Tuesday, 7 May 2013

April IDW comics sales figures: could be worse

Close-up of Rarity
"They said what about me getting a comic to myself?"
As usual at this point in each month, it's time we had a good look at the latest sales figures for IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic comic. As was the case last time, the estimates (which, remember, cover only sales to North American shops) are taken from Comichron's table. In what will surely go down as a bizarre and controversial move, I'll be starting with the main series; issue #6 secured 65th spot in the table and clocked up sales of:
This is a decline of 6.7% over issue #5, which on the face of it is a little disappointing. That means that the only time we haven't seen a fall in circulation between two issues has been between issues #2 and #3. It's still not exactly a bad figure, and it remains IDW's best seller by a huge margin. However, the company's inability to maintain a consistent release schedule probably isn't helping. So, what about the Rarity micro-series comic? That made no. 91 and sold:
Again, we see a significant — although not enormous — decline, with sales having dropped by 8.4% compared with the last (Rainbow Dash) micro. Certainly, to see another fall in sales is a bit of a shame, since the Rarity micro reunites the wonderful Cook/Price/Breckel team and has been received extremely well by the fandom. However, the harsh fact is that Rarity is not as widely popular as Dashie. It will be fascinating to see how well this month's Fluttershy micro does.

As well as the problems engendered by the inconsistent release dates, I suspect that there are a couple of other reasons for the continuing decline. Casual readers are probably moving on: MLP:FiM is no longer the newest, shiniest thing on the internet block and there are no new TV episodes to get it noticed outside the fandom. I therefore think that next month's numbers will probably show a similar fall.

However, it is most certainly not time to get alarmed. This isn't The Walking Dead or Batman, and for an all-ages comic Pony is still remarkably successful. The main comic is outselling Adventure Time about 3:2, for example, though such comparisons should always be done with caution. We're never going to return to the astonishing sales figures the main comic had on its debut, but these are still the only IDW comics in the top 100.


  1. I do think that unfortunately, one of the biggest problems facing the comic has been the very lacking regular releases. That said, I do still think the sales are very impressive, but they *really* have to get the schedule sorted out, by whatever means.

    As an example, Cerebus had 300 issues over nearly 25 years. Every issue without fail managed to hit its deadline and Dave Sim, its creator, moved heaven and earth to get it published on time every month. And it sold amazingly well. Same with The Sandman, Strangers In Paradise, and endless others. By contrast, Strangehaven and Hepcats did very well while they kept their schedules regular, but once they started slipping, the sales figures plummetted. Better Days never missed a deadline - not one of the 600 pages was late - and almost every Original Life page has been on time. And, for better or worse, the viewing figures for those are both sky high.

    It really is important to get the comic out on time, every time, because it builds confidence in the series. Otherwise people go in the shop, see no sign of the comic, and often will shrug and walk away.

    The sales figures are still darn good though, so it isn't too late for them to build on that. And although it would be great if the Rarity issue had sold far better, I'm still impressed that a "spin off", as it were, has done so well. :)

    1. To be honest, I think IDW are quite lucky, in that most MLP fans are probably willing to put up with this sort of thing more than some other comic buyers might be. However, the big unknown is how large the core readership is, rather than the casual readership.

      Bobby Curnow said on the IDW forums that, as long as the micros stayed profitable, that series would probably continue alongside the main one. From what I gather, that means keeping sales above 10,000 a month or so. Sooner or later we'll go below that, but I hope it won't be for a while yet.