Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Action is His Reward - Spider-Man Sales Through the Years

One of the most common arguments that I stumble across on the internet is that of fans of Spider-Man discussing the effects that One More Day and Brand New Day have had on the sales of everyone's favorite web crawler. Some claim that the change stimulated the sales of a sagging title by pulling readers off the ancillary titles and "forcing" them to read Amazing while others claim that it hurt the overall number of units sold with people dropping it in light of the thrice monthly schedule.

Usually, the discussions end up being about just who supports what era of Spider-Man and it is never properly resolved. Because of that, I wanted to put together the definitive analysis and overview of Spider-Man sales based on the reliable information that we have from the folks of ICv2. Hit the jump to see a year-by-year breakdown of the sales, and the final verdict about the effects OMD/BND.


I have collected all of the monthly sales for the Spider-Man titles, provided by the website ICv2, which collects the information from Diamond, the sole distributor for comic book and specialty shops in the U.S. Because of the nature of this information, it does not include sales number from places outside of the direct market.

What does that mean? It means that it does not include sales number from places that do not get their material from Diamond (such as book stores), international retailers, and issues sold through subscriptions. This last one is particularly important, as when Amazing Spider-Man switched to a thrice monthly schedule, Marvel offered a subscription service that was a lot cheaper than buying it at a retailer. Numbers don't lie, but sometimes they don't tell the whole truth, so it is possible that Amazing Spider-Man has been doing big numbers in sales in the subscription market, but I don't have a way to get a hold of those numbers.

For the sake of simplicity, I have only included mainstream Spider-Man titles and only ongoing titles. This means that the chart and graphs do not contain information for titles like Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Girl (which take place outside of the main Marvel universe), nor does it contain sales numbers for mini-series and one-shots (such as House of M - Spider-Man, Breakout!, and a great many other series).

Additionally, the numbers do not include second or subsequent reprints. These hardly added a lot of units sold to the original total (usually around the 5 to 10 thousand units), with the exception of the Obama issue in 2009, which moved an incredible amount of units in its subsequent reprints.

Sales for 2001

(Click the graph for the larger version, and click here for 2001's sales figures)

Analysis for 2001

This is the beginning of the recorded data for Spider-Man sales, starting in March of 2001. As you can see, there were only two main Spider-Man titles ongoing at the moment - Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Both titles sold rather poorly in that first month, not even breaking the 50,000 units mark.

April, however, marked the first issue of writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita Jr. taking over the title of Amazing Spider-Man and led to a noticeable increase of sales for that title (JMS stayed on board writing Amazing Spider-Man until 2007).

Additionally, Tangled Web of Spider-Man debuted that month (originally a mini-series by Garth Ennis, called Tangled Web: The Thousand that would later get expanded into an ongoing series) to further help a sharp increase of the total sales that month.

As the year went on, sales slowly increased for Amazing Spider-Man, while sales decreased for Tangled Web, and Peter Parker remained around the 50,000 mark throughout the year. The total sales of 2001 remained steady after the initial jump in April. It should also be noted that the October issue of Amazing Spider-Man was the 9/11 commemorative issue. I would have expected to see a jump in sales, but the sales remained pretty much the same as the month before and after.

Sales for 2002
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2002's sales figures)

Analysis for 2002

The early months of 2002 were just a continuation of the same trends of the later parts of 2001: Amazing slowly on the increase, Tangled Web slowly decreasing, Peter Parker holding around the same levels.

April, once again, proved to be the critical month for the Spider-Man sales. Peter Parker shipped out twice that month, and Amazing Spider-Man was re-solicited at a later date to accommodate for a larger order. Why did Marvel change the shipping orders for that month so much? Because in the early days of May 2002 was when the first Spider-Man film was released. Aside from the increase of the month before the film was released, both Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker got a temporary boost in sales for a couple of months, only to go back to around the same levels they previously were in before April. Tangled Web continued to go down in sales, with neither the movie nor the April stunt appearing to help sales.

Sales for 2003
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2003's sales figures)

Analysis for 2003

This year was one of upheaval for the Spider-Man titles. January was the last month for Tangled Web, which had been struggling with low sales. February sales made up for the lack of the third title because Amazing Spider-Man had an anniversary issue (#50).

June only saw one Spider-Man title shipping out, Peter Parker: Spider-Man, ironically on it's last issue. July, however, marked an incredible increase in sales, thanks to the one-two punch of both Amazing Spider-Man and the newly debuted Spectacular Spider-Man (with Paul Jenkins in the writing duties and Humberto Ramos providing the art) shipping out twice that month. The first storyline also involved the return of the fan favorite character, Venom.

The double-shipping and the brand new #1 issue of Spectacular ended up earning almost 400,000 units sold for the Spider-Man line. An impressive feat that would not be matched for years, but that pales in comparison to the early 90's sales when Todd MacFarlane launched his Spider-Man title in the middle of the speculator bubble (which according to Wikipedia sold somewhere around 2.5 million units, but I have not been able to find a source for that number).

August also saw Amazing Spider-Man shipping out twice that month, only to be followed by a special anniversary in October (#500), and Spectacular shipping out twice in November. These special shipping events more than helped the overall sales of this year, despite there being only two ongoing titles for the latter half of the year.

Sales for 2004
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2004's sales figures)

Analysis for 2004

The beginning of 2004 heralded the addition of a new title to the Spider-Man family, Spider-Man Unlimited, which was an anthology-type title that would ship on a bimonthly schedule (similar to X-Men Unlimited). The early months of 2004 showed a slight decrease for the other two titles.

March saw an increase of sales thanks to Spectacular, which shipping twice that month. April continued that trend with the launch of Marvel Knights Spider-Man under the helm of writer Mark Millar and artist Terry Dodson. June brought about another high peak in terms of sales, thanks to both Spectacular and Amazing shipping out twice that month. Just like in 2002, this was done to coincide with the release of the Spider-Man 2 film, which came out in the last days of June.

Despite a very strong first issue in terms of sales for Marvel Knights, the title lost a lot of readers by the end of the year, while Spectacular and Unlimited continued to slowly lose readers as the year went on. Amazing, on the other hand, showed some fluctuations, increasing and decreasing throughout the later part of 2004. It is probable that this fluctuations are because of the controversial storyline that ran towards the end of 2004, called Sins Past, which was very critically panned (although there doesn't seem to be a strong loss of readers). This, coupled with the bimonthly nature of the Unlimited title end up giving the overall chart for that year a very bipolar feel, but with an apparent downwards trend.

2004 was also the first year that Spider-Man had four ongoing titles at the same time, mirroring the popularity of Spider-Man in the big screen.

Sales for 2005
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2005's sales figures)

Analysis for 2005

2005 was another year of great change for the Spider-Man titles. Spectacular shipped out twice again on January, providing an early boost for the sales numbers, but that trend did not hold. All the titles continued to lose sales across the board, with the total sales numbers taking a noticeable dip in the middle of the year. This dip was increased by the fact that Spectacular Spider-Man was canceled in April (That month seems important for the Spider-Man books, doesn't it?), with Jenkins still as the writer of that title.

Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was left with only three ongoing titles once again, and one of them was the low-selling bimonthly Unlimited. But that wouldn't stay so for long...

October breathed in new life for the Spider-Man titles, thanks to the Spidey crossover called The Other, written by JMS, Peter David and Reginald Hudlin across the three ongoing titles: Amazing, Marvel Knights, and the newly debuted Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Peter David became the writer of the new title.

The sales for the last months of 2005 were reinvigorated thanks to the brand new #1 and the crossover, which surpassed the 200,000 mark for the total number of Spidey books sold for three months straight. Something that stuck out to me was that apparently not everyone followed all parts of the crossover, with different parts selling close to 20,000 more units than others.

Sales for 2006
(Click the graph for a larger version or click here for 2006's sales figures)

Analysis for 2006

If there is one word to describe the sales of 2006 for Spider-Man titles, it would have to be erratic. January saw the ending of The Other, continuing the high selling trend of the previous year. Friendly Neighborhood did not ship in February, which further expanded the dip in sales after the ending of the crossover. The title did ship out twice the next month, however, and total sales spiked up again.

Additionally, the Marvel Knights title changed its name to Spectacular Spider-Man, although it continued to use the same numbering, therefore, it did not get a boost in sales for a brand new #1 (For the sake of simplicity, the graph/chart continues to call it Marvel Knights). Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Angel Medina were the initial creative team behind this new direction.

The month of May saw the cancellation of the Unlimited title, but it was also the beginning of Marvel's company wide popular crossover Civil War, which Spider-Man was heavily involved in. His participation in the summer crossover seemingly brought in more readers to the titles (especially after the public reveal of his secret identity, which was picked up by the mainstream press), but the flagship title (Amazing) went into a bimonthly schedule, completely hurting the total sales numbers of this year.

I am not quite sure if the bimonthly schedule was the fault of JMS, or because of the heavy delays that Civil War itself suffered. It is possible that the release of Amazing was pushed back in order to accommodate the reveals happening in the main event.

Sales for 2007
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2007's sales figures)

Analysis for 2007

The year of 2007 started out great for the Spider-Man titles, still involved in the Civil War that would end on February of 2007, and the numbers show it. February also saw the debut of yet another anthology-type title, Spider-Man Family, that shipped bimonthly.

Additionally, in March, the Spider-Man titles went into a quasi-crossover (more like a status quo) called Back In Black that had Spider-Man deal with the aftermath of the events of Civil War, most notably the fact that Aunt May was shot and moribund in a hospital. As the title indicates, Spider-Man started using his black suit. This was done to coincide with the release of the Spider-Man 3 film, involving Venom and the symbiote suit, in May of that year. Unlike previous years, however, there was no double shipping this time around and there were a couple of missing/late shipments, like Amazing not coming out in April and Sensational in May.

September marked the beginning of the highly controversial storyline, One More Day, which took place across the three main Spider-Man titles. This storyline involved Peter and Mary Jane being offered a deal from Mephisto, which would save Aunt May if they gave up their marriage. Aside from fans speaking out against the move, there was also controversy amongst the two creators of this storyline, long-time Amazing Spider-Man writer JMS and artist Joe Quesada (also Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics), as they got involved in a public argument about the direction the story was going in.

Only one of the Spider-Man titles would come out each month, hurting the total sales numbers, plus losing readers by the thousands between parts of the storyline. More readers came back for the final part, in December, but there's a disparity of 20,000 readers between the last two issues of Amazing for this year.

It should be noted that during this time, the Family title continued to ship in it's planned schedule, although it lost a substantial amount of readers.

Sales for 2008
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2008's sales figures)

Analysis for 2008

2008 was a brand new year for the Spider-Man titles, as it kick started the new status quo established at the end of One More Day, called Brand New Day. There were sweeping changes, not only in content (the biggest change was that Peter Parker was no longer married to MJ, and Aunt May was alive and well) but also in the way the titles were published. Sensational and Friendly Neighborhood were canceled and Amazing became a thrice-monthly title under the helm of a variety of writers and artists.

People came out in droves to check out the new Spider-Man, with the January monthly sales being above the 300,00 units sold. This bigger and reinvigorated readership would not last long, and the numbers show a very sharp downwards trend in sales, with readers abandoning ship at the rate of (roughly) 10,000 a month for half a year.

August marked the beginning of the storyline called New Ways to Die, with writer Dan Slott and popular Spidey artist John Romita Jr. as the creative team. This story seemed to reinvigorate the sales slightly, but once again, it would not hold for long (it ended in October). August also saw the renumbering of the Family title, now called Amazing Spider-Man Family, which doubled it's sales, although it also would not last for long.

The September sales got a small bump thanks to the appearance of TV pundit Stephen Colbert in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, something that I have already talked about in my article about Comics and the Mass-Media. By December, however, the total monthly sales were barely breaking the 200,000 barrier. A notable difference with the aforementioned sales of January.

Sales for 2009
(Click the graph for a larger version, or click here for 2009's sales figures)

Analysis for 2009

Obviously, we don't have the complete data for the 2009 year. The most obvious thing you will notice when looking at the graph is the huge spike in sales in January. This is because of the (in)famous Obama issue. One of the issues in January featured a back up story and a variant cover feature Barack Obama, the popular and recently elected president of the U.S. This drove thousands of people that wouldn't normally purchase an issue of Amazing Spider-Man to comic stores, some because of Obamania and some because of the supposed value this issue would have in the future. The issue would go to sell out and receive (I think) 5 different repressings.

The Obama issue is almost a statistical anomaly, as it only drew collectors and opportunists to the title and no long time readers. The stunt did not seem to help the ongoing sales very much, as the issues directly before and after sold roughly the same amount. March saw only two shipments of Amazing, for reasons unknown to me. The numbers in the chart are monthly figures, but each issue of the Amazing title is selling around 60~65 thousand units, although that seems to be increasing slowly in April.

Overall Analysis and Verdict

(Click the graph to see a larger version)

As far as recorded data goes, the Spider-Man titles can be divided in roughly three stages. The first stage goes from 2001, once JMS took over from Mackie (only the first issue in the 2001 chart), until early 2004. During this period, sales were generally on the increase, but, outside of special events, the monthly sales between the Spider-Man titles would never break 200,000 units sold plateau.

The second stage, from 2004 until 2007, was marked by constant involvement in crossovers and more high-profile storylines, such as Sins Past, The Other, Civil War, and Back in Black, culminating in One More Day. During this time, the popularity of Spider-Man was at an all-time high, helped by two blockbuster movies. During this time, if all the issues shipped out that month, the Spider-Man titles would easily break the 200,000 sold units.

The last stage is that of Brand New Day, starting in 2008 until the present. During this time, the Spider-Man titles, now almost exclusively Amazing Spider-Man, would also easily break the 200,000 month in and out. Although the numbers started plateauing around that mark with the coming of the new year, we have to see how the numbers will react in the upcoming year before making a final judgement on it.

If we are talking about total units sold, BND proved to be an obvious improvement over the early "JMS era", although roughly the same as the second part of the JMS era, which was helped by the constant involvement of Spider-Man in special events, most notably Civil War.

However, it is important to note that the readership of the BND era is a lot smaller than any of the previous eras. The total linewide sales are higher, but it is a smaller readership buying the issues more often. Whether Spider-Man lost the readers because of the controversial aspect of the new era or because the thrice-monthly cost scared readers away is entirely open to interpretation.

My assesment, however, is that a bigger and more diverse readership is healthier for the long term survival of any series as opposed to a smaller, more dedicated one. That is entirely my opinion, but feel free to let me know if you disagree with me in the comments section.

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Klep said...

I agree with your analysis. The monthly sales numbers look deceptively good for the BND era because they don't break out the fact that ASM is shipping thrice monthly. If you were to divide those figures by the number of issues per month, the BND era would start looking pretty anemic.

If I were Marvel, I would be very concerned by those numbers. With the Spiderman readership appearing to have already dropped significantly, it would only take one or two poorly received storylines (*cough*Clone War*cough*) to make a huge dent in ASM's sales, driving more readers away. Meanwhile, readers who stopped buying it with the change (for whatever reason) would take that as reinforcement of their decision to cease purchasing the title. One of Marvel's supposedly flagship titles would then be languishing with low sales and would need drastic action to recover.

My suggestion for Marvel would be to try and figure out what made the number of purchasers of ASM drop so much with BND, whether it was getting rid of MJ, the regression of Peter's character, the poor quality of the initial BND issues, the increased cost of keeping up with a thrice-monthly book, or some combination of those factors. Then, obviously, take immediate (or as immediate as possible) action to deal with it. If it was getting rid of MJ, bring her back. If it was the regression of Peter's character, make him get a job as a substitute teacher again and so on.

While overall monthly sales for ASM may look alright now, basing it on a smaller group of readers is not going to be good for the title or character long-term. If Marvel wants to keep Spidey as important a character in the Marvel U as he has been, they're going to have to do something to shake it up. The sooner they act, the less they'll have to do.

Anonymous said...

"If you were to divide those figures by the number of issues per month, the BND era would start looking pretty anemic."

That's a pretty unfair statement.
Before OMD, Marvel was putting out three monthly Spider-Man comics (ASM, SSM, FNSM). After OMD, Marvel is still putting out three monthly Spider-Man comics. All three just happen to be called ASM. Dividing them by three doesn't make sense.

It's also unfair to look at ASM on its own and not as part of the entire comic book industry. Sales have been going down across the board. Is it fair to point out that one tree is burning when the whole forest is on fire?

Klep said...

"That's a pretty unfair statement..."

I don't think so. For the two years prior to BND, ASM was selling right around 100,000 issues a month in its own right, about 150% of the numbers it's selling now. That's a third of the readership gone, which is not a good sign for the current way the comic is being handled. And just because the whole industry is lagging doesn't mean Marvel shouldn't attempt to take action to fix a problem.

Eric Rupe said...

Klep is right. Pre-OMD, ASM sold about 100,000 units per issue which is 100,000 people buying just ASM. During BND, its selling more units to less people. For example, for May 09 ASM sold around 188,000 unit but it sold sold around 62,000 per issue. That's around 40,000 less people buying ASM. That's a bad thing.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

I wonder how the Marvel Adventures Spider-Man is doing. My perspective on the numbers is that the Powers That Be at Marvel seem to be trying to play a numbers game in hopes of making them look good (in part to "prove" OMD's alleged success, if you ask me).

Eric Rupe said...

According to the same charts Matt used, MASM #50 sold 4,780 units and came in 279 on the sales chart for May. Marvel sells they do better in digest sales but there is really no way to tell how well they really do.

Matt Ampersand said...

Lots of good comments here so far!

Klep, I'm thinking it is a combination of things that drove readers away from ASM. I applaud Marvel for trying to put out a thrice monthly book and succeeding (with only small hiccups), but maybe they should reconsider it with the current economy. Lots of fans are cutting their pull list, and considering how much money goes into keeping up with ASM, I'm pretty sure lots of people have dropped it because of that reason.

Anonymous, I agree with Klep and Eric. I do not think it is an unfair statement. For the latest month (May 09), ASM was selling around 60 thousand per issue. That's 60 thousand individual readers, and ASM has had plenty more individual readers in the past. I'm sure most of the people that bought Friendly Neighborhood/Sensational, etc. were also buying ASM, so it is not like I am saying ASM used to have 200 thousand followers or anything.

Your point about sales going down across the board is a good one, that I could have sworn I had made a mention of, but appaently forgot. In that aspect, you are entirely right.

ShadowWing Trronix, As Eric pointed out, MASM sells rather poorly. As I was looking through the tables preparating this article, I don't think I ever saw it surpass even the lowest selling Spider-Man title.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps something else to consider: the rise of bittorrent as a free way to get comics, cuts into sales of comics.....

Klep said...

@Anonymous: I doubt bit torrent has had that substantial an effect (at least not in this instance). For one, it's been around for years, even when the Spidey comics were doing better (in terms of # of readers). For another, there's never been any kind of convincing study to suggest that people who use filesharing services to pirate things would necessarily ever have bought them if piracy hadn't been an option.

Which isn't to say that piracy hasn't cut into sales to some degree. I'm sure it has. I just don't think it's primarily or even secondarily responsible for any recent industry-wide or line-specific trend downward. I expect that larger economic factors and story/staffing decisions play a much greater role in determining the sales of a comic. Even if piracy has risen in the past couple years, I would expect it to be a result of increased economic hardship rather than easier access to pirated content.

Eric Rupe said...

Actually, at least in the music industry, studies have shown that people who download music illegally end up buying more music, legally, than those who don't. Link.

Matt Ampersand said...

Awesome article, Eric!

Anonymous said...

The idea that "ASM was selling 100,000 before OMD" is unfair. For an entire year ASM was tied into CIVIL WAR and CIVIL WAR fallout. It's fuzzy math to compare BND to that, since BND has NOT tied into any events until just last month with DARK REIGN.

Before CIVIL WAR, ASM was selling around 70,000 copies. Its sister-books, SSM and FNSM, were selling far below that.

Eric Rupe said...

Even before Civil War and all of the tie-ins started, ASM sold around 80,000 to 90,000 unit regularly so Marvel has still lost around a third to fourth of their former reader base.

Klep said...

@Anonymous: And yet last month, despite the Dark Reign tie-in, ASM still sold less than 200k issues all month. Furthermore, I don't buy "but it was involved with Civil War" as an excuse for lower sales now. What that tells me is that Civil War was an interesting story and the writers for ASM were able to write Spidey stories relating to it in a way that was compelling and got a lot of people to read the comic. Good for them. There's no reason why there couldn't be good and interesting stories told outside of that framework too.

Spidey's involvement in Civil War should have caused Spiderman readership to go up afterwards as people who didn't normally read the book picked it up and decided to stick with it. Instead, it was followed by a serious drop in the number of readers of the book. That's a problem, and a failure on Marvel's part to capitalize on a long run of increased readership.

Anonymous said...

And despite a Dark Reign tie-in, the number one comic in America, New Avengers, didn't crack 100k. What's your point?

If the forest is on fire, you don't get to point to one specific tree and make it seem like it's the only one that's burning.

Klep's reasoning isn't all that sound.

You can say that Civil War also caused a boost in Captain America's readership. The Death of Captain America issue sold around the same as the launch of BND and it had a similar drop in sales over time. Yet the BND detractors won't point that out because it points to a problem with the entire industry and not just Spider-Man.

Anonymous said...

Eric Rupe said "...before CIVIL WAR and all of the tie-ins started, ASM sold around 80,000 to 90,000..."

Actually, right before "The Other" crossover that went right into the Civil War crossovers, ASM was selling in the 70,000 range and dropping.

May 05, ASM #520: 76,143
June 05, ASM #521: 74,117
July 05, ASM #522: 73,130
August 05, ASM #523: 72,046
September 05, ASM #524: 71,065

Klep said...

@Anonymous: And then The Other started and ASM was selling around 80k units per month, which increased when Civil War started and didn't start to have any real trend downward until BND, at which point the trend becomes remarkably consistent. In fact, your argument that the increased sales all had to do with Civil War is belied by the continued success of the comic throughout Back in Black. Back in Black showed that ASM could keep an elevated readership even without a universe-wide event crossover, leveling off at a bit more than 100k units per month.

If the recession were to blame for the drop in sales, then one would expect to see an unusual drop in sales at around the time the economy really went into the crapper: roughly September-October of last year. Instead, the pattern of lost sales is much more consistent with people just giving up on the title, as evidenced by the spike when Slott took over and temporarily revived interest.

In fact, the Slott spike shows that there are plenty of people out there who are willing to buy ASM, but don't for some reason. There are around 17,000 fewer people reading ASM now than when Slott started, and around 40k fewer than during the Back in Black status quo. That they aren't buying is a problem for Marvel.

My take on that drop is that BND, for whatever reason, drove away a lot of the people who were reading after Civil War. They gave it a chance, but it didn't take. Slott came on, and a number of the people who dropped it earlier came back to give Slott a fair hearing, but it again didn't take and sales continued to drop. This tells me that there is something inherent with the way BND is being handled that is keeping the comic from moving the units it is capable of moving. Marvel needs to find out what that is if they want ASM to be successful.

Anonymous said...

You can have whatever "take on the drop" you want.
But that fact is, OMD had a similar spike as the Death of Captain America, and BND had an identical rate of drop as the following Captain America issues.

The difference is that the online community had vocal positive buzz about Cap and vocal negative buzz about BND. So you don't see the Cap crowd getting as worked up and pulling out charts and touting out figures like "half the readership" or a "third of the readership." And the reason why is that a spike after an event followed by a drop is common sense.

The sales are obviously linked to the economy. If they weren't, why has every single issue of ASM except for one placed in the Top 25? That's all 3 issues of the monthly Spider-Man book in the Top 25 for over a year and a half. Did all three of the previous 3 monthly Spider-Man titles (ASM, SSM, FNSM) place in the Top 25 for that long?

Klep said...

@Anonymous: Sales aren't obviously linked to the economy because there is no point at which a drop in sales is obviously linked to an economic event. If the primary influence on sales was the economy, then like I said you would expect to see a significant drop after the stock market tanked late last year. That simply did not occur.

Obviously there is going to be a drop after an event. What should not happen is a drop below the level seen BEFORE the event, which is what has happened with ASM. ASM was selling around 80k units going into Civil War. In the storyline immediately after Civil War, it was selling just over 100k units. BND spiked, then sales steadily dropped down to now being not just below Back in Black levels, but also below The Other levels. Below the levels even before The Other.

That's not good, and since there's no blip in sales that can directly tie their drop to the economy, it has to have something to do with the comic itself.

Anonymous said...

very good article. many thanks.

Matt Ampersand said...

@Anonymous, the secondary titles were often in the top 25 titles, although some more than others (Marvel Knights Spider-Man usually was, while Tangled Web sold less than the others). Their very nature, however, meant that they would sell less than the main Amazing title. As we all know, if something important was happening in Spidey's life, it would happen in ASM, so people didn't feel as motivated to buy the other titles. (The one exception to this rule, I think, is Spider-Man Disassembled which happened in Spectacular Spider-Man if I am not mistaken)

As for your Cap point, we are talking about different things here. First, I would have to go look at all the numbers, because I don't know them off the top of my head. But Cap #25 had a huge spike because the mainstream media got a hold of the story, driving people to buy it that would normally not get anywhere close to a comic book store. To my knowledge, the start of Brand New Day got no such media attention. And, again without looking at the numbers, I do believe that sales in the Captain America series have risen the death.

Klep said...

Just to tie up the loose end of the Captain America argument, I just went through the numbers for the entirety of Brubaker's run. Captain America spiked heavily during Civil War, from 49,050 sales of issue 21 to 82230 sales of issue 22, with the ridiculous almost 300,000 copies of issue 25 (Cap's death) sold. Since then until February of this year, Captain America has consistently sold between between 70k and 80k copies per issue, much higher than the 40k to 50k it had been selling prior to Civil War (I imagine the more recent drop into the mid-60k range has to do with what I understand is a relatively lackluster story).

Rather than refuting my point, this actually reinforces it. Civil War brought a lot of people into reading Captain America that wouldn't otherwise have read it, and Captain America's readerbase increased dramatically as people decided they liked the comic and stuck with it after the event. This is what should have happened with ASM, but didn't once BND started.

Jeff Lester said...

Thanks for this article.

I think having one Spider-Man title could be healthier for the marketplace in the long run. If there's a problem--and I can see how they're trying to address this by trying to increase awareness of the members of the Spider-Team--is that the rotating teams of creators keeps the quality very different in very short, three to four issue arcs.

Would I buy Mark Waid/Marcos Martin Amazing Spider-Man? Yes? Kelly/Bachalo? No. And because I buy my books by signing up as subscriber three months in advance, I just skip the title altogehter, and figure I can go back and get what seems exciting to me later.

Kevin Huxford said...

I don't get the point Anonymous is trying to make about the events raising the sales of ASM. Yes, there were events helping to raise the sales...but we'd be able to expect the same thing with the title continuously. BECAUSE of BND, Spider-man was locked out of Secret Invasion for the most part and has been delayed in its involvement in Dark Reign.

So a move to a single title shipping three times a month in a way that makes it harder to coordinate with events that could boost its sales surely can be factored into deciding whether or not it was a wise move. It isn't unfair in the slightest.

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