Shop Talk – Walking Dead, Avengers: X-Sanction, & New 52 Month 4

Rather than simply relying on sales figures, which never tell the full picture, we ask retailers what is, and what isn't, moving for them, and here's what they had to report this week, on some of December 14's new releases.

Demon Knights #4This past week saw three of the lesser-hyped New 52 titles – Demon Knights, Grifter, and Frankenstein, Agent of Shade – along with two minis, My Greatest Adventure and The Shade, hitting their third issue. We asked retailers this week how these titles are doing for them.

At Kingdom Comics in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Stan Daniel reports that, "Demon Knights is doing well for us as we were quite taken with the first two issues and urged everyone not to overlook it! It has only added readers since its debut." We received similar positive feedback on Demon Knights from Sydney, Australia's Kings Comics: "The second tier New 52 titles are starting to suffer some, but not the ones I expected. Yes, Men of War, O.M.A.C., and Blackhawks were never going to take off, and it's great to see DC experimenting with some out-of-the-ordinary concepts and titles, but titles like Demon Knights and the Shade are going great guns."

Not everyone is as glowing in their praise. At Jetpack Comics in Rochester, New Hampshire, the feeling conveyed by owner Ralph DiBernardo is at best lukewarm. "There is a very distinct sales difference between the core DC titles & the tertiary titles… {However} people are continuing to try new DC titles.  So, while their sales are not close to #1, each one is now seeing growth."

In Tallahassee, Secret Headquarters owner Brian Jacoby is bullish on Demon Knights; "I dunno about other stores, but Demon Knights is my #37 title, out of more than 500 we have subs for." He does not have such fuzzy feelings about My Greatest Adventure, however, telling us that, "I dropped MGA as of #2 since no one bought #1, and who would have expected anyone to, with the clunkiest, 'This is a comic my grandpa bought' title ever."

My Greatest Adventure #3Mel Hansen at Prairie Dog Comics in Wichita has had slightly more success with My Greatest Adventure, but not much more; "The biggest selling point of Weird Worlds was that Lobo was in it, so with him gone, My Greatest Adventure has a pretty limited audience." Matt Price, of Norman, Oklahoma's Speeding Bullets Comics, is seeing similar numbers: "My Greatest Adventure isn't huge, but is drawing dedicated fans — we have some for these creators, particularly Kevin Maguire."

This past week also saw the release of Walking Dead #92, the first issue since the final episode of 2011 aired on AMC, so this seemed like a good opportunity to ask what effect the second season had on sales. At Richard's Comics and Collectables in Greenville, South Carolina, Richard Morgan tells us that, "The series has not helped the individual series, but I do have a surge with the trades/hardcovers during the time the show is on air. This is one of the few TV/movie properties that gives me a good boost with comic sales." It's a similar story at Earth Prime Comics in Burlington, Vermont – individual issues have seen no boost, but a sizeable one for the collected editions. "The trades have picked up a bit, especially the latest installment and the debut volume.  But, unlike the first season of the show, where everyone seemed to want actual issues as opposed to trades or the omnibus, this season seems to be the opposite," store manager Damon Savage reports.

Even better news on Walking Dead comes from John Scandalios of Crazy Scondo's in Bayside, Queens, where he tells us that his audience is very much coming from a non-traditional base, one not used to coming in every Wednesday, so at his shop, "they do not sell the week of release but they sell out as back issues."

Lastly, with one major event, Fear Itself, having just barely winded down, could Marvel fans handle the start of another big event with Avengers: X-Sanction? At Rubber Chicken Comics in Bellingham, Massachusetts, they sure could, as owner Jay Pillarella tells us that it is a, "Huge hit!" Jason Prince of Memphis' Comic Cellar had success, but would not go as far as Jay: "I'd call Avengers: X-Sanction a moderate hit. Based on sales, local buzz so far and the upcoming Avengers/X-men I expect it to follow the same path as X-Men: Schism, {with} steady sales of all the issues throughout the run. I'm still selling some of the Schism reprints off the shelf months later, and X-Sanction looks like it could have the same legs."

Avengers: X-Sanction #1In Greensboro, North Carolina, Stephen Mayer had success with it at ACME Comics, but questions the marketing behind it. "The only thing that stood in the way of easier sales was confusion about how X-Sanction would be tying into Avengers vs. X-Men and the timetable of the advertising. Marvel advertising the next next thing before the next thing even started prevents some customers from seeing what's actually in front of them as opposed to what's down the line." There were similar thoughts expressed by Lauren Becker of Warp 9 in Clawson, Michigan: "The stores around me ordered way less than normal, so we are getting a few more people in here, but something major is going to have to happen here before anyone takes notice."

It's not the marketing that Jay Bardyla, of Edmonton's Happy Harbor Comics, questions but the product itself. "It sold. I'm not sure how many people will return after 'reading' the first issue but the first issue sold very well."