Here’s the deal fellas, comic book sales are tricky. When the report from USA today comes out that says that Walking Dead 115 has sold 352,000 copies and is going back into second printings, I cock an eyebrow and wonder who is being served by this. The book came out on Wednesday and I can tell you with certainty that NOBODY is having trouble finding a copy. My shop ordered 40 copies of every cover. That’s 40×15. 600 copies of a single issue. How many of those 352,000 issues have actually sold at the retailer level? I can’t imagine that this is a scarce issue in any town in America yet. Going to a second print already is simply flooding the market.
On the other side of the spectrum, Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s Rocket Girl also sold out at Diamond and is getting a second print. I don’t have a problem with this, because I don’t think many stores ordered as heavily on that title. Folks might be finding the amazing word of mouth that’s spreading regarding the title online (like our review here, which Amy retweeted because she’s a goddamn sweetheart and an amazing person) or the little segment on the Pop and Schlock Podcast episode 2 where it made the “This Week In Pop Culture” segment.
I’m not going to say that the Walking Dead’s sales aren’t impressive, it is after all the best selling comic of the year now. But that is really only because it has fifteen different covers that retailers ordered in bulk. I’m sure many stores will be sitting on copies a year from now. Before issue 115 came along, the best selling comic of the year was Justice League of America # 1 which sold around 308,000 copies with their “One Variant For Every State” gimmick.
All I’m saying is, look at the smaller books that sell out at diamond. Stuff like Rocket Girl and Rat Queens, because those aren’t sitting on shelves. They’re getting reprints because they need them. I find myself confused by Walking Dead 115 going to a new printing this quickly. Sometimes I just don’t understand the comics business.
I guess we can just say with certainty that we have entered the age of the crowd-funded comic book boom. Kickstarter has really changed the way we look at creator owned books nowadays. The guage for whether the audience is there is built into the concept. If you trust the talent involved and are willing to invest in them, they will repay you with a title that you can then judge with the benefit of knowing what you were getting from the inception.
I think the process has helped the industry in many ways. I think that Kickstarter is going to be the thing that gives creators the opportunity to do everything they deserve to do in the medium. You hear horror stories of books being shot down by editors years ago and you wonder what life they might have had in today’s climate. I’m sure more than a few rejected scripts are finding their way to Kickstarter projects.
Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare’s Rocket Girl # 1 is definitely a shining example of how Kickstarter can work and work well. Amy and Brandon bring us a book that is unlike anything else on the stands at the moment, a considerable feat if you consider the amazing spread of new books we get each and every week. I have been pumping out review after review for new creator owned books and I have gone on record as saying we’re in the middle of an Image renaissance where in a few years time people will look back and stutter in amazement at how many wildly inventive titles the company released.
The story revolves around an officer in 2013’s New York Teen Police Department who goes back in time to investigate an organization who has allegedly been altering history to grow their influence in the market. The book is the sort of high-concept science fiction that is sorely lacking in today’s comic book market. What is simply amazing is how the scriptwork is vibrant and stylized in a way that matches Reeder’s dazzling art. While Montclare gives us dialog that does a great deal of worldbuilding and allows the characters to become realized to the reader in ways that are both subtle and organic, Amy Reeder does the same thing with the art; it is expressive and stylized in such a manner that it forces the book to stand out and grab the reader’s attention. Much like Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals, which I applauded a few weeks back, Rocket Girl is a perfect blend of script and art that many other comics simply wish they could attain. The elements that make this book meld into something truly special and leaves us entertained and fulfilled in the way that a monthly comic should.
If you’re looking for a new debut issue to hop onto, I strongly suggest you toss this onto your pull list. I’ve already grabbed a few extra copies to hand out to some friends because I truly do think this is an amazing book that can truly be a cross-genre hit.