AfterShock Comics will accept returns on all new #1 issues that have not hit Final Order Cutoff (FOC) with Diamond Comic Distributors, the company announced today.  The policy was announced for 2018 releases and will begin with titles hitting Final Order Cutoff on August 20th. “The reorder activity on our most recent #1s clearly indicates that demand is exceeding supply on shelf,” recently appointed Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve Rotterdam (see “Rotterdam Adds Role as Aftershock SVP”) said in a statement.  “We recognize and appreciate the challenges faced by comic shop retailers and want to make it easier for them to order our titles and for readers to discover them.”

The new returnability program is one aspect of a new marketing plan, presumably developed by Rotterdam. “…[T]his is just one element of a comprehensive marketing program that we’ve developed and are methodically testing and implementing,” AfterShock Publisher and CCO Joe Pruett said. 

As the new program kicks off, AfterShock will also be extending returnability to #2 issues of key titles on which FOC dates for the #1 issues have already passed. Eligible comics include Hot Lunch Special #2, Volition #2 and Beyonders #2.  In order to qualify, retailer will need to meet or exceed their order numbers for the #1 issues, with a required minimum order of five.

AfterShock titles hitting FOC on August 20 that will be returnable are:
Moth & Whisper #1
Hot Lunch Special #2
Volition #2

Retailers have told ICv2 that it’s a tough time to order new comics, with unpredictable sales on the best of titles (see “Pro: ‘The Most Difficult Time To Order New Comic Books in 30 Years’”). Those problems are exacerbated when ordering new titles from smaller publishers, on which advance orders from consumers may be minimal. 

The numbers tell the tale.  In July, Diamond sold just 7,790 copies of Aftershock’s Relay #1 to retailers in North America, the 198th best-selling comic of the month (see “Top 500 Comics—July 2018”).  On Clankillers #1, Diamond sold 4,146 copies, the 288th bestselling comic of the month. 

AfterShock joins other publishers who are utilizing a variety of means to cut risk for retailers on first issues, including returnability, promotional retail or wholesale pricing, or even free copies.