Sex Sells! (…and so do #1 Issues, Zombies and Variant Covers)


So what happens when you combine sex, a relaunch to a new #1, zombies, and a boatload of variant & chase covers?  Apparently a perfect storm that nets you 16,000+ in pre-sales to comic shops.

From the Action Lab Press Release:

PITTSBURGH, PA- Dan Mendoza’s critically acclaimed, genre bending series Zombie Tramp is relaunching with a new #1. The Action Lab: Danger Zone title is a hit, as preorders top 16,000 copies. The new Zombie Trap, co-written by Mendoza, Jason Martin (Night of the 80’s Undead) and artist TM Chu, will launch on July 23, with 12 alternate covers drawn by industry talents Jerry Gaylord (Fanboys vs. Zombies), Josh Howard ( Dead @17) and Jamal Igle (The Terminator: Enemy of my enemy).

Zombie Tramp is the story of Janey Bell, once Hollywood’s most popular high-priced call girl until she was bitten by a zombie and imbued with strange new powers. The new series picks up from where the Free Comic Book Day preview ends as Janey arrives in Las Vegas to start her undead life over again.

Action Lab has cracked the code (that frankly was not very secret) on how to pump up their sales.  I’m a big fan of the guys at Action Lab and more power to them in getting so many pre-orders for their new ongoing Zombie Tramp series.  Like many other smaller publishers who are doing whatever they can to make a buck, Action Lab is following in the footsteps of the big guys Marvel & DC, who have discovered that you can pump up the volume on sales by doing a lot of variant covers.  Comic publishers manipulate sales on a REGULAR basis by churning out variant covers that collectors “must have”.

What I find fascinating in this case is the combination of factors:

  • Sexy Girl: check
  • #1 on the cover: check
  • ZOMBIES!!! check
  • Tons of variant & chase covers (including store exclusives): dodeca-check


If comic shops & comic buyers can be so easily manipulated it’s kind of foolish not to jump on the band wagon and play them like a finely tuned instrument.  In a day when there are so many indie books from small publishers selling less than 5,000 copies (which happens before we get out of the top 300) being able to juice up your sales to 16,000 is no mean feat.  16,000 is sales would place this book at position 143 on the May 2014 comic sales chart, beating titles like Birds of Prey #31 (DC), American Vampire Second Cycle #3 (DC/Vertigo), and All-New Doop #2 (Marvel).  Please note that I’m comparing this to books on the May sales chart for convenience, since they’re the latest sales numbers available at the time of this posting.  We’ll have to wait and see where this book ranks on the official July sales charts.

Bravo, Action Lab! You’ve successfully cracked the code on how to get into the Top 150. But what does that say about the comics retailing business?

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