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Comics/Graphic Novels

Fun with Numbers: Top 10 Comics of January 2016

Jake Shapiro

Staff Writer

Jake works for Fantom Comics in Washington, DC. He has a Shel Silverstein drawing tattooed on his arm because he's ten years old. Follow him on Twitter at @jake_shapiro.

The past few months we’ve been tracking the most-subscribed books at Fantom Comics in Washington, DC, and today we’ll look at the first month of the new year. Remember these are only subscription numbers, not total sales, so it represents our regular customers rather than casual walk-ins. It means #1 issues are under-represented, as people tend to pick up the first issue off the rack before they subscribe to it. Also remember this list is measuring by number of subscribers, not revenue. WITHOUT FURTHER ADO:

STK6941521. Saga #33, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Lovers come and go, but Saga is forever. Our biggest comic by far for the last three years, this issue saw the return of journalist couple Upsher and Doff (“Writer gets first byline!”), who we haven’t seen in quite a while. BKV promises the disparate storylines will finally start coming together next month.




STK6941472. Paper Girls #4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang (Image)

The Brian K. Vaughan fairy dust did its trick, and Paper Girls jumps above everything except his other series for the first time. Time will tell if it’ll stay up this high–*minor spoilers* Paper Girls initially presented itself as a classic Goonies-style adventure, but it’s beginning to throw in all sorts of science fiction elements, which has put a sour taste in a few readers’ mouths who are fatigued by the glut of sci-fi being put out by Image right now. *end spoilers* Alas, Paper Girls will still probably stay up here for a long time to come.


STK6935763. Ms. Marvel #3, by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)

I was proven wrong! I expected Ms. Marvel to drop off a bit at our store, as most of our Marvel books have since the arbitrary post-Secret Wars renumbering that confused many readers. Our lil’ Kamala Khan community is steadfast, though, and it remains our biggest Big Two book–will Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recently-solicited Black Panther give Ms. Marvel a run for her money when it arrives in April?



STK6746154. Bitch Planet #6, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Taki Soma (Image)

It’s been a long time coming; the previous issue of Bitch Planet came out nearly five months ago. Issue #6 is the first chapter after the vol. 1 trade paperback, so the potential readership loss due to delay is offset by new readers jumping on after reading the TP, plus it actually gave the book time to generate mainstream buzz outside the comics world.



STK6941375. Island #6, by F Choo, Onta, Gael Bertrand, Katie Skelly, and Sarah Horrocks; edited by Brandon Graham and Emma Ríos (Image)

After five issues with arty sci-fi covers, Brandon Graham & Co. took a big risk and put the characters from Onta’s gay furry comic “Badge of Pride” on the cover of Island #6. When asked about this by an anon on Tumblr, Graham responded:

“I want Island to be full of good comics but also I want it to be a space for comics that you might not be used to seeing on shelves. I think one of the greatest strengths of the medium is that an individual (or very few people) can make a personal comic that shows the inside of their head. I don’t just want to read comics by people whose lives and thoughts are the same as my own.”

The other work in this issue is impeccable: the next chapter of Gael Bertrand’s beautiful silent fantasy story “A Land Called Tarot,” plus comics by internet darlings F Choo (choodraws), Sarah Horrocks (mercurialblonde), and Katie Skelly!

STK6912176. Star Wars #14, by Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato (Marvel)

The penultimate issue of Marvel’s “Vader Down” crossover event. We’re beginning to get into the more traditional heavy hitters…





STK6917987 (tie) – Secret Wars #9, by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribić (Marvel)

Finally! Some wondered if Marvel’s Big Summer Event would ever reach its conclusion; turns out all it needed was nine months and some snowfall. The main event book has sold great, but it’s had a net negative effect on Marvel sales, as the big reboot/non-reboot confused readers and made people lose interest in many existing ongoing series. This particularly harmed newer books that were still only beginning when Secret Wars forced them to take a summer-long hiatus–many of our store favorites like Spider-Gwen, Silk, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

STK6935447 (tie) – Star Wars #15, by Jason Aaron and Mike Mayhew (Marvel)

A new story arc with a new artist after the end of “Vader Down,” Star Wars lost a couple readers but still maintains solid numbers. The fact that the book often ships twice a month could also be causing fatigue, both for the creative team(s) and for readers, but it seems it’s becoming the industry standard with marquee Marvel books like Amazing Spider-Man and Invincible Iron Man double-shipping each month, and DC doing the same with their core Batman title later this year.


STK6935569. Darth Vader #15, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca (Marvel)

The finale of “Vader Down,” so we’ll see how Darth does once he’s not tying in to Star Wars next month. Kieron Gillen’s other big book The Wicked + the Divine didn’t have a release in January as it’s on a break after the most recent story arc to regroup before the next one begins in April, but Gillen’s still riding the Darth Vader money train home every night. It’s respectable that unlike Star Wars, this series has kept a singular artist for the entire run (so far).


STK69122010. A-Force #1, by G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina (Marvel)

The first issue of A-Force after its run as a successful Secret Wars tie-in miniseries–a bit confusing to launch a new #1 issue only nine months after the previous A-Force #1, but as Ms. Marvel shows, our market for G. Willow Wilson comics seems to negate Marvel’s renumbering shenanigans. Other books were not so lucky.



What do you think? How did January’s ranking compare to your expectations? See you next month!