A Look At Those 755,000 Pre-Orders Of Walking Dead #163 (UPDATE)


(UPDATE: Now up to 755,000)Image Comics has sent out a PR release promoting the announced pre-orders of the 25 cent Walking Dead #163 as 730,000. And claiming it as the Direct Market's highest ordered comic in nearly 20 years.

Image Comics has sent out a PR release promoting the announced pre-orders of the 25 cent Walking Dead #163 as 730,000. And claiming it as the Direct Market's highest ordered comic in nearly 20 years.

There are a few hoops to go through though.

First, it has to discount comics ordered with subscription box numbers. Loot Crate specifically puts half a million orders onto any comic in those boxes, and enabled Star Wars #1 to receive orders of a million.

And while Image Comics has access to its own pre-order numbers, it does not have access to other numbers, aside from trade estimates, which don't include North American numbers and, as generally come in low compared to what most publishers actually receive for the direct market.

And while Image Comics emphasises the aim of  expanding readership through the promotional 25¢ price point, it may also be mentioned that there are 1:200 and 1:500 variant covers that might also encourage retailers to order high – without a plan to sell or give away the large numbers they may order to receive the more collectible version.

However, Image does take the opportunity to say that orders of The Walking Dead #163 are higher than for Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure from January 2002, the comic that kicked off this particular discount strategy, recently revived by Dynamite for their launches of Vampirella and Red Sonja. 

But that's the other thing – don't expect Walking Dead #163 to appear in the February charts from Diamond. They don't do that for such discount titles.

It is also considering that this issue begins the new storyline Conquered. And word to the wise if may feature the first appearance of a new major character in the series. The three-quarters of a million order is one way, I suppose, to ensure that it doesn't become *that* collectible…

As well as The Walking Dead #163, Invincible #133 and Outcast #25 are also priced at 25 cents – though have received a few fewer orders…

Writer and Skybound publisher of all three titles, Robert Kirkman has stated that he will not receive any payment for this promotion. "Comic book stores have made it easier for us to accomplish everything we've done since our last anniversary, so giving back just makes sense, even though it means we're not making a dime off these books. Don't get me wrong: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, and Rus Wooton are all being compensated as usual for their contributions to THE WALKING DEAD #163, but neither myself nor Image will profit off this issue. As with most of our decisions at Image, we're looking instead at the long-term benefits of getting more readers into stores and more of the world's best creator-owned comics into those readers' hands."

Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, added: "When we first began discussing how to celebrate our 25th anniversary, one of the first ideas that came up was offering some of our best titles at 25¢ in an effort to reach as many readers as possible. We knew we'd be selling the books at a loss—no matter how high the orders—but our number one goal is always to get books in front of as many readers as possible, and the best way to do that is by giving comic book stores something they can quite literally put in people's hands for pocket change."

The Walking Dead #163 will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 1st for Image Day. Invincible #133 will be available in stores on the 15th. And Outcast #25 on the 22nd. And a fully priced Walking Dead #164 on the 15th.

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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