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Evening, all, and welcome to a run down of our Best Selling Single Issues of 2018 here in Big Bang Comics in Dublin, Ireland.
Tonight we'll see what were our top performing single issues in the past year and single issues only.
If you are wondering what are our best selling graphic novels and manga, please see this thread from last week.
Here's how we'll do this. There's no point listing our top 50 selling single issues because a series that does really well will monopolise the top of our charts for the entire year because it comes out much more regularly than collected editions.
So we'll look at the top 3 sellers from a couple of different publishers, and then we'll talk about the year, ok?

Let's start with our Top 3 Best Selling Single Issues From DC Comics.
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from DC Comics:

03 - Batman Damned #1 (Released 19th of September)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from DC Comics:

02 - Batman #50 (Released 4th of July)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from DC Comics:

01 - Action Comics #1000 (Released 8th of April)
These listings will come as no surprise (mostly) to our regular readers
Batman is always huge here, so no surprise to see him twice in the top 3.
*IF* DC had reprinted BATMAN DAMNED like everybody keeps asking for, it would be #1, no questions about it. It's still a comic we get asked about all the time.
DC had in their hand what you kids call it these days a "viral hit". And instead of reprinting it as fast as possible to capitalise on it and make everyone more money, they sat on it. I'm sure they had *reasons* but that was one of the dumbest commercial moves of the year.
BATMAN #50 was a juggernaut. We all remember the crazy times around it, but customers didn't care about the online stuff, they just wanted the comic. And the vast majority were readers of the run, they were invested in it.
But ACTION COMICS #1000 wasn't just an event. It was a milestone .Customers knew it was a very unique and special moment. And DC had so many awesome covers that a lot of customers double and triple and mega dipped.
That thing was selling bonkers.
Next, let's look at Image's Top 3.
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Image Comics:

03 - Magic Order #1 Big Bang Comics Variant (Released 13th of June)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Image Comics:

02 - Barrier #1 Collector's Edition (Released 9th of May)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Image Comics:

01 - Isola #1 (Released 4th Of April)
We've been doing really well with our own variants, and our customers seem to really love Ben Oliver, so seeing our MAGIC ORDER #1 there is hardly surprising.
But this was soooo close!

Both SAGA #50 and DIE #1 were only a handful of copies away from being in this Top.
BARRIER #1 *was* a surprise, since we gave away a few thousand copies for free of almost the same comic on Free Comic Book Day.
But people REALLY liked it and came back for the series and wanted the proper #1 to go with it.
Personally delighted to see ISOLA #1 at the very top, as we all love this book so much.

Never understimate the power of handselling a comic book. If you're a creator and you have retailers on your side, that's half the battle won.
Next, Marvel's Top 3.
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Marvel Comics:

03 - Amazing Spider-Man #800 (Released 30th of May)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Marvel Comics:

02 - Amazing Spider-Man #3 (Released 8th of August)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from Marvel Comics:

01 - Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Released 11th of July)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is our best selling Marvel title all through the year and it's so far away from any other Marvel single issues here.

We were doing well before the relaunch, but after the new #1 it picked up even more steam and has kept on going.
I know someone said before that it was boring that our regular top is mostly Batman, but the Marvel top is ALL Amazing Spider-Man.

AVENGERS and VENOM and a few other books try hard, but Spidey just has our customers all wrapped up.
And last for the single issues, let's look at the Non Big 3 Publishers.
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from the Non Big 3 Publishers:

03 - Hellboy Winter Special 2018 (Released 12th of December)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from the Non Big 3 Publishers:

02 - Half Past Danger II #5 (Released 7th of February)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store from the Non Big 3 Publishers:

01 - Transformers Requiem Of The Wreckers (Released 23rd of May)
HELLBOY WINTER SPECIAL confirms that our customers freaking love:
a) Hellboy
b) Mike Mignola
c) Winter

And it also got a wee bump from people filling some stockings with some quality comics.
HALF PAST DANGER #5 did great because our customers really like that Stephen Mooney fella (he's the star of the book).
Never discount the homegrown hero bump.
TRANSFORMERS: REQUIEM OF THE WRECKERS was an absolute outlier. This thing nearly outsold AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800 that month!

So let me explain what made it so big.
WRECKERS was a tour de force (see, we comics people can also use Guardian words) for Nick Roche, an Irish creator that we know for a long time.

We talked to Nick about him signing our copies. and normally that would have been good enough, right?
But Nick went above and beyond and tweeted at his fans (and it turns out they are legion) (no, not Legion) and all of a sudden we got a deluge of orders from all over the world. Just like that.

We are incredibly grateful to Nick for making this happen for us!
(we would have sold even more copies but the thing went out of print)
(it was pretty crazy there for a while)
Now, would you be wondering what were the overall Top 3 sellers of the year, or do you think you got it?

Answers on a postcard to the usual address!

(or just wait 3 minutes)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store Overall:

03 - Batman Damned #1 (Released 19th of September)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store Overall:

02 - Batman #50 (Released 4th of July)
Best Selling Single Issues In 2018 In Our Store Overall:

01 - Action Comics #1000 (Released 8th of April)
(wow, deja-vu)
No surprise for anyone that follows us, but DC is still our best selling publisher when it comes to single issues by far.

By how far, you ask?
The first non DC book in our Top 100 comes in at 13.

Ever since Rebirth kicked in, it's been like this, and it's been very hard for other titles/publishers to break this monopoly here.
Having said that, there's some interesting breakdows in terms of sales here.

After DOOMSDAY CLOCK and BATMAN (our bezzies) the next DC title (close to a tie between JUSTICE LEAGUE, MISTER MIRACLE AND HEROES IN CRISIS is selling a third less than those. It's a big drop.
But we do QUITE well on those two top titles, so DC's mid tier-numbers are still pretty good! Specially if you compare them to our Marvel mid-tier numbers.
Now, things aren't completely doom and gloom for Marvel here. A lot of books got a hell of a bump out of the Fresh Start renumbering, for example, like AVENGERS and VENOM.
But Marvel has other... issues that we'll talk about in more general state of the industry bit later.
Image is still doing quite well for us but more and more the difference between New Book By Popular Creator vs New Book by Unknown Creator widens.

And it's getting bad.
There are Image books that are going straight to subscription only by #2 because #1 just barely moved.
Stuff that a year or two ago we would be selling 5 times more, tbh.
At the end of the day, a new book by, say , Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hand comes with a pre-built audience.
A new book by unknown (but probably awesome, I'm not talking about quality here)... doesn't.

And that is massive.
I don't know, but it just *feels* like Image isn't getting the big names that it used to. And not having SAGA for so long is going to affect them Get less people into the shops that would be willing to try an Image book.
We see it since that series paused.
As for other publishers, mixed bag here. There are the ones that do licenses, like IDW or Titan, and they live and die on the strength of the fandom.
(yes, I know that is very simplistic, but I'm tweeting here, not writing a thesis)
I'm curious to see how the relaunched TRANSFORMERS will end up doing, for example. It's a hard reboot. Will the fans come back?
Will there be any new readers for it without big name talent attached?
There are publishers that have some very talented folks working for them, but then decide the best way to promote a book is by having 10 covers to it instead of promoting the content and the talent
(Magic Ball says this will keep happening in 2019.)
There are publishers that have some amazing books, do everything right, but get no traction in our store no matter how hard we try and that breaks my heart.

I've said this before, customers already have a couple of super-hero universes to pick from, they don't want a new one.
There are publishers (Vault) that have absolutely extraordinary books and talent (Vault) but then the books just disappear from the schedule (Vault) or are incredibly late (Vault). We want to keep supporting exciting publishers (Vault), but customers get tired of waiting...
Seriously, if there is one indie publisher that we want to see doing better it's Vault. Their books are SO DAMN GOOD! Their diverse talent pool is EVEN BETTER! They just need to get the publishing side on track!
But ok, let's start to be a bit more specific here.
And again, this is all about single issues and all the end of the world stuff we've been seeing lately:

The sky ISN'T falling.
But there sure are a lot of holes in that roof, and they're getting bigger.
Single issues were the area where we saw the biggest drop in store in 2018.
10% less than the previous year.
And that is QUITE the drop.

The good thing is that that drop was compensated by other areas of growth, we're doing awesome in YA and Manga, for example.
But if anything, looking at these numbers made us think even harder on our current and future orders of single issues. And obviously, made us think of WHY this happened.
Not everything is as black and white as you may read online sometimes.

For example, Brexit has people a bit scared and cutting their expenses a bit. We lost a good few orders in the UK because of that.
A comic shop's audience goes through cycles. Right now we have a ton of customers getting married/having babies/trying to buy an house, and single issues are one of the first expenses to go.
This is all simple stuff, but it's the kind of things that you don't read about when people are going NO, STAHP WITH THE VARIANTS, UNDO that you see online all the time
Not to say that current online discussion doesn't have its merits, but it is worth it to remind everyone that very few stores are the same.
For example, we always did really well with non DC/Marvel comics. But not having a SAGA getting those customers in every month, it hurts.

Is this something that other shops that do mostly super-heroes will see? Nope.
So those customers come in less and spend more money on graphic novels. The money is still being spent, but not on single issues. Not on new indie series.
Yes, ONE comic can be that powerful. Not having a SAGA every month literally means the death of a good few indie comics. That is some power right there.
(and probably something that you won't think about or see unless you're a retailer)
There is also the fact that the market is being FLOODED with new series, every week.
And hey at the end of the day, customers only have a finite amount of monies to spend.
And that's what it all comes down to .
How much money can be spent in how many comics.
And speaking of money...

We have to talk about the price of comics.
But probably not in the way you think.
Comics are DUE for a price increase.
This is economics. Paper is more expensive, for example.
And you do want talent to be properly compensated for their work, right?
If EVERYTHING is getting more expensive, including materials ans labour... it's just the way it is.
So yes, we are looking down the line at the new normal for comics probably being $4.99.
And yes, this will drive some customers away, just like all the other price increases before us.
"But Bruno" you ask, sipping your 5 dollar coffee, "isn't that an obscene amount of money for a comic?"

Maybe. It's up to the customers to make that call.
But it's up to the publishers to make the comics feel like they're worth it.
And a biog start in doing that is respecting the customer and not take them for a piggy bank.

*enter the $7.99 Marvel Single Issue*
First of all, I can't really blame Marvel for pushing ahead with so many high priced issues.
Because.. they sell. They sell and they make Marvel (and retailers!) a lot of money.
If you go to a company and say WE KNOW YOU ARE MAKING A LOT OF MONEY RIGHT NOW, BUT DO LESS MONEY FOR THE LADS, OK, odds are they'll call security on you.

Such high priced first issues are a barrier to more people getting into comics.

We could have sold probably 3 times what we did of UNCANNY X-MEN #1 if it wasn't €7.99, for example.
As an industry, we are constantly betting the farm on overpriced new #1s that either drive old customers away or stop new customers getting in, then get mistyfied when the series isn't selling by issue 6 then proceed to do. it. all. over. again.
This is not sustainable. Don't even start talking about variants until we address the issue that this industry actively drives away new readers when it comes to single issues.
Imagine that when you signed up for the first month of Netflix they charged you DOUBLE the going rate and made you watch a bunch of stuff you didn't want to.

That is the current First Issue/Special Issue model that Marvel are going for.
"It makes no sense" you say!
Wrong, it makes a lot of sense.

... To the Sales department.
And their job is to get more sales.

And in a dwindling market, it's easier for them to overcharge and go for the easy buck than to take a financial hit to build a readership.
This is NOT just Marvel, mind you! Everyone does it.

Because, guess what, this is an industry, not a charity. And these companies are run by people that have to answer to their owners and corporations. And at the end of the day....
This is why you see smaller companies like Vault taking more risks and betting on more diverse characters and a wider stable of releases.

Because they're owned by people that love comics, not Disney or AOL TimeWarner (RIP WCW)
(lil break here to reply to a few questions and get a cuppa)
They do quite well. Vault better than Aftershock, I think our customers really like how distinct their output is!
Well enough. It's one of those brands that will do so much better as collections, because so many of the readers think of SANDMAN as books, not single issues.
I think Image and a lot of creators certainly tried to go for it, but you can't just decide to have a #1 hit comic that everyone is going to love! If only it was that easy...
Entirely possible! Things aren't the same they were 50 years ago.
But there is a reason companies still put out single issues. They make money. And more, they make more money than digital editions.

If it was dead, Disney wouldn't be doing it.
The Netflix one?
Yes, I know!

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