Today, Mark Millar placed a story at Deadline over the order numbers for his new comic with Olivier Coipel, The Magic Order #1, the first new title created under the auspices of Netflix and published through Image Comics. Claiming that pre-orders for The Magic Order are a twenty-year high for a brand-new property launched as a comic.
He claimed this once about Jupiter's Legacy.
Though then the qualifier was creator-owned – and Magic Order is owned by Netflix.
But a few days ago, Bleeding Cool got this tip, which we have been looking into since. We've heard that The Magic Order #1 has had its order numbers significantly inflated – not the usual way by variant covers, tiered covers or returnability (or at least, not just those) – but by comic convention organisers ReedPOP making a deal.
According to what we've been told, ReedPOP purchased a hundred thousand copies at a very reduced rate. They are said to have paid 40 cents a copy against the book's $3.99 cover price — to sell, give away, or use as promotion at their shows this year — in exchange for Mark Millar appearing at shows such as C2E2 and others this year.
With these Reed orders included, the book is supposed to have sold over 140,000 copies. In the magazine/newspaper trade, this is referred to as bulk buying, and reported figures often include those with and those without bulk-buy purchases. Comics, however, do not have this clause when reporting numbers (even when they are delayed when someone wants a recount).
When asked, the usually-chatty representatives of ReedPOP did not return e-mails. Neither did Image Comics. Netflix would have no idea.
If this is true, and you discounted bulk sales, then The Magic Order would have been beaten in orders by, well, Oblivion Song back in March which got around 100,000 in pre-orders.
But that wouldn't suit the story.
Mark Millar has a history of concocting various publicity stunts when launching his comics, from fake footage of real-life vigilantes, to fake casting of Eminem, to fake Times Square ads, to fake Hollywood actor/actress photos, to fake Obama photos, to fake comic book video reviews by grannies filmed in his own house, to fake trips to Detroit to… well you get the idea. He is a master at getting the media to follow his tune. And in the past he has coughed to it as well, saying,
What's beautiful about this is that you get not only the first story out there but usually within a twenty-four hour news cycle you will get the gag exposed and thus get two news-spikes in the same day, the cost minimal to nothing. As your career progresses you will hopefully have mainstream attention and movie rights to help sell your story in the mainstream for launch (which goes everywhere and is the best friend you'll ever have in selling your books), but in the meantime just have a little fun with this stuff as every person talking about the outrageousness of your marketing is essentially advertising your book.
Today, it may have been Deadline's turn to provide that free advertising for The Magic Order #1. And now for the second spike, Bleeding Cool. And that's magic.