Sunday, January 5, 2014

Marvel Now Sales - One Year Later

Last year, when Marvel started its Marvel Now Initiative, there were some impressive sales numbers clocked in by many of the titles as they were all rolled out each month. For many fans watching the hoopla, there was a strong sense of Deja Vu from DC's  New 52 launch. However, as I showed in a follow up article, the sales of the DC 52 titles fell quite a bit within the year.

So today, let's do the same thing with the Marvel Now sales. First, here are the initial sales figures of the first batch of titles that came out within the first few months of Marvel Now.

First thing to notice is how much disparity there is between the Avengers and X-men titles from just about everything else. I would love to ask of retailers what was the reasoning here. Why would you order 3X the number of one title as the rest of the core (FF, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor) titles? Isn't the core the better barometer of how much you will actually sell?

I suppose some of the answer to that question can be found in the number of Variant covers which the Marvel Now launch had. I guess if as a retailer, you can make up the difference in cost of ordering extra issues by reselling a variant covers to hard core fans or on ebay, then it's a good strategy.

Anyway, here's where Marvel stands One Year Later. (I've overlaid the current sales over the intial sale to show how far titles have fallen.)

This is a much closer grouping of titles vis a vis sales. This is what I would expect the launch to look like (if it hadn't been skewed by variant titles.)

Notice the huge amount of titles in the Brown bars area. Those are all within the historical cancellation zone. Not good.

Here is another view of the data. The blue line is the starting sales of all the Marvel titles. The red line is where each of those titles stand now. The number of titles under the 50K mark is over half the line.

To give you some perspective, several years ago at HeroesCon, a DC editor casually dismissed a fans question about Aquaman getting his own title again by saying he never sells above 50K. Other editors at the panel all agreed with one making a joke involving the phrase sink or swim, which generated a chorus of laughter.

So that's what we have now. Half of the Marvel line sells at an amount that the industry used to sneer at.

Among those titles that have proved the most successful with the Marvel Now Launch are these three:

The biggest loser is the Fantastic Four titles (both of which are being cancelled.)

The series is going to be relaunched with James Robinson writing it and while he can be a very talented writer who brings greatness to a title, I don't know if he had enough marquee value in this day in age. Starman and The Golden Age were a long time ago.

So What's Next? - I've been watching these numbers come in over the past few months and I have to wonder what Marvel is going to try to increase sales for next year. I know they have some second wave of Marvel Now books coming out but I don't think we are going to see anything close to the sales they started with last year. Nor do I think Marvel is going to have another successful(?) event after the slow burn of Age of Ultron and Infinity.

Ultimately, I think 2014 is going to be a challenging year for Marvel.

- Jim


GACN said...

Great analysis here ... Marvel is falling into the "reboot every year or so" rut with new #1's, variants, etc., it is as if no one remembers what harmed the industry back in the mid-90s.

There is still a finite core readership for Comic Books period, and I see that number being halved by 2020 as many of us "oldsters" simply stop reading DC or Marvel and engage in collecting the comics of our childhood, or follow non-hero (think "The Three", "Velvet", "Lazarus", etc.,) which are honestly more enjoyable.

That said, I get tired of seeing the same writers, the same artists, any everyone else who can't get a gig unless they're at latte parties with DC or Marvel editors. If we're going to be plied with endless super-hero books, how about fresh new talent?

Jim Shelley said...

@GACN - Yeah, like you, I find myself enjoying a lot more non-hero stuff compared to where I was 5 years ago.

I also think your 2020 prediction will be true.

Greygor said...

What about Digital Sales?

Jim Shelley said...

@Greygor - at the moment, Comixology doesn't report sales numbers on an title by title basis. The best you can get out of them is total sales for the quarter or a yearly total and even then it's not broken out by publisher.


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