When new comic books arrive in stores on April 17, retailers who ordered the latest issue of a Buffy comic will get a bonus: free copies of Issue No. 0 of Angel, a new series.
“We wanted to do something special with the launch of Angel,” Arune Singh, the vice president of marketing for Boom! Studios, the publisher, said in an interview. The notion, he noted, became, “How do we do a Beyoncé album drop, but for comic book stores?”
Keeping Angel under wraps was no easy feat. Retailers and fans hear about new comics months in advance and sometimes even earlier. Boom! worked with Diamond Comic Distributors, the hub for retailers, on the top-secret project — playfully code-named Tooth Fairy, after the film starring Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. the Rock, as a hockey player. (Angel is a hockey fan.)
Angel, a vampire with remorse, will expand the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which was rebooted in January. Like the new Buffy series, Angel will be set in contemporary times, not in 1999 when the character’s television series — a spinoff of the 1997 “Buffy” TV show — first aired.
The Angel series is written by Bryan Edward Hill, drawn by Gleb Melnikov, colored by Gabriel Cassata and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. The first three pages of the issue present a different perspective on the final moments of Buffy No. 4, which arrives in stores the same day. In the Buffy comic, one of the characters is in a dire predicament, which is silently observed by Angel. In his comic, Angel sees the struggle, but readers are clued into his brooding on past sins and a cycle of violence. “I might be powerless to break it,” he thinks, “but who would I be if I didn’t try?”
[Read about the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic that arrived in January.]
In 2018, Boom! Studios announced it had acquired the rights to publish comics based on some of the creations of Joss Whedon, including the “Buffy” TV show as well as the 2002 “Firefly” series. But there was no mention of Angel, Buffy’s star-crossed love interest.
The Buffy series has seen growing popularity — sales to stores have steadily increased from 25,000 copies for issue No. 2, in February, to 32,000 copies for issue No. 4 — and the company wanted to encourage more readers to discover her adventures by visiting a store.
[Read about a publisher, TKO Studios, with a new binge-release model.]
Last week, Bleeding Cool, a website devoted to pop culture, reported on the existence of Tooth Fairy No. 0 and began speculating about what the comic could be.
This isn’t the first surprise comic. Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead comic that spawned the television franchise, pulled off some magic last July. He sent retailers copies of his series Die!Die!Die!, which he wrote with Scott M. Gimple. It was drawn by Chris Burnham and colored by Nathan Fairbairn.
“Hopefully the excitement of a surprise launch like this will bring people into your stores,” Kirkman wrote in a letter to the shops, “and we can all celebrate another successful series launch together.”
Boom! is giving retailers around the country some of the 29,000 copies of Angel No. 0, which has a cover price of $3.99, based on the number of copies of Buffy No. 3 (from March) that they ordered. Additionally, Angel No. 0 will not be available for download until May 1, making the need to visit a comic store more immediate.
“We want these comic shop retailers, who are the lifeblood of this industry, to know we are committed to them,” Singh said.