Image Comics has announced that “The Walking Dead” #163, an oversized, 40-page issue from creator Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, will ship over 730,000 copies to comic shops when it arrives in stores on February 1. That number is the highest the Direct Market has seen for a single issue in nearly two decades.
Unlike many recent high-selling comics, “The Walking Dead” #163 is not included in a subscription box. It is, however, specially priced at 25¢ as part of a program designed to both celebrate Image Comics’ 25th Anniversary, and to increase readership in some of the publisher’s flagship series. This particular issue was chosen to kick off the program as it follows the recently concluded and highly successful “Whisperer War” saga, and is the first chapter of the series’ next major arc, “Conquered.”
“The Direct Market helped make THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, and OUTCAST the successful series they are today, and acknowledging that support is a big part of our agenda as Image turns 25 this year,” Kirkman said in a statement. “Comic book stores have made it easier for us to accomplish everything we’ve done since our last anniversary, so giving back just makes sense, even though it means we’re not making a dime off these books.”
The Image Comics partner went on to assure fans that despite the low cover price, he and the publisher have guaranteed that the rest of the creative team was paid their usual rates for the issue. “Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, and Rus Wooton are all being compensated as usual for their contributions to THE WALKING DEAD #163, but neither myself nor Image will profit off this issue. As with most of our decisions at Image, we’re looking instead at the long-term benefits of getting more readers into stores and more of the world’s best creator-owned comics into those readers’ hands.”
The next comics to participate in Image’s 25¢ program will be “Invincible” #133, and then “Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta” #25.
“We knew we’d be selling the books at a loss—no matter how high the orders—but our number one goal is always to get books in front of as many readers as possible,” said Image Comics publisher Eric Stephenson, “and the best way to do that is by giving comic book stores something they can quite literally put in people’s hands for pocket change.”
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