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Independent comics publisher Image Comics has been on quite a nice run of late.
Over the last several years, it has become the norm for the publisher to send first issues of its new series back to press as many as three or four times to accommodate increasing demand from readership for its creator owned titles. A quick glimpse through the news section of this very website will show how a great deal of Image’s interaction with the comic book media is to announce that title X has gone back to press for a second or third printing on the strength of distributor-level sales.
Most Image titles during this renaissance have seen initial runs of between 9,000-12,000 copies, with the norm being somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000. While Image has not set a hard number for their new benchmark, the publisher was clear that the change was coming in response to input from retailers at the recent ComicsPro conference in Portland, Oregon.
In a press release, Corey Murphy, Director of Retail Sales said “We’ve been listening to the feedback from the Direct Market, and we would like to take this opportunity to announce that we are now increasing print runs to make sure we don’t find ourselves and our creators in a position where we are constantly going back to press so quickly, or hopefully, at all… We don’t want to spend our creators’ money carelessly, but that being said, we understand how essential it is to the health and wellbeing of our retail partners, the creators we work with, and Image itself, that we make the necessary investments in our series.”
Publisher Eric Stephenson joked about the volume of press releases related to reprints, saying “This is an issue we’ve wrestled with for some time now, but in all honestly, we’d love it if this announcement was the last press release we ever had to send out about sell outs or second printings. It’s more important to us that these comics are in stores when readers come looking for them.”
It will now be on retailers to determine if this move by Image sees success, or if the increased print runs result in a glut of back issues which go unsold, not unlike many of the titles released by the Big Two publishers, DC and Marvel Comics.