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Winter 1999: Another winter of discontent

Monday, February 16, 2009

In advance of the January 2009 figures being posted, the sales estimates for January 1999, February 1999, and March 1999 have been added to the main Comichron site. Return to a time when the Dead Quarter was indeed fairly dead — with Kitchen Sink folding at the end of the previous year and sales dropping year-over-year.

It was also a time when DC, having acquired Wildstorm, charged ahead of Marvel even in the narrowest categories of Top 300 comics unit and dollar sales. Marvel's number of entries in the Top 300 bottomed out in February (as can also be seen on the trendline here) at 37 comics, a figure probably not seen since the early 1980s. And we see retailers beginning to catch on that Pokémon is, as mentioned below, for real; the first issue of the second mini-series had nearly triple the initial orders of the first issue of the first, just a few months earlier — and that first Pokébook itself is already on its third printing by this time.

A few notes about the Top 300s, which, as you'll see for January, was just the Top 275. That's an artifact of my tracking rules in those days. First, when something was known to have been canceled, I sometimes removed the item: That was the case in January 1999 with the Kitchen Sink version of the new Crow series; orders were cancelled and it was solicited again by Image a little later in the year. Then there was the ongoing presence of Billy Tucci's Battlebooks, which were games in comic-book form; I'd been sorting those out, as well. Finally, because so few items were offered in January, some kind of promotion whereby Image reoffered what must have been every issue of Spawn caused more than a dozen Spawn issues, some from the early 1990s, to make the bottom of the list. While I wasn't always chopping "Offered Again" comics from the list, I think I must have in January 1999 — assuming that Diamond had made a mistake and put a lot of backlist items on the preorder list. I have the original list somewhere, and will look at possibilities for handling the restoration of that list (and others) to the full 300. It will still cause some problems, as Image will, from the Item Count list, look like it put out way more books than it did.

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