Daredevil sales holding steady

No single comic book sold over 100,000 copies in the direct sales market in March, according to ICv2.com. Sales for periodical comics was down by 7% for the month of March and by 5% for the first quarter of 2009, both figures compared to last year. Because many books have gone up in price, the drop in units sold is even greater. Still, these numbers are not bad considering the serious financial crisis and the fact that the sales of most other consumer goods have dropped much more.

In light of this, it’s nice to see Daredevil sales holding steady or even gaining slightly. Since Dardevil #116 was delayed one week, both #116 and #117 shipped in March, selling 41,261 and 41,046 copies respectively, gaining slightly from 40,214 for Daredevil #115 in January. Compared to the first quarter of last year, that’s a drop by just over 3%, which is a modest dip in numbers considering overall sales and the current economic climate. The relatively smaller drop for Daredevil also translates into a climb in the rankings from around 50th to 34th for both #115 and #116.

Over the last year, sales via Diamond have hovered between 39,258 and 46,305 (for Daredevil #111, the debut of Lady Bullseye). Bendis’s last issue, Daredevil #81, sold 44,252 copies which was down considerably from the height of his run. These sales numbers are always estimates and reflect direct sales to comic book stores.

If you’re like me, and like crunching numbers, have a look at the sales charts for March (ICv2) and January (ICv2 via The Beat). Kuljit Mithra also has Daredevil sales numbers posted on ManWithoutFear going back all the way to 1996.

Another happy number I’d like to report is that this blog passed the 10,000 visitor mark today. I’d also like to take the opportunity to mention that the Hell’s Kitchen strips can now be found in a more easily accessible format in their own post. Just click the thumbnails to see the full-size strip. Later, my friends!

When fanboys pout

I’m interrupting my regularly scheduled Daredevil posting to offer a complaint. Ironically, I’m complaining about people complaining. I know that makes me a hypocrite, but bear with me.

The topic for this entry started brewing in the back of my mind, when I read a post on one of the CBR blogs about a week ago. The post in question was about the X-Men Origins: Wolverine leak that made the movie, or an incomplete version of it, available for download online. What struck me were all the negative comments below the post, most not really debating the morality or legitimacy of illegal downloading but whether or not the movie was any good. The vast majority of commentors had not seen the movie, but they seemed to agree: “It will suck.”

It certainly wasn’t the first time I had seen this sort of overwhelming negativity online, most comic book message boards seem full of it. For every joyfully enthusiastic fan, there seem to be two more who get a kick out of bitching and moaning, almost regardless of the topic or the point of complaint. If so many fans keep getting disappointed over and over again by what they perceive as a lack of quality and ideas, then why do they keep up the habit? It can’t be that they’re hoping to be pleasantly surprised, because half the time they seem to anticipate the inevitable let-down.

Generally, I’ve found that most of the positive quality content about comics comes from blogs where lazy two word reviews along the lines of “It sucked” simply will not be sufficient to sustain any readership for any amount of time. Bloggers are expected to at least be able to form and communicate fully realized ideas about the content they’re reviewing, something the more bitter fans probably can’t even work up the energy to do.

Not everything out there is good, and my own opinions on what I like and dislike are as firm as everybody else’s. I think Kevin Smith’s run on Daredevil is wildly overrated, I think Brand New Day was a misstep (though I generally think that Joey Q is pretty good at his job), and I think the end to Secret Invasion was a contrived mess. But those are opinions and not a symptom of a sweeping and negative attitude to life and comics. And I will even admit to sometimes enjoying seeing an issue torn to shreds – when it’s well-deserved – but I at least expect it to be done with a tongue-in-cheek approach.

I’m sad to see Brubaker and Lark leave Daredevil, but I’m expecting Andy Diggle to do a good job. I’m keeping an open mind, and that’s a policy that’s worked well for me for as long as I can remember. And as far as the Wolverine movie goes, I think I’ll wait to see it before I make up my mind.

(Blind) ninja links!

Remember a while back, when I said I was going to do a post on ninjas? Yeah, I really was going to until I realized that other people have written about this topic much more eloquently than I ever could, and with much more knowledge of Japanese history to their name. Instead, I’ll just link to some information I’ve found. You may call me lazy, but I call it making proper use of the Internet! (I’m actually looking forward to the day I have kids so I can tell them about how mommy grew up before the Internet, when you had to do research at the library and find the books you wanted on alphabetically organized index cards.)

The first thing I suggest you read is a post on ninjas in reality and popular culture from the blog The Illuminated Lantern. Good research – from the looks of it – and a fun read. Off course, Daredevil mythos doesn’t just feed off ninja legends in general but also the quite popular concept of the blind martial artist (we have Matt himself, Stick, and now Master Izo). This theme is thoroughly explored in the many movies about Zatoichi, a fictional blind swordsman active in Edo era Japan. A whopping 26 movies were made about Zatoichi from 1962 until 1989. One of his movies even inspired the 1989 American film Blind Fury, starring Rutger Hauer. We actually had Blind Fury on VHS when I was growing up. Ah, the 80′s were fun.

To learn more about Zatoichi, click on the Wikipedia link above or go to blindsamurai.net where there’s more information about these classic Japanese movies. A new version was made in 2003, and has been uploaded to YouTube in its entirety. For those who don’t find that practice to be somewhat questionable, here’s the link. You’ll also find the trailer embedded below. Just for the fun of it, there’s a Blind Fury trailer too. Man, that movie was so bad it was good. Enjoy and remember to read that entire ninja article too!

Daredevil eye candy, Maleev style

As I alluded to earlier, this is a look at some of the more sizzling images of Matt Murdock to come out of Maleev’s tenure as Daredevil artist. While Matt has always been portrayed as being at least moderately attractive, Alex Maleev’s realistic style managed to convey the kind of images that lets the reader imagine what the character would realistically look like. And some of the art he produced is of the kind that would literally make you drool. I’ll have to whip up some lady eye candy for the straight male readers too, but for now it’s all about the title character.

The first image below is perhaps my favorite. It’s the art from the cover to Daredevil #50 (vol 2), and I must admit to using this as the desktop background on my computer for a while. I removed it after doing some work-related stuff at my dad’s house. He caught a glimpse of it and, of course, asked me what it was. I answered truthfully by saying that it was Daredevil, my new favorite superhero. I left it at that, and to this day no one in my family has any idea about the extent of my involvement with this character. I suppose a girl should be allowed some secrets, right?

There is so much to like about this picture. Aside from the near-pornographic posing (not necessarily sure that’s a good thing, but it works here), it’s just a very attractive piece of art. We have Matt returning from a night on the town with cuts all over, almost passed out in a chair (or whatever that is he’s sitting on), but there’s also a hint of a smile on his lips. It’s like he’s exhausted, but content at the same time. Personally, I just want to run over and give him a shoulder rub or something. Maybe pour some iodine on those cuts… Is it just me or is it getting hot in here? ;)

Okay, moving on to a beautifully drawn sequence of panels from Daredevil #35, where Matt goes out in costume to defy the journalists camped out outside his home. I like the detail here, and how his emotions come through so clearly. Nice job, Maleev!

There aren’t enough good things I can say about this sequence. This is great work from Bendis, and Maleev captures what’s going on in Matt’s head perfectly. You can see how quickly defiance turns to fear. Modern Daredevil writers have done a pretty good job of debunking the “man without fear” myth to the point where fear has become a respectable and quite reasonable emotion for the most human of superheroes to experience. After all, you can’t really be brave if you don’t experience fear. But that’s a discussion for some other time. Let’s move on…

The next couple of panels are from the opening page of Daredevil #37 and shows a flashback to a younger Matt, lounging in bed with a certain college girlfriend turned assassin named Elektra Natchios. It’s a nicely drawn college-age version of the character, and I happen to know this is a favorite of a friend of mine.

Wait! Don’t turn that computer screen upside down or twist your neck trying to get a good look. Here’s the panel turned the “right” way…

Yeah, I can think of a couple of guys who would like to be in that position. At least before there was a risk of a sai to the chest. Speaking of bodily injuries, let’s turn our attention to another fan favorite. Below, from issue #48, we see Matt trying to heal from his close encounter with Typhoid Mary. Matt has the worst ex-girlfriends in comics.

Well, this journey into the smoking corners of the Daredevil archive isn’t really over, but I do need to get going, so you hungry (drooling?) readers are just going to have to be content with this for now. I might update this post later. I will see you then.

This and that

Here’s just another general blog update that I at least hope will be worth your time. I’ll be talking a little bit about what’s coming up on the blog in the next few days as well as offer some of my comments on what we might have to look forward to in the next issues due out on Christmas Eve, December 24. If you haven’t read the previews for #114 or if you are following the book in trades, you may want to stay away from the last couple of paragraphs. Everything up until then should be safe though.

General stuff

  1. On the whole, I’m very happy with how the Daredevil feed is working out (and feel free to add the custom made icon and code found in the sidebar by copying the code in the original post). As Francesco pointed out (and I’ve noticed this myself as well), some non-Daredevil items are slipping through the filter. This is not a general problem, but restricted to certain RSS feeds and I hope to be able to take care of this problem some time tomorrow. But I do know about it, and I’m trying to fix it. As a general rule, though, I recommend all of you to make regular stops at ManWithoutFear.com since esteemed webmaster (did my calling him that make him blush? LOL) Kuljit Mithra is insanely good at keeping track of a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t even consider looking for.
  2. Thanks to some of you people out there (see comments and HERE) for pointing out the phallic appearance of my chocolate billy club. I aim to entice. ;)
  3. For some reason, the billy club video didn’t kill my questionable desire to make a complete ass of myself on camera, so tomorrow I will post my video review of the Daredevil movie novel adaptation by Greg Cox. I actually own all three of the (non-graphic) Daredevil novels that have been released to date so I will review all of them sooner or later, but I re-read this book a few days ago for this specific purpose. From now on, I will try to actually get things to upload to YouTube so it will be less of a hassle for people to watch.
  4. I actually have tons of time off for Christmas and New Year’s so at least some of it will be spent on blogging. Before Christmas, I will post the “eye candy special,” aimed at all the girls (and gay guys) out there who get a kick out of smokin’ hot panels of Daredevil, whether scantily clad or in costume. After talking this over with fellow fan girl Alice, I’ve decided that Alex Maleev drew enough hot panels of Matt to warrant his own post, so I’ll get to that one first. I’m drooling already. Over a comic character. Boy, am I pathetic…
  5. With Daredevil #114 coming out in time for Christmas, you can expect that review to be up as soon as I get the time, provided I can still get back home after my mother’s Christmas cooking. And, speaking of Daredevil #114, here are some of my thoughts on the preview. Stop reading if you don’t want spoilers…

Daredevil #114 discussion (or just me thinking out loud)

… So, as many of you may have noticed, CBR and IGN both posted previews that contain an extra page beyond those that were featured in the Comics Bulletin preview I linked to earlier. This extra page has Matt thinking many of the same things we were all thinking after reading #113 and looking at the earlier #114 preview pages.

We learn that Milla’s “disappearance” has at least the appearance of legitimacy. Milla’s parents did, in fact, get temporary custody of their daughter, and whether the Hand have a hand in this or not (pun not intended), she is probably not currently being held by them, though they may be in control of the situation.

One of the lawyers representing the Donovans is a Japanese woman and many of us started wondering whether this might be Lady Bullseye herself. Matt seems to be wondering the same thing, and I’m sort of liking his paranoia here. But, as some people put it, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean you’re not being followed.” I don’t think this character is Lady Bullseye, and I have to give a lot of credit to Michael Lark for 1) drawing characters that are distinct in appearance and 2) actually managing to draw an Asian character properly (check out the page-wide middle panel of preview page nine. Lots of artists don’t strike me as being very good at drawing non-white characters, but I think Lark does a very good job.

We’ve been discussing a lot of this on the ManWithoutFear message board, so I won’t do it again here, but I did start thinking about whether this particular law firm, while “legit,” might be controlled by the hand through the business side of their operations. This came to mind when I remembered the latest Brubaker interview on Newsarama that was posted a few days ago. It sure gets you thinking, doesn’t it? On the other hand, I would personally prefer it if Milla’s disappearance is unrelated to the rest of the events of this arc. We’ll see if I’m right.

And, I just have to congratulate myself for guessing (correctly) that Master Izo was Stick’s sensei, even before #113 hit the stands. Yeah, I know that didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, but just let me feel smart for two seconds, will ya?

Another though that came to mind (and kudos to Michael Lark for this one too), I like how Milla’s mother is drawn to be similar to her in appearance. They really look like mother and daughter, which is undoubtedly hard to pull off.

I think I’ll stop there, and I hope to see you guys around tomorrow!