Will Gunslinger Spawn #1 Set A New Comic Book Record?

Todd McFarlane likes his records. Spawn #301 took him into the Guinness Book of World Records for the "longest-running creator-owned superhero comic book series." Spawn's Universe #1 was the most-ordered Image Comics title for 25 years. That's until King Spawn #1 with first printing orders of 497,000. Which, I worked out with Todd on Skype this week, was the best-selling non-returnable English-language monthly ongoing comic book since Action Comics #1000,  Detective Comics #1000, Champions #1, Amazing Spider-Man #800, or the 2014 Amazing Spider-Man #1 relaunch to get these kinds of numbers from monthly, non-returnable non-Loot Crated comic books, and for books without exclusive retailer covers made available, it's back to the early days of Image Comics, the Death of Superman and Knightfall at DC, and the launch of books like Punisher War Zone when such numbers were achievable. King Spawn, it seems, is nostalgic in more ways than one.

Will Gunslinger Spawn #1 Set A New Comic Book Record?

Well, with Gunslinger Spawn hitting FOC this weekend, he is going for another record. For "the most sales for a new character. The key word being new character, and I define new character as somebody who's never had a title before… Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, now even Spawn, it may go all the way back to some of the early days of when Image was launching books um when you know we would just take somebody from Extreme Studios or Wildstorm and put out a book and that would sell you know anywhere between three and five hundred thousand copies. What's the biggest selling new character that Marvel and DC have done?"

There is more qualification for that record. We're talking about the English-speaking marketplace. BRZRKR #1 launched with 650,000 from Boom Studios, and Cat-Kid #1 launched from Scholastic with 350,000 sales earlier this year. But one is a limited series, the other is a series of graphic novels. But what else might challenge Gunslinger Spawn of late? As far as new character monthly comic book ongoing sales?

As well as those original nighties Image launches in 1992, 1993 had launches for Maxx, Deathblow, Stormwatch, Cable, X-Men 2099, Spider-Man 2099, Tribe, Pitt, 1963, Wildstar, Union, and Plasm getting those big numbers. 1994 has the launch of Codename: Strykeforce, Generation X, Gen 13, Wetworks, and Beavis And Butthead. 1996 launched DV8, 1998 had Fathom and 1999 had Tomb Raider #1 from Top Cow. The noughties had Dark Tower and Buffy The Vampire Slayer getting those numbers in 2007. Orphan Black launched in 2015 with half a million, courtesy of Loot Crate as did Bravest Warriors: Tales Of Holo John. I thought I might have had Todd with Rocket Raccoon launching with over 300,000 in 2014, but no, that was Rocket's second series. Same with Darth Vader who had his first series launch in 2015 at around 350,000, but there had been Darth Vader mini-series before at Dark Horse. But it was Spider-Gwen #1 which also launched in 2015 with around 300,000 orders. That may be the comic for Gunslinger Spawn #1 to try and beat.

So what sales is he expecting? "I always imagined that somewhere between Spawn's Universe and King Spawn, right, and that range got really big because of what happened with King Spawn. Somewhere between two hundred and five hundred thousand, it could get as high as 400 000 possibly. I'm not expecting it to do King Spawn numbers… we're getting reorders on some of our Image books in their fourth, fifth printings that are 30 to 40,000. I think the fifth printing of Stray Dogs is over 30 grand, the seventh or sixth printing of Department Of Truth #1 number one, it was like 40 grand, but we're also seeing what is historically happening is that then they overcut for number two which is fair, they don't have any data so they have to do it, plus they know people will go and do second and third printings."

"My goal for any of the books is, can you create a floor of sales that are around the 50,000 mark. That, to me, is a successful independent book by a lot, right, that's a good book and it's a good living and it's a relevant book compared to the sales of the entire industry. Look at books like Undiscovered Country, Stray Dogs, and Department Of Truth that there's the drop at issue two, and then they've all gone back up, not to the issue number one level but they've gone up. The pressure's on anybody to keep a quality book out there and maintain it because they're going to start ordering it as a monthly book and if I can't maintain monthly, then they're going to act accordingly."

(W) Todd McFarlane, Ales Kot (A) Philip Tan, Kevin Keane (A/CA) Brett Booth
Introducing the launch of the second new monthly title spinning out of the SPAWN UNIVERSE, with one of the most popular characters in the entire SPAWN mythology! This book contains three
separate GUNSLINGER stories, each taking a look at his journey through time – from the wild, wild west to the 21st century. Will his 200-year-old past come back to haunt him as he navigates the strange world of 2021? Get ready for the past and present to collide in this new ongoing title! In Shops: Oct 06, 2021 SRP: $5.99

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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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