Thursday, November 16, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Screaming Citadel Mile High Comics Exclusives

Mile High Comics commissioned exclusive covers for all five parts of the Screaming Citadel event.  The connecting covers are all drawn by Mike Mayhew.  Mayhew's first Star Wars artwork appears on the interior pages of Dark Horse's The Star Wars 8-issue mini-series, but he has drawn a couple of issues of Marvel's main Star Wars title as well as provide cover artwork for several issues.

The Screaming Citadel story draws heavily from gothic horror and Mayhew's covers do an excellent job portraying that genre.  The planet Ktath'atn is an ideal location with grey skies, ample fog, and lightning which is the background for Mayhew's artwork.  The cover art for Screaming Citadel #1 shows Luke Skywalker while an image of the Queen's face is in the background.  The Queen feeds on the life energy of others, not unlike a vampire.

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1f - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
The artwork on Star Wars #31 shows several of Marvel's original characters that appear in this story: Doctor Aphra, Sana Starros, Triple-Zero, and BT-1.

Star Wars #31d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Princess Leia is on the cover of Doctor Aphra #7.  Strangely there is a Star Destroyer in the sky, but no Imperials appear in the story.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #7c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Star Wars #32 captures the desired gothic horror mood better than any of the covers.  The Wookiee Black Krrsantan is infected by a Abersyn symbiote in the story and turns on our heroes.  On the cover, he is doing a good impersonation of a werewolf.  The red planet in the background and the fog add to the effect and this is my favorite of the covers.  The only flaw is there are more Star Destroyers in the sky.

Star Wars #32d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
The final cover for Doctor Aphra #8 shows Han Solo fighting off the Abersyn symbiotes.  In the background is the Citadel which looks very much like a futuristic Dracula's castle.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Here is what the five covers connected look like:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Modern Marvel: Color Your Own Star Wars: Darth Vader

Late last year, Marvel published the coloring book Color Your Own Star Wars.  Marvel released another Color Your Own Star Wars in September, this time for Darth Vader.  Like the previous book, this book contains 120 pages with 59 pages of artwork to be colored and measures 7 1/4" x 11".  One side of the page is blank and the pages are perforated so they can be removed.

Color Your Own Star Wars: Darth Vader - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
The pages are full sized pin-ups of Darth Vader take from the comics.  The cover is the same artwork from the standard Darth Vader (2015) #1 issue, with half of the art uncolored.

As a comic book collector, these are interesting because of the comic artwork used inside.  I believe these books are overpriced at the $9.99 retail price and they can be found cheaper if you look around.  You are basically paying for 59 black and white pages of artwork that were already published elsewhere.  Two full color comics at $3.99 each costs $7.98 which seems like a more reasonable price for these coloring books.  Regardless, they must sell well enough at $9.99 because Marvel is releasing Color Your Own Star Wars: Han Solo in May 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fan-Made: Japanese After Order 66: Case of Rex

Mollo's second Star Wars comic, After Order 66: Case of Rex, was released at Comiket C92 in August 2017.  This self-published, unofficial fan-made comic is manga style.  It is slightly larger than a standard comic, measuring 7" x 10", and contains 64 black and white pages.  Like Order 66: Case of Wolffe, the dialogue is in both English and Japanese.

Captain Rex is arguably the best known clone trooper, having appeared in 66 episodes (was this done on purpose?) of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and over 20 episodes of Star Wars Rebels animated show.  He was introduced in The Clone Wars film that led into the television show.  The story inside the comic chronicles events after Order 66 was executed and includes significant appearances by Ahsoka Tano as well as Darth Vader.  The story ends with Captain Rex, Captain Gregor, and Commander Wolffe all aboard a spacecraft and fits nicely into canon.  These three clone troopers would appear together years later on the planet Seelos in the episode "The Lost Commanders" in the 3rd episode of the 2nd season of the Rebels animated series.

After Order 66: Case of Rex a (August 2017)
The sturdy cover is a profile of Captain Rex.  I'm hoping Mollo's next comic will be about Captain Gregor to complete the series about the trio of clone troopers that survived together for many, many years.

Mollo maintains a blog on Tumlr that you can visit to learn more about his artwork.  After Order 66: Case of Rex can be ordered at Etsy.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

IDW's Star Wars Adventures Debuts In September

In September, IDW shipped their first Star Wars title to retailers.  This is new territory for Star Wars; having two different publishers in the U.S. publishing comic pamphlets for the franchise.  It is also new territory for my analysis; I decided to analyze the Marvel and IDW titles separately for now.  If you have a preference on if I should analyze them together or separate, please let me know.

Comichron released the September 2017 estimated sales last month and again the Star Wars titles held steady.  The top selling Marvel book was Marvel Legacy #1 in 1st place and the top selling DC issue was Dark Nights Metal #2 in 2nd place and no Star Wars comic placed in the top 10 due mostly to the Dark Nights Metal tie-in books.  The top selling Star Wars comic was Journey to Star Wars Last Jedi - Captain Phasma in 11th place and the main Star Wars title, placing 13th, remained Marvel's top selling ongoing title.  For IDW, Star Wars Adventures double shipped and was their best selling title for the month in 33rd and 73rd place.  The next closest IDW comic, TMNT Ongoing #74, was in 156th place.

Marvel


TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Captain Phasma11171,339n/an/a
Star Wars361364,89965,943-1.58%
Darth Vader51559,47758,380+1.88%
Star Wars Annual33448,926n/an/a
Captain Phasma23845,90671,339-35.65%
Jedi Republic - Mace Windu25238,84462,543-37.89%
Doctor Aphra125835,47036,472-2.75%
Poe Dameron197531,88733,443-4.65%
Rogue One611022,02522,372-1.55%

As expected, there was little movement on the main Star Wars title.  Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and the final issue of the Rogue One mini-series were also little changed.  Like last month, Rogue One fell just outside the top 100 comics for the month.

Captain Phasma debuted to better sales than last month's Jedi Republic - Mace Windu start with a separation of just under 9,000 estimated units.  Captain Phasma has the advantage of being associated with the upcoming Star Wars movie while Mace Windu has the disadvantage of being attached to the frequently maligned prequel trilogy.  Captain Phasma double shipped and the 2nd issue saw a standard drop.  Mace Windu's 2nd issue also saw a standard drop.  Captain Phasma will have the advantage of wrapping up in October when the final two issues of the 4-part mini-series ship, while Mace Windu's 5-part mini-series is shipping monthly.  Mace Windu has not received positive reactions, mostly due to the artwork.

Star Wars Annual #3 only sold an estimated 48,926 units, well below the main Star Wars title's estimated 64,899 units.  August's Doctor Aphra Annual #1 and June's Poe Dameron Annual #1 had sales inline with their ongoing titles' numbers.  Maybe because the main Star Wars title sells better than both those titles by quite a bit, retailers feel comfortable order those annuals closer in numbers to those ongoing titles.

The only significant movement with an ongoing title was with Poe Dameron which fell 4.65%.  Poe Dameron #19 supplanted Poe Dameron #15 as the lowest selling issue in the title.

Next month, the final Jason Aaron Star Wars issue ships and, in November, Kieron Gillen takes over.  His inaugural arc on the title is The Ashes of Jedha which sees the original trilogy heroes interact with the consequences of events from Rogue One.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972
January 2017161,014353,671
February 2017262,889465,722
March 2017214,603453,650
April 2017274,262554,852
May 2017285,363647,560
June 2017495,588955,065
July 2017326,062746,580
August 2017425,473947,274
September 2017418,023946,447

The average sale per issue of 46,447, the lowest so far, would rank 38th on the top 300 chart for the month of September.  Marvel's Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprints, and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

IDW


TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars Adventures13349,184n/an/a
Star Wars Adventures27332,13449,184-34.67%

Star Wars Adventures debuted with numbers that would be considered low for a Marvel Star Wars title, but I imagine for IDW these are strong numbers.  IDW is the fourth largest comic publisher in the U.S. behind Marvel, DC, and Image.  Dark Horse, publisher of Star Wars comics for over 20 years, at one time was the third largest publisher but they were clearly impacted by the loss of the Star Wars license.  Could IDW see significant sales movement up now that they have a license to publish Star Wars comics and possibly challenge Image for third place?

Unfortunately for them, unlike Dark Horse, they are not the only publisher of Star Wars comics and in many fans' opinion, they are not the most significant publisher due to them being confined to all-age comics.  In fact, with the initial issue, there are already fans questioning whether or not these comics are considered canon.  When it comes to big franchises like Star Wars, many fans cannot afford all the published material available and prefer stories in canon over stories that are not.  IDW would be better served creating comics with compelling tales that, while not as sophisticated as a Marvel multi-issue story arc, readily fit into canon.  They should be creating single issue stories along the line of Marvel's single issue stories, but with characters that look like they came from a Star Wars cartoon.  With an anthology title, they have an advantage Marvel does not have, they can tell stories from any era using any character.

It isn't clear if Star Wars Adventures will be the only ongoing Star Wars title that IDW will publish.  There has been an announcement of a Rogue One graphic novel akin to The Force Awakens graphic novel they published in August.  Additionally, a series of one-shots based on the Forces of Destiny sub-brand have been announced.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
September 201781,318240,659

The average sale per issue of 40,659 would rank 50th on the top 300 chart for the month of September.


Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimates Charts and please read the blog posting Marvel up 14% year-over-year in September as Legacy #1 tops charts; overall market pares losses.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Star Wars Steady in August

Comichron released the August 2017 estimated sales a few months back and the Star Wars titles held steady.  Dark Nights Metal #1 was the top selling book followed by Batman #28 and 29.  Marvel's top selling comic was Secret Empire #10 in 4th place, but the main Star Wars title remained Marvel's best selling ongoing title.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars34966,62874,969-11.13%
Star Wars351065,94366,628-1.03%
Jedi Republic - Mace Windu11262,543n/an/a
Darth Vader41458,38059,522-1.92%
Rogue One - Cassian & K2SO Special13043,765n/an/a
Doctor Aphra115036,47237,481-2.69%
Doctor Aphra Annual15234,473n/an/a
Poe Dameron186133,44334,250-2.36%
Rogue One510222,37223,826-6.10%

Last month Star War #33 was the first of a series of five standalone stories by Jason Aaron.  The last standalone story will be Star Wars #37 at which point new writer Kieron Gillen will take over the main Star Wars title with issue #38.  While Star Wars #34 saw a higher than normal drop of 11.13% from the previous issue, I expect the remaining Jason Aaron issues to sell at similar levels.  Star Wars double shipped in August and issue #35 fell less than 700 units.

Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Poe Dameron also had insignificant drops in units sold.  The penultimate issue of the Rogue One mini-series fell another 1,400+ units and is the first Marvel issue to not place in the top 100 comics sold for the month.

Jedi Republic - Mace Windu had the lowest debut of a non-movie adaptation mini-series.  Obi-Wan Kenobi & Anakin Skywalker had the previous lowest debut with an estimated 102,861 initial units sold.  In comparison, Jedi Republic - Mace Windu had an anemic start of 62,543 units.  It is hard to say why Mace Windu #1 had lower numbers; the last non-movie adaptation was Darth Maul which had initial sales of 105,177 estimated initial units.  Based on the initial negative reactions to Mace Windu #1, I expect the title to not hold up very well.

Marvel had nine issues in August and one-shots accounted for the last two comics.  Rogue One - Cassian & K2SO Special had decent sales, coming in as the 30th place comic and Doctor Aphra Annual had sales inline with the ongoing series.

Also shipping in August was the first comic from IDW, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens graphic novel.  This book is the U.S. version of the same comic published overseas.  The first six movie adaptations were published overseas as well and were collected into original and prequel trilogy books published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press.  As this is a graphic novel and not a pamplet, it was not included into the above chart, but next month the first pamphlet from IDW, the all-age Star Wars Adventures begins.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972
January 2017161,014353,671
February 2017262,889465,722
March 2017214,603453,650
April 2017274,262554,852
May 2017285,363647,560
June 2017495,588955,065
July 2017326,062746,580
August 2017425,473947,274

The average sale per issue of 47,274 would rank 28th on the top 300 chart for the month of August.  Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprint titles, and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimates Charts and please read the blog posting Dark Nights Metal ships 262k copies, most of 2017, beating Rebirth #1's first month: August comics sales estimates.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Retro Foreign: Indonesian Star Wars/Perang Antariksa

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa was published by CV Pelita Indonesia and is divided into two chapters, one for each story arc.  The two story arcs are from the Star Wars daily newspaper strips.  The strips appear to be printed exactly as they were published in the U.S., complete with English word balloons, and below each strip is the Indonesian translation.  The strips are published two per page and are presented in their original black and white.  The title of the comic is in English and has the Indonesian Translation Perang Antariksa or Space War which is a variation on the typical Perang Bintang or Star War.

Known as Iceworld to U.S. readers, the first chapter is titled Pertarungan di Planet Salju "Hoth" or Battle on the Ice-Planet Hoth.  Iceworld was originally published from October 4, 1982 through November 14, 1982.  The second chapter is known in the U.S. as Revenge of the Jedi but in this comic is titled Ledakan di Danau Lumpur Planet Daluuj or Explosion in the Mudlake of Planet Daluuj.  Revenge of the Jedi was originally published from November 15, 1982 through January 23, 1983.  It does not appear that every daily strip for these story arcs are included in the book; the last chapter ends with the daily from January 22, not the final daily from January 23.  Anyone familiar with newspaper strips understands the content tends to repeat, so the overall intent of the story would not be lost if the occasional daily strip is missed as is the case here.

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa a - CV Pelita Indonesia, Indonesia (1990s)
Star Wars newspaper strips
I am guessing this comic was published sometime in the 1990s.  It is slightly wider than a standard comic and is published sideways to accommodate two strips on top of each other.  The cover artwork consists of several images taken from the colored Sunday strips.

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa a - CV Pelita Indonesia, Indonesia (1990s)
back cover
The back cover appears to be an advertisement for a series of books that answer questions for children about all manner of things pertaining to the world.  "Menjawab lebih dari 70 pertanyaan yang paling sering ditanyakan anak - anak dan remaja" or "Answering more than 70 questions most frequently asked of children and adolescents".

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fan-Made: Japanese After Order 66: Case of Wolffe

The Comic Market or Comiket is a gathering of thousands of self-publishing groups that takes place at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.  Started in 1975, the event now attracts over half a million attendees and sees sales of over 8 million doujinshis or self-published books.  Mollo, a Japanese artist who uses the pseudonym Trash 1, was invited to attend Comiket C91 and self-published a well received comic titled After Order 66: Case of Wolffe.  Commander Wolffe is a clone trooper introduced in "Rising Malevolence" the second episode of season one of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.  He appears in several episodes of that series and is also featured in two episodes of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series.

After Order 66: Case of Wolffe a (December 2016)
Commander Wolffe is shown on the front cover of this unofficial fan-made comic.  The book is slightly larger than a standard comic, measuring 7" x 10".  This 44-page manga has black and white interior pages and comes with a thick cover.  The word balloons are in English and Japanese.  This is an extremely well made comic and while the artist is considered an amateur, the artwork looks professional.

A followup comic, After Order 66: Case of Rex, was offered at Comiket C92 in August 2017 and is available for order online at Etsy.