Image Comics Mostly Direct Edition Sales

Slide from Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates; discussion below.

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This slide is part of my post entitled
Newsstand Rarity Discussion & Estimates where I have collected quotes and graphics related to the discussion of relative newsstand rarity over the years, compared to direct edition copies. In this slide, I am discussing a quote by Chuck Rozanski about how Image Comics sold fully 99% of their comics as direct edition copies:

“Another consideration about newsstand editions is that different publishers produced them at different times. Image, for example, had a vigorous newsstand program right from the beginning, but still sold 99% of their comics through the Direct Market. Dark Horse has been extremely spotty, with most licenced comics having newsstand distribution, while almost none of their own titles came with barcodes. We are still struggling to figure out all these crazy variations.”
— Chuck Rozanski, Newsstand Editions History

What is particularly interesting to me about this quote, is that it provides insight into how the newsstand sales percentages were different at different publishers. Image Comics, as an up-start in 1992, had an incredible amount of competition not just from magazines but other comic book publishers on newsstands. The idea that fully 99% of Image’s comic book sales were direct edition copies made to comic shops, would give Image’s newsstand comics an extreme level of comparative rarity to direct edition copies.

Presumably the most popular titles like Spawn would have done better than other titles, for instance I quote Erik Larsen in another slide about how Savage Dragon sold so poorly on newsstands that he pulled the newsstand plug and went exclusively direct edition by 1996 (Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 being his final attempt on the newsstand, and an incredibly rare comic book to find).

Manufacturing choices such as cheap newsprint paper and omitting special features such as centerfold posters may have been an attempt by Image to control costs and try to remain competitive on the newsstands. Manufacturing differences such as these cause CGC to “break out” newsstand copies of some Image titles, so we can actually see the count of each type — in another slide I present the current census count for a series of Image titles, where we find as of this writing in 2016 that across ten known examples, 3,359 direct edition copies appear on census, versus 107 newsstand copies (3% newsstand to 97% direct edition).

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