With the recent news that Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards is headed for FX, it seemed like a good time to take a look at the book’s by-the-numbers performance in the comic book market.
When it was released in April of 2014, the first issue of Southern Bastards managed to slug its way into Diamond’s Top 50, selling 38,029 copies in comic book shops. That number doesn’t account take into account digital sales, which are not publicly available. Since that time, the series has shed roughly 59% of the readership it enjoyed at launch. However, that number isn’t entirely out of line with standard attrition rates from first issues. When comparing the book’s second-issue sales (typically a better indicator of long-term performance) to the May numbers, Southern Bastards has seen an approximate drop of 32% in month-to-month readership. Despite the decrease, post-debut sales have averaged 19,826 copies per month or, as Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine) recently called it, “buy drinks for your friends”-level sales.
Some of this can be attributed to release delays. While Southern Bastards has had a somewhat irregular schedule, typically releasing every other month, Aaron has stated in Tumblr Q&As that the delays are a result of devotion to quality over timeliness. He has had to balance his work on the title with his heavy workload at Marvel, managing big events as well as the successful Thor and Star Wars titles, all of which have been well-received, bearing out his approach.
Southern Bastards has also done quite well in the trade market. The first volume debuted in October to a #6 ranking in the charts, selling nearly 6,500 copies according to Diamond. Since then the trades have done quite well, selling an average of just around 1,500 copies per month in the direct market. The second volume of Southern Bastards debuted in may to a #4 finish on Diamond’s charts with a total of 5,143 copies sold in the direct market.
In May, Southern Bastards was nominated for the Will Eisner Awards for Best Continuing Series. This came as no surprise, as the series has consistently scored well among critics. The current average series score on ComicBookRoundup.com sits at 9.0, with individual issues scoring as high as 9.5 when scores from various reviewers are aggregated.
Thanks to its consistently high quality, Southern Bastards has survived publication delays to become a critically acclaimed and commercially successful hit for Aaron and Latour. Prices on back issues continue to climb, and will likely keep doing so in the wake of the TV series announcement. How far the series can go depends only on Aaron’s willingness to continue creating it, and it appears it won’t be stopping any time soon.