Weekend Pattering for December 28th, 2015-- The Monday Morning Edition

** We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas weekend, a great holiday season and that you all have a great week leading up to the new year.

** Angouleme Festival Releases Official Selections For 2016 Show (The Comics Reporter)-- Tom Spurgeon has the rundown of the official selections for the upcoming Angouleme International Comics Festival next month, Jan 28th-31st 2016.

If you're looking for an international flavor to your reading list for 2016, this list is a pretty good place to start.  Remember that while it takes a while and that your Amazon Prime may not work for it, you can always order books from Amazon.fr.  I've used this before to get Moebius books that haven't yet been translated into Englis and to get a wonderful looking adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo that looks so much nicer than the version that DC put together a few years ago.

** Is Marvel’s Relaunch Stumbling Out of the Gate? (The Beat)
** TILTING AT WINDMILLS: Trouble on the Horizon? (Comic Book Resources)-- As we look at closing out 2015 and entering into 2016, these two articles from the past couple of weeks paint a dire picture for the Direct Market in the near future.  One of the stories of 2015 has been Marvel's domination of the DM, mostly through events and Star Wars.  Just for November 2015, Marvel had over 40% of the DM in both units and dollars.  Other than DKIII, the top 10 books were all Marvel and mostly #1 issues.

Based on Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in November 2015
22359.82SEP150827-MSTAR WARS VADER DOWN #1$4.99MAR
33168.77SEP150699-MDEADPOOL #1$4.99MAR
45165.46JUL150718-MSECRET WARS #7$3.99MAR
56124.98AUG150752-MEXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #1$4.99MAR
710118.50AUG150870-MSTAR WARS #11$3.99MAR
84118.19MAR150760-MUNCANNY X-MEN #600$5.99MAR
911115.09SEP150835-MSTAR WARS #12$3.99MAR
108111.96SEP150716-MALL NEW WOLVERINE #1$4.99MAR
Both Todd Allen (The Beat) and Brian Hibbs' (CBR) analysis are Direct Market-based, which is at best an incomplete view of comics.  But unfortunately, it is a critical element of comics as the Direct Market is the retail arm of the comics industry.  Marvel and DC, and to a lesser extent still Image, are the traffic and sales drivers for comics.  Through them and the shops that they support, all kinds of independent and alternative comics count on the shelf space that they help generate.  There are other methods of distribution (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, online shops) but the DM is a huge financial supporter of creators and retailers.  

So looking ahead to the first portion of 2016, these are the business oracles we have:
(Allen @ The Beat) I’m occasionally accused of being a bit cynical, but the numbers on this first batch of #2 and #3 issues is what I would have expected to see with the March or April estimates – around #6 for the various series – if nothing clicked with the audience and the usual attrition set in. This really does appear to be slow start for the relaunch. Everyone was hoping to see more titles settling in the 70K-100K range that’s increasingly rare outside of Event comics or multiple covers.
(Hibbs @ CBR) January 2016 looked pretty mediocre (my orders were a full 25% below December 2015, yow!), but February looks downright awful, with virtually nothing new, exciting, or commercial debuting at all. If March follows the normal trend (April is usually the first "big" month at most publishers), I would expect a number of stores to fold or otherwise be extremely harmed by the current trends.
Now, of course, the thing to be aware of is that Mr. Hibbs' analysis is from the point of view of a retailer and a pretty good businessman.

But neither p.o.v. is really addressing anything more than the Direct Market business.  And I honestly don't know how well comics are doing outside of the DM but let's take a look at Barnes and Noble and their recent expansion of their comics and manga section.  There's a good selection of Direct Market comics in B&N's expanded assortment, but I've continued to be pleasantly surprised at the depth of their catalog of comics and manga.  It's not like their comic catalog can compete with the depth of a good comic shop, but B&N seems to acknowledge that comics are more than Marvel and DC, a lesson that a lot of comic shops seem not to have learned yet.  It's also a lesson that Mr. Hibbs suggests stores figure out in 2016.

(Hibbs @ CBR) I would also strongly urge every retailer to take a hard look at what and how you stock, and encourage you to diversify your stock -- I think that the market is starting to say that the days of being a "superhero-only" store are beginning to be numbered. But that isn't a switch that can be made on a dime -- moving the direction of your store is a task that is better measured in seasons than weeks. You can't start early enough.
B&N seems to have started this ahead of Mr. Hibbs' warnings.  If we believe that Mr. Hibbs and Mr. Allen's analysis is in any way a harbinger of things to come in the Direct Market in 2016, it could be a tough few months coming up for some of our favorite retail stores.  

** :01 First Second Books Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary (Previews World)-- Diamond's Previews World website has an interview with First Second's Mark Siegel and Gina Gagliano.  In it's first 10 years, First Second has become a publishing house with one of the best eyes for projects.  Not everything they do is for everyone, but they have a fantastic track record at putting out rich and meaningful comics.  
Mark Siegel: First Second straddles the line between comics publishing and book publishing — this gives us some insight into the market that houses with a focus on a single market may lack. We publish books for an extremely wide and varied readership, through many channels. And we publish books that really mean something to the people who make them — graphic novels with heart.
Congrats to First Second. We can't wait to see what you do in the next ten years.