Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. It’s amazing, we are already ¼ of the way home thru 2019! With this, it’s a good time to look back at the first quarter to get an idea of what has hot, and what was not. Are there some consistencies in the marketplace or is this hobby and business status quo for the first three months.
*Numbers below are courtesy of Comichron
January books showed strong numbers for four titles with new #1s. These included Captain Marvel, GOTG, Conan, and Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Interestingly enough we saw several ratio and stores variants for these books no doubt increasing print run size. Batman who Laughs #2 continued a strong surge as well grabbing the number one spot. Anytime sales seem to slip, Marvel hits reboot and boom there come all the different covers and hopes for 1st appearances to justify the purchases especially of the higher ratio variants. Some for the other strong selling books included Young Justice #1, Web of Venom #1, and Detective Comics 997, and of course Immortal Hulk #11 & #12 (Much more on that title later). In looking at the indie books, TMNT Shredder in Hell, Blossoms 666 #1, Punchline #3, Knights of the Golden Sun, Star Trek Q Conflict, My Little Pony Nightmare Nights, White Widow, and Turok all made some noise, many due to ratio variants – are we seeing a trend?
There was more of the same in terms of Top 10 books in the month of February. Batman Who Laughs continued its spot at the top of the leaderboard in terms of overall units sold. Interestingly, you see Conan, GOTG, and Captain Marvel fell out of the Top 10 this month. Why you may ask? Well, most of the ratio and store variants are gone deflating the overall sales. In addition, the story lines did not “grab” the readers such as titles like Batman where there is a consistent amount of books sold. Built in fan base? Yes. Higher quality storylines? Perhaps. One item of notice is only one # 1 made the Top 10 – Avengers: No Road Home. Indie books of note include Red Sonja #1, Stronghold #1, Wulfborne, & Honor & Curse #1.
Complete numbers will follow in next article, but we know the clear winner is Detective Comics 1000. There is a lot of variant movement both in ratio and store titles as well including series like Dark Red.
There’s that old saying everything at some point is cyclical and the same can be said for this hobby. If you examine what is starting to become warm, working it’s way to hot again is store variants. There is some belief there are only a select few that are gaining the heat and attention. However, these are coming with more frequency folks, and some of the artwork is top notch. Case and point these are just a from the last couple of months…
I would hasten to say any of you viewing this see how amazing this artwork is covering different titles and genres. Not to mention, some of them sold out in a matter of minutes. It’s seems we all need to come to the realization that this is part of our world now. Many of us have put up the good fight, and at some point all of us have succumbed to the allure of a cover or two then purchased. In addition, as we all have said before the more these sell, the more of these we will see in the marketplace.
Finally, with Con season in full swing, there has already been a few books that have garnered attention. Undoubtedly, there will be more to come in the upcoming months. Here’s a few of note this early in the year…
TV Spec back from the dead?
It was very interesting to see within this early year, a few TV series creating books to become hot again. As we know, many times of recent date, these optioned or green lit books sizzle for a second, or not at all and die into the abyss of spec land. However, these two books Umbrella Academy (Netflix) and Niobe (Future HBO) have bucked that trend and done very well as of late. Does this mean TV spec is back? Probably not, at least on network television. Yet I would keep your eyes on stuff that’s actually green lit, not just optioned. The simple difference between the two is optioned means someone bought the rights and there may be a series made if all goes well, This could be years down the line which is the majority of these books. Then there are greenlit projects. This means this is budget approval, staffing, and a future start date of filming. Those of you who are newer to the hobby, please do your homework before rushing out and buying series just because it’s been optioned. It there is ever any doubt, please reach out to the community for help. That’s what we are all where for is to grow our knowledge!
Here are the covers for these two series. Yes there may be some other variants or covers, but for the purpose of this exercise we will stick with these two…
One for the road…
There’s one more item to speak to before we close up shop on the first quarter of 2019 and that is the 2000 pound green elephant in the room known as the Immortal Hulk! I don’t think there are any expletives left to say other than point on facts:
- 12 out of 13 weeks this year a Immortal Hulk appeared in the Hot 10 list via a book from the series, or a spec Hulk book involving the series. Please let me know another book that has done this? Okay we will move on
- Immortal Hulk #2 has seen sales of the 1:25 CGC 9.8 at $900 and the 1:1 CGC 9.8 at $285. All for a guy seen in Bill Bixby’s old series Dr. Frye. Really, for this cover and this guy?
- The draw of this series has created something we all have some opinions about and that is 2nd print ratio books. Immortal Hulk # 16 will feature the first of this kind (I think) which is a 1:25 2nd print book.. Yep, say that outloud again folks to let it seep in, this is where we are at now, good or bad. There could be a thesis written on this alone, but here are a few key factors to think about when looking at supporting a book of this kind. What does this do to the value of 1st print ratios? What does this do to artificially inflate print runs? If these are successful, what in God’s green earth can we expect next? 1:100 4th prints? I don’t think people realize the volatility of this powderkeg. This is not pretty CBSI. Be careful which Pandora’s box you open Marvel, you might not like the results if people finally say enough is enough!
- With each new issue hitting the monthly market you are seeing an increase in reader viewership, and spec potential. Every panel is combed they with a fine tooth comb, scouring for clues to a bigger purpose. The only other series of late to we have seen this with is Cates on his Venom series. In all seriousness, Al Ewing has crushed this series up to this point. If he sticks the landing remains to be seen. However it’s made non Hulk fans, Hulk fans. People who haven’t read the big green guy in years, now have a renewed interest. With this, Mr. Ewing cannot be thanked enough as we need more of this in comics. The quality of the material in the inside, not just the outside. Somehow, someway we have lost sight of that a tad to much. Finally, let’s be honest, Alex Ross has killed these covers. There are a lot of memorable ones that will hold some value down the road based solely on the art.
Here is the Immortal Hulk #16 2md print 1:25 in all its glory (sarcasm at it’s max)…
Comic book of the quarter
Well the trend of Immortal Hulk continues with which book is the big winner of these first three months of the year. Let’s see if I can get this out without puking. This issue has all the ingredients for a monster, um it does? Tough in high grade due to color, average size print run coupled with it being a 1:25, and big buzz around a first appearance of a character called Dr Frye. What I refuse to say is it’s a good looking cover. No one can convince most of this group of that. I could understand a book like Spider Ghost # 1 1:100. There at least could be a good debate on whether the cover was good or not. I mean no disrespect to Zaffino, but come on, really? Are we sure this wasn’t drawn by Khoi? As a reminder 9.8s of this have hit $900, while raws have hit $450. So have at it folks, here’s the Immortal Hulk # 2 1:25 cover, the book of the year so far in terms of spec / flip value. There’s a laundry list of books for $900 in which someone could make a sound investment with in terms of mid key books. Hey, it’s your money at the end of the day. What’s that we say…Buy what you like
Well, that wraps up the quarterly edition for this new year of 2019. If there are items which you would like to be discussed or input into the next piece in June, please let me know. It’s hard to look back at an entire year and remember everything. This way at least it’s broke up four times making it not like drinking out of a firehose. I appreciate all the readers each week and please feel free add your opinions.