Marc-Oliver Frisch writes at The Beat:
The big news on the January sales chart is a catastrophic crash of WildStorm’s average periodical sales. The monthly direct-market numbers of the DC Comics sub-label hovered around the 10K mark for most of the past twelve months, but in the new year, the bottom dropped out: WildStorm’s average sales nosedived by 27.2 percent compared to the previous month, to an estimated 6,851 units.
Compared to January sales from 2004 through 2008, the loss ranges from 51 to 62 percent. Compared to six months ago, one of the weakest months for WildStorm periodicals last year, it’s still a 30.6-percent decline.
The reason for the dramatic decline of WildStorm periodical sales is simple: The imprint currently stands on three pillars, none of which seems able to support its own weight. The traditional WildStorm Universe superhero properties, based on characters created by WildStorm founder Jim Lee, have been waning for years commercially; none of the more recent creator-owned properties have been remotely able to recapture the early success of Astro City or Ex Machina (the one notable exception being The Boys, which was promptly taken elsewhere by its creators due to creative differences with the management); and the vast majority of WildStorm’s licensed titles adapting videogame, television or film properties fail miserably.
As a result of the WildStorm plunge, average DC Comics sales dropped to their lowest point since industry website ICv2.com started publishing actual-sales estimates in March 2003. Across all three major imprints, the publisher’s average periodical sales declined by 9.4 percent in January.
January marked a decline for the DC Universe and Vertigo imprints, as well. Sales of the average DC Universe periodical dropped by 6.7 percent in January, sales of the average Vertigo periodical by 5.4 percent. The January 2009 numbers are not the lowest estimated sales for either the DC Universe or Vertigo lines in the context of the last five years, but they’re still far down in the spectrum.