#FCBDGate – The Savage Dragon Factor (UPDATE)

STK666913Savage Dragon is one of my favourite superhero comic books, and has been for decades. Constantly surprising, as well as full of explosive action, over the years the central character has gone up against God, Satan, Santa, John Byrne and a genocidal dictator disguised in a kid's soft toy collection. It regularly goes places that even Sex Criminals and Black Kiss fear to tread and pushes taboos like competitive fathers push supermarket trolleys.

But, of late, it seems to have found its audience –  and no more. It doesn't put on sales, and probably loses some through standard attrition. Basically, people stopping buying comics or dying.

For next year's Free Comic Book Day, it is getting a second title, Savage Dragon: Legacy, starring the current lead of Savage Dragon, his son Malcolm Dragon. It might be a good way to reintroduce people to this Image Comics stalwart with this new spinoff series.

As Image's Gold level book for FCBD, stores will have to order at least 25 copies to even participate in the event. But some stores are not happy about this at all. Even though, at a minimum, it will cost them about six bucks.

Savage Dragon has been seen by some as a "dead" book, one without growth potential, whereas other recent and upcoming titles from Image, such as Wytches, Southern Bastards, They'e Not Like Us, Bitch Planet, Nameless and the like are seen with greater potential to reach out to new audiences on Free Comic Book Day.

STK666290But I'm not really sure about that. Obviously, as a Dragon fan, I'm biased, but I think it has just as much potential and I think it's possible people may just be taking what Dragon is for granted. Image are publishing a bunch of dollar copy Image Firsts to promote many of the other new series. And Free Comic Book Day is about attracting new customers, not servicing the existing customers in the store – make just one Savage Dragon fan and you have hundreds of dollars in trade paperbacks to sell them.

Though the Gold Level  Doctor Who Free Comic Book Day title selling to retailers for a rather high 39 cents plus shipping each – compared to Dragon's 25 cents. Since they are all being given away, might offend even more…

UPDATE: Tim Finn of Hub Comics adds his take on things, saying,

If it's like previous years, the minimum is to get your store listed as a participating store on the DCD/FCBD website. Stores can order fewer than the minimum, they just don't get listed. That's what I did with my store last year, and for the Halloween ComicFest as well. After the initial order but before the final deadline my sales rep asked if we wanted to up our numbers so that we'd get listed, and I said no, since many of the books weren't what we wanted to carry in any amount. He said a few other accounts were doing the same thing.

So the bigger piece of news here might be how many stores are participating in FCBD without being listed as participating. I don't think people found us on FCBDs past via the FCBD website, but rather, it's a sunny summer day and people are walking by the store on their way elsewhere, which is why this isn't a bother.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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