So, the preliminary March sales numbers are in, and it seems that Marvel Comics took back the top spot, while the dollar share and market share numbers tell a slightly different story.  The thing is, Marvel’s #1 comic for March (Avengers Vs. X-Men #1) actually didn’t go on sale until April.  The issue was shipped during March, however, and that was enough to make the House of Ideas once again King of The Hill…

In the call center business, we call this type of chicanery “massaging the numbers,” and I find it to be one of the more unsavory things that my corporate overlords ask of me.  Today’s MS-QOTD is complicated, but boils down to this:  If we assume that Marvel made this decision just to pop March sales numbers, have they acted unethically, or is all fair in love & comic shipping?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. GeorgeDubya
    April 9, 2012 at 12:10 am — Reply

    I’ll call shenanigans if they try to count it again for April. As it is, they sold the comic to the distributors in March. I don’t pay close attention to the normal way of things, but I can see why they’d claim them as March sales at this point.

  2. April 9, 2012 at 1:25 am — Reply

    Numbers, smumbers. Looking at the graphics of the sales are kind of fun, but really they are nothing else to me.
    I don’t go out and buy more Marvel books just because their sales are better than others. It just shows that they aim to please the most.

  3. Charles
    April 9, 2012 at 2:49 am — Reply

    I thought Marvel put out the books early for the launch party thing?

    That being said, I really don’t have any problem with any business doing what they have to do to survive. Marvel putting out the books early and topping the charts doesn’t exactly hurt anyone. They have to do whatever they can to survive.

  4. Oldcomicfan
    April 9, 2012 at 8:13 am — Reply

    When I was in high school, one of our classes on Statistics used a textbook whose title was (and I am NOT making this up): How to Lie with Statistics. The gist of the book was that it was very simple to manipulate data and/or statistics to make the number say whatever you want. Why do you think, when the Federal Government calculates Inflation, they don’t count Gasoline or food? You know, the things people buy every day? But instead, they only count things like houses, washing machines, single engine airplanes, etc., things people buy only once every decade or so – Because it skews the numbers in a direction they don’t want them to go. That direction they are trying to avoid is called “The Truth”. So – Is Marvel “massaging” the numbers to skew them in their direction? Of course they are! Is this something new? Of course not. For all we know, they may be counting the make-ready sheets coming off the press to skew their circulation numbers. Statistics like this are meaningless, and anybody who believes in them – well, I have a bridge to sell you…

  5. LemmyCaution
    April 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm — Reply

    Well, seems like the rules are set down by Diamond, so any complaints should be directed at them. Marvel may have conspired to work things this way, but the value of doing so to gain some sort of validation in the mind of the average comic book reader seems relatively minor.

    What should they have done instead? Delayed the launch a week or FedEx-ed all of the comics overnight to meet the timetable for the launch parties so as to avoid having the book counted in March? As it is, they won’t get to claim the numbers in April, so it all seems to be a wash, especially since they had the #2 book in March anyway.

    I say, file this one under Art Bell.

    • April 9, 2012 at 8:09 pm — Reply

      As it is, they won’t get to claim the numbers in April, so it all seems to be a wash, especially since they had the #2 book in March anyway.

      I don’t know about that… Some of the orders (like those to my shop) shipped in April. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on that chart as well.

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