The Newsstand Gamble

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 from Erik Larsen about newsstand sales of Savage Dragon comics:

“I can’t speak for the big two but I pulled Savage Dragon off the newsstand when it started costing me money. It wasn’t that I was breaking even — I was actually losing money.”

“#28 was the last newsstand issue (although there was a newsstand one shot called Spawn/Savage Dragon #1, which was #30. Returnable books and the newsstand gamble have put many ambitious publishers out of business.

— Erik Larsen

What is particularly interesting to me about this quote is that “the newsstand gamble” of returnable sales was a money-losing proposition for Savage Dragon comics by 1996, implying that sales towards that end date for the title were very low. In the context of the quote from another slide about how Image Comics sold fully 99% of their comics as direct editions, this quote by Larsen really drives the point home that Image Comics newsstand editions are incredibly rare as a percentage of the sales of any given issue, and then title by title we may see more variability.

The fact that there was no newsstand version of #31 suggests that sales of Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 were too low to justify continuation of newsstand sales, despite all the extra effort that went into that final attempt (extra efforts to attract newsstand buyers included an “as seen on TV” logo on the newsstand version, and a combination-Spawn/Savage-Dragon-logo). If the 99% direct to 1% newsstand ratio holds for Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1, and if sales of issue #30 were within the 35,000-40,000 ballpark range suggested by what we see for issues around that same time (#32 is when the monthly sales data starts at Comichron), and then applying a sales boost for having Spawn on the cover, then the math suggests there may only be on the order of 400 copies of Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 out there…

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