Charts of Note #1: Vertigo ongoing series runs

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vertigo graph series lengths1 Charts of Note #1: Vertigo ongoing series runs
Funnybook Babylon has an interesting charticle looking at the runs of various Vertigo ongoing series over the years, following some speculation that books were being canceled there because of increased scrutiny from DC’s new management. Chris Eckert suggests this is not the case, or at least not the only factor, by showing that the lowest-selling titles are always canceled, although nowadays the best-selling title is something that would have been canceled a decade ago. Eckert also runs a chart showing relative Amazon rankings for various Vertigo trades, a weak metric but all we have to go on.

DMZ, Northlanders and Scalped, though performing only marginally better than the doomed books on a monthly basis, are all several years into their runs. While there’s been attrition on the monthly level, it appears they all enjoy a fairly robust life in collections: though it’s over four years old, the first volume of DMZ appears to be outselling all of the newer trades from the canceled books, both in comic shops and on Amazon. One could argue this is an unfair fight, since these surviving books have had longer to find an audience, and if you gave them time, they would flourish. But none of the surviving books ever had sales as low as Air, Greek Street or Unknown Soldier, and there is little to no precedent for a book suddenly finding a new audience a year or more after it debuts.


Whatever the current state of affairs, we know you chart lovers will love this one!

Comments

  1. 1) Sales can be approximated by looking at ICV2.com’s monthly sales charts.

    2) There is MUCH precedent for a low selling Vertigo graphic novel to sell years later. Doom Patrol by Morrison, Shade the Changing Man. Usually it’s because the creators beconme Overnight Sensations ten years later, and/or because the stories are fondly remembered by fans. Vertigo has a very strong backlist. Look the the Top 300 Graphic Novel list, and count the number of older titles present. GNs are the new Back Issue. For $9.99, I can recommend the first volume of a Vertigo series, explain the concept, and hook someone. DMZ? VERY easy to sell in NYC! Unwritten? In a bookstore? “Harry Potter”! Or many others. All Vertigo series have a high level of craft and storytelling. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it does have appeal.

  2. Having just renewed my love of serialization, the trends of doom in Vertigo are troubling to say the least.

    I think that, in my view, many of these cancelled Vertigo titles had strong ideas behind them, but very ambiguous or confusing debuts. And also, some of these series make no efforts to appeal to late-comer readers. For example, LOVELESS. I saw a few back issues on the cheap and picked them up. Frusin(sp?) can draw so well. But for the life of me, I can’t explain or make heads or tails of what is supposedly happening. Even given that I haven’t read the beginning or seen the story “in order,” individual episodes should have SOME sort of indication of what the hell is going on.

    It’s whatever. As long as DMZ’s okay, I’m okay.

  3. Davidk says:

    Interesting point made “…since these surviving books have had longer to find an audience…” except Sweet Tooth, one of the survivors, hasn’t hit a year yet I don’t think, so I’m not sure of the logic here.

    Perhaps Vertigo should consider experimenting with releases in book format, rather like its crime line, instead of the floppy. Maybe it’s the floppy format itself that doesn’t work anymore.

  4. Hey there, the chart-maker here.

    @Torsten:

    I did look at the ICV2 charts for trade sales, but also attempted to look at Amazon on the principle that it’s possible that certain books have a stronger presence there than in comic shops. The Amazon numbers are so anecdotal so as to be useless, but generally the trades that were doing well through Diamond (based on the ICV2 charts) were outperforming the books that were on a lower tier, in both Diamond/Amazon charts.

    I’m sure the growth of the trade market, bolstered by the evergreen success of The Invisibles, 100 Bullets, &c. have led them to at least wait on some trade numbers before canceling monthly titles: we’re not seeing books ending in under a year like we once did for The Minx or The Witching. Still, some books under-perform in both formats, which leads to their untimely end.

    @DavidK: If you look at any sort of comparable benchmark available to an outsider (sales after six months, sales after twelve months, initial DM orders of the first trade), Sweet Tooth is doing considerably better than any of the recently canceled series. Same for Unwritten, Scalped, Northlanders: they’re not breakaway hits like Fables or Y the Last Man, but within a year they established a solid fanbase, and past performance suggests they’ll keep a healthy level of readers (in both formats) for their duration.

    All of the books that were canceled were trending downward at a sharper rate, and had comparatively small orders for the collections. Vertigo has decided that they’re going to “give time” to a book for between one and two years, and then cut bait. I don’t actually find the argument I put forth persuasive, but I mentioned it because it is a common one in this discussion.

    And to reiterate, I quite likely don’t know what I’m talking about, I have no insight into the actual inner workings of Vertigo, I’m just extrapolating from the small amount of information that is made public.

  5. James says:

    I wish they would make some trades of the earlier Vertigo series.

    I really want to read Deadenders by Brubaker and Swamp Thing by Vaughan.

    They could do a trial Vertigo presents trade of the first 4 issues of both. Like they are doing with Brubakers Batman run.

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