Unexpectedly high demand for Hellboy products driven by a #1 movie (see 'Hellboy's #1!') with strong legs (see 'Hellboy Holds Strong'), coupled with a trans-Pacific supply chain has produced routine out-of-stocks on the Dark Horse trade paperbacks at the publisher level for the past several weeks. Reprints that Dark Horse Marketing Manager Jeff Macey described as 'massive,' which arrived in the States the week before the movie, were sold out before arrival. Even air freighting 30,000 books from China has failed to fill the demand.
Macey described the phenomenon. 'Hellboy books are tearing out of here as fast as we can print them,' he said. 'Comic shops have been ordering Hellboy in unexpected quantities for months and we've pretty much been printing the books on a monthly basis. We've sold more Hellboy books this month than we had in several years since their initial release.'
Bookstore sales have also been extremely strong (see 'Hellboy Top American Graphic Novel in Bookstores').
Macey attributed the strong sales not only to the success of the movie, but to specific public relations and promotional efforts to make the moviegoing public aware of the comics, including Mignola's efforts on behalf of his property; the 25-cent issue that many retailers gave away at movie theaters; and Dark Horse's other publicity efforts.
Asked why Dark Horse didn't predict the demand more accurately, Macey said, 'We did our best and are continuing to do our best to get the Hellboy trades back in stores ASAP. This is simply a case of unprecedented demand for Hellboy books, which is gratifying but certainly frustrating that we couldn't have 100,000 books just sitting around waiting for people to buy them. We do have a BPRD ongoing series that we launched the month of the movie, which does feature Hellboy's supporting cast prominently.'
Although frustrated at its inability to keep the books in stock, Macey noted the positive results from the phenomenon. 'I think that we certainly have contributed in some way to the growth of the direct market over the period of the movie's success,' he said.
Some Hellboy books are currently available from Diamond, including Hellboy Vol. 2 and Vol. 5, Hellboy the Bones of Giants Illustrated Novel, Hellboy Mike Mignola Art of, the Hellboy Junior trade paperback, and the first two BPRD issues. Dark Horse expects to have the full line back in stock by mid-May.