Any idea what a Pull List is?

Any idea what a Pull List is?

September 21, 2016 3:00 pm 0 comments

pulllist

How many of you reading this read comic books?  For those that do, where do you get them?  Barnes & Noble?  Do you download them and read them on a device?  Me, I’m a traditionalist.  I like the actual, floppy, very hard to keep in pristine condition, hope reading this doesn’t ruin it, don’t let my kids near it, wish someday it’s worth some money, damn I’m running out or room in my basement for all of these…comic book.  And I read a lot of them.  About 150 a month at last count.  And I’m not talking older books.  These are brand new, right off the shelf, current story line books.  And that’s where a pull list helps.

Every week, like clockwork, our family of four (me, my wife, and two young boys) make our weekly pilgrimage to an honest to goodness comic book store.  I’m going to pause there to let those not  familiar with what this might look like get an image in your heads…..What’d you see?  A bunch of middle-aged men sitting in a dimly let space debating which superhero would win in a fight?  Did you picture Jeff Albertson?  Not familiar with that name?  He’s this guy:

simpsonscomicbookguy

And if that was what you thought of…Worst…Portrayal…Ever.  My profession allows me to travel around the country and I make it a point to find a local comic book store (also known as a LCS).  As with anything, the modern comic book store is an evolution from days past.  In Dallas, I visited one that was in an old supermarket space.  The store was huge!  In Charlotte, I stopped at a store that’s been in business since 1980 and has become a major player on the national stage.  Back home (I live in DE, btw), I have three stores within a 20 minute radius.  Each of them are great, and each has their own personality.  The one my family frequents is very family friendly and, while owned by a couple, it is primarily managed by the wife.  Imagine that, a woman running a comic book store!

Now, back to the topic of the post.  What’s a pull list?  Every LCS allows people, who are known as subscribers, maintain a list of titles that they want reserved for them every time a new issue of that title comes out.  Most stores maintain a system of “cubby holes” or “boxes” for  their subscribers and each week there’s a large stack of books waiting for me.  Having a program like this is of huge benefit.  New comics hit the shelves on Wednesdays, but like most people, I work during the week and can’t make it to the store until the weekends.  Maintaining a pull list ensures I get a copy of important releases that may sell out (in a future post I’ll talk about the speculator market on comics) before I get there on Saturday or, and this seldom happens, we skip a week.  Having a box also let’s me email the store weekly for them to pull other titles not on my list; new titles, special covers,  special events, etc.

For the store, and the comic industry as a whole, maintaining a pull list provides important market data.  Comics are “solicited” three months in advance.  That means stores and the public are given visibility to what’s coming out that far in advance.  The LCS uses pull lists as a starting point for their orders.  It also helps them forecast their finances knowing that if it’s on my list, that’s at least one copy sold.  For the publishers, getting solicitations that far in advance helps them determine the print run of an issue.  Not every Marvel or DC issue has the same number of copies printed from month to month.  For example, DC is in the middle of its Rebirth event in which almost every title is getting a fresh relaunch, complete with a new slew of #1 issues.  June saw the launch of Marvel’s big summer event; Civil War II.  Below shows the estimated sales for the top sellers and how much of a drop-off can occur between issues 1 and 2.

DC COMICS – Batman

#1 sold 280,360 copies in June 2016

#2 sold 177, 105 copies in July 2016

MARVEL COMICS – Civil War II

#1 sold 381,737 copies in June 2016

#2 sold 148,403 copies in June 2016

A lot of hype was made for each of these books and there were a ton of variant covers made for each.  The challenge publishers face is ensuring there are enough copies on shelves the week the book is released to satisfy the demand, but not over saturating the market with so many books that 5 years from now you’ll be finding them in bargain bins for $0.25.  Such was the case for a certain book of mutants in the 1990s, but more on that later post.  The point of all of this?  If you read a lot of comics (and everyone should), I strongly recommend finding a comic book store near to you and getting a pull list together.

  • It’s good for you ’cause you’ll never miss an issue of your favorite books.
  • It’s good for the store, ’cause they know you’ll be spending at least a certain amount of money each month.
  • It’s good for the local economy ’cause the money you spend in the LCS (remember the L is for Local) supports a business in your community.
  • It’s good for the industry ’cause publishers get insight into what titles are popular without investing too much money into copies that’ll never sell.
  • And lastly, and maybe the most important benefit of all, it’s good for me, personally.  The more people that read comics, the more publishers invest in new talent and new titles.  More new talent and titles leads to more new material on the market.  And more new material means I never run out of cool new stuff to read each month.

By: Just-A-Bill, resident comic nerd justabill

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