Image Comics has a long standing tradition of having sought after books. Lately it seems like there have been a number of books that are very sought after and hard to find. Books like Morning Glories, Butcher Baker, Nonplayer and Skullkickers all had stellar debuts that sold out very quickly. Over at Comic Book Resources they were talking to publisher Eric Stephenson about this phenomenon and he describes exactly what leads to the books selling out and becoming hard to find.
You know, it’s pretty simple: Our overprints are fairly conservative. It costs a lot of money to print comics and it costs a lot of money to store comics, and nobody wants to get stuck with a lot of inventory. Once upon a time, that was standard practice, but these days, it just doesn’t make sense to do that. We print what we think will get shops to the next issue. Sometimes those books sell out, sometimes they don’t. When they do sell out — that’s because we underestimated the demand for a certain title and the inventory blew out very, very quickly. If something sells out over the course of a few weeks — you don’t hear about it. And that happens. We sell out of things like “The Walking Dead” or “Morning Glories” or “Chew” and there’s no real fanfare over that. We could announce that “The Walking Dead” sells out every issue, but we don’t.
Every print run for every book is different, based off the orders we receive from retailers. That’s the best indication we have of what demand is and if we fall short of that, then the book sells out. Retailers base their orders off things like pull requests and inquiries from customers. If there isn’t a lot of buzz about something in advance, they don’t have much to go on other than their gut, and sometimes that buzz doesn’t happen until a book is actually on the stands.
Announcing sell outs and putting new covers on second printings — those things give books a second bite at the apple in terms of publicity and raising awareness of something that maybe didn’t get enough attention the first time around. In a perfect world, we’d get that attention right out of the gate, because honestly, doing second printings creates a gap in sales. There’s several weeks that the book is not available, and seriously, I’d rather we were selling copies of the first printing than biding our time waiting for the second printing to hit.