It looks like Image Comics has managed to successfully capitalize DC Comics' decision to quit Diamond Comic Distributors and jockey ahead into the number two Diamond position alongside Marvel. Marvel's is still king with a record Diamond marketshare, but Image remains ahead of everyone else. But might future months see them build on that marketshare?
Image made our headlines recently when their Sales department beefed up by putting Jeff Boison at the lead (bringing decades of experience from DC and publishing heavyweight Penguin Random House) and scoring new hire Alex Cox (by way of IDW and with years of experience as a retailer himself) to work on bumping up the sales outreach, particularly in the Direct Market. From what we've heard, Boison is a relentless and calculating strategist and Cox compliments that with a hands-on approach to retailer communications, motivating them to order higher by utilizing stronger pitches, and sharing more insight and energy with them on positioning than the previously hands-off approach the publisher's had in recent years.
We're seeing the fruits of their collaborative labours too. From August charts we spot Image peppered among the Marvel titles, with top rankings for two Brubaker/Phillips titles, Cruel Summer and Pulp, the latest Lemire/Sorrentino trade paperback, Gideon Falls Vol 4, and of course the Direct Market king, Robert Kirkman, has his newest project Fire Power. This month it looks like Kirkman's beat out Tom Taylor's highly touted debut with just a mere reprint of Negan Lives alone—while also sailing well ahead of Seven Secrets by miles with the first two issues of his new series Fire Power. To get orders this high even after giving away well over 100K copies of the book a month prior? Paints Kirkman titles as bulletproof in the eyes of a retailer searching for books they won't need to take a gamble on.
Paired with the news that the two recent Image launches—Commanders In Crisis surpassing 50K orders at FOC, and The Scumbag weighing in at nearly 70K orders at FOC—there is some serious heat on Image releases beyond just the general list in numbers we've seen industrywide.
Take a look at Steve Orlando's latest title, Commanders In Crisis #1 with Davide Tinto, which a couple years back coming out of Image probably would have underperformed by comparison. His backlist titles at the publisher, Undertow, Crude and Vigil, all flew well under the radar for many and never really had the Image "machine" behind it the way recent Image launches seem to have…
All this plus the fact that Rick Remender has just had his highest launching series in his 16 years at Image—surpassing even that of "Image Renaissance" title, Black Science. As previously observed, Remender has stayed loyal to the publisher and we've not seen him leave for any of its competitors in all this time. A similar move to what Brubaker/Phillips and Kirkman have both done, and the loyalty seems to have paid off.
We're seeing some serious momentum behind Image and they're showing no signs of slowing down heading into Q4—so you'll want to order up on Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw's Crossover #1 for November and not sleep on the guaranteed money-in-the-bank release of Brubaker/Phillips' Reckless HC in December.
And then to "kick-off" early 2021 strong, Image of course has the forthcoming Scott Snyder & Tony Daniel series Nocterra which, after already popping up on our radar with over $200K in money pledged for their Kickstarter collectible edition promos, we expect to ignite some serious frenzy. If things keep up for Image the way they have been lately, it may even surpass previous successes Wytches and Undiscovered Country.