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February 01 2011

Buffy comic sales review at The Beat! Buffy remains #1 in sales for "indie" comics (indie books are not published by Marvel or DC) but the sales figures show a consistent and significant drop from year to year. (i.e. December, 2010 sales are down 55% from December 2007).

FYI--Heidi MacDonald at The Beat pulled her figures from ICV2.com.

Matthew Murray not Heidi.
Both Angel and Buffy had huge erosions over 3 year periods, in general more than most, but not all, of the books listed.
Still seems to be a beast though. It's lost more sales than the best indies get and still takes first by a huge margin.
BtVS got read by a lot of people who don't usually read any comic books; I think that quite of few of them didn't find the medium very satisfying (that is what non-comic reading friends of mine said anyway), and then you add the disgruntled shippers (I suppose I shouldn't say that here, but I think it is why a lot of people stopped reading), it is easy to see why the sales would drop more than your average indie book.
Thanks Simon. I guess my brain immediately links The Beat with Heidi. She's a hoot. I spoke with her at a comic show once. Super nice.
Is simply mentioning the existence of shippers and their effects on a franchise banned or is it actual shipping behaviour? I always thought it was the latter.

I don't really read what happend with BtVS to be shipping related though. True, Joss did rile up one side and then the other. To me, the biggest thing that would have lost sales was that this is a comic book whose target audience comes from the land of TV where there is so much more content packed into a much shorter time period.

The pace (for me at least) was the killer. Just to draw a comparison, Dollhouse was ripped for starting slowly but by comparison was already past Man on the Street before (from the monthly release periods) the third issue of The Long Way Home would have been released.

It's just not a pace that people who don't already love comic books are going to easily embrace. S8 (for me) reads much better in trade paperback form. Which honestly, I'm not sure is a good thing for a comic book to be. But that's 100% an IMO statement.
Yes, it's because of the "disgruntled shippers", and not the fault of inconsistent writing, convoluted plots, and totally out of character characters who's motives are never really explained....

I'd give the first 20 issues an "A", the next ten a "C+", and the final ten a "D", but only because issue 40 was better than the previous nineteen issues combined. Shipping doesn't enter the equation....

Character and story matter. Hopefully the powers that be will remember this, or season nine will be very short for me!
I wasn't enjoying the books (and I am a comic book reader) because they didn't seem like Buffy for many reasons. I was on the verge of not getting season 9, but the last issue and Joss' letter about concentrating on character has convinced me to give it a chance.
Shipping has next to nothing to do with sales figures, and the falling quality of the story doesn't have a huge effect either. Almost every single ongoing comic book series in history sees continuously falling sales figures month-to-month short of a reboot, change in writer, or being involved in a special event such as a crossover.

Further affecting sales is the span of time in which this season was released; December was 9 months after the premiere of season 8, the same amount of total elapsed time in a televised Buffy season. Three years in, non-comic-readers likely became disinterested with the medium. (I know many who stopped reading for this very reason during the first 20 issues.

It should also be noted that these sales numbers are only estimations based on a ranking index and that the actual sales data is not released by the distributor, Diamond Comics. Therefore, if it appears an issue jumped 1,000 issues in a month, it is a possibility that the issues sales changed only in relativity to the ranking index. Furthermore, the sales data are based on issues ordered by retailers, not the actual sales once they books are in the store. (These figures also do not count retail sales from non-comic book stores if I recall correctly.)

[ edited by marvelknight616 on 2011-02-02 01:59 ]
I had never been a comic book reader and it did take me a while to get into the groove. After finishing the first issue my reaction was "This is it"? This is all we get in an "episode"? And I had problems with Big-Girl Dawn.

What helped me find the rhythm of 8 was reading the trade paperbacks. I'm glad I stuck with it.
I know a lot of readers who waited for the trade paperbacks to be released. Check out those figures and they're way more consistent all the way through the entire Season 8 run.
Let's put it this way:
* For a show episode on iTunes, I pay $1.99 and get 43 minutes of entertainment. I get the next episode (usually) next week, for a total of ~20 per year
* For a comic book, I pay $2.95-3.95 for about 10 minutes of entertainment, which covers about 1/4 of the plot and character development that a TV episode does. I get the next issue the following month, for about 12 a year.

Comics simply are not cost effective entertainment. All of S8 amounts to three times the cost for half the content of a real TV season, spread over 4 years. If I look at TPBs the ratio probably gets a bit better, but not better enough to make it worthwhile.

All that ignores aesthetic issues, such as artwork vs. real actors, inconsistent writing (esp. for Angel, where by "inconsistent" I mean truly wretched with occasional fits of funniness), and creative oversight (or lack thereof)

I stuck with S8, but I won't be buying S9.
I stopped buying Angel before After the Fall even ended. I was considering doing the same with Buffy shortly after the Predators and Prey arc.

I'll buy Season Nine. But unless it keeps my interest, I will most definitely say goodbye. I have some hope that it will since it will be basically the same length between the two Season Nine series in half the time.

We'll see. I'm going to stay optimistic for now.

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