Image Comics partner and pop culture phenomenon Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard’s THE WALKING DEAD #163 is the Direct Market’s highest ordered comic in nearly 20 years.
As final orders rolled in this week from Diamond Comic Distributors, THE WALKING DEAD #163 pre-orders exceeded 730,000 copies—without the aid of subscription box numbers to bolster the overall total—making the goal of expanding readership through a promotional 25¢ price point an overwhelming success.
THE WALKING DEAD #163’s orders overtake every other high-charting comic in print today and surpass the orders of the Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure one-shot that topped Diamond’s unit sales charts in January 2002.
Coming on the heels of the bestselling “THE WHISPERER WAR” storyline, this issue marks the beginning of the “CONQUERED” story arc in the long-running blockbuster series and provides the perfect opportunity for discovery for new readers or fans of the hit AMC TV show to get hooked on the comic series.
Image Comics enjoys a close relationship with the Direct Market comics retailers, often incorporating retailer feedback gained through always-open lines of communication, into the company’s overall sales approach. Rather than simply circulate marketing messaging to fans encouraging consumers visit their local comic shop, Image Comics’ 25¢ initiative—which begins with the special 40-page THE WALKING DEAD #163 and continues with INVINCIBLE #133 and OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #25—is a definitive and quantifiable move to pay it forward to retailers who have long supported growing the creator-owned readership.
The mission behind this promotion was not based solely on helping isolated titles gain a boost, but by increasing overall exposure through some of Image’s best-known titles. “The Direct Market helped make THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, and OUTCAST the successful series they are today, and acknowledging that support is a big part of our agenda as Image turns 25 this year,” explained Kirkman. “Comic book stores have made it easier for us to accomplish everything we’ve done since our last anniversary, so giving back just makes sense, even though it means we’re not making a dime off these books.
“Don’t get me wrong: Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, and Rus Wooton are all being compensated as usual for their contributions to THE WALKING DEAD #163, but neither myself nor Image will profit off this issue. As with most of our decisions at Image, we’re looking instead at the long-term benefits of getting more readers into stores and more of the world’s best creator-owned comics into those readers’ hands.”
Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, added: “When we first began discussing how to celebrate our 25th anniversary, one of the first ideas that came up was offering some of our best titles at 25¢ in an effort to reach as many readers as possible. We knew we’d be selling the books at a loss—no matter how high the orders—but our number one goal is always to get books in front of as many readers as possible, and the best way to do that is by giving comic book stores something they can quite literally put in people’s hands for pocket change.”
THE WALKING DEAD #163 will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 1st—just in time for fans to celebrate “Image Day”.
THE WALKING DEAD #164 will be ON THE SHELF Wednesday, February 15th.