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January 08 2009

Who buys Buffy season 8? Based on the phenomenal sales of Buffy at one particular comic book shop in 2008, a Newsarama blogger asks "I'd love to see the breakdown, if it were possible, of the buyers of Buffy comics". One possible category could be "Heroes actresses".

On a side note:
I want an Alice backstory!
And on topic:
I am female and I had never read comics before BUFFY. Now I'm reading Buffy and Angel: ATF.
death is my gift - I've found that the other major comic book that draws females to comics is Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore (another man who gets women).
Hmmm...notice that the general trend is that the later issues have lower sales. This might just be because on the stands for less of the year, but I kinda assume most copies get sold in the first month or two they are available because people buying them MUCH later are likely tempted to just get the trade paperbacks. Does this mean the dear readers out there are loosing interest?
I love how fangirly Brea Grant is. First with Veronica Mars and now with Buffy comics.
Comics sales in general have fallen throughout the year doubtful guest, the last time I looked at the actual figures Buffy "season 8" was bucking the general trend slightly (i.e. sales of Buffy actually fell less than the industry average).

(you're quite right that most issues sell within the first month, probably the first 2 weeks in fact)
I think part of the problem with the comics industry is their distribution system. The comic shops I've been in over the decades have actually seemed kind of repellent to me, so I gather I'm NOT a member of their target demographic and will probably never be one. The closest local comic shop is a 20 mile round trip, and I can't trust them to honor their pre-orders. Who needs any of that?

The only other time in my life I had any interest in comics was more than 25 years ago, when a local gas station seemed to have a reliable supply of the ones I wanted to read. I made the mistake of subscribing, once a few of the stories got my interest, but service was beyond lousy, so I wandered away from the medium until Buffy and Angel came along.

Now that online ordering is possible, I don't have to stress about whether or not I'll be able to get a copy of the next in the series, but it's still kind of awkward.

(And may I express my astonishment at the PRICES? I respect the effort made to create the artwork, and to print it in books that won't degrade over time, but IMO, if they want to expand their customer base, they need to bring prices down.)
Good paper is, unfortunately, not free.
Yeah, it's not like it grows on trees or anything ;).

Cutting prices is a bit of a chicken/egg thing anyway I reckon in that you need more people to buy it to make price cuts economically feasible. The comics downturn's probably mainly just a reflection of the economy at large i.e. comics are a luxury item and when folk are skint luxury items are the first things they stop buying.
Comic prices have risen pretty steadily with inflation, they really cost about the same as they always have. Some are more expensive than others for various reasons, but on average they're pretty on par with the rest of inflation.
Does this mean the dear readers out there are loosing interest?

I haven't lost interest. I stopped buying them recently because (1) I have a backlog of them I haven't had time to read - though I intend to one day; (2) I realize they will eventually come out in the trade paperbacks eventually, and I'm going to get those even with having the comics, which resolves problem (3), in which I am going broke and my husband is now unemployed, so I have to spend less money. Waiting for the compilations to come out may mean delayed gratification, but at least I'll still have a roof over my head because I won't be spending as much money in the long run.
bobw10 - Your assertion is mistaken and it isn't close. I chose The Uncanny X-Men for comparison because it's a well-known title. In 1977 the cover price was $0.30 for most of the year, going up to $0.35 late that year. In 2007 it was $2.99. According to The Inflation Calculator, an item that cost $0.30 in '77 would have cost $1.02 in '07 while an item that cost $0.35 would have cost $1.18 in '07. The site is at
All of which is a long-winded say of saying that comic books, like baseball cards (which my brother & I collected as kids) and probably many other items, have risen in price faster than inflation.
Scraggles said, "I think part of the problem with the comics industry is their distribution system." Couldn't agree more but IMO the current system with Diamond Distribution is a million-trillion times better than the non-system they used to have just 10 years ago.

Yefa--I agree with your assessment. Comics got WAY expensive about the same time Diamond gained a near-monopoly. (btw, remember how crazy it seemed to pay $1.50 for a book printed on Baxter paper?!)

And lastly, I just cut a few titles from my pull-box at the comic shop today. See ya Batman, Action and Detective. (When Gaiman takes over Bats shortly, I'll be back)
My interest in comics has come and gone over the decades (R. Crumb in the 1960s then Watchmen & Sandman in the 1980s) but it was Joss Whedon that got me back into them, and Brian K. Vaughan, Brian Lynch, and Terry Moore who have expanded my interest. Like Scraggles I subscribe to my comics online because my local store is unreliable (but I still go there to get Joss' comics on the first day so I can read & discuss here at Whedonesque). Am I a typical reader of BtVS: retired woman who has been a fan of all of Joss Whedon's work? Could be.
I just recently got into comics (year or so ago), and only just started reading Buffy Season 8 when I got the first TPB for Christmas. I then of course got the next two (and Fray), but I figure it will be easier to get the future trade paper backs rather than trying and getting all the issues that I've missed. I don't mind the comic store by me, and I go there to get the latest issue of Star Wars Legacy. Its just that as I'm in college, there is no comic store by there, and I can only go to one when I visit home. Of course this issue would be solved if Borders actually stocked comics on time, but that would be crazy, wouldn't it?

To answer about the demo thing, I'm a twenty year old male.

[ edited by SteppeMerc on 2009-01-08 21:58 ]
If we had sidewalks, getting out to my grimy, natty, oddly scented comic shop would be a ten minute walk. But, jaunting along a two lane, ill planned sub-urby road is not how I get my jollies. However, my comic book guy (No really; misanthropic, obease, balding, angry, not yellow though) holds one copy of each Buffy single that hits the racks for me. And I mean for weeks and months. Lucky for me it's a real indi store, just hope they survive the coming storm.

(Preview is the weak. ;)

[ edited by roddikinathome on 2009-01-08 22:39 ]
Yefa-- The quality of paper and manufacture has improved dramatically since the late '80s when i bought lots of comics. Many of my issues from that era are difficult to read because of page deterioration. I am a male in mid 30s and Mr. Wheadon brought me back to comics.
Not me, it got so bad in the comics that a few weeks ago I told the local comic book store owner to stop putting it in my box, and I am looking to sell my collection off.
Yefa: Thanks for the inflation info, it's interesting to see.

I bought my first comics back in the sixties and seventies, with nothing since then, so the current prices caught me by surprise when I started getting the Buffy and Angel books. I'm glad they're not the flimsy things that comics used to be, though.
Fantic from childhood until about 30, gradually dropped a few titles at a time until nothing by age 34. Re-started only because these are canon. Partly because as a fic writer I wanted to keep up, also because I wanted to be aware of the background when another Buffyvetrse film or show launched. Now just liking the S-8 a lot on its own thoough, "After the Fall" not too much.
bobw10 - Your assertion is mistaken and it isn't close... All of which is a long-winded say of saying that comic books, like baseball cards (which my brother & I collected as kids) and probably many other items, have risen in price faster than inflation.

Which is all well and good if paper prices hadn't increased drastically (aside form using better paper, all paper got more expensive). The rate of inflation calculator works on an average. Not all commodities follow the curve. See also this article.
Same with me, espalier. I had a long break in buying any comics, but after downloading the S8, I've restarted buying. Both some previously library-read ones (V for Vendetta, Crow, etc.) and "new" ones, eg. Hellboy, Strangers in Paradise, Runaways and even Buffy Omnibus (though, just the half priced nick&dents on these). Between Sandman: The Wake (-96) and Buffy: The Long Way Home (-07) I really didn't read and/or buy new comics, beyond the occasional Mutts or so. I'm not even sure I would have started buying spree even now without the torrent previews around.
I had been buying trades for a while and when Astonishing X-Men came out I started to buy issues of other series as well. But now I've cut back and I just stick to buying issues of Buffy and Angel. I will say that Dark Horse and IDW would need to be getting their skates on and start selling the issues in digital format. Give away the first issue as a freebie, get people hooked.
I never bought any comics (well, not since I was a very young kid and bought them at random with my pocket money)and I certainly never subscribed to any until BuffyS8 and AngelATF started appearing (well, I'd bought the TPB of Fray before that). I did it only because it's Joss and its canon. I have to say I find them a mixed pleasure. I loved Fray, but the Angel and Buffy comics are basically methadone for a heroin addict.

Or, in other words, they seem more like synopses of episodes than like fully realized stories in their own right. Part of this, I suspect, may just be a matter of learning how to read a comic--and it may be that not having done so at a crucial formative stage of my life I just can't quite make the leap.
I will say that Dark Horse and IDW would need to be getting their skates on and start selling the issues in digital format. Give away the first issue as a freebie, get people hooked.

Or heroin. Nickel bag with every third download.

Yes, I'm kidding.
Although I haven't had time to catch up, I'm still a loyal buyer of Season 8. The Angel series however will see it's removal from my save list. It just isn't as good as I'd hoped.
I see the Buffy comic around quite a bit. The Angel is a lot harder to find. I really have to put in some effort, sometimes have to visit more than one shop.
Like someone else mentioned, pre-orders don't seem to work. Even if I've paid in advance, my local eisner award winning shop has more than once sold my bought and paid for copy to someone else. To me that's stealing. Luckily there are a few other shops farther away, but better.

I order the trade paperbacks from Amazon, but I tend to want more than one cover of the Spike and Angel comics.I just like them. So I forbear.
snot monster, that's probably because the 4-or-so individual issues of each arc are roughly equivalent to what we'd consider an episode of the TV show, so it does move slowly if you're just getting the one issue per month (or slower).

Mostkillz, Angel: After the Fall is almost done now. They only have about one or two more issues if I recall, so if you've made it this far, why don't you stick it out to the end? Then again, I suppose that's 8 bucks you could spend on something else...
I'm a 31 yr old female and these are the first comics I have ever even held. I wouldn't haven't gotten them if Joss hadn't written/overseen them.
I bought them because
a. I wanted to know where Joss was taking the stories
b. I missed the shows
c. desperately hoping for some canon mention of my ship (which I cannot mention here)

Re: sales, perhaps some people are like me: I have been waiting and purchasing the collector's volumes but right now I'm having to wait before buying more because I'm out of work and that means no luxury spending!!! :(
"I will say that Dark Horse and IDW would need to be getting their skates on and start selling the issues in digital format."

This is the future but also the death of any remaining small comic book stores.
Kindle or other eReaders with automated subscriptions to the comics/graphic novels of your choice ?
Or will better screens for mobile phones kick the eReaders to the curb first ?

Snot is on the money with
"methadone for a heroin addict"
the Buffy comics lacks the real kick for this addict.
24. Female. Newbie to comics. Got into this because of Joss.

I never buy comics from a comic book store. Always go online for that. That way I know what I'm getting and I can pretend that I don't have to wait (even though I do for the two day shipping). The shipping kills me though. $12 for a $3 comic?? Was sending by media mail once a month, but then I can't enjoy the discussions on Whedonesque. I'm still debating on what to do with the shipping.

The comics flow slower, but I expected that after the first arc. Once they're completed (or I'm bored), I'll read through all of them again, back-to-back. That way the action punches harder, emotions rise a little more... like I did with the DVDs. Patience just isn't one of my talents.
I can't imagine paying that much for shipping. I looked into it when these were announced, but it was just way too much for me. The guys at my local comic shop are friendly, and I can get the comics on release day. The only not so great thing is the parking there, but otherwise it's a great place.

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