Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner from Image Comics has taken a pretty big bite of the market to go with its bark. I'm hearing the orders for the latest batch of reprints have gone through the roof. Or the woof. Sorry, I'll stop now. With the recent (and final) round of reprints, both the fifth printing of Stray Dogs #1 and the second printing of Stray Dogs #5 each surpassed 45,000 in orders at FOC.
So now, Stray Dogs has accumulated a total of 160K orders just in reprints alone. Which is unheard of—and higher than most series in the industry launch first printings at. With Stray Dogs #1 orders now total out at a mindblowing 100,000 – a first for a non-A-List established creator team at Image Comics. But now that begs the question—was this another case of retailers sleeping on an Image launch? Or do people really just like those fifth printing covers?
What's so exciting about Stray Dogs is that its success is the perfect mixture of satisfying the collector mentality—the series has released a clever lineup of covers that pay homage to iconic horror/thriller movie posters—and quality, buzzworthy storytelling. Each issue digs its claws in deeper with readers as the mystery unfolds and fans become more and more invested in the fate of these dogs. You can't finish an issue of Stray Dogs without wanting to talk to someone about it and knowing the series ends with issue #5—and that time is running out—serves to further raise the stakes for readers.
Stray Dogs rewards readers who come back for every issue, it plays the variant game in a way that subverts expectations and ties into the comic's themes, and frankly, it shouldn't be any surprise that Image has a hit on their hands with this one. Also, watch everyone try and copy this.
Making this book returnable may help build confidence for retailers from the jump—but Image's Stray Dogs and The Department Of Truth series reorder activity seems to indicate that if stores don't take publishers up on that returnability and order big on titles—they could be leaving money on the table every time they have to wait for a reprint to arrive. In this case, how many customers wandered in at the wrong time and missed out? Nothing sells a comic like having it on the shelf—and it sounds like keeping some extra Stray Dogs on hand is worth every penny. Because there is no way of telling just how much that doggy in the window will be worth…