* Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort’s use of old sales figures at his blog has proved intriguing for a lot of folks, particularly when it comes to making comparisons to the market back then, at the height of a flush period that included a lot of back-issue collectibles speculation, and now, when things are better than they were five years earlier but are nowhere near the raw figures of 15-17 years ago. In other words, “Why can’t we sell 8,000,000 copies of Spider-Man anymore?”
One thing I think worth noting is that while speculation was a huge force at the time Brevoort’s charts represent, particularly for boosting the three or four titles at the absolute top of such lists, it should be noted that the overall delivery system allowed for that much product to be moved. It also sustained way more titles over 100,000 copies. In other words, the notion of blockbuster comics as it existed in the early ’90s exploited a system that was obviously better suited to delivering a higher number of superhero comics overall. One of the things I try to track about today’s comics is the effects when the same sort of top-title mentality is unleashed on an underlying market that isn’t as healthy top to bottom.
Here’s the thing, the current, physical delivery system we have? It couldn’t even allow for CIVIL WAR type numbers at 200-300k. Civil War #6 didn’t make it to the Los Angeles Diamond warehouse in time for distribution to west coast accounts, meaning a quarter of the country was without copies. Why can’t we sell eight-million Spider-Men? Our sole distributor wouldn’t have anywhere to put them, for starters… When I obliquely say things like ‘comics distribution is BROKEN’ this is the type of thing I’m getting at.
P.S.: This is an easily illustrated example, but 4 out of 4-5 weeks a month, there is ‘split shipping’ between warehouses on at least one comic/book that we order more than 10 copies of, to say nothing of allocations and just-plain-lost orders. Diamond does a good job for being the only outlet for a lot of this stuff available, but… 4 out of 4-5 weeks a month, it wouldn’t hurt to have a few failsafes.
P.P.S: And our stupid comics are being delayed a day again this week for no reason. :-P