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March 2014 comics sales estimates: Image posts highest market share since 2000

Monday, April 7, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman29
Comics sales months in the mirror may be smaller than they appear. That's one of the lessons of the data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors about comics sales in March 2014, as analyzed by Comichron. Click to see the comics sales estimates for March 2014.

March's sales to comics shops overall only represented a slight cooldown from March a year ago — and as reported here on Friday, the big action was in the graphic novel sector. Walking Dead Vol. 20 led the graphic novel charts — and with Saga Vol. 3 and an expensive Stray Bullets volume in the Top 10, Image posted its highest market share since November 2000, with an 11.38% dollar share. (November 2000's mark was 12.54%.) But while March 2013's numbers posed a difficult comparative to beat — I called it a "blockbuster for this time of year" — going inside the numbers shows that last year's totals were a bit of a mirage.

The Top 300 graphic novels this March, for example, were actually down 4% versus March 2013—even though the graphic novel category overall last month was up 18.31%. Why such a discrepancy? Because as Comichron noted at the time, March 2013's graphic novel charts were artificially inflated by Marvel's deep-discounting of several million dollars' worth of hardcovers. So March 2013's Top 300 graphic novels had a total retail value of $8.97 million versus $8.65 million this March —but the publishers and Diamond realized far less money from them.

The overall graphic novel percentage changes that Diamond reports, meanwhile, are calculated based on wholesale value — how much money retailers paid — and there, it's clear that while more dollars worth of material moved through the system in March 2013, discounts weren't as deep on what Diamond sold this year, and it and publishers realized more from the sales.

If we take the analysis down to units, we see that this March's 300th-place graphic novel sold 490 copies, whereas last March's book in that spot sold only 413. So we're really looking at a comparison with a March 2013 chart that was seriously distorted by a lot of high-dollar value books sold at very high discounts.

The 300th-place comic book sold 4,940 copies this March versus 4,077 last March — almost exactly ten times the number of graphic novels sold in that spot in each month we're comparing.

Meanwhile, on the five-year comparison tracks, we're finally comparing against recessionary months in the Direct Market — the boost lent by the Obama Spider-Man issue in January and February 2009 was no longer in the picture. The market may have sold a million fewer comics in the Top 300 in March 2014 versus March 2013, but it sold a million more than in March 2009.

The aggregate change figures:


TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2014: 6.22 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +17%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -2%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -4%
YEAR TO DATE: 20.93 million copies, -13% vs. 2013, +10% vs. 2009, +8% vs. 2004, -1% vs. 1999

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2014 versus one year ago this month: -11.83%
YEAR TO DATE: -11.40%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2014: $22.98 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +23%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +42%
YEAR TO DATE: $68 million, -10% vs. 2013, +21% vs. 2009, +41% vs. 2004, +44% vs. 1999

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2014 versus one year ago this month: -9.47%
YEAR TO DATE: -6.89%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2014: $8.65 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -26%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +1
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +51
YEAR TO DATE: $20.63 million, -9% vs. 2013

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
March 2014 versus one year ago this month: +18.31%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.39%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2014: $31.64 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -9%
Versus 5 years ago this months: +13%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +15%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +56%
YEAR TO DATE: $88.64 million, -10% vs. 2013

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
March 2014 versus one year ago this month: -1.48%
YEAR TO DATE: -4.4%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
March 2014: approximately $40.73 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +31%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +36%
YEAR TO DATE: $116.59 million, -4% vs. 2013
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.64; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.70. The median price for comics offered was $3.99, and the most common price for comics offered was also $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

So the market ends the quarter about $5 million off the pace of 2013, a not-unexpected place for it to be given the winter weather, the lack of major event titles, and the degree to which 2013's volume was impacted by heavy discounting.

A reminder: Free Comic Book Day is May 3. And check the Comic Shop Locator Service to find a comic shop near you.  

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March 2014 data: Comics market soldiers through winter with only slight loss

Friday, April 4, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

With Captain America: The Winter Soldier releasing today, comic shops have managed to soldier through one of the more wretched winters for weather in recent memory without too many negative effects. Diamond Comic Distributors released its preliminary data for orders from the comics ship market for March 2014—and the month in overall dollars came in at approximately $40.7 million, just 1.48% behind the same month last year. (Last March was also a four ship-week month.) That puts the first quarter at $116.6 million, off 4.4% from last year.

Led by the new Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War Part 1, graphic novels were the high point of the month, up more than 18% over last March. With close to a two-to-one ratio between comics dollars and graphic novel dollars in the Direct Market, that nearly offset the more than 9% drop in new comics dollars. Batman #29, at $4.99 this month, was the #1 comic book in an soft market for periodicals, but sales reports indicate that April's Amazing Spider-Man #1 may shake up that picture quite a bit. (It's the third issue by that name, if I recall, not counting the one that came with the record album; the first one, from 1963, can be had for a mere $2,125 in CGC 2.5, whereas the second one from 1998 runs for under $5.)

The aggregate statistics are below. Don't sweat the First Quarter 2014 versus Fourth Quarter 2013 change figures—fall always beats winter in a blowout:
 
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS
March 2014 vs. February 2014 DOLLARS UNITS
Comics 4.11% 6.32%
Graphic Novels 24.00% 25.00%
Total Comics/GN 10.22% 7.93%
March 2014 vs. March 2013
Comics -9.47% -11.83%
Graphic Novels 18.31% 22.85%
Total Comics/GN -1.48% -9.28%
First Quarter 2014 vs. Fourth Quarter 2013
Comics -14.30% -13.77%
Graphic Novels -11.59% -1.59%
Total Comics/GN -13.45% -12.82%
First Quarter 2014 vs. First Quarter 2013
Comics -6.89% -11.40%
Graphic Novels 1.39% 10.06%
Total Comics/GN -4.40% -9.85%
Year-To-Date 2014 vs. Year-To-Date 2013
Comics -6.89% -11.40%
Graphic Novels 1.39% 10.06%
Total Comics/GN -4.40% -9.85%
 
Marvel led the market shares in both units and dollars, in a month in which Image's market share reached a 13-year peak:

Publisher Dollar share Unit share
Marvel Comics 34.31% 38.17%
DC Comics 25.94% 29.02%
Image Comics 11.38% 11.04%
Dark Horse Comics 6.19% 5.72%
IDW Publishing 5.29% 4.51%
Dynamic Forces 2.61% 2.56%
Boom Studios 1.99% 1.84%
Eaglemoss Publications 1.59% 0.35%
Avatar Press 1.14% 0.94%
Random House 1.04% 0.26%
Other 8.53% 5.59%
 
The number of new products on the market rebounded. Ten fewer new comics were released, while 23 more graphic novels came out. (A fact that may have contributed to the fortunes of those two categories this month.

PUBLISHER COMICS SHIPPED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED MAGAZINES SHIPPED TOTAL SHIPPED
DC 84 28 1 113
Marvel 75 34 0 109
Image 54 13 0 67
IDW 42 22 0 64
Dark Horse 42 15 0 57
Dynamic Forces 34 5 0 39
Boom 28 7 0 35
Avatar 11 4 0 15
Random House 0 15 0 15
Eaglemoss 0 0 12 12
Other 63 104 16 183
Total 433 247 29 709
  The Top 10 comic books:

Title  Price  Publisher
1 Batman #29  $4.99 DC
2 Superman Unchained #6  $3.99 DC
3 Forever Evil #6  $3.99 DC
4 Sandman Overture #2  $3.99 DC
5 Superior Spider-Man #29  $3.99 Marvel
6 Daredevil #1  $3.99 Marvel
7 Superior Spider-Man #30  $3.99 Marvel
8 Silver Surfer #1  $3.99 Marvel
9 The Walking Dead #124  $2.99 Image
10 Uncanny X-Men #19.Now  $3.99 Marvel

And the Top 10 graphic novels:

Title  Price  Publisher
1 The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War Part 1  $14.99 Image
2 Saga Volume 3  $14.99 Image
3 Nemo: Roses of Berlin HC  $14.95 Top Shelf
4 Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 7: Rift Part 1  $10.99 Dark Horse
5 Chew Volume 8: Family Recipes  $12.99 Image
6 Justice League: Trinity War HC  $29.99 DC
7 Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis  $19.99 DC
8 Adventure Time Vol. 3: Seeing Red  $11.99 Boom
9 Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1  $24.99 Marvel
10 Stray Bullets Uber Alles Edition  $59.99 Image

Last, a word about first quarters in comics in general. January and February's data set off some hand-wringing in various internet circles—in part, because they were the first back-to-back negative months the market had seen in some time. But it's worth noting that since less of the industry's annual volume is sold in the first quarter—just 21.45% of 2012's sales came in the first quarter—both upside and downside changes simply mean less than at other times in the year. Last year's first quarter was up 20% but the year was only up 9%.

As the biggest indicator (beyond the number of accounts) in what a comic book sells this month is what it sold last month, certainly any slowdown is meaningful. But history is replete with strong Aprils wiping out winter losses. The picture of a year seldom is really clear until June—and in years like 2011, with the DC relaunch, it was September before we really knew how things would go.

The final tallies for March should appear here next week.
 
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February 2014 comics sales estimates now online

Monday, March 17, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman28The final comics sales estimates for February are out from Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, winter plus a lighter slate of releases appears to have kept orders low during the month. Comics shops in North America ordered close to $37 million in new comic books, graphic novels, and magazines in February, down 6.71% from a year ago. The figure is still up 3% from February 2012. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in February 2014. 

One major difference between this month's numbers and last month's appears is the absence of a big-ticket title in the upper ranks like last month's Detective #27. On the other hand, Marvel's $75 Infinity hardcover made the top 10 for graphic novels, helping that category to narrowly beat its 2013 total.

The Top 300 comic books had orders of 5.92 million copies, the lowest figure since January 2012. However, the figure is 5% higher than five years ago in February, and 10% higher than 10 years ago.

It's noteworthy that almost the exact same number of comic books sold within the Top 300 in February 2014 as sold fifteen years earlier, in February 1999. On one hand, 1999 was year near the pit of the comics collapse of the last 1990s and nothing to shoot for — but on the other hand, it took a  larger number of comics shops to sell those units back then, so today's comics shops are selling relatively more units. Further, while the sales at the top of the charts were more or less comparable then and now — 130,000 versus 114,000 now — the sales at the bottom of the charts are much better. The 300th place comic book in February 1999 sold 1,157 copies to retailers; this February, the title at that level sold 4,263 copies.

The aggregate changes:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2014: 5.92 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -16%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +10%
Versus 15 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 12.08 million copies, -12% vs. 2013, +7% vs. 2009, +15% vs. 2004, unchanged vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2014 versus one year ago this month: -14.77%
YEAR TO DATE: -11.18%
---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2014: $21.71 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +42%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +43%
YEAR TO DATE: $45.02 million, -9% vs. 2013, +17% vs. 2009, +51% vs. 2004, +46% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2014 versus one year ago this month: -10.39%
YEAR TO DATE: -5.53%
---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2014: $6.18 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +43%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +25%
YEAR TO DATE: $11.98 million, -13% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
February 2014 versus one year ago this month: +2.83%
YEAR TO DATE: -6.69%
---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2014: $27.86 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -12%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +4%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +30%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +53%
YEAR TO DATE: $57 million, -10% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
February 2014 versus one year ago this month: -6.71%
YEAR TO DATE: -5.89%
---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2014: approximately $36.92 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +63%
YEAR TO DATE: $75.86 million, -6% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 443
New graphic novels released: 224
New magazines released: 25
All new releases: 692

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.65; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.67. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

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Winter chills February 2014 comics sales

Friday, March 14, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman28
February appears to be returning to form. The release of Diamond Comic Distributors' data for the month was delayed by snow days and other scheduling issues, and the unusually harsh winter appears to have cast a chill on comics sales. Comics shops in North America ordered close to $37 million in new comic books, graphic novels, and magazines in February, down 6.71% from a year ago. The figure is still up 3% from February 2012.

February has historically been either the lowest or second-lowest volume sales month for the Direct Market: publishers in the past have tend to offer fewer titles than at other times of the year, and customers (and sometimes the comics!) have more difficulty reaching stores. This month saw 692 new releases, the first time in months that figure has been below 700. There were 30 fewer graphic novels released in February versus in January; more comics were released, but fewer magazines.


http://bit.ly/CCInfinityHC
Comics sales were off nearly 15% in units and more than 10% in dollars: Batman #28 was the leader of the list.

Graphic novel dollars were up 2.83% over a year ago. Unit sales were led by the Locke & Key Vol. 6: Alpha and Omega hardcover. Based on its position in the unit sales rankings, odds are the $75 Infinity hardcover may come in at or near the top of the list in dollar sales. Graphic novel units were up by a much greater amount, which suggests that this month again had a high volume of graphic novels sold at greater-than-usual discounts.

The aggregate changes:
 
DOLLARS UNITS
FEBRUARY 2014 VS. JANUARY 2014
Comics -5.48% -4.47%
Graphic Novels -4.48% 5.98%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels -5.17% -3.65%
FEBRUARY 2014 VS. FEBRUARY 2013
Comics -10.39% -14.77%
Graphic Novels 2.83% 14.99%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels -6.71% -12.83%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
Comics -5.53% -11.18%
Graphic Novels -6.69% 3.16%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels -5.89% -10.15%

The top-selling comic books:

1 Batman #28 $3.99 DC
2 Forever Evil #5 $3.99 DC
3 Wolverine #1 $3.99 Marvel
4 Superior Spider-Man #27.Now $3.99 Marvel
5 Justice League #28 $3.99 DC
6 Superior Spider-Man #28 $3.99 Marvel
7 Fantastic Four #1 $3.99 Marvel
8 The Walking Dead #121 $2.99 Image
9 The Walking Dead #122 $2.99 Image
10 All New X-Men #23 $3.99 Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels:

1 Locke & Key Volume 6: Alpha & Omega HC $29.99 IDW
2 Fatale Volume 4: Pray For Rain $14.99 Image
3 Adventure Time Volume 4 $14.99 Boom
4 Invincible Volume 19: The War At Home $16.99 Image
5 Saga Volume 1 $9.99 Image
6 Star-Lord: Annihilation Conquest $7.99 Marvel
7 Infinity HC $75.00 Marvel
8 My Little Pony Tales Volume 2 $17.99 IDW
9 Revival Volume 3: A Faraway Place $14.99 Image
10 The Flash Volume 2: Rogues Revolution $16.99 DC

The market shares:

Publisher Dollar Share Unit Share
Marvel 34.10% 37.36%
DC 28.73% 31.12%
Image 7.85% 8.88%
Dark Horse 6.61% 5.59%
IDW 6.01% 5.00%
Dynamic Forces 3.51% 3.40%
Boom 2.05% 1.94%
Eaglemoss 1.28% 0.27%
Zenescope 1.05% 0.99%
Valiant 1.02% 1.08%
Other 7.78% 4.38%
 
 And the number of new releases:


Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines Shipped Total shipped
DC 85 26 0 111
Marvel 69 32 0 101
Image 48 11 0 59
Dark Horse 39 19 0 58
Dynamic Forces 50 8 0 58
IDW 40 17 0 57
Boom 24 6 0 30
Zenescope 14 2 0 16
Valiant 9 2 0 11
Eaglemoss 0 0 4 4
Other 65 101 21 187
Total 443 224 25 692
Look for the full data to come. And check the Comic Shop Locator Service to find a comic shop near you! 

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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January 2014 comics sales estimates now online

Monday, February 10, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBat27
The first comics sales reports for the year have been released by Diamond Comic Distributors, and 2014 is off to a slow start, relative to some recent big Januaries. Click to see comics sales estimates for January 2014.

The top seller for the month, Batman #27, sold fewer copies than any monthly top-seller since May 2011, before the DC relaunch. But while the second-place title, Detective Comics #27 (boy, that issue sounds familiar) sold more than 87,000 copies to Batman's more than 115,000, it cost twice as much, and thus was by far the biggest comic book in dollar terms in the month.

Comics shops sold nearly $39 million worth of comic books and graphic novels in January, off 5% from last January. Comic book dollar orders were essentially unchanged, but the graphic novel category dropped against difficult competition from the previous year.

RECORDS: Thanks in part to the impact of Detective #27, the average price of all comics retailers ordered within the Top 300 was $3.77, the highest ever. It beat out the $3.73 mark set in October and November. Click to see more Diamond Exclusive Era records.

The comparatives for the month are below:


TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
January 2014: 6.17 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +10%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +20%
Versus 15 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 6.17 million copies, -8% vs. 2013, +10% vs. 2009, +20% vs. 2004, unchanged vs. 1999

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
January 2014 versus one year ago this month: -7.45%
YEAR TO DATE: -7.45%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
January 2014: $23.31 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +21%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +61%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +48%
YEAR TO DATE: $23.31 million, -3% vs. 2013, +21% vs. 2009, +61% vs. 2004, +48% vs. 1999

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
January 2014 versus one year ago this month: -0.42%
YEAR TO DATE: -0.42%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
January 2013: $5.8 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -21%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -6%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +4%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +37%
YEAR TO DATE: $5.8 million, -21% vs. 2013

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
January 2014 versus one year ago this month: -14.28%
YEAR TO DATE: -14.28%

---


TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
January 2014: $29.11 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +15%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +49%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +56%
YEAR TO DATE: $29.11 million, -7% vs. 2013

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
January 2014 versus one year ago this month: -5.09%
YEAR TO DATE: -5.09%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
January 2014: approximately $38.97 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +24%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +78%
YEAR TO DATE: $38.97 million, -5% vs. 2012

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.68, with the average comic book ordered by retailers costing $3.77. The average comic book in the Top 25 cost $4.11. $3.99 was the median price of comics, and $3.99 was the most common price. Click to see monthly comics prices over time and median comics prices since 1961.

Next month, comparatives for graphic novel sales will expand to the Top 100 titles, as that's what Diamond began reporting in February 2004.

Look for our annual "all-encompassing" report on comics sales in 2013, including newsstand and bookstore sales, later in the month.

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January 2014 comics dollars steady, graphic novel orders decline

Friday, February 7, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBat27
January 2014 was a fairly wretched month for weather in the United States and Canada, and that may have played some role in a softer market for comics, judging from the data released this morning from Diamond Comic Distributors. Comics shops sold nearly $39 million worth of comic books and graphic novels in January, off 5% from last January. Comic book dollar orders were essentially unchanged, but the graphic novel category dropped against difficult competition from the previous year.

It was the first year-over-year decline since August, and the first January drop since 2011. But it's still 21% better than January 2012 — a time after the DC relaunch — so these things are all relative!

January is always an odd duck statistically, and not just because of the weather: the holidays at the beginning of the year impact shipping and how Diamond accounts for sales. Both this January and last January had five Wednesdays, but in each case, the first week's sales were invoiced with the last week of December. So a lot of sales that really did happen in January were counted with the previous month—and same for last January.

The comparative statistics across time:

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS


DOLLARS UNITS
January 2014 Vs. December 2013

Comics -5.87% -7.17%
Graphic Novels -11.65% -9.89%
Total Comics/GNs -7.71% -7.39%



January 2014 Vs. January 2013

Comics -0.42% -7.45%
Graphic Novels -14.28% -6.99%
Total Comics/GNs -5.09% -7.42%



Twelve-Month Rolling Comparison

Comics 8.52% 4.61%
Graphic Novels 2.57% 2.48%
Total Comics/GNs 6.63% 4.44%

Marvel led the market shares in a month in which eight publishers had dollar shares above 2%; I can't find that happening anytime in the recent past, and a cursory search of some likely months a decade ago (when Wizard would have been in the list) hasn't found an instance either. Eaglemoss had 14 magazines out in the month, bumping it above 2%.

The market shares:

Publisher Dollar share Unit Share
Marvel Comics 34.09% 37.39%
DC Comics 28.06% 30.77%
Image Comics 8.78% 10.10%
IDW Publishing 5.71% 5.08%
Dark Horse Comics 4.74% 4.22%
Dynamic Forces 2.81% 2.69%
Boom Entertainment 2.25% 1.99%
Eaglemoss Publications 2.14% 0.43%
Viz 1.26% 0.51%
Avatar Press 1.05% 0.87%
Other Non-Top 10 9.11% 5.95%
 
Batman #27 was the top-selling comic book, beating out the $8 Detective Comics #27, which likely did better in dollar sales. Despite the overall drop and a drop in unit orders, comics sales were almost exactly flat versus last January in dollar terms, thanks in part to the Detective issue.

The top-selling comic books:

RANK DESCRIPTION  PRICE  VENDOR
1 Batman #27  $3.99 DC
2 Detective Comics #27  $7.99 DC
3 Avengers World #1  $3.99 Marvel
4 Justice League #27  $3.99 DC
5 Superior Spider-Man #25  $4.99 Marvel
6 All New X-Men #22.Now  $3.99 Marvel
7 Superior Spider-Man #26  $3.99 Marvel
8 Harley Quinn #2  $2.99 DC
9 Avengers #25  $3.99 Marvel
10 Justice League of America #11  $3.99 DC

Graphic novel sales, led by Saga Vol. 1, were the weak link in the market this month, down double-digits from the previous January. Last January had a new Fables release at the top of the charts and Saga Vol. 1 was newer then, so the competition last year was stronger.

The top-selling graphic novels:

RANK DESCRIPTION  PRICE  VENDOR
1 Saga Volume 1  $9.99 Image
2 The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye  $14.99 Image
3 All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday's X-Men  $19.99 Marvel
4 Superior Spider-Man Vol. 4: Necessary Evil  $17.99 Marvel
5 Batman '66: The TV Stories  $14.99 DC
6 Saga Volume 2  $14.99 Image
7 X-Men: Battle Of The Atom HC  $49.99 Marvel
8 The Unwritten Volume 8: Orpheus In The Underworlds  $16.99 DC
9 Batman: The Dark Knight Volume 2: Cycle Of Violence  $14.99 DC
10 Thor: God Of Thunder Vol. 1: God Butcher  $19.99 Marvel

And finally, the number of new releases:
PUBLISHER Comics Graphic Novels Magazines Total shipped
DC 83 23 0 106
Marvel 79 27 0 106
Image 53 11 0 64
IDW 38 15 0 53
Viz 0 45 0 45
Dynamic Forces 36 4 0 40
Dark Horse 26 12 0 38
Boom 26 7 0 33
Avatar 16 2 1 19
Eaglemoss 0 0 14 14
Other 77 108 21 206
TOTAL 434 254 36 724
 As I've written on Comichron for many years, wintry January was, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, what back-to-school September was for comics in the 1980s — a time when momentum ended and sales dropped. Publishers tended to launch fewer major initiatives in "the Dead Quarter." This effect has increasingly diminished over time, as publishers have tended to even out their releases a bit more. Diamond didn't release a list like the above one for January 2013, but there were 739 items shipped in December — 471 comics and 239 graphic novels. About 10 fewer comics a week, about four more graphic novels.

With January, we now have eleven years of Final Order data from Diamond, and we can see how past Januaries did. First, here's how they Overall Sales did versus the Januaries of the year before:

January 2004: $21.9 million, +4.29%
January 2005: $23.2 million, +6.39%
January 2006: $25.56 million, +9.7%
January 2007: $33.71 million, +31.89%
January 2008: $34.56 million, +2.52%
January 2009: $31.31 million, -9.4%
January 2010: $32.01 million, +2.23%
January 2011: $25.31 million, -20.91%
January 2012: $32.27 million, +27.47%
January 2013: $41.06 million, +27.16%
January 2014: $38.97 million, -5.09%

So we see that January beats always happened during the growth years of the mid-1990s, with the largest being in 2007, when Civil War #6 came out. In 2012 and 2013, January sales increased by a combined $15 million.

Now, let's compare these figures with Decembers past:

December 2003 to January 2004: -23.69%
December 2004 to January 2005: -23.33%
December 2005 to January 2006: -19.19%
December 2006 to January 2007: +0.27%
December 2007 to January 2008: -3.68%
December 2008 to January 2009: -21.29%
December 2009 to January 2010: -10.27%
December 2010 to January 2011: -29.95%
December 2011 to January 2012: -6.73%
December 2012 to January 2013: +3.01%
December 2013 to January 2014: -7.71%

Again, a drop-off from December is very much the norm for the Direct Market.

If we look at just comic-book sales, excepting collected editions, we can see further back. Here's the estimated change within the Top 300 comics dollar sales from December to January from 1997 to present:

December 1996 to January 1997: -15.3%
December 1997 to January 1998: -27.7%
December 1998 to January 1999: -15.2%
December 1999 to January 2000: -18.5%
December 2000 to January 2001: -8.9%
December 2001 to January 2002: -3.6%
December 2002 to January 2003: -4.8%
December 2003 to January 2004: -19.9%
December 2004 to January 2005: -26.7%
December 2005 to January 2006: -17.0%
December 2006 to January 2007: -4.8%
December 2007 to January 2008: -7.0%
December 2008 to January 2009: -24.36%
December 2009 to January 2010: -13.96%
December 2010 to January 2011: -22.68%
December 2011 to January 2012: -6.73%
December 2012 to January 2013: -3.44%
December 2013 to January 2013 (all comics): -5.87%

So the dropoff really does seem to reflect the 8% fewer new comics on the market in January versus December.

The full report for January should be along next week.

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