MAYO REPORT: "Grayson" Debuts Strong, and The Loot Crate Effect

Tue, August 12th, 2014 at 9:28am PDT

Comic Books
John Mayo, Staff Writer
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July 2014 was the second strongest month of the final order era which started in March 2003 when Diamond shifted from releasing sales data based on preorders to data based on the final order which actually shipped to stores. July was only about 57,297 units below the high water mark for the top 300 comics of 8,148,076 units set in September 2013. Much of what boosted September 2013 were the 2D and 3D Villain Month covers.

The top selling comic was "Rocket Raccoon" #1 from Marvel with 293,913 units. At least a third of those units were ordered by Loot Crate, a subscription service which offers a box of assorted genre and video game-related merchandise, delivered monthly to customers' homes. However many units Loot Crate ordered, those units are fundamentally different that the units moved through comic book stores. The copies going through comic book stores are to comic book fans. Based on how much they like the issue, many of those readers will return for the next issue. The Loot Crate copies, however, are going to people who might not have any idea how to get the next copies of the series should they like it enough to want the next issue. Hopefully the Loot Crate variant edition included information on how to find a comic book shop for those readers.

The highest level even the most popular titles seem capable of sustaining these days is around 130,000 units. Obviously "Rocket Raccoon" is going to have a sharp second issue drop, potentially as high as 80% or 90% of the first issue sales. Some of the second issue drop will be the normal drop almost universally seen within the direct market, but a rather larger portion of it will be because the Loot Crate deal was only for the first issue. Getting comics out to more potential readers is a great thing. Unfortunately, by including those sales in this data set, it defeats the main purpose of this data set, which is to help retailers understand how the titles are selling nationwide so they can adjust their orders as the feel appropriate. "Rocket Raccoon" #1 tops the list by retail ranking, which is based on the dollars invoiced for the product. Since "Rocket Raccoon" #1 outsold the "Batman" #33 by a factor of 2.5, the retail ranking very well could have any additional discount Loot Crate might have gotten factored in. The Loot Crate website states there is a $40+ retail value in every crate, and those crates cost $13.37 meaning they would need to get a 66% discount off retail price on everything in the create to break even. With over 100,000 subscribers, it is safe to assume Loot Crate has a smart enough business model to be doing better than just breaking even and therefore got a better discount on "Rocket Raccoon" #1 because of the size of the order they placed for it.

Putting the "Rocket Raccoon" #1 sales into perspective, the current Marvel event series is selling around 90,000 units with "Original Sin" #5 having sold an estimated 91,420 units dropping about 2,096 units with "Original Sin" #5 at around 89.324 unit. I'm breaking the embedded miniseries of "Original Sin: Hulk vs Iron Man" and" "Original Sin: Thor and Loki" out from the main "Original Sin" miniseries in the data and charts. Having the three different stories intermingled into a single title was making the issue to issue sales comparisons both confusing and useless. Interest in the secondary stories to the event is about half the interest of the event itself. This mirrors the sales trends we seen in families of titles in which one title generally outsells of the others by a significant margin.

"Amazing Spider-Man" #4 sold 117,917 units, up 8.15% over the previous issue. This is an "Original Sin" tie-in issue, which accounts for the bump on this and many other Marvel titles in July. So far, excluding the "Amazing Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl" embedded miniseries, the title has yet to dip below 109,000 units. As we've seen with "Batman" over at DC, these are sustainable numbers for an ongoing title.

Unsurprisingly, "The Walking Dead" #129 was the best-selling comic not published by Marvel or DC, with around 72,908 units. What is surprising was the second best-selling comic not by Marvel or DC was "Life with Archie" #36, which featured the death of Archie storyline boosting sales of the comic book version of the issue to 57,054 units with another 6,653 units in a magazine format. Over the past few years, the people at Archie Comics have done a like to make Archie more relevant to a wider audience. With the upcoming Black Circle line of comics, Archie might be making a play of a larger piece of the direct market pie.

Titan Comics launched two Doctor Who titles in July. "Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor" #1 sold 41,068 units while "Doctor Who: The 10th Doctor" #1, which launched on the same day, sold 39,707 units. These titles are coming out slightly faster than once a month, and the "Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor" starts up in September featuring the newest regeneration of the Doctor. This is a bold move from Titan Comics, which has been publishing comics for a few years but significantly increased their output around February 2013. Three concurrent Doctor Who titles might be exactly what the market wants, or it could be more than the market can bear. Either way, it will be interesting to see how it goes.

Over at DC, "Grayson" #1 launched with 81,433 units, putting it well above where "Nightwing" had been selling. Personally, I was a little skeptical of the relaunch, but the first issue was a great read and this series stands a good chance of having a wider appeal than the "Nightwing" title, with the potential to sell better as a result. This take is also something which could translate to television fairly well.

"Teen Titans" #1 relaunched with 52,358 units, putting it about twice where the previous volume ended a few months ago. While not as strong of a start as the previous volume, which was part of the New 52 relaunch, it is stronger sales than the previous series had since the "Death of the Family" tie-in issues. "New Suicide Squad" #1 relaunched that property with 49,457 units, which is better than the previous "Suicide Squad" series did, except for the first issue and the two "Death of the Family" tie-in issues.

Speaking of "New Suicide Squad," which features Harley Quinn, "Harley Quinn" #8 sold 76,827 units, down 16,439 units from the previous issue, which had a Bombshell cover. This puts the title behind "Batman," "Justice League" -- which increased in sales by over 16% in July -- and the launch of "Grayson" in term of DC titles.

Finally, "Vertigo Quarterly: Magenta" #1 launched with 7,360 units. This is a drop of 2,096 units from "Vertigo Quarterly: Cyan" #1 in April 2014. Why call something a quarterly and then renumber it with the second issue back to a #1 other than to try to get first issue sales? It didn't increase sales, landing right around where a second issue would have with the standard 22% second issue drop.

If you'd like to listen to an in-depth discussion of the sales data, check out the Mayo Report episodes of the Comic Book Page podcast at www.ComicBookPage.com. In addition to those episodes, every Monday is a Weekly Comics Spotlight episode featuring a comic by DC, a comic by Marvel and a comic by some other publisher. Once a month is the Previews Spotlight episode which features clips from various comic book fans talking about the comics they love. With thousands of comics in Previews every month, these episode are a great way to find out about things which may have flown under your comic book radar.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.

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