I am sure this was greatly helped by the addition of the 1:200 and 1:500 variants

Image Comics partner and pop culture phenomenon Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard’s THE WALKING DEAD #163 is the Direct Market’s highest ordered comic in nearly 20 years.

As final orders rolled in this week from Diamond Comic Distributors, THE WALKING DEAD #163 pre-orders exceeded 730,000 copies—without the aid of subscription box numbers to bolster the overall total—making the goal of expanding readership through a promotional 25¢ price point an overwhelming success.

THE WALKING DEAD #163 orders overtake every other high-charting comic in print today and surpass the orders of the Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure one-shot that topped Diamond’s unit sales charts in January 2002.

Coming on the heels of the bestselling “THE WHISPERER WAR” storyline, this issue marks the beginning of the “CONQUERED” story arc in the long-running blockbuster series and provides the perfect opportunity for discovery for new readers or fans of the hit AMC TV show to get hooked on the comic series.
Image Comics enjoys a close relationship with the Direct Market comics retailers, often incorporating retailer feedback gained through always-open lines of communication, into the company’s overall sales approach. Rather than simply circulate marketing messaging to fans encouraging consumers visit their local comic shop, Image Comics’ 25¢ initiative—which begins with the special 40-page THE WALKING DEAD #163 and continues with INVINCIBLE #133 and OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #25—is a definitive and quantifiable move to pay it forward to retailers who have long supported growing the creator-owned readership.

The mission behind this promotion was not based solely on helping isolated titles gain a boost, but by increasing overall exposure through some of Image’s best-known titles. “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,” explained Kirkman. “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.
“Don’t get me wrong: 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.”
Eric Stephenson, Publisher at Image Comics, added: “When we first began discussing how to celebrate our 25th anniversary, one of the first ideas that came up was offering some of our best titles at 25¢ in an effort to reach as many readers as possible. 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, 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.”
THE WALKING DEAD #163 will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 1st—just in time for fans to celebrate “Image Day”.
INVINCIBLE #133 (Diamond Code DEC160639) will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 15th. Final order cutoff is Monday, January 23rd.
OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #25 (Diamond Code DEC160664) will be available in stores on Wednesday, February 22nd. The final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, January 30th.

THE WALKING DEAD #164 (Diamond Code DEC160746) will hit stores on Wednesday, February 15th. Final order cutoff for comics retailers is Monday, January 23rd.


About Anthony

Collector of comics for 30 years.
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  1. Bill says:

    I originally ordered all 500 from my LCS to get the variants for $125, but he offered to sell me 1 1:200, 1 1:500, and up to 50 of the regular issue for $100. I agreed. He keeps the bulk of the regular issues and 1 1:200, and I basically pay for all of it. Good deal for him and me.

    • Brennan says:

      I really wish I had thought of this.

    • Bill says:

      I have got a good LCS who is willing to work with me on deals like this. Why not? No risk for him other than a few hundred books sitting around for a while! We did it on USAvengers, and way back on Superman Unchained. Also, the Boom CGC only variants for Valen the Outcast. Always fun and exciting!

  2. Barry W says:

    That’s maximum of 1460 of the 1:500 Variant, but will undoubtedly be less as not every order would be at the 500 copies needed to qualify for the incentive.

  3. Brian Springman says:

    Seeing that not everyone that ordered will have qualified for the 1:500, my guess is that the 1:500 will likely have a print run of 1k-1.2k.

    That’s not too many considering the fan base for the Walking Dead and how many of those will wind up in personal collections/completionist’s collections.

    Should still be a nice book to have down the road once some of the supply dries up.

  4. agentpoyo says:

    Now…. How many end up as recycled toilet paper since it was just a chase to get the variants…. 😉

    • Barry W says:

      Ironic seeing how crap most of the latest season was… 💩

      • agentpoyo says:

        I’ve enjoyed the season so far. I just wish they would stop doing the entire episode in one location…. Switch it around…. They go from Alexandria to Hilltop… To Saviors…. All each their own episode kills me.

      • Barry W says:

        To be fair I thought the last two episodes before mid season break were up to the previous high standards, but yeah all that staying in one location and concentrating on one or two characters got tedious.

      • A. King says:

        I agree with that, they don’t need to stay at one place the whole episode. Some of my favorite episodes are the ones that have elements from the comics, like the Negan and Carl episode.

      • Barry W says:

        See reply to Poyo lol

      • Brennan says:

        There’s a walking dead TV show?!?!
        I give it two seasons tops.

      • Anthony says:

        pshhhh Zombies, so played out

  5. A Villain In Pants says:

    Wow. Just wow. I expected 250k that’s insane. Good for them. Looking forward to my 20 copies 😊

  6. Jesus says:

    Couldn’t get no LCS to hook it up with a deal and didn’t have the extra $125 to spend on 500 books. Just got 4 regular copies for me and that’s enough for the PC.

  7. agentpoyo says:

    Actually, I’m gonna buy a bunch of copies to plaster my comic boxes with, to turn them into Walking Dead comic book boxes.. My long boxes will have some style to them instead of boring white! 🙂

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