Admittedly, 7,000 copies of an often-requested title that’s been out of print for more than a decade feels like it’s underestimating the demand, something that only feels underscored when you realize that Diamond Comic Distributors, which as the Hero Initiative’s usual distributor is responsible for getting the book to stores, services roughly 3,200 accounts. It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that each comic store will have more than two customers who’d want copies of this particular release**.
Fans and retailers have been making this point since the news broke; San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs estimated that
even a print run of 100,000 copies was likely to sell out in a couple of years, while Comichron
’s John Jackson Miller came up with a figure of 70,000
as being the upper end of demand for the title, based on the success of other titles. He also noted that
the Collector’s Edition
sold roughly 5,928 copies in August 2004, with the previous paperback release selling around 7,404 copies four years later, for the number junkies among us.
The low print run has fueled rumors that some of the involved parties are attempting to limit the reach of the project, preferring to – as one source characterized it, “keep it in the vault” for reasons unknown***. The reality is, sadly for those who enjoy drama, far more mundane.
Having spoken to multiple sources, it’s become clear that there aren’t any bad actors in this particular situation – although there are corporate entities that are obviously protective of their intellectual properties; again, Marie Javins as well as the Hero Initiative’s Jim McLauchlin have been credited for ensuring that the project made it to completion. Instead, the print run is entirely the result of practical considerations related to the material available – there’s still a paper shortage going on
, remember, not to mention limited time available at printers – in the timeframe necessary.
That last part is important; some have been asking why this couldn’t be delayed to ensure a larger print run, or why this is being rush-solicited. (Final orders are due on Monday
, although Diamond has already announced the book will be allocated, for obvious reasons.) Not to be too much of a downer, but all involved want George Perez to see this book made available again, and he was given a diagnosis of six months to a year to live in November of last year
. Time is most definitely of the essence here.
Some of the people I’ve spoken to in the last couple of days have expressed frustration with the reception of the news, and in particular, the limited edition element; others have, simply, expressed frustration with not being able to buy (or, in the case of retailers, sell
) the book due to its limited print run. It’s clear that everyone recognizes that this is far from a perfect solution, but it is a
solution, one that brings the book back into print for the first time in 14 years in some form – and, perhaps most importantly, provokes this reaction
in the man at the center of the entire enterprise. Perhaps, for now, that’s enough.