Thursday, December 15, 2016

COMICS SALES: Archie Comics for November 2016


As we continue to examine the November 2016 sales of the smaller comic book publishers, it’s time to turn out attention to the third oldest company in the industry, Archie Comics, which can trace its roots all the way back to BLUE RIBBON COMICS #1, on sale Sept. 18, 1939, a mere three weeks after MARVEL COMICS #1.

These days, however, Archie is an also-ran in the field, in part because it only pumps out a few titles each month. Comichron.com says it solicited 15 regular comics titles for release in November, although I only counted 11 on the company’s own solicitation page. At any rate, it only placed 8 (counting Sonic twice) in the Top 300.

At 1.03 percent of the $29.32 million in Top 300 comics sold by Diamond Distributors to comics shops in November, Archie accounts for $301,996 of the booty. At the 40 percent of cover price it’s presumed to have pocketed, Archie made $120,798 on its seven best-selling titles for November. Luckily, Archie is said to still have significant sales of its old-school titles, particularly the digest-sized books, on regular newsstands.

As for November comics, let’s take a look, shall we?


133. BETTY & VERONICA ($3.99)

11/1996: (293) Betty & Veronica #108 — 5,029
11/2001: (234) Betty & Veronica #169 — 3,262
11/2006: ???
11/2011: ???
11/2012: ???
11/2013: ???
11/2014: (409) Betty & Veronica #273 — 2,841
11/2015: ???
-----------------------------------------
07/2016: (37)  Betty & Veronica #1 — 70,830
08/2016: ---
09/2016: ---
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (133) Betty & Veronica #2 — 19,794 (-72.1%)

OUCH! No that, my friends, is quite a drop. Too bad, too, considering this is, for my money, the best of the “Nu-Archie” titles, with faboo art by Adam Hughes and a pretty decentish storyline, to boot. But Hughes has a reputation for not being able to make deadlines and this can’t help in that regard. I imagine either retailers came nowhere close to selling though on No. 1 (no reorders charted), or (just as likely) they’ve decided the publishing schedule of this title will be too erratic to sustain readers.

Of course, a third option occurs to me. As I understand it, Diamond not so long ago did away with its old “final order cut off” deadline. Given Hughes reputation for lateness, it’s possible many retailers decided to place a token order for #2 when it was first solicited, choosing instead to simply wait until the issue was a first thing, and grab issues as re-orders. If Archie was smart, they overprinted #2 by a significant margin, and those comics got to shops right away. If not, you may be able to buy a house some day with certified first printings of #2. Okay, maybe not a house, but a real nice moped, maybe. My theory will be bourn out, I think, if the #2 charts again in December.

But really, the funny/not funny here is that Issue #2 started with a joke about how it was so far ahead of deadline it accidently ran a page from #3. Yuh.

I have to imagine that by the time #3 actually does come out, initial orders will be closer to 12k, and this title could find itself under 10k by #4 — at least on initial orders. Too bad, because an Adam Hughes B&V book was a no brainer. But, then again, so was the Adam Hughes All-Star Wonder Woman.


166. ARCHIE ($3.99)

11/1996: (282) Archie #456 —  5,490
11/2001: (228) Archie #517 —  3,655
11/2006: (???) Archie #??? — <3,170
11/2011: (127) Archie #627 — 17,837 (meets KISS)
11/2012: (???) Archie #??? — <4,341
11/2013: (???) Archie #??? — <5,015
11/2014: (362) Archie #661 —  3,905
07/2015: (  7) Archie #1 —  101,488
11/2015: ( 98) Archie #4 —   25,824
---------------------------------
12/2015: --
01/2016: (109) Archie #5 —  20,677 (-19.9%)
02/2016: (118) Archie #6 —  18,401 (-11.0%)
03/2016: --
04/2016: (128) Archie #7 —  16,801 (-8.7%)
05/2016: (126) Archie #8 —  16,204 (-3.6%)
06/2016: (143) Archie #9 —  15,757 (-2.8%)
07/2016: (152) Archie #10 — 15,199 (-3.5%)
08/2016: (164) Archie #11 — 14,765 (-2.9%)
09/2016: (146) Archie #12 — 14,341 (-2.9%)
10/2016: (169) Archie #13 — 13,688 (-4.6%)
11/2016: (166) Archie #14 — 13,169 (-3.8%)

6 months: -18.7%
1 year:   -49.0%
2 years: +237.2%
5 years:  -26.2%

Those continue to be larger monthly drops than the bean counters at Archie might like to see at this point. At this rate, Archie’s titular title will be flirting with 10k in sales by Issue #20. Granted, that’s still more than double what it was selling to comics shops under the former decades-old house style, but still, the main title was selling on newsstands then. Based on my own anecdotal observances, I’d say Archie sacrificed dwindling newsstand sales in favor of capturing a share of the fanboy LCS market. I’ve seen very few of the Nu-Archies at supermarket stands, and what I do see seems to sit there.

I think TPTB at Archie need to understand who’s buying their books, and adjust art styles accordingly. The artists they’ve been running with are of a type to appear in a New York Times Book Review of Year’s Best Comics, which is to say, no one any comics fanboy ever heard of. I think Archie’s current comics can work with stylized, even cartoony, artwork. But it has to look like illustrations crafted on a drawing table, not something jotted down in a sketchbook on the subway.


177. JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS ($3.99)

09/2016: ( 86) Josie & the Pussycats #1 — 28,769
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (177) Josie & the Pussycats #2 — 12,224 (-57.5%)

Ya know, I bought the first issue, and really didn’t like it that much. So, I bailed. Granted, #1 had 1,001 variant covers, but it looks like retailers sort of expected that to happen. As I recall, #2 was solicited for release in October, so retailers would not have known how well Josie #1 did when placing the orders we see here for November.

Honestly, 57.5 percent is a pretty HUGE drop, even for a second issue. I predict this series will absolutely crater without an overhaul of its creative team, and be canceled by #10.


JUGHEAD ($3.99)

11/1996: (322) Archie’s Pal Jughead #89 — 3,924
11/2001: (262) Jughead #141 — 2,436
11/2006: --
11/2011: (423) Jughead #210 — 1,674
11/2012: --
11/2013: --
11/2014: --
10/2015: ( 71) Jughead #1 — 32,118
11/2015: (138) Jughead #2 — 15,973 (-50.3%)
---------------------------------
12/2015: (182) Jughead #3 — 12,229 (-23.4%)
01/2016: --
02/2016: (169) Jughead #4 — 10,755 (-12.1%)
03/2016: (178) Jughead #5 —  9,502 (-11.7%)
04/2016: --
05/2016: (202) Jughead #6 —  9,078 (-4.5%)
06/2016: (212) Jughead #7 —  9,216 (+1.5%)
07/2016: --
08/2016: (218) Jughead #8 —  8,382 (-9.0%)
09/2016: (198) Jughead #9 —  8,740 (+4.3%)
10/2016: (218) Jughead #10 — 8,032 (-8.1%)
11/2016: (229) Jughead #11 — 7,320 (-8.9%)

6 months:   -19.4%
1 year:     -54.2%
from No. 1: -77.2%
2 years:     ???
5 years:   +337.3%

By this point, Juggy should be floating downward on 2 percent monthly drops. Greater than 8 percent is a step slide. So, I think Jughead, like Archie, needs a different artist, and like Josie, could maybe use a different writer. Of course, this Nu-Jughead is not really the everyman his Earth-2 counterpart was known to be. I think the Nu-version is maybe a little to much the disaffected intellectual hipster to be readily identifiable to the comics-buying base.


261./267. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ($3.99)

11/1996: (265) Sonic the Hedgehog #43     6,785
11/2001: (211) Sonic the Hedgehog #104 —   5,571 (-17.9%)
11/2006: (223) Sonic the Hedgehog #168 —   7,293 (+30.9%)
11/2011: (176) Sonic the Hedgehog #230 —  10,372 (+42.2%)
11/2012: ---
12/2012: (195) Sonic the Hedgehog #243 —   8,760 (-15.5%)
11/2013: ---
12/2013: (185) Sonic the Hedgehog #255 —  10,422 (+19.0%)
11/2014: (206) Sonic the Hedgehog #266 —   8,822 (-15.4%)
11/2015: (261) Sonic the Hedgehog #278 —   5,958 (-32.5%)
---------------------------------
12/2015: ---
01/2016: ---
02/2016: ---
03/2016: (211) Sonic the Hedgehog #279 — 7,272 (+22.1%)
04/2016: (229) Sonic the Hedgehog #280 — 7,135 (-1.9%)
05/2016: (244) Sonic the Hedgehog #281 — 6,774 (-5.1%)
06/2016: (255) Sonic the Hedgehog #282 — 6,866 (+1.4%)
06/2016: (261) Sonic the Hedgehog #283 — 6,677 (-2.8%)
07/2016: (299) Sonic the Hedgehog #284 — 5,093 (-23.7%)
08/2016: (269) Sonic the Hedgehog #285 — 6,280 (+23.3%)
09/2016: (250) Sonic the Hedgehog #286 — 5,795 (-7.7%)
10/2016: (271) Sonic the Hedgehog #287 — 5,502 (-5.1%)
11/2016: (261) Sonic the Hedgehog #288 — 5,958 (+8.3%)
11/2016: (267) Sonic the Hedgehog #289 — 5,768 (-3.2%)

six months: -18.9%
one year:    -3.2%
two years:  -34.6%
five years: -44.4%
10 years:   -20.9%

I really don’t know much from Sonic, but those are the numbers. Cancellation on the horizon? I can’t imagine there’s much profit to be made, if any, once it drops below 5,000 copies sold.


287. SONIC MEGA DRIVE NEXT LEVEL ($4.99)

11/2016: (287) Sonic Mega Drive Next Level #1 — 5,099

That seems like it would be disappointing for a #1.


288. SONIC UNIVERSE ($3.99)

02/2009: (198) Sonic Universe #1  — 7,748
11/2011: (230) Sonic Universe #34 — 7,117
11/2012: (226) Sonic Universe #46 — 7,038 (-1.1%)
11/2013: (221) Sonic Universe #58 — 8,433 (+19.8%)
11/2014: (232) Sonic Universe #70 — 7,161 (-15.1%)
10/2015: (242) Sonic Universe #81 — 6,545 (-8.6%)
11/2015: ---
----------------------------
12/2015: ---
01/2016: (224) Sonic Universe #82 — 6,273 (-4.2%)
02/2016: ---
03/2016: (238) Sonic Universe #83 — 6,045 (-3.6%)
04/2016: (260) Sonic Universe #84 — 5,845 (-3.3%)
05/2016: (267) Sonic Universe #85 — 5,870 (+0.4%)
06/2016: (295) Sonic Universe #86 — 5,724 (-2.5%)
07/2016: (272) Sonic Universe #87 — 5,646 (-1.4%)
08/2016: (288) Sonic Universe #88 — 5,563 (-1.5%)
08/2016: (307) Sonic Universe #89 — 5,292 (-4.9%)
09/2016: (270) Sonic Universe #90 — 5,231 (-1.2%)
10/2016: (293) Sonic Universe #91 — 5,097 (-2.6%)
11/2016: (288) Sonic Universe #92 — 5,012 (-1.7%)

six months: -14.6%
one year:   -23.4%
two years:  -30.0%
five years: -29.7%
from #1:    -35.3%

Same comments from the main Sonic title.


These are the titles I found that Archie solicited for November, which must have landed outside Diamond’s Top 300, although it doesn’t match the total number Comichron says the company offered.

Archie’s Funhouse Christmas Annual #23
Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #274
Sabina #8 (late, of course)
World of Archie Comics Double Digest #64


And finally, here are some comparisons on monthly attrition, where they are available:

Six months:
Sonic Universe: -14.6%
Archie: -18.7%
Sonic the Hedgehog: -18.9%
Jughead: -19.4%

One year:
Sonic the Hedgehog: -3.2%
Sonic Universe:  -23.4%
Archie: -49.0%
Jughead: -54.2%

Two years:
Betty & Veronica: +596.7%
Archie: +237.2%
Sonic Universe:  -30.0%
Sonic the Hedgehog: -34.6%

Five years:
Jughead: +337.7%
Archie: -26.2% (this issue was a KISS crossover)
Sonic Universe: -29.7%
Sonic the Hedgehog: -44.4%

 That's it for now, pals 'n' gals. See ya next month!


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