What if... a comic book series started selling a million copies a month?

I've read that back in the 1940's Superman sold a million copies a month.

 

What if a single series started selling like that now?  Never mind why.  To be extremely silly, we'll say that a wizard secretly compels people to start buying copies of a particular book. None of them know that they're being compelled, they rationalize to themselves that they're interested in it.  The point of the exercise right now is to consider what the company's response would be to a sudden insane upsurge in sales of a single title.

 

First off:  Could a book sell a million copies a month? Do even the big companies print a million copies of a single title? If not, how would they respond to a sudden, unexpected, enormous upsurge in demand for a single book?  I've seen the Skipper talk about companies doing multiple printings of a single issue as a sales gimmick, but suppose multiple printings of a title start routinely selling out month after month.  What does the company do?  How quickly would they get themselves geared up to sell a million copies a month?  How quickly could they? Would it make a difference if it was DC or Marvel?  What if  a book by a small independent started selling like that?  Would a small company even have the infrastructure to print that many copies? Would they maybe have to cut a deal with one of the bigger companies?

 

What's it like for the writer/artist team on the book? Can they write their own tickets? What's it like for the writer/artists on the other books, which are still only selling as much as they normally would (Although there might be a bit of a "coat-tails" effect.)  How does the greater culture at large react to this?

 

Let's suppose that this continues for at least five years, month in and month out.  Of course, the company doesn't know this, so we don't know how long it might take them to decide it was more than a fluke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the early 1970s my sister, who was about two or three at the time, picked up our phone and randomly dialed Japan. Don't know what it cost my parents but they weren't happy about it and I was told to keep her away from the phone.

...So you immigrated from the UK to the US in '52 ?

  Were you Scots ?

  Any thoughts on the Scotsdependence referendum ?

Richard Willis said:

I was just watching Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In this 1953 movie set in England*, Abbott's character Slim gets all excited about earning five pounds. The story was also supposed to be in the past. Following WWII the British pound decreased in value from five U.S. dollars to about $1.50. The buying power of five pounds in Victorian England was many times that. When my parents and I emigrated to the USA, Britain still had rationing seven years after WWII. 

* Bud and Lou were supposed to be the only Americans in the movie but 90% of the actors spoke with American accents.

 Now Coke and Pepsi are cutting back their boxes from 24 cans to 20. While the price goes up.

Magazines tend to be very advertising heavy, sometimes more than half ads. Would comics sell better, if, say, Spider-Man was a ten dollar magazine with a hundred pages of comics and a hundred pages of ads?

Ron M. said:

....all theaters are switching to 3D, which means lots more things flying in our faces just like in the 50s.

xxxxx I've tried it but 3D (old and new) doesn't add enough to the experience for me to be worth it. The new 3D glasses take away a lot of the brightness from the screen. What is very positive is the digital projection. It used to be that if you didn't see a movie on its first day the film would be full of scratches. Now no film, no scratches. Not having to print and ship those film canisters all over the world also helps to hold down costs. The smaller the movie-going audience gets the more they have to raise prices and show commercials to keep the doors open.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...So you immigrated from the UK to the US in '52 ?

Were you Scots ?

Any thoughts on the Scotsdependence referendum ?

We were English. I'm all for Scottish independence if the majority wants it.

The commercials are at least a good excuse to get people to go buy popcorn and soda before the movie finally begins. Or read until it they stop.

Bart: "Hey, Homer! Has the movie started yet?"

Homer: (Incoherent cries of anger.)

 

Ron M. said:

....all theaters are switching to 3D, which means lots more things flying in our faces just like in the 50s.

Richard Willis said:

xxxxx I've tried it but 3D (old and new) doesn't add enough to the experience for me to be worth it. The new 3D glasses take away a lot of the brightness from the screen. What is very positive is the digital projection. It used to be that if you didn't see a movie on its first day the film would be full of scratches. Now no film, no scratches. Not having to print and ship those film canisters all over the world also helps to hold down costs. The smaller the movie-going audience gets the more they have to raise prices and show commercials to keep the doors open.

Movie pricing is an arcane subject even more abstruse than postal pricing. In short, the lion's share of ticket sales -- 90 percent or more -- goes to the movie studios during the first week a movie is in release. The theater gets a larger share of the proceeds the longer the movie stays around ... but the longer the movie stays around, the more people have seen it and the audience dwindles, so the theater is getting a bigger share of a smaller box-office take that gets smaller with each passing week. Unless the movie is a monster hit that stays around for more than a couple of months -- like, say, Avatar or My Big Fat Greek Wedding --  your local Bijou barely makes anything on it.

That's why the theater charges so much for the food; that's what it makes its money on.

Mr. Silver Age said:

Most technology gets cheaper and better, which is an incentive to not be an early adopter. Of course, such things as microwave ovens, VCRs, DVDs, PCs, smartphones, etc. aren't cheaper than they were in the 1960s, since we didn't have them, but they're all cheaper than they were when they were introduced.
Back in 1972, when I was a freshman in college, we all oohed and ahhed over a guy's new calculator, which could do sums and square roots and only cost $100.

One time after my home computer was struck by lightning, I found the receipt for the first computer I ever bought, back in the '80s. It was $3,000, and it had a hard drive that was about 720 megabytes. Today for $2,500, you would get 16 g RAM, a 2 terabyte hard drive, and enough computing power to fly the space shuttle. 

Mr. Silver Age said:

Comics have tried various ways of reducing the price, but I don't know that they've found any that significantly change demand. People complain about comics' cost, but I don't know that if the price of a $4 comic was dropped by a dollar, they'd buy another comic with every three they were buying.

I would. I know that at $4 each, I'm NOT buying that fourth comic and am raiding the quarter 50-cent dollar bins.

ClarkKent_DC said:

One time after my home computer was struck by lightning, I found the receipt for the first computer I ever bought, back in the '80s. It was $3,000, and it had a hard drive that was about 720 megabytes. Today for $2,500, you would get 16 g RAM, a 2 terabyte hard drive, and enough computing power to fly the space shuttle.

Our first in 1998 was $1,000 for 1 GB of hard drive and not much memory.

Anybody remember the Commodore Vic-20?

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