31 January 2009

“Everything ‘Against’ It”?

Valerie D'Orazio at Occasional Superheroine weighs in on the launch of the new comic credited to L. Frank Baum, Eric Shanower, and Skottie Young:

Wonderful Wizard of Oz seemingly had everything "against" it (according to conventional wisdom):
1) All-ages book
2) Non-superhero book
3) Female protagonist
4) "Classics" adaptation

So why did the comic book succeed?

1) Parents are hungering for appropriate comic book entertainment for their children.
2) Amazing art.
3) Marvel's giveaway "sketchbook" promotional strategy worked.
4) Perhaps readers are looking for "happier" comic book stories?

Is this a start of a trend? If Wonderful Wizard of Oz continues to sell well, will this encourage Marvel to launch similar projects?

And who is the audience of Wonderful Wizard of Oz? Who is reading this comic book? What is the gender breakdown of the readership? The age of readers? How many issues were bought for other people?

Does Dorothy Gale qualify as a "superheroine?"
The last one I can answer. Dorothy has no special powers or magical training. So she's a superheroine the way Robin's a superhero: less super, thus all the more heroic.

As for the sellout, that always depends on the size of the initial printing, and I wouldn't put it past Marvel to have planned a second printing from the start. But Young reports that the second issue sold out as well.


Anonymous said...

I don't know what any of the print runs have been for either of the printings of either the first two issues. But it's been Marvel Comics's policy for several years now to print only enough copies to fill the initial order from the distributor. That order is a total of all the copies ordered from Diamond Previews, the distributor's monthly catalog, by retail comic book outlets. The fact that these comics are going into second printings means that comic book retailers underestimated the interest in the project and didn't order enough copies to fulfill demand.

I don't know when Diamond will release the order numbers and ranking for December, which is the month Wizard #1 came out. That should give a pretty good idea of the initial print run.

Nathan said...

But if it's selling so well, why did they cancel the subscription feature?

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks for the numerical insights, Eric. That’s good news.

I’m scrambling to catch up to your query about the “subscription feature,” Nathan. Do you mean that Marvel offered Wizard of Oz through its online subscription for a while, and then canceled it. Perhaps that early look was to drum up demand for sales. Or are you saying it’s now impossible to subscribe to the printed magazine?

Nathan said...

Yes, I was referring to how some people signed up to subscribe to the comic, but Marvel ended up stopping the offer and refunding people's money, apparently due to lack of interest.

J. L. Bell said...

Well, maybe the early subscriptions seemed slow, but the store sales were higher than the company expected.

Some people think that William Goldman's dictum about the movie business also applies to publishing: Nobody really knows in advance what will work with audiences.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's the sales figure from the initial orders placed by retailers for a Dec 2008 on sale date:

Wizard of Oz #1 of 8 - 20,535

Paul O'Brien's comment at The Beat was:

Unusally high for an all-ages book, but then this has had the benefit of extensive house ads across the line.

Anonymous said...

And The Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 seems to have ranked number 133 in comics sales in Dec. 2008, at least through Diamond Comic Distibutors.

J. L. Bell said...

Thanks, Eric! For comparison’s sake, here are sales numbers for recent issues of two “all-ages” comics that grew out of DC’s superhero universe: Teen Titans Go! and Tiny Titans.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1 sold more than double the copies of the most recent issues of those magazines, and also handily outsold the debut issue of Tiny Titans a year ago.