2016 OVERVIEW

By: D’Arcy Farrell
(Pendragon Comics in Toronto)

MODERN BACK ISSUE SALES

Now here it comes. Sales for 1980’s and up watch out. Those great best stories of the decades most recent past, are getting scooped up. Any key of the past 30 years are in high demand. Best sales of this era for me are as follows. TMNT any issue, Batman Dark knight Returns, Infinity Gauntlet, Death of Superman, original Valiant titles especially XO-MANOWAR and Rai, Thanos appearances especially in Silver Surfer, many important Batman stories like Death in the Family, Venom minis of 1990’s and McFarlane Spideys. There are many numerous single issues of importance like first appearances of Harley or Deadpool, but i’m finding many smaller unknown gems are finding their way into the marketplace top demand. Such as early modern Zatannas, or Tales of Teen Titans Cyborg. Cap 241, Wolverine 10. Ultimate Fallout 4(1st Miles), Punisher mini of 1980’s, and practically any DC-Vertigo title ever made. So fro you investors, recap what was hot back then, and you will see potential in the future to invest. The 1980s-current have many many hot then, but still key and pertinent stories.

BRONZE-COPPER AGE SALES

DC low run titles are still tops in sales and its expected for years to come. DC has been undervalued forever. Marvel of course sells well in this era, runs like Millers Daredevil, or Byrnes XMen. XMen at that time was probably the finest stories in comics, but the printrun was also high, so they are readily available. What i’m suggesting is going after the lower run getting hot items. That means DC like Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern. Batman never ended and never had low print runs, though he is the top character in our industry as well. So buying Batman anything is never bad.

SILVER AGE SALES

Just like last year, JLA is highest in demand for runs. It would top sales, but there just isn’t enough runs available to sell. Batman leads the pack overall with Spiderman close behind. Last year i had nice Showcases and Brave and Bolds to sell, but this year i just couldn’t replace what i sold in 2015. But if i had the issues ,they would have sold instantly. Instead i was blessed with many Marvels, especially Spiderman and FF.

FF is a bit slower due to Marvel not publishing anything for years on the new market.

But FF12,25,46-50 are always top sellers and high demand books. I still consider FF25 a great investment since it is the FIRST Thing vs Hulk and 2nd S.A.Cap. Another top seller is Tales To Astonish 93(1st full Surfer xover).

NEW COMIC RELEASES OF 2016

DC…….This was definitely the year of DC. DC brought its successful N52 to a close with

REBIRTH. Rebirth tethered the pre N52,N52, and new lines of Rebirth all together successfully. All titles are reasonable at $2.99, and even the giant sized one-shot

that started it all, was as well. Only All-Star Batman is higher. Sales were decent, stories the same. What is exciting is within the one-shot that started it all. Without ruining a story, the thought that the WATCHMEN will eventually find its way into mainstream is

awesome. Best titles fro sales would be anything Batman, Harley Quinn, Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman and Superman. Fans like the super sons angle as well.

As per movies, I liked Batman vs Superman, and Suicide Squad, though not a great story, was a hoot to watch.

I’d say All-Star Batman was the top seller.

MARVEL…..still doing ok movies, Deadpool probably the most fun to watch.

Doc Strange had mixed reviews for my customers.

Unfortunately, their comics, just like the owners Disney, keep recycling the same typical storyline month after month. Obviously the formula of Star Wars and Disney, fits well with Marvel books. Quantity over quality. I am yet again seeing a rash of Marvel titles litter the stands. Heroes or villains with multiple titles and reincarnations or variations that hardly deserve a title, just keep coming. Peter Parker is rich, and Amazing Spiderman, the top hero of Marvel, have flat boring stories. Thats actually old news.

Best thing Marvel did was hire Jeff Lemire, probably the best writer in the industry, or at least the hottest. His Old Man Logan, Moon Knight were great sellers in 2016. I hope his IVX crossover of Inhumans vs XMen is just as good. I guess Marvel is using the same old tactic 20 years ago again, when it tried to squash Image with excessive titles on the stand is going on again. DC, with its much fewer titles, does so much better in sales. Of course, a few years later, Marvel near went broke. Bendis then saved the day. Can Lemire do it again? I dont think he can as

Marvel continues to insult long time fans while attempting to woo fickle new film fans. Marvel had a “universe changing” story line that turned everything on its head. And to what benefit? Marvel listened to a pitch from Jonathan Hickman a few years ago and in 2015 birthed “Secret Wars”, an unnecessary destruction and reimaging of the Marvel titles, merging the Ultimate and regular title lines (along with some ancillary characters from other alternate universe story lines) and the result was an even bigger mess than before. Amazing Spider-Man, once the flagship title, is now little more than Iron Man 2.0. But, of course, it isn’t just Peter Parker as Spider-Man. We’ve still got Miles Morales. And alternate Gwen Stacey. And apparently Alternate MC2 Spider-Man with “Mayday” May Parker and even Mary Jane Parker suiting up. Civil War 2 in 2016 was another disaster. At least the story-line in the core mini-series is somewhat coherent this time. Although Marvel has apparently killed of Bruce Banner and powered down Jennifer in an attempt to reign in the Rampaging Hulks issue from a few years ago.

When Disney first bought out Marvel, the concern was that the story lines would revert to “Mickey Mouse” type situations. Happily, that really hasn’t happend (ignoring Squirrel Girl and Slapstick). However, as Disney continues to score hit after hit at the box office, they’ve shifted the focus to the characters that they control at the cost of the characters they only control in comics. Fantastic Four, X-Men, Spider-Man have suffered because of it (although it will be interesting to see what becomes of Spider-Man now with the deal with Sony Pictures).

INDEPENDENTS….

The last year has seen everyone looking for the next Walking Dead mega-hit. It has turned into the equivalent of the stock market. Titles are release and sold on rumour: “this title is in development or has been optioned to XYZ ” .  Briggs Land is an example.  In Previews, for issue One there was a prominent annotation “In development for an AMC televsion show”. I have started to see more shops add a label “soon to be TV show” on some of the back issues.

Granted I can see the merit in the attaching a popular show to the comic(Jessica Jones/Daredevil spring to mind) but in some cases it has that boiler room mentally. The titles being pushed are initally hot but later the back issues and trades sit on the shelf because most speculators have moved on to the next best and brightest and that $40 book is now back down to a more reasonable price which is good for the customer who just wants a good story.

On a more optimistic note, there have been some really excellent work put out overy the last year.  Image continues to challenge with the shear volume and quality it issues. If you haven’t yet, take a read of Paper Girls, Wicked and Devine, Citizen Jack, Descenders, Huck, PencilHead(actually, anything MCkeever does), Plutona, The Violent, Roche Limit, Faster Than Light, Moonshine or The One%. That was just a partial list  based on customers comments.

Image continues put out interesting storys but struggles to grow their fanbase for long term story lines. Other than The Walking Dead and Saga, I can’t think of any Image title that has maintained any interest to our customers. BOOM!, Dynamite, Dark Horse and other independent publishers are also struggling to bring readers in. On the plus side, they will provide a lot of new writers and artists an opportunity to showcase their talents, with many gems being published. Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Noir stories find their way to dedicate fans to be enjoyed on a regular basis.

Boom has put out a few interesting titles (Kennel Block Blues,  Last Contract, Wild’s End, The Woods to name a few). But its market share is slipping.

Dark Horse  and Avatar have  the best horror ongoing series in Harrow County and Providence respectively. Both have great art and stories but Providence has the edge as it goes into much darker material and it reminds one very much of classic horror. Unfortunately, for Avatar, they hired the once great Alan Moore and sales plummeted. All year fans asked for UBER as well, Avatars best title. Lets hope UBER Invasion makes the fans happy again.

Dark Horse had other good stories in The Paybacks, Leaving Megaloplis, House of Penance, Dept. H and Lady Killer.Of Course, the  Dark Horse Presents anthology continues to  have some very good stories mixed  with with some not so much but that is the nature of the beast.  And  Hellboy and related stories continues to roll along.

Garth Ennis continued to produced very interesting War themed stories for several different publishers (Titan/ Avatar /Dark Horse/Aftershock). Customers tend to follow him around. Their allegience is to the writer ; not the company. The same goes for Warren Ellis. Regulars will always give a title with his name a chance for a few issues.

Valiant continues its strong efforts with Faith and Divinity. Of course Ninjak and Bloodshot are still good although the numbers aren’t high.  Its a shame this fine company cannot grab onto a regular fanbase like its glory days in the 1990’s. The forthcoming movies may give it the notice it needs and deserves.

Titan and Aftershock are both fantastic. Many horror, sci-fi, tv/movie related titles that the big guns do not do. These companies are on the move up. Worth watching and checking out.