The Humble Image Comics Bundle came to a close last week, with Comics Beat reporting over 38,847 bundles of digital comics sold, making a little over $397,000. While the numbers don’t account for exactly where the money went, as a perecentage of each sale goes to Humble Bundle and charity, it’s still a huge chunk of change (only $100,000 from half a mil) for the comics company.
To put the sales into perspective a bit, let’s look at sales numbers from April, 2014. According to Comichron, a website that tracks comic sales, the top 4 trade paperback’s of the month of April came from Image.
- Sex Criminals Vol. 1 ($9.99) 10,116 est. sold
- Saga Vol. 3 (14.99) 9,997 est. sold
- East of West Vol. 2 We Are All One ($14.99) 8,196 est. sold
- Saga Vol. 1 (9.99) 7178 est. sold
Of course, there is always a bit of controversy when reporting comics sales, as they are notoriously difficult to track, but for the purposes of this article, only loose numbers are necessary for comparison.
If you add up the estimated sales for each of the four books, their total sales comes to roughly $445,480.13. So the Humble Image Comics Bundle only sold about $48,000 less than the top 4 graphic novels sales combined. Sounds like a huge win to me.
This doesn’t take into account that the Humble Image Comics Bundle featured more than four graphic novels in the collection. Depending on how much a person paid (if you beat the average price you unlock extra graphic novels) a person could come away from their purchase with 7-10 graphic novels. However, it’s not just the sales data that speaks volumes about Image’s venture outside typical comics markets, it’s the fact that it was so successful despite being hosted by a platform that typically hawks video games.
Humble Bundle typically sells bundles of video games. For instance, this week they’re offering a new bundle every day so you have to grab ‘em while they’re hot.
There’s clearly crossover between video games and comic books. Gail Simone is currently writing a Tomb Raider comic, and there have been Dragon Age and Mass Effect comics on and off for the past few years.
Since comics are typically only sold to a direct market through local comic shops (which sadly don’t sell video games for the most part) there’s not as much opportunity to exploit the overlapping interests of members of the comics community.Image’s bold move to sell comics through the Humble Bundle platform was the first venture (in a awhile) to sell comics outside the specifically comics demographics.
This was also a huge opportunity to reach non-comic book readers. Many people who check the Humble website with some frequency may have been surprised to see comics books on a video game page, and for many, surprise turned to intrigue. While it’s impossible to tell whether the purchasers of the Image bundle were frequent comic buyers or not, it’s logical to assume that many were not. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if for some, the Image bundle was the first comic purchase of their lives.
The fact that this was wildly successful speaks volumes to the problems with the current comics business model, and also to the monetary potential of branching out into new sellings arenas for comic publishers. While it may be a stretch to think we might see a Marvel or DC comic bundle anytime soon, I would be more than happy with a Boom! Bundle or an IDW Bundle, or hell, even a Dark Horse Bundle. Step up your game indie companies!
Update: I predicted the future! Check out my follow-up piece “Moving On: Humble Bundle Adds “Humble Book Bundle”