While we reported that the (friendly?) Marvel vs DC-esque feud between Boom Studios and Image Comics to see who could launch the better-selling Kieron Gillen series (dubbed "The Kieron Wars" by, well, me) had escalated further with the sixth printing of Once & Future #1. But it looks like the hit series from Doctor Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain has no plans of slowing down after one issue.
Remember that the series launched with over 31,000 copies sold of its first printing and was, at the time, the best-selling original series launch in BOOM! Studios history (until Something is Killing The Children, uh, killed that record). Now with that sixth printing on the way, sales of Once & Future #1 are on track to pass a massive 47,000 units.
Boom had already announced that every issue and collection of Once & Future's initial six-issue run was 100% returnable for comic shops with no minimum, hoping this would allow retailers to order more than enough for fans (though the company has remained mum on what this means now that the series is ongoing.
And the company even delivered a 25% overship on Once & Future #2 – for every 4 copies a retailer ordered, they got 1 additional copy for free. I've heard that this led to nearly 24,000 copies ordered and nearly an additional 6,000 copies provided free to retailers. With nearly 30,000 units in the market, Boom essentially banked on little to no drop from first issue orders for the series.
Even the Once & Future #2 second print run was increased 300% from the second print on Once & Future #1 – while fast-tracking these printings means retailers get copies in hand as soon as the week after an issue hits stores, it requires publishers to lock in their print run number blind in advance of FOC. Boom figured that having more copies (based on first and second printing copies totalled) of issue #2 than of #1 shipped to stores would meet demand.
Well, Boom was wrong.
It sounds like Boom Studios has been able to fill over 75% of these orders – but that the demand continues to outstrip any previous second prints, even for Once & Future #1 or Something is Killing The Children #1 – there's simply more demand for issue #2 of this series than issue #1, something which you rarely hear about in today's market.
I'm told the second printing has sold out and to expect a Once & Future #2 Third Printing to be announced shortly, which may or may not be the Final Printing for this issue. I'd expect this printing to FOC and see all orders fulfilled, but if those aren't enough – well, maybe then we'll have a Final-Final Printing.
Retailers are going to rightfully look at their Once & Future numbers to figure out the ceiling – if there is one – on this series, but might I suggest double-checking those Something is Killing The Children orders given that series launched even bigger? And let's not forget it's quite the hit with speculators who we know will line up on Wednesdays to buy these hot issues?
As Boom and Image continue their game of one-upmanship – which amounts to retailers selling more books and more A+ creator-owned launches for fans to enjoy, so thank you Ross Richie & Eric Stephenson – the next big battleground is November. That's when Boom drops their next major launch in Matt Kindt & Matt Smith's Folklords, while Image unveils the dual-threat of Jeff Lemire & Phil Hester's Family Tree #1 and Scott Snyder & Charles Soule & Giuseppe Camuncoli's Undiscovered Country #1. Place your bets now.