July 10, 2008

Flash Sales: 2001-2008

Category: Flash History — By @ 12:22 pm

This week’s Permanent Damage at CBR brings up the issue of maximizing profits, and just what that means in today’s comic-book marketplace. At one point, Stephen Grant mentions:

As far as I know, Geoff Johns wasn’t thrown off The Flash. He left the book. There was no indication that Wally West… pardon me… had legs left, and it’s not like sales had been going up and up and up under Geoff either. Just not that many people are interested in The Flash.

While the first part is true, the second part is incorrect. Sales had been going up under Geoff Johns. When he came on board In the middle of his run, the series was selling in the 20,000-30,000 range. After a few years, around #200, it started climbing steadily until it actually broke 50,000 with his final issue, #225. [Edit: I've found some earlier sales figures that cover the Waid-to-Johns transition, and got some surprises.]

I’ve compiled the following sales chart from posts at The Beat over the last few years:

Some Highlights:

#200 is the conclusion of Blitz, and being a milestone issue, it’s not surprising to see a spike. Cameo guest spots by Hal Jordan and Barry Allen probably helped as well.

#209 guest-stars the Justice League and features a race with Superman.

#214-216 is the Identity Crisis tie-in, “The Secret of Barry Allen.” #217 is also billed as a tie-in, and features the funeral for Captain Boomerang.

#225 is the conclusion of “Rogue War” and Geoff Johns’ final issue on the series. Notice the brief dip for the following issue, which is a fill-in, then a hasty drop over the final 4-issue arc of the series.

Both relaunches show huge spikes followed by dramatic dives as people tried them out, then decided no, this wasn’t what they wanted to read. And the second spike was only half the height of the first. Interestingly, current numbers are actually higher that they were early in Geoff Johns’ run (though the precipitous slope suggests they won’t be for long, unless people have responded favorably to the middle issues of Tom Peyer’s arc).

I’ve been of the opinion that another relaunch would further damage the book — but it might be necessary just to get people to look at it. Sales charts for a healthy book do show attrition, with occasional jumps like those shown on the left side of this graph, but DC may want that quick injection of readers. The trick, of course, is going to be figuring out what will resonate with readers and get them to stay after they pick it up, instead of dropping it again once curiosity is satisfied.

The actual data, compiled from The Beat’s sales charts, follows after the cut.

Month Issue Sales Change Incl. Reorders(?)
03/2001 Flash #172 26,891 *
04/2001 Flash #173 26,828 *
05/2001 Flash #174 26,841 *
06/2001 Flash #175 27,052 *
07/2001 Flash #176 26,756 *
08/2001 Flash #177 26,760 *
09/2001 Flash #178 26,640 *
10/2001 Flash #179 29,231 *
01/2002 Flash #182 26,583 *
02/2002 Flash #183 26,045 *
03/2002 Flash #184 26,939 *
04/2002 Flash #185 27,320 *
05/2002 Flash #186 27,952 *
06/2002 Flash #187 28,724 *
08/2002 Flash #189 29,591 *
10/2002 Flash #191 29,305 *
11/2002 Flash #192 28,805 *
01/2003 Flash #194 27,562 *
02/2003 Flash #195 27,258 *
03/2003 Flash #196 28,577
04/2003 Flash #197 30,886
05/2003 Flash #198 31,210 [ 33,152]
06/2003 Flash #199 32,458 [ 35,493]
07/2003 Flash #200 41,078 [ 44,977]
08/2003 Flash #201 35,207 [ 37,568]
09/2003 Flash #202 34,599
10/2003 Flash #203 35,467
11/2003 Flash #204 35,423
12/2003 Flash #205 34,931
01/2004 Flash #206 33,367
02/2004 Flash #207 41,982 [ 46,626]
03/2004 Flash #208 42,386 [ 44,679]
04/2004 Flash #209 47,543 [ 51,233]
05/2004 Flash #210 45,354 [ 47,723]
06/2004 Flash #211 45,740 [ 46,927]
07/2004 Flash #212 40,056
08/2004 Flash #213 41,363
09/2004 Flash #214 44,124 [ 46,894]
10/2004 Flash #215 44,024 [ 51,882]
11/2004 Flash #216 43,618
01/2005 Flash #217 49,771
01/2005 Flash #218 41,668 [ 43,914]
02/2005 Flash #219 44,071 [ 46,188]
03/2005 Flash #220 46,851 [ 48,659]
04/2005 Flash #221 46,471 [ 47,704]
05/2005 Flash #222 47,528
06/2005 Flash #223 48,013 [ 49,583]
07/2005 Flash #224 48,062 (+ 0.1%)
08/2005 Flash #225 50,242 (+ 4.5%) [ 52,386]
Geoff Johns leaves
09/2005 Flash #226 45,252 (- 9.9%)
10/2005 Flash #227 46,666 (+ 3.1%)
11/2005 Flash #228 45,861 (- 1.7%)
12/2005 Flash #229 41,459 (- 9.6%)
01/2006 Flash #230 40,571 (- 2.1%) [ 42,392]
Relaunch
06/2006 Flash: FMA #1 120,404 (+196.8%) [126,741]
07/2006 Flash: FMA #2 77,487 (- 35.6%) [ 82,501]
08/2006 Flash: FMA #3 70,633 (- 8.9%) [ 72,067]
09/2006 Flash: FMA #4 66,663 (- 5.6%)
10/2006 Flash: FMA #5 61,576 (- 7.6%)
11/2006 Flash: FMA #6 56,789 (- 7.8%)
12/2006 Flash: FMA #7 53,600 (- 5.6%)
01/2007 Flash: FMA #8 50,967 (- 4.9%)
02/2007 Flash: FMA #9 47,214 (- 7.4%)
03/2007 Flash: FMA #10 46,133 (- 2.3%)
04/2007 Flash: FMA #11 46,963 (+ 1.8%)
05/2007 Flash: FMA #12 47,809 (+ 1.8%)
06/2007 Flash: FMA #13 76,860 (+ 60.8%) [ 82,767]
Relaunch
07/2007 All Flash #1 78,955 (+ 2.7%)
08/2007 Flash #231 72,898 (- 7.7%)
09/2007 Flash #232 56,969 (- 21.9%)
10/2007 Flash #233 51,152 (- 10.2%)
11/2007 Flash #234 46,435 (- 9.2%)
12/2007 Flash #235 43,788 (- 5.7%)
01/2008 Flash #236 41,464 (- 5.3%)
02/2008 Flash #237 37,719 (- 9.0%)
03/2008 Flash #238 35,606 (- 5.6%)
04/2008 Flash #239 33,741 (- 5.2%)
05/2008 Flash #240 31,944 (- 5.3%)

Numbers in brackets, I believe, are taking into account reorders, and I have labeled the column accordingly. I do not know what the asterisks indicate. The percentages show change from the previous month. There are a few months missing in 2001 and 2002 that I could not find in the archived posts.

Update: I’ve found stats for 1996-2002, with some surprising trends.