2 HC (02/09)
    DCD2009 7693?
    BSN2009 7788

    DCD2010 ????
    BSN2010 ????

    At least 15,481 copies, $387k

    v2 TP (02/10)
    DCD2010 8443?
    BSN2010 ????

    At least 8443 copies, $110k

    Absolute (11/10)
    DCD2010 ????
    BSN2010 ????

    (Between both channels, on a quick look through, It seems absolutes sell a combined 5-10k — that could add a million dollars to the ASS bottom-line on the higher end.)

    With verifiable numbers only that’s about $1.2m for the “book” side, since it’s initial release, but that’s clearly off by some unknown but probably significant amount.


  11. Good TILTING AT WINDMILLS, but was hoping to read your thoughts on Marvel not lowing Prices.
    They made a big deal that they would put down their in Jan like DC did and really did not all.
    What did you think when you saw the Jan Marvel listing?

  12. 100,000 people stopped reading All-Star Superman as it went on?

    That’s shameful!
    Is that usual decline, or did people just not like it?
    Or do the drops line up with the delays?

  13. I think my friend Nate was saying what I was thinking, too. Those All Star Superman numbers seem to make your case for you, that a serialized comic can make a lot of money and then be a successful OGN. Hell, All Star wasn’t even marketed that well outside of comic specific sites.

  14. “Is that usual decline, or did people just not like it?
    Or do the drops line up with the delays?”

    It was announced as shipping every two months from the getgo, but then suffered additional delays.

    I think that and the boring Bizarro arc drove people off.

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