Showing posts with label Alan Moore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alan Moore. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

If Watchmen Sales are a Hint, Comic Buyers are Few.

What do the sales of the Watchmen trade paperback tell us about the size of the comic book marketplace and the general audience appeal of comic book properties?

Two things.

First, that not a lot of people buy comic books and that "general interest" in graphic novels, while growing, isn't that vast.

Second, "general interest" increases significantly when a movie is in production.

I know, I know, you think I'm full of it and am exaggerating how desperate times are in the world of comic book sales. Before I share the statistics on the sales of the Watchmen trade paperback, let's have a look at the sales numbers of the top ten comic books in October 2007. I'd show you November's numbers, but those won't be available for a few weeks. According the ICV2, who are a retailer news service, here's how many copies the best selling books in October fared.

  1. NEW AVENGERS #35 sold 111,481 copies

  2. FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #24 sold 110,405 copies (you thought maybe I was going #10 to #1? No such luck.)

  3. JUSTICE LEAGUE O/AMERICA #14 sold 101,763 copies

  4. MIGHTY AVENGERS #5 sold 99,544 copies (yes, there is a difference between New and Mighty Avengers.)

  5. JUSTICE SOCIETY O/AMERICA #10 sold 99,424 copies

  6. X-MEN MESSIAH COMPLEX ONE SHOT sold 98,958 copies (which sold out the print run)

  7. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER #7 sold 94,144 copies

  8. MARVEL ZOMBIES 2 #1 (Of 5) sold 92,587 copies

  9. UNCANNY X-MEN #491 sold 85,638 copies

  10. WOLVERINE #58 sold 83,810 copies

"What, no BATMAN, you ask?" The best selling title featuring the Dark Knight, BATMAN #670, sold 76,890 and DETECTIVE COMICS #837 sold 51,363. Before you think I am continuing my ongoing "doom and gloom of the comic book industry" series and using these to show that comics won't be around for much longer, I am not. The numbers are actually surprisingly good, given the modern marketplace, much better than in prior years. I even find it a pleasant surprise that BUFFY is in the top 10 and selling so well. Why? Honestly, because I believe that a lot of those buying Joss Whedon's Buffy Season 8 series weren't existing comic customers. I believe he has brought new buyers into the medium. That makes me happy.

That doesn't mean that Zack Snyder's movie representation, in the upcoming Watchmen film, of a comic shop in the Watchmen movie isn't accurate.

Look at it, that's a pretty accurate image of your typical comic shop. Most of them don't look like the Secret Headquarters, but don't get me started on just how cottage and specialized your industry has to be to foster a store like Secret Headquarters. It looks like a Victorian Men's Club and caters to a similar clientèle.

That brings us back to the sales of the Watchmen trade paperback. Just how good were they in 2007? They were very good. According to ICV2 the book will have sold 95,000 copies, by year's end, during 2007. This is up from 22,000 copies in 2001, a significant increase indeed. Watchmen is one of the most acclaimed comic book miniseries (miniseries, not graphic novel dammit!) of all time. I may be one of the few who don't think it is the greatest series ever, don't get me wrong I think it is very good, but I agree that it is one of the most important series ever. TIME magazine praised the book, for goodness sake.

22k without a movie...95k with a movie in production. Do you see what I mean? To be fair 96k isn't exactly an awesome number, but that only makes my point regarding how niche comic sales are, but it is a significant one. Buying comics can see like a lonely hobby at times, and I'm not sure how long it will survive in the long run, but it is a hobby I have enjoyed for over twenty years.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Untalented Pot Calls Talented Kettle Black: Rob Liefeld Comments on Alan Moore

Cinerati friend, Luke Y. Thompson, has posted some very juicy quotes from a recent interview with Rob Liefeld. Rob Liefeld has often been the bane of my comic collecting existence. With the exception of his, heavily improved by Karl Kesel's inking, work on Hawk and Dove, I have never found his art work satisfying. His idea of what constitutes perspective, as shown in his Captain America #1, is as baffling to behold as it was embarrassing to read.

That said, I actually kind of like Liefeld the comic book enthusiast. He always seems genuinely excited about the medium and isn't to snobbishly pretentious.

Alan Moore, on the other hand, is a damn good comic book writer who I have found tremendously entertaining and often "deep." The fans who worship at the "Watchmen is the greatest graphic novel ever" altar, on the other hand, annoy the crap out of me. I both love and hate Watchmen. I think it is one of the best limited series of comic books to ever be collected in a trade paperback. Yes, I know that last sentence was amazingly pretentious. I love the Watchman series because it is a complex and inspiring work of art. The characters are engaging, the politics sometimes complex, and the milieu feels real. I also like how subversive the series is to many traditional tropes in comics as a medium. I hate the Watchmen series because of its Outer Limits ripoff ending and the fact that other writers thought that "all comic books should be like Watchmen" They shouldn't. I also hate the way the comic subverts Steve Ditko's paragon of Objectivism, the Question, and turns him into the unstable (and psychologically ill) Rorschach.

Yes, you read correctly, I love how subversive Watchmen is in general, at the same time as I hate how subversive it is in particular. Add to that, both Rorschach and the Question are two of my favorite comic book vigilantes and you begin to see how complex my love/hate relationship with this series is, never mind the fact that I am in no way an Objectivist and it only further muddles the issue.

Coming into LYT's article with all my Liefeld/Moore baggage made the post all the more enjoyable. There's some good "geek watercooler" conversation pieces in there that I will have to add to my "most likely to cause a comic book geek fight" quote collection. Maybe I'll have to devote an episode of Geekerati to a discussion of Alan Moore.

Here's just a taste: "If you’ve done business with Alan, you have a different opinion of Alan. He markets himself as a poet, but he’s just a ruthless businessman, like everybody else, he kept wanting to more work because he just wanted to get paid. Jeph Loeb, he can tell you."

Now go to OC Weekly and read the whole shebang. You can read the script for Alan Moore's unpublished Youngblood #4 at Kevin Church's site.