Monday, October 15, 2007

Heroes for Hire: The Numbers Are In

I didn't see anyone else mention it before now, I'm surprised.

ICv2 just released its top 300 comics list for September, which includes everyone's favorite "tentacle rape" issue of Heroes for Hire.

HfH#13 comes in at 40,086 copies sold and sits at #51 on the list.

HfH#12 in July was at 41,229 copies and was ranked #64.

While it's true that sales dropped a bit (1143 copies), its ranking rose. And there's a fairly large difference between the top-selling item in July (Thor #1, 165,325 copies) and September (World War Hulk #4, 148,610 copies), and I wonder if sales weren't generally a bit down for last month, or if perhaps it's a result of there being no super #1 debut/death of iconic hero to buoy up the month's sales. (After re-reading that, I checked: in June, HfH #11 was #53, at 41,298 copies, and WWH#1 was at the top, with sales over 170,000.) Another contributing factor to the slip may be the gap in publication (no issue in August).

Results, therefore: inconclusive. I can't point to the comic and say, "see! boobies and bondage sells!", but on the other hand, it's hard to make a definitive claim like "see! gratuitous offensive sexist material kills sales!", either. I don't think the losses are really all that great. One might speculate that any loss of readers from offense was offset by gains from drooling fanboys, although that would have to assume that those feeling offended actually were buying the title in the first place.

What may actually be the case is that for most comics buyers, having a bondage scene on the cover isn't really all that important an issue either way.

What may be a contributing factor is CONTROVERSY, CONTROVERSY, CONTROVERSY.

Because, May? Ranked #109, with sales of 20,503. Sales after that month doubled. And when did the whole cover controversy break, again...?

Okay, an edit because I'm a moron: of course, it's the World War Hulk tie-ins. dur. With that factored in, even controversy as selling point becomes questionable.


James Meeley said...


Actually, these numbers do point out one thing, it would seem that IS conclusive: The raging complaints/controversy of comic feminists online has no effect in deterring sales of an item they deem offensive.

Since the sales numbers of H4H #13 seem to be fairly equal with #12 (especially when you take in the difference in sales of the #1 selling titels from both months), it seems their attempt to "enlighten" people into not buying such material shows pretty much zero effect.

So, if nothing else, the numbers have shown that everyone who's said "bitching online won't change a thing" were pretty much on the money. Not that it'll change the tactics of comic feminism, mind you, but it is nice to know that those of us who thing raging online is a waste of time and effort have been prove right in this case.

Kirk said...

Jesus Christ, James, your Male Entitlement is so huge that it makes me ashamed to be a member of the same gender as you.

If you're going to go that route, though, I'll respond in kind, because what this proves conclusively is that this type of "sex" doesn't sell - at least, not when compared to non-"sex"-based sales, anyway - so there's no real commercial reason to resort to it.

Therefore, if this type of "sex" doesn't have a commercial justification - and it definitely doesn't have an artistic justification, since even the publishers of porn comics have said they wouldn't have run the Heroes For Hire cover - then the only reason to publish such images is as a direct "fuck you" to women.

And the fact that you are complaining about other people complaining online is hilarious, not in the least because I remember you telling everyone on Fanboy Rampage!!! that online taunting had actually lled you to tears. You are the dictionary definition of a hysterically irrational bitch, James.

James Meeley said...


From where I'm sitting, it looks like YOU are the one being the "hysterically irrational bitch."

Therefore, if this type of "sex" doesn't have a commercial justification - and it definitely doesn't have an artistic justification, since even the publishers of porn comics have said they wouldn't have run the Heroes For Hire cover - then the only reason to publish such images is as a direct "fuck you" to women.

Actually, there are other reasons. It could be that by the time the cover was done, it was too close to deadline time to have another made, without pushing back the schedule on the book. And given the amount of flak Marvel and DC get for that on any given day, perhaps the cover was thought the lesser of two evils.

Maybe they thought the cover would be a nice spotlight for this female artist and would be a good way to try to bring her into the superhero fold.

What it seems to me, is that you fail to factor in, is that comic sales in general are a mere shadow of what they used to be. It seems no matter what stunt they pull, nothing can get the numbers much above 200k on the best selling book on the chart. So, to say "this type of 'sex' doesn't sell", is a bit disingenuious, to say the least, since NOTHING seems to really sell.

And the "non-sex" stuff you claim proves it doesn't, is what? Major mini-series events and "tried and true" series that have always sold. Honestly, you can't say with any assuredness that this tyoe of thing does or doesn't sell in this current marketplace.

The only conclusive point is that all the online whining and complaining had really no effect on the sales of this issue. You'd think it would have. Of course, as anon noted, I'd have to wonder how many of the complainers actually read the book before that saw that cover and compmained. I'd be willing to bet a mojority of them didn't, nor would they have picked it up if the cover was altered or changed.

As for Fanboy Rampage, it stands as the ultimate example of how online bitching changes nothing. I'm really at the point of just being sick to death of people who only find joy in insulting others and hating on something. What a sad and pathetic statement that is on comic fandom. It makes ME ashamed to be a fan of comics. If all one can do is find fault in something, maybe the problem isn't the thing you hate. maybe the problem is YOU. Maybe that's not the thing for you. Maybe that's not where you should be.

No one is forced to read this stuff, or go to see the new solicits, or go to places where they know it will just anger and distress them. It seems there is this illusion in people's minds that, if I stick it out and complain enough, something will be changed to how I like. Sorry, that's not how it works. These publishers are interested in one thing: making money. If you complaints don't cost them money, or if your peticular demographic isn't big enough to be an economic force to make them money, you won't be listened to, no matter how much you complain. That's the facts.

So, maybe it is time to do something else. Maybe it's time to put ACTIONS ahead of words. You want a change, make it within yourself. And maybe once you've done that, you'll find things on the outside might start to change, too. But seeing as you have such a fond rememberence of Fanboy Rampage, I doubt you have what it takes to do that. Otherwise, you'd have done it long ago.

Anonymous said...

I know one person who bought this book when they normally would not have, just because of the cover.

In fact my fiance screamed "TENTACOO WAPE!" and snatched it right up... I was rather ashamed and slightly confused. I had been told by the blogosphere that a intelligent, well read, modern woman should not have such a reaction to this brand of smut?

Anonymous said...

That's because your girlfriend's one of them weirdos. Guess she's not really an intelligent, well read, modern woman afterall. Don't feel bad. It's perfectly normal to be ashamed of her, most normal people would be too.

Anon, A Mouse said...

"Therefore, if this type of "sex" doesn't have a commercial justification - and it definitely doesn't have an artistic justification, since even the publishers of porn comics have said they wouldn't have run the Heroes For Hire cover - then the only reason to publish such images is as a direct "fuck you" to women."

Let's not let our hyperbole run away with us, all right?

First up, as far as I'm aware, only one publisher of porn comics has stated they would not run the cover, and that would be Elin Winkler, of Radio Comix. (Perhaps multiple people from Radio have stated similar things, but that would still actually be one publishing entity.)

The only other comment I know of that comes close was along the lines of, "well, I wouldn't have run that for a mainstream superhero comic", which isn't quite the same as saying "it's not even suitable for porn". (If you know of more, do inform me.)

It should also be mentioned that Elin Winkler makes a point of putting out "girl friendly" porn, which means, I guess, things she doesn't consider offensive or misogynistic (which right there makes her something of a minority in porn publications in general), so having her not want to publish the image is hardly surprising. Now, if Larry Flynt had said it was an unsuitable cover for porn, that might actually mean something.

But whether porn publishers would have run the cover or not, that has absolutely zero to do with "artistic justification".


On a different note, I'm a bit nonplussed by the whole "James Meeley vs. half the blogosphere" thing that's been going on in my comments section every other post.

From context, I get that James has apparently been very outspoken in the past to the point of garnering ire among many people. Frankly, I don't think I WANT to understand the whole back-history. I am in the cool, refreshing state of Do Not Give Even the Slightest Fuck About All That right now.

So here is my new blog rule: Anyone who wants to respond to James in this blog will confine themselves to the issue I have posted about and any relevant comments about such that James might make. What he did on some other site in some past month or year should be LEFT IN THAT OTHER SITE OR YEAR.

Lest anyone think I am playing favorites, here's a bit of an admonition to James: Dude, some of your past comments have been on the preachy side, and you may want to watch that.

James Meeley said...


Hey, man, I respect your view. This is your blog, after all. You make the rules. I'm cool with whatever call you make.

And thanks for giving me your criticism, without also insulting me with it. I do appreciate it.