List of Low-Selling Books Ostensibly on the Brink of Being Cancelled

Anyone have any insights on the likelihood of this?  If it happens, that list contains every Marvel book that I'm currently reading except Spider-Gwen.

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Life Model Decoys!

If only Roy Thomas was involved!

Then again they would all forget about it at the end!

Doctor Hmmm? said:

A hoax? A dream? An imaginary story? Lifelike simulacra conjured up from Roy the Boy's memories by the Supreme Intelligence?

 As I recall they threw him a 'welcome back to life party'.

Randy Jackson said:

Yes. He got better.

Captain Comics said:

Wasn't Nightcrawler dead for a while?

As you do.
You laugh, but you'd be disappointed if we didn't do it for you.

Captain Comics said:

Also, some series have had more than one #1 in a calendar year. Squirrel Girl comes to mind; she had a series that started in March 2015, was canceled with issue #8 (October), and had a new #1 in December.

The December 2015 cover has this blurb: "ONLY OUR SECOND #1 SO FAR THIS YEAR".

I'm not surprised the "mass cancellation" story was debunked.  I had never heard of that website before, and sales below 20,000 as a cancellation level feels at least a decade out of date to me.  With things like TPBs, hardcovers, Omnibus collections and digital sales as part of the equation, my *guess* is the cancellation threshold is more likely around 15,000, and not at all a hard and fast rule at that.

I applaud the re-numbering.  I'm with the rest of you:  it's just too darn confusing with all of the major titles having multiple volumes so that you have several ASM #1s and the like.  I didn't even know about how confusing the trade paperbacks have become as well.  Marvel's philosophy of flooding the market seems to be now blowing up in their faces.

Like TV ratings, the simple numbers should not be the only criterion. If the decision-maker only has to say that this number is higher than that number then they shouldn't be making much money. A ten-year-old could tell you the same thing.

In addition to the numbers, whoever is making the decision has to evaluate the comic or TV show and decide if it has "legs." To use the TV analogy, many very successful shows started with miserable ratings. Smart people were in the right place at the right time and recognized the potential. Hopefully, people smart enough to recognize potential are in a position to head off cancellation of comics that one day will be very popular and successful.

Also, of course, numbers are relative. I'm sure if an X-Men comic brought in the numbers that, say, Squirrel Girl pulls, that would be reason enough to cancel it. But for a property like SG, less is expected. The worst-selling X-Men book is probably in more danger than a Doctor Strange book selling at around that level.

Back in the late ‘90s, a Marvel rep visited my LCS at the time. The end of “Heroes Reborn” was rapidly approaching and (among other questions) he was polling readers at stores across the Midwest whether “Heroes Return” should resume original numbering or start with new number ones. I was talking to him with a group of five or six other customers and our opinion was unanimous: resume original numbering. He said that that was the majority opinion in the stores he had polled. I realize that’s hardly a random sampling, but I think it illustrates the boost a “new number one” gives sales.

By now, Marvel has that science down to a fine art. I think they know exactly (well, approximately, depending on a number of factors) how long such a boost will last and when it will taper off. Have you looked at the new Marvel Reading Chronology that was given away free a couple of weeks ago? I think it illustrates the trend I’m referring to. Look at all of the series that have been restated (some more than once or twice) in the past couple of years. Most of them last between 15 and 25 issues before being restarted as a “new number one” to goose sales. Sometimes there’s a logical reason for the restart (a new creative team and/or new direction), but other time (as with Silver Surfer, for example), the numbering is rebooted for no apparent reason other than to boost sales.

The psychology of digital sales might be different. My first thought was it might reduce the value of no 1s, as renumbering makes it harder to follow a series. But on reflection, it might raise their value. When you have a whole page of equally-available and priced issues to look at, why start in media res with the latest one? Nos 1 that are story-starts and creator-run starts would be the logical issues to look for.

A few more thoughts:

I've never tried to watch a soap opera on DVD, but I imagine the storylines feel shapeless. Digital availability might make it more necessary for story arcs to be satisfying as wholes, rather than on an issue by issue basis.

When I was a kid comics had content that explained how they related to other titles: ads, bullpen pages, editors' notes. Letters page contained information about recent issues and the characters' histories.

I was also aware of what was going on in comics didn't buy. I made my buying selections carefully, so I looked at titles didn't choose; I had a cousin I shared comics with; the bulletins pages had some information; and Marvel and DC didn't put out as many titles, and as many universe titles. Such phenomena may have been a factor in why shared universes worked.

Luke Blanchard said:

My first thought was it might reduce the value of no 1s, as renumbering makes it harder to follow a series.

If digital comics can be presented in year/month sequence and not just issue number sequence that would solve the problem.

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