Anyways, it may sound a bit weird announcing that Skullkickers #1 first printing has ‘sold out at the distribution level before release‘. What does that mean and how does that happen? Can people still buy copies on September 22nd?
Okay, here’s how it goes:
Comics are solicited 3 months in advance of their actual release (book stores order way earlier than that. 6-9 months usually). This means comic retailers who have accounts with Diamond Distribution receive a catalogue of upcoming titles and can place an order for the number of copies they’d like to stock.
Unlike book stores, comic book retailers purchase these comics outright from Diamond, so there are no returns (except in rare cases). This helps stabilize income for smaller comic publishers (they won’t get hit with returns and restocking fees later on so the money they get is what they’ve earned) but it also means most retailers are afraid to try new titles if they’re unsure it will sell because they’d be stuck with them. There isn’t a lot of incentive to take risks on new things, especially from untested/unknown talent. They’re safer off seeing what gets popular and jumping on later rather than trailblazing.
Skullkickers is an unknown quantity and retailers responded with the expected pretty-good-but-not-great orders when we hit the Final Order Cut-Off deadline. That’s the date when retailers can change their numbers and print runs are set by publishers. Talking to the reps at Image, they felt the book had been under ordered and it was possible we could move quite a few more with reorders after issue #1 came out and good of word of mouth grew for the series. We put together a generous overprint (to cover any copies damaged in shipping and to absorb those hopeful reorders) and then crossed our fingers reorders would be strong.
Right after that cut off date, Skullkickers received some great coverage on several comic sites (notably, Bleeding Cool‘s positive assessment) and more advance reviews popped up with very positive feedback. Retailers responded with reorder requests and, when more positive coverage hit, those late orders grew again. Eric Stephenson at Image asked us to prep a possible 2nd printing cover in case we had to go back to press on the issue right after launch in order to fulfil those late orders.
Well, something awesome seems to be rolling because those extra orders have now roared past our overprint number and Image is going back to print on the book even before it comes out in order to meet retailer demand. It’s pretty much the best case scenario for a new indy series trying to get extra interest with potential readers and it puts us in a good spot at the upcoming New York Comicon in early October.
So, in short, (this) week you can buy copies of Skullkickers #1 first printing. Grab them while they last. If your local comic shop ordered copies then they’ll be there. If they didn’t order any (and that is the case with many stores), they can now get 2nd printing issue 1′s on October 13th, one week before issue #2 hits store shelves.
We’re not out of the woods yet. This is still the comics business and an unknown title. I assure you, there are no dump trucks of money to be had on something like this. Even with possible reprint sales we’ll be doing our best to just carve out something sustainable. If the buzz can carry over to a stable readership from issue #2 onwards that would be fantastic. I’m ecstatic and doing my best to stay level-headed while simultaneously feeling amazing about the book’s potential. I don’t want empty hype or to build expectations too high on it, I just want people to jump on board a new comic series and have as much fun reading it as we’ve had putting it together.