I’ve been neglecting Nifty Comics a bit lately because of my other work. As most of you reading this know, I do a lot of film and television work in addition to running a small internet business outside of the entertainment industry. Unfortunately, that stuff takes up most of my time…as you can probably tell from the fact that the Nifty Comics website hasn’t been updated in a few months (heck, the last comic we put up for direct order was Cadre #4 and Cadre #7 was just released in stores!). I’m hoping to change that and get back to posting once a week, along with adding more content to the “Storytelling” section of the website. In theory, anyway.
Well, this weekend I’ve spent a lot of time working on getting the Nifty Comics house back in line and one of the things I did was send out all of the Cadre #7 orders to retailers, distributors and fans who have ordered the issue. I knew that we had a little over 7000 preorders back in August but what I very quickly realized was that we’d sold out almost completely of the entire 8000 unit print run we’d done. By “almost completely” I mean “I’ve got about 15 copies left and that’s it.” That’s right, Cadre #7 has sold more copies in its first month than any other normal issue we’ve done. Fionn #1 sold more but it was a special issue done for an event which boosted sales on it. Now, all of the past issue have sold around that number or more over time (Cadre #1 is up around 15,000 units sold), but this is the first time we’ve hit 8,000 units at release.
I was excited about the number, but not overly so because we’ve been selling pretty well for the past year. I wasn’t excited, that is, until someone suggested I take a look a Diamond’s Top 300 Comics and see where I would rank with those numbers.
Realistically, I do realize that I’d never get those sorts of numbers through Diamond because most comic shop owners despise Indy comics and have been told by a couple that a black and white, mainstream style superhero comic from an indy publisher wouldn’t sell even a single copy through their stores. Comic shop owners really aren’t in the business of “selling” but are just in the business of being the end of a supply chain for Marvel, DC and Image. But, we’re just looking at the number of units sold regardless of where they are sold from.
Eight thousand units sold (yes, I’m rounding up by 15 copies since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want) would place the Cadre at slot number 182 out of 300 for August 2006 (the newest Top 300 list I could find online). Just above “Bart Simpson Comics #31″ and just below the very intriguing sounding “Lady Death Fetishes 2006.” It also places us very close to “Batman Strikes” at 8139 units sold and “Marvel Adventures: Avengers” at 8610 units.
Scrolling a bit further down the list, I was surprised to see that we’re actually beating a number of Marvel, DC, Archie, Image and Dark Horse books, indcluding: Elric, Sonic the Hedgehog, Swamp Thing, Marvel Westerns, Usagi Yojimbo, Ant, Fear Agent and Nobel Causes. This doesn’t even mention the huge number of books by larger “Indy” publishers such as IDW, Oni, Avatar, Antarctica and Slave Labor.
Not too bad for a black and white, mainstream style superhero book by an Indy Publisher that comic store owners swear won’t sell.
The whole point of this little exercise was to say there is a market for comics (even lowly mainstream superhero books) outside of the comic industry. In fact, if you get out in to the mainstream, there is a much larger market for comics than in the comic industry itself.
One of the problems with the market today is complacency. No one really wants to do any work to expand the reach of comics out in to the real world. Indy publishers will say they want to expand things and will spend endless time online arguing about what to do, but it’s generally just talk. Most indy publishers just want to get in to Diamond and maybe do some conventions, but that is as much work as they want to do. Most retailers just want to buy what Marvel and DC books they know their regular customers will buy and never really venture out in to anything else…heck, they rarely even advertise. The reason comic readership is shrinking is because no one is out bringing new readers in to the fold. Most comics being produced are so inbred and so indecipherable for outside readers that they will scare off buyers before they will ever bring new ones in.
Don’t even get me started on the idiocy that is called “decompression.”
My words of advice to any indy comic publisher out there reading this is: forget the comic industry. You are limiting you readership and your sales by focusing on it. Try targeting retailers and markets that don’t sell comic books. If you’ve got a book about a Scottish superhero (like we do!) then market it to Scottish/Celtic festivals and retailers. Get some press in Scottish heritage magazines. You’ll quickly find there is a much larger market and readership than you would ever have gotten in the comic industry itself.
Expand the industry by leaving it behind.