Kim & Kim #1 (Black Mask Comics)
Written by Magdalene Visaggio and drawn by Mexican artist Eva Cabrera, this book is about two women bounty hunters in space who are named Kim and Kim. Both Visaggio and Cabrera are relatively new to traditional comics. Visaggio wrote the indie books Stronghold (2015) and Andrew Jackson in Space (2015). Both of the books were funded through Kickstarter and received very positive reviews. Like Kim & Kim, both of her previous books took place in space. Cabrera produced several well-received graphic novels (The House of Dreams, Daymare, and Mavi). She has also done a few covers for BOOM! Studios. Both creators hope to reach a wider audience with their new title from Black Mask Comics. They have given the book a colorful, “punk rock” feel that suits their characters and settings perfectly.
When we meet their space bounty hunter characters Kim and Kim in this premiere issue, they seem to still be developing their working relationship, attempting to establish themselves amongst their peers, and arguing over what they should be calling their partnership (“The Fighting Kims” appears to be the favorite with one of the them, while the other Kim despises the name). Their world is filled with colorful, humanoid characters [no bizarre-looking (or any) aliens on any of the pages I have seen thus far, sort of surprising for a space adventure] that interact believably with the other characters around them. There is a history here that will slowly be revealed over the course of the first few issues. There are past issues with other characters that affect the choices they make in the face of obstacles that are presented. The dialogue that takes place between fast-paced action scenes is quick and not bogged down by unnecessary space jargon. It seems natural and keeps the story moving along.
We find out that the two Kims are down on their luck and not making enough money to get by. One of the Kims has a well-known bounty hunter father that she is rebelling against and avoiding, even though he might be able to help them get ahead. Even when they complete their missions successfully, it seems, they do not get paid as they should because of technicalities. This leads to them taking a job tracking down a member of a space mafia and getting into a situation “way over their heads.” From what I can tell from the promotional material, one of the main characters is a lesbian and the other is transgender, but that does not appear to be a major factor in the story that is presented in the preview images. I do not know how that will play into the story as a whole or how it will impact sales of this title going forward, or if it will have any impact at all. The story seems fun and energetic and will be a blast to look forward to each month.
In addition to looking at Kim & Kim from a reader’s perspective, I’d like take a moment to analyze its potential as a speculation title. The style of Kim & Kim is similar in many ways to DC’s Gotham Academy and BOOM! Studios’ Lumberjanes. To name a few, all three titles feature similarly cartoonish, colorful artwork; casts of almost entirely female characters; and are created by primarily all-female creative teams. While both of these titles are critically acclaimed, similar to the previous works of Visaggio and Cabrera, neither one has been particularly profitable on the secondary market. Combine that with the fact that this is being published by Black Mask Comics, a publisher known for not being able to maintain much of any initial heat a book might be able to muster, and I am left with the feeling that this book should only be purchased to read, not as an investment.
Lumberjanes #1, released by BOOM! Studios a little more than 2 years ago in April 2014, can be found between $10 and $20 raw. The average price for 9.8 slabbed copies of the regular cover appears to be less than $60. It came out the same month as, and sold 639 more copies than, the infamous “rape” issue of Invincible (#110) ($10 to $15 raw, $40 9.8 slabbed). It has also outperformed Shutter #1 ($2-$6 raw, $25 slabbed 9.8) and a few other #1 issues that were released the same month. It is similar in price in many ways to Southern Bastards #1 (also released April 2014…a lot of good books started that month!) [$15-$20 raw, $65 slabbed 9.8 (but with 66 reported sales on gocollect vs. 5 graded sales for Lumberjanes)]. However, Southern Bastards #1 also sold almost 25,000 more copies, so it is considerably more common than Lumberjanes, but more desired. Lumberjanes has seen a readership decline of nearly 50% for single issues from issue #1 (13,129) to issue 26 (6,406). Southern Bastards has seen a decline of approximately 60% from #1 (38,029) to issue #14 (15,437). While Lumberjanes has continued on a fairly consistent path of putting out an issue every month, and following essentially the same group of core characters throughout, Southern Bastards has had several planned breaks in production and major changes to core characters/narrative perspective.
Gotham Academy #1, released in October 2014, was published by DC Comics and has seen even worse results. It sells for about $6 to $12 raw and almost $40 in slabbed 9.8 condition. It has fallen about 71% in readership for single issues from issue #1 (43,338) to issue #18 (12,410). While the core readers for both of these similar books is very strong, they continue to see the same kinds of drop-off, if not worse, when it comes to casual readers and/or speculators and collectors.
Let’s look at Black Mask’s recent offering as further proof. Here are their most recent releases that have registered on comichron:
- 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank #1 – 17,303 (selling at or below cover)
- We Can Never Go Home #5 – 4,808 (mostly selling for cover + shipping)
- X’ed #1 – 4,798 (selling at or below cover, none of later issues show up on comicchron)
- Clandestino #1 – 5,028 (selling below cover, none of later issues show up on comicchron)
- Disciples #4 – 3,052 (selling at or below cover)
- Young Terrorists #1 – 8,435 (selling $2 to $4 above cover)
- We Can Never Go Home #4 – 3,921 (selling $3 to $5 above cover)
- We Can Never Go Home #1 (3rd printing) – 3,607 (selling $3 to $5 above cover)
- Transference #1 – 5,104 (selling at or below cover)
- Disciples #1 – 6,917 (selling at or below cover)
- We Can Never Go Home #3 – 3,042 (mostly selling for cover + shipping)
- We Can Never Go Home #2 – 2,638 (selling $2 to $4 above cover)
- Liberator Earth Crisis #2 – 1,477 (mostly selling for cover + shipping)
- We Can Never Go Home #1 – 4,181 (regular covers sell for $30 to $60, variants $10 to $20)
Based on these recent Black Mask Comics sales numbers, I predict Kim & Kim #1 will sell between 3,000 and 5,000 copies (probably closer to the 3,000), which is a lot less than the books I have compared this book to. I hope it does better, but my fact-based analysis and my own speculator instincts tell me this is what we can expect. To me, the comparable books I have listed have more natural interest value and wider appeal to the casual reader than I believe Kim & Kim #1 will have. While I feel Kim & Kim #1 may be worth the read (especially if you are interested in fun, energetic, cartoony, female-led books), I do not believe you need to buy more than one copy or do anything other than enjoy the book for what it is. I hope many of you will pick the book up when you see it on the shelf this week. We must continue to support titles and publishers that introduce us to fresh, new talent and perspectives. I didn’t know about either of these creators until I began researching for this article. Now, I’ll be looking to track down their earlier works.
Check out the preview pages for Kim & Kim #1 here:
Learn more about the story behind the story here: http://comicsalliance.com/magdalene-visaggio-kim-and-kim-interview/
If you’re interested in learning more about the creators, then check out these links:
- Magdalene Visaggio: http://vacomicon.com/exhibitors/magdalene-visaggio/
- Eva Cabrera: http://www.evacabrera.com/about.html