Comics On The Web Working, Says CrossGen

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Official Press Release:

Less than 30 days after the launch of CrossGen's Comics on the Web, retail sales of CrossGen's comics and trade paperbacks are taking an upward turn, with much of it taking place the week after the launch of Comics on the Web, according to recent sales statistics.

According to figures from Diamond Comic Distributors, first week advance reorders for The Path taken the week after the entire issue was posted for free on CrossGen's Comics on the Web increased by 54 percent over the level taken for CrossGen's Sojourn Prequel, which was not posted online prior to its release. In addition, the second week reorders, which typically drop by 50 percent after the comic's release, actually increased by 23 percent for The Path Prequel. Also, advance reorders for The Path #1, still two weeks from being released, rose by 45 percent in the first week after The Path Prequel's release, and then another 45 percent on top of that the following week, further bucking the trends for low advance reorders before a book is released.

Finally, initial orders for The Path #1 rose by 9.5 percent above the initial orders for The Path Prequel. In relation, the increase in initial orders between Sojourn Prequel and Sojourn #1 was only 2.3 percent.

In addition, particular runs of CrossGen's backlist that were represented in the initial free launch of Comics on the Web on February 22, 2002, all jumped in reorders, with some doubling up over the previous week. Sales of CrossGen's volume one trade paperbacks increased by 26 percent, reorders for the Sojourn Collected Edition more than doubled.

Robert Scott, owner of Comickaze Comics and forum leader for the Comic Book Industry Alliance forum on Delphi, said that the release of Comics on the Web sparked a run on CrossGen Comics in his store.

"We've seen customers abandon comics in droves over the last decade and yet most publishers are content to practice business as usual, looking for ways to steal bigger chunks of a shrinking pie from their competitors," Scott said. "This again is important to me because if customer A moves his $20 a week from Publisher A to Publisher B, there is no growth for the Direct Market. What we need is a Publisher who is capable of creating an awareness and demand for their product and that is precisely what CrossGen has done since Day One. CrossGen has earned a great deal of respect from Comickaze and our customers due to their innovative business practices, quality product line and their willingness to work with retailers and outside of industry norms. Now with their Comics on the Web and announcements of their new Compendia Series, I am seeing something even more amazing. New customers, even customers who are not ordinarily comic readers, are coming to Comickaze and asking for CrossGen books and because of our participation in the CrossGen Premier Retailer Program and our agreement to maintain at least five copies of all in print titles, these customers are leaving with entire runs of CrossGen titles."

In addition, Scott even offered up some statistics from his own store's performance with CrossGen's line over the last few months. In January, CrossGen comic sales had a modest increase to 6.2% of Comickaze's overall sales but after the announcement of the Compendia Series, Comics on the Web and the interest Hollywood has in their line-up, the February CrossGen sales rose to 8.5% and in March they currently account for 16.8% of all store sales. In fact, their CrossGen March dollar sales already exceed Comickaze's 2001 monthly average and year-to-date CrossGen is their number 3 publisher, exceeding the next two publisher's sales combined.

"After hearing their plans to continue driving new customers into our shops, I see no reason that this trend will not continue," Scott said.

CrossGen's marketing team initially shared concern over the impact of Web comics on print comics sold at the retail level, but decided to move forward in order to expose comics to as many new readers as possible.

"Since Day One of the launch of CrossGen's Comics on the Web, there has been a concern that the very existence of Comics on the Web was going to hurt back issue and frontlist sales," said Tony Panaccio, CrossGen's VP of Product Development. "Having said that, and those were not easy words, we've been gratified by the fact that sales almost instantly increased after the launch of Comics on the Web. We would be lying if we said that we were absolutely certain that Comics on the Web was going to move more comics at the retail level, but we also were faced with voluminous research and interviews with dozens and dozens of retailers who all felt strongly that the Web would do more to increase the comics audience base and enhance sales than hurt them. When faced with the fact that the mass consumer population can rent DVDs for $3, yet continue to buy them for $20 by the millions, we knew that Comics on the Web with it's $1 per month point of entry could definitely work in the same manner. When faced with an imploding retailer base, we felt it was worth the initial risk to test those waters. Now we know, and we will continue to fine-tune our presentation of Comics on the Web to spark even more sales as we move forward."

About Comics on the Web

For the subscription price of only $1 per month to start, users will be presented with Web comics in an easy to read format accessible in seconds from even the slowest dial-up connection. They read just like a printed comic, but with a rich set of features developed in Flash by one of the medium's most renowned programmers, Gabo Mendoza of Gabocorp Studios. Initially launched with more than 50 CrossGen issues available, accounting for more than 1,100 pages, the library will grow to more than 160 issues and 4,400 pages by the end of 2002, rising at a steady pace to nearly 20,000 pages and more than 800 issues by 2005. The number of issues available, when calculated against the $1 per month base, brings the cost per comic down to about 3 cents at launch time, and reduces it to about half a penny by the end of 2002.

The aim of CrossGen Comics on the Web is to create a low-cost point of entry for new readers in places already populated by those potential new readers.

CrossGen Comics on the Web will contain links to a list of CrossGen's Premier Retailers, including store names, zip codes and even road maps, allowing curious new readers a fast and effective way of finding a comic store in their area that is assured to carry CrossGen product, when they inevitably want hard copy versions of their favorite stories.

CrossGen Comics on the Web were designed to be read simply and easily by even the most novice of Web surfers or comic readers. The Flash-enhancements allow for quick download times even on the slowest of connections. The only waiting occurs as the first page image loads. Following pages load in the background, allowing readers to begin reading within seconds of opening Comics on the Web. Once a reader begins, they can simply roll their mouse pointer over the word balloons and the size of the word balloons increases to make viewing easier. Throughout their experience other features make CrossGen Comics on the Web simple to use and enjoy. "Story So Far" information is available during every issue. Character biographies and current issue descriptions are also available. And a handy Help function shows how to make every function work properly.

To see and sample CrossGen Comics on the Web, go to:

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