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August 2014 comics sales estimates — and a comic from the crypt charts!

Monday, September 8, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman34
The comics market continued to gain ground on its 2013 performance in August, according to Comichron's estimates of comic-book sales based on reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Retailers in North America ordered more than $41 million in comics and graphic novels in the month. Click to see the comics sales estimates for August 2014.

Unit sales for the Top 300 comics were up less than 1% over last August, a month which also had four shipping weeks; once comics outside the top 300 are accounted for, the margin of increase grows to 4%. Batman #34 led the market, while Rocket Raccoon established a more normal sales level for its second issue with orders above 56,000 copies, following a first issue that benefited from a gargantuan order from a single online retailer. Comics shops still ordered additional copies of Rocket Raccoon #1 in August, however, with reorders placing it in 227th.

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=tales+from+the+crypt+3&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01Positively the craziest thing I've seen in the Diamond Top 300 in a long time came along in 251st place: Tales from the Crypt #3, listed as being published by "WIL" with a cover price of $2 and an order code from 1991. Tales from the Crypt #3 was published in the summer of 1991 by Russ Cochran; Diamond listed it in its catalog under "E.C. Comics", and indeed, it was a reprint of the original E.C. issue, Tales from The Crypt #22 in from February-March 1951. On seeing it, I thought it a computer error; it had the same order number it did in 1991, but I couldn't imagine it being still in stock.

In fact, it was and is, as sources at Diamond have confirmed. When Diamond owner Steve Geppi purchased Cochran's company in the mid-1990s — which he folded into Diamond's sister company Gemstone Publishing — a large amount of inventory came with the sale, significant quantities of which still reside in Diamond's warehouse. Diamond confirmed that a very large sale of Tales from the Crypt #3 did take place, and that its presence on the chart is legitimate.

Diamond listed the publication as being sold by "WIL" — meaning William Gaines — though for chart purposes its sales could well be assumed to belong to Cochran's company, long gone. It's amazing that a reordered title could chart after 23 years — and still more amazing I could find the original listing for it in my files!

The aggregate change statistics:


TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2014: 6.39 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: unchanged
Versus 5 years ago this month: -6%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -6%
YEAR TO DATE: 52.87 million copies, -5% vs. 2013, +8% vs. 2009, +9% vs. 2004, +3 vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +4.20%
YEAR TO DATE: -2.32%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $23.87 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +33%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +35%
YEAR TO DATE: $199.26 million, -1% vs. 2013, +19% vs. 2009, +44% vs. 2004, +51% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +7.3%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.4%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $6.26 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -7%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +3%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +40%
YEAR TO DATE: $57.3 million, -5% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +8.31%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.81%
 
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $30.13 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -8%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +18%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +45%
YEAR TO DATE: $256.55 million, -1% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +7.6%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.84%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2014: approximately $41.15 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +50%
YEAR TO DATE: $344.32 million, +3% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 451
New graphic novels released: 280
New magazines released: 47
All new releases: 778

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.72, and the average comic book ordered cost $3.73. The average comic book in the Top 25  cost $3.67. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
A couple of sites have highlighted the paucity of comics above 100,000 copies; this is a headline that could have been written a few dozen times over the last decade and a half, and I'm not sure it matters as much when the market has the breadth that it does. The first time the market got down to having only a couple of titles above 100k was near the turn of the century, when the 300th-place title was doing less than 1,000 copies. Now, it's doing more than 5,000 copies. The sales are still there; they're just spread out.

Yes, it is more efficient for a retailer to sell one extra copy of a title selling a hundred copies, rather than a single copy of a less popular title which takes up an additional racking spot and time to process, but the market has been trending for a long time toward its current state. The need for more racking and time to handle each additional title has increased gradually over the years, rather than coming all at once, so that increased cost of doing business may not stand out as much.

This isn't to say the direct market doesn't "need" blockbusters; certainly, they produce many ancillary effects when they happen. But having them happen every other month or so, as we've seen this year, may generate much of the same effect.

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. His latest novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, has just been released by Random House. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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Batman, Thanos keep strong summer for comics sales going in August

Friday, September 5, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman34
After a summer of "bombshell" covers, anniversary covers, high-profile relaunches, and giant purchases by online retailers, August appears to have been something more resembling a generic month in the comics industry. Comic-book retailers purchased more than $41 million in comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines in August 2014, according Comichron's analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. Dollar sales for the month were up 7.6% year over year, bringing annual sales to $344 million, up nearly 3% over 2013.

http://bit.ly/CCThanosJuly's sales, the highest recorded dollar amount paid for comics and graphic novels in the seventeen-year long Diamond Exclusive Era, were boosted in part by a fifth week to the month, by the addition of thousands of Rocket Raccoon #1 copies bought by Loot Crate, and by DC's Batman 75th Anniversary covers, among other things. August's sales appear to have returned to a more regular pattern, with Batman #34 taking the top slot.

The leading new series launch  was DC's Multiversity #1, in fourth place, with the Thanos: The Infinity Revelation hardcover from Marvel leading the graphic novel list.

The aggregate change statistics:

DOLLARS UNITS
AUGUST 2014 VS. JULY 2014
COMICS -23.77% -22.73%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -22.06% -20.96%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -23.26% -22.60%
AUGUST 2014 VS. AUGUST 2013
COMICS 7.30% 4.20%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 8.31% 9.95%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 7.60% 4.63%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
COMICS 2.40% -2.32%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 3.81% 5.79%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 2.84% -1.69%

PRODUCTS SHIPPED
Diamond shipped 778 new releases in August; all variants for a single title are counted together as one in the chart below. That's 113 fewer releases than July, including 79 fewer comics and 32 fewer graphic novels; still, it's 45 more comic books than were released last July. So 11% more comics came out this year versus last and 7% more comics units sold. Changes in the number of releases are  strongly tied to changes in overall performance; when trying to explain massive shifts one way or another, it is advisable to look there first.

PUBLISHER COMICS GRAPHIC NOVELS MAGAZINES TOTAL SHIPPED
DC 85 22 1 108
Marvel 78 29 0 107
Image  63 5 0 68
IDW 42 17 0 59
Dark Horse Comics 36 18 0 54
Dynamite 25 12 0 37
Boom 23 9 0 32
Random House 1 27 0 28
Eaglemoss 0 0 25 25
Viz 0 24 0 24
Other 98 117 21 236
TOTAL 451 280 47 778


MARKET SHARES
Marvel led in both unit and dollar shares. Remember, this chart includes magazine sales, which is why we see Eaglemoss in eighth. It shipped 25 magazines this month.

PUBLISHER DOLLAR SHARE UNIT SHARE
Marvel 34.27% 35.85%
DC 28.71% 32.56%
Image 8.83% 10.97%
IDW 5.43% 4.67%
Dark Horse 4.73% 4.03%
Dynamite 2.59% 2.40%
Boom 2.32% 2.14%
Eaglemoss 1.65% 0.43%
Random House 1.14% 0.38%
Viz 1.04% 0.42%
Other 9.28% 6.17%


TOP PRODUCTS

TOP COMIC BOOKS PRICE VENDOR
1 Batman #34 $3.99 DC
2 Amazing Spider-Man #5 $3.99 Marvel
3 Original Sin #7 $3.99 Marvel
4 Multiversity #1 $4.99 DC
5 Superior Spider-Man #32 $4.99 Marvel
6 The Walking Dead #130 $2.99 Image
7 Harley Quinn #9 $2.99 DC
8 Amazing Spider-Man #1.4 $3.99 Marvel
9 Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 $3.99 Marvel
10 Batman Eternal #18 $2.99 DC
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS PRICE VENDOR
1 Thanos: The Infinity Revelation OGN Hc $24.99 Marvel
2 Fables Volume 20: Camelot $19.99 DC
3 Deadpool Vs. Carnage $16.99 Marvel
4 Trillium $16.99 DC
5 Batman: Earth-One $12.99 DC
6 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers $19.99 Marvel
7 Saga Volume 3 $14.99 Image
8 Watchmen Hc $39.99 DC
9 Saga Volume 1 $9.99 Image
10 Saga Volume 2 $14.99 Image

The final estimates for August are expected next week.

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. His latest novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, has just been released by Random House. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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July 2014 comics sales estimates online; multiple Diamond-era records beaten

Monday, August 11, 2014

by John Jackson Miller
http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=rocket+raccoon+1&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01The comics industry in North America moved into positive territory for 2014 with a record-setting month of July, according to Comichron's analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in July 2014.

A much larger number of new comic book and graphic novel releases for the month helped July's sales to set a number of records for the Diamond Exclusive Era, which began in April 1997:

Highest dollar value for orders of the Top 300 comics: $30.62 million. This beat out the record set in September 2013.

Highest combined dollar value for orders of the Top 300 comics and Top 300 Graphic Novels: $39.27 milllion. This also beat out a record set in September 2013.

Highest dollar value for all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines: $53.63 million. This clobbered the previous record, set in October 2013, by more than $3 million.

Highest sales for the 300th-place comic book in a five-week month: 6,620 copies. This also beat the record set in October 2013.

Highest average price of comics offered in the Top 300: $3.79. This beat the previous record high by seven cents.

And we don't keep detailed records on this, but it really is remarkable how many new comic releases are coming from the middle-tier publishers. Image had 66 new comics this month, IDW 48, Dynamite 40, Dark Horse 39, Boom 29; it all contributed to a month where the 300th place book this July would have ranked 250th just five years ago and 192nd 10 years ago. The middle-to-lower tier titles are simply stronger relative to times past, and there are more of them.

And Titan Entertainment broke into the Top 100 this month now that it's offering the Doctor Who comics, with titles in 59th and 67th places. So there are more players vying for the top spots, too.

The aggregate change statistics:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
July 2014: 8.09 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +17%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +32%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: 46.48 million copies, -5% vs. 2013, +10% vs. 2009, +10% vs. 2004, +4 vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.73%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.16%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2014: $30.62 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +27%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +72%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +79%
YEAR TO DATE: $175.39 million, -1% vs. 2013, +21% vs. 2009, +45% vs. 2004, +54% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +19.23%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.76%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
July 2014: $8.64 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +56%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +61%
YEAR TO DATE: $51.04 million, -6% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +4.84%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.25%
 
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
July 2014: $39.27 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +53%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +91%
YEAR TO DATE: $156.5 million, -5% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.52%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.22%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
July 2014: approximately $53.63 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +15%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +92%
YEAR TO DATE: $207.85 million, unchanged vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 530
New graphic novels released: 312
New magazines released: 49
All new releases: 891

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.79, and the average comic book ordered did, too. The average comic book in the Top 25 also cost $3.79, possibly the first time all three of those figures have been equal. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

Rocket Raccoon #1 was the lead title on the comics list, and as discussed here on Friday, its reported sales of nearly 294,000 copies was boosted by at least 100,000 copies because of a sale to a single account, the subscription club Loot Crate. (Read more about the firm and its purchase here and here.) The company bought the comics non-returnably just as any other Direct Market account; in essence, it is somewhat like one of the other new-comics-by-mail services whose sales already are accounted for by Diamond's charts — with a significant exception: since the service only bought the one issue, the second issue's sales will reflect only the comics shops' sales.

Regardless, even if the Loot Crate contribution is half the title's orders, it would only account for a little over 1% of the market's sales this month.

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=life+with+archie+36&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01
Life with Archie #36 hit the charts at 27th place with orders of more than 57,000 copies — as did the magazine-format version of the issue, which made it into 297th place with orders of more than 6,000 copies. While Diamond keeps a separate tally for magazines, the magazine format Life with Archie was been appearing in Diamond's comics section all along, so there's no change there.
 
Batman Eternal no longer has the returnable asterisk in July's report; reported sales on the title increased, perhaps partially as a reflection of the sales no longer being reduced for returnability.

A few notes about some changes to the charts as they come from Diamond. First, once again, only the Top 300 was released to the media; I have confirmed with Diamond that the several months during the past year in which the Top 400 were released was an error, and not a change in policy. Diamond has released just the Top 300 for nearly 20 years, and that will continue to be the policy -- with the addition of a few items outside 300th place that appear in the Top 50 Small Publisher lists each month.

There is a case to be made for going out to 400th place when so many titles are coming out; only 14 publishers appeared in the Top 300 this month, just one more than the record low. My projections are that the Top 300 now captures 92% of all comics Diamond sells, while the Top 400 captures 97%, so it is a bit more than a marginal addition. But clearly the Top 300 still does capture the vast majority of comics sales (and far more than the Top 300 graphic novel list does). Comichron will continue to print any items after 300th place that Diamond sends, but will just the Top 300s for cross-time comparisons no matter what is released.

Next, for several years readers have asked why Comichron has listed Dynamite titles as coming from Dynamic Forces. Dynamite is an imprint of Dynamic Forces, which has had a presence in the charts for more than a decade; when the Dynamite line was started, Diamond continued to refer to the company as Dynamic Forces in its market share reports and counted the sales of Dynamite as belonging to Dynamic Forces, just as Vertigo's share belongs to DC. Comichron likewise ignores imprint distinctions in its listings, so we continued to use "Dynamic Forces."

In recent times, however -- perhaps because the Dynamite line now represents most of Dynamic Forces' product moving through Diamond -- Diamond has gone back and forth between calling the publisher Dynamic Forces and Dynamite Entertainment in its market share listings in its spreadsheets released to the press. (It was listed as Dynamic Forces in the file as recently as June.) But whatever the name might be in the internal record-keeping (and I imagine that it's all still one account under the original name), Diamond has regularly been changing the name to Dynamite in tables in its press releases accompanying the sales charts. So we're doing it as well, starting with July. Offerings under the Dynamic Forces label rarely make the Top 300 in these days of so many new comics releases, so it makes sense to do it at this point.

But we will probably not make the change retroactive, as there's a lot to update -- and again, further back we get into a time when it's more Dynamic Forces-labeled material than Dynamite making the charts.

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Kenobi and the upcoming hardcover Star Wars: A New Dawn. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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July 2014 comics market tops $53 million, most in Diamond Exclusive Era; Rocket Raccoon, Walking Dead lead lists

Friday, August 8, 2014


by John Jackson Miller

July in recent years has tended to be a month where things really get going for comics; sales did indeed, reaching their highest dollar value in the Diamond Exclusive Era which began in 1997. Comics shops in North America ordered more than $53.6 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines, topping $50 million for the second time and besting October's previous Diamond-Era record of $50.3 million.

It was a five-week month against a five-week month, so that factor is not in play; what it was was a month in which a lot of new comics shipped. Diamond Comic Distributors shipped 530 new comic books in July, which is the highest figure seen since Diamond began releasing those statistics one year ago. The release of 312 graphic novels was also the highest seen in a year — and when one of those books is Walking Dead Vol. 21, it's likely to be a decent July. The result was a month with the largest year-over-year change since last September: comics and graphic novel sales were up 14.52% over a year ago. The seven-month total has now topped $300 million, and is ahead 2.22% year-to-year.

The aggregate sales changes:

JULY 2014 VS. JUNE 2014 DOLLAR CHANGE UNIT CHANGE
COMICS 32.22% 29.25%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 21.04% 24.64%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 28.66% 28.88%
JULY 2014 VS. JULY 2013
COMICS 19.23% 14.73%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 4.84% 4.59%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 14.52% 13.87%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
COMICS 1.76% -3.16%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 3.25% 5.27%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 2.22% -2.51%

As has been reported elsewhere, a ginormous purchase of copies of Rocket Raccoon #1 was made by Loot Crate, a reseller that repacks pop cultural items to sell to subscribers. Loot Crate has a Diamond account and buys non-returnably like the other retailers — and so, like non-Direct Market sellers like Hastings, its figures are reflected in the numbers. The Guardians of the Galaxy tie-in was the #1 comic book for the month.

The top-sellers:

TOP COMIC BOOKS PRICE VENDOR
1 ROCKET RACCOON #1 $3.99 Marvel
2 BATMAN #33 $4.99 DC
3 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 $3.99 Marvel
4 ORIGINAL SIN #5 $3.99 Marvel
5 SPIDER-MAN 2099 #1 $3.99 Marvel
6 ORIGINAL SIN #6 $3.99 Marvel
7 JUSTICE LEAGUE #32 $3.99 DC
8 GRAYSON #1 $2.99 DC
9 THE LEGENDARY STAR-LORD #1 $3.99 Marvel
10 HARLEY QUINN #8 $2.99 DC
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS and TRADE PAPERBACKS PRICE VENDOR
1 THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 21: ALL-OUT WAR PART 2 $14.99 Image
2 AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER VOL. 8: RIFT PART 2 $10.99 Dark Horse
3 DEADLY CLASS VOLUME 1: REAGAN YOUTH $9.99 Image
4 SAGA VOLUME 1 $9.99 Image
5 BRYAN LEE O'MALLEY: SECONDS GN $25.00 Random House
6 DEADPOOL VOLUME 5: THE WEDDING OF DEADPOOL $15.99 Marvel
7 SAGA VOLUME 3 $14.99 Image
8 STAR WARS: THE LUCAS DRAFT $19.99 Dark Horse
9 BATMAN VOLUME 1: THE COURT OF OWLS $16.99 DC
10 LAZARUS VOLUME 2: LIFT $14.99 Image

The market shares, which include Archie above 2% thanks to the Life with Archie issue:

DOLLAR SHARE UNIT SHARE
Marvel 35.09% 38.39%
DC 28.18% 31.32%
Image 9.25% 9.82%
IDW 5.21% 4.11%
Dark Horse 5.02% 3.80%
Dynamic Forces/Dynamite 2.18% 2.16%
Archie 2.04% 1.88%
Boom 1.76% 1.78%
Eaglemoss 1.05% 0.24%
Zenescope 1.05% 0.87%
Other 9.18% 5.62%

And here's what Diamond shipped in the month:
 
Comics Shipped GNs Shipped Magazines Total Shipped
Marvel 93 36 0 129
DC 97 31 0 128
Image 66 17 0 83
IDW 48 31 0 79
Dark Horse 39 29 0 68
Dynamic Forces/Dynamite 40 4 0 44
Boom 29 4 0 33
Zenescope 14 4 0 18
Archie 15 5 0 20
Eaglemoss 0 0 10 10
Other 89 151 39 279
Total 530 312 49 891

More next week...

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Kenobi and the upcoming hardcover Star Wars: A New Dawn. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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Comics and graphic novel market reaches $870 million in 2013

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

According to new estimate by Comichron and ICV2

The market for comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada reached $870 million at retail last year, according to a new estimate prepared jointly by ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller.

“I’ve been networking with Milton on questions of the numbers underlying the business since he was at Capital City Distribution and I was editing Comics Retailer magazine back in the 1990s,” Miller said.

“It’s been great to formally collaborate on these estimates for the first time, and I think the result is the most inclusive and accurate picture of the market either of us has ever been able to produce.”

“I’m very excited about the market model this collaboration with John has produced,” Griepp said.  “I’ve always had great respect for John’s work in the area of comic sales, and putting our heads together has enabled us to build a model that all can use to analyze and understand the market.”

As presented in the accompanying infographic, the 2013 analysis by ICv2 and Comichron was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. Graphic novels contributed the largest portion ($415 million) and comic books nearly as much ($365 million), and digital (based on numbers released yesterday by ICv2) continued to grow faster than the market at $90 million. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup.

According to the report by Comichron and ICv2, comics periodical sales occur primarily in the comics store channel ($340 million) and to a declining degree in the “newsstand” channel ($25 million).  For book format products, well over half of all graphic novel sales ($245 million) occur in the book channel, with a smaller share ($170 million) in the comics store channel.

ICv2 and Comichron also collaborated on market estimates for 2011 and 2012, revising earlier estimates by both.  According to the new report, comics periodical sales grew from $300 million in 2011 to $335 million in 2012; graphic novel sales grew from $390 million in 2011 to $400 million in 2012; and combined comics and graphic novel sales grew from $690 million in 2011 to $735 million in 2012.

“It’s great that the comics market has found new ways to grow even as the over-all book and magazine markets remain challenged,” Griepp said. “It’s proof of the fundamental entertainment and literary value of the comics medium.”

“According to our records here at Comichron, without adjusting for inflation, this is the highest dollar value the market has reached since 1993,” Miller said. “That’s great for the business, and we’re excited to see what comes next.”

Comichron is the world’s largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, featuring data from the 1930s to today about comic book and graphic novel circulation, cover prices, and market shares on its website, www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.

ICv2 is the #1 industry source on the business of geek culture, including comics and graphic novels, manga and anime, movie/TV products, and hobby games, on its Website, www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence.  For the people on the front lines of the geek culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance-it's a basic necessity for being successful.  That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines.  ICv2 is where trend-watching is a science.

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The life of Archie: 54 years of circulation history

Monday, July 14, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

Archie Andrews has cheated the calendar for many years, having been a teenager since his comics debut in the 1940s, but death finds him — at least in an alternate reality—in the upcoming Life With Archie #36, according to CBR reports today.

"Wein's Law" — named for Len Wein, the writer who coined it — famously holds that "no one in comics is ever dead unless you can see the body, and usually not even then." Comics "deaths" are usually temporary in nature and often done as a publicity stunt, and they have often been greatly successful in gaining attention. The November 1992 "Death of Superman" resulted in a reported $30 million day in comics shops, the most money ever made in the business in a single day; and more recently, the death (also temporary) of Captain America led to the comic book where it happened becoming the best-selling issue of 2007.  

Life With Archie is a magazine-sized title set in a different universe from regular Archie continuity, so this event doesn't exactly fit the mold: the regular Archie title goes on — as does Afterlife With Archie, the title which in June gave Archie — and his eponymous publishing house — its first ever appearance at the top of the graphic novel bestseller list. (See the just-released June estimates here.) As noted in our reports of that event, the main Archie title itself was no stranger to the top of the comic book charts, once upon a time; after many years of collecting, I am pleased to present the complete circulation record of the main Archie title, as reported in statements filed with the United States Postal Service. Click to see the grid of circulation statements.

The main Archie title began in Winter 1942 and has been published without interruption ever since; its frequency has changed over the years, increasing or decreasing to reflect market situations, but it has never been renumbered. (That makes it the longest-running ongoing North American title never to be renumbered, a good honor to have.) It has been sold by second-class or periodical-class subscription for most of that time, and as such, has had to file Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation, which it prints in the comic book in the early part of each year. Where DC and, more recently, Marvel have stopped printing the forms, Archie continues to do so, and so Archie represents one of the few titles for which an unbroken track of reports from 1960 exist.


The cross-time picture they paint is a good deal different from what could be drawn for many other titles, in part because of the nature of the comic book and its audience. The main Archie title was very popular in the newsstand era. Archie had been running for 18 years when the 1960s began; the title was selling half a million copies at that point. The series reached its post-1960 peak in 1968 with the launch of the animated TV series from Filmation, which ran during the 1968-69 season on CBS; by 1969, when the song "Sugar, Sugar" released by a band called The Archies reached #1 on the Billboard pop charts, Archie, too, surpassed Superman and Batman to become the #1 title in comics.


It remained at #1 through 1973, based on Comichron's collection of circulation statements; finally, in 1974, The Amazing Spider-Man and Superman both passed it. During the distribution tumult of the 1970s, Archie began focusing more on digests — a market it had helped to create through its work with the Comics Magazine Association of America to establish grocery store counter dumps; as such, in 1977, the same year that Archie fell out of the top 10, its sales were surpassed by Archie Comics Digest. Betty and Veronica surpassed Archie's sales in 1980.

In 1982, the title's frequency was reduced from monthly to bimonthly. As the comic-shop market grew in the 1980s, Archie's publishing focus remained on the newsstand; sales recovered a little in the late 1980s thanks in part to added attention to its subscription business, but the flourishing of the comic book market helped Archie less than most publishers, given its younger target demographic. Enough so that when the early 1990s brought a colossal boom in the comics shop market, it's barely noticeable from the title's sales. Editorial initiatives in the 2000s sought to raise the title's sales, with particular success in 2007, and later with the release of the landmark 600th issue. By the 2010s, however, the monthly comic book was being outsold three-to-one by its digest counterpart.

So the major differences between the title and other comics make it less reflective than most books of the history of circulation in the intervening years; as noted, it's not even a great bellwether for the publisher itself, where digests, digital, and other formats are an ever-larger part of the business. (Archie sold well over 2 million digests last year, judging from the other postal statements.) [7/15 addition:] Further, the title is increasingly less tied to the flagging fortunes of the newsstand market: comics shops accounted for about four out of every nine copies that visited a cash register in 2013. The main title's sales in comics shops have increased during the last decade: this June's #656 had orders of 4,063 copies, versus 3,097 copies for #549, exactly ten years earlier. 

But all told, more than 85 million copies of the main Archie title were sold between 1960 and 2013, making it one of the comics you're most likely to find on the secondary market. Archie lives — in our reality, anyway!

Look here tomorrow for the release of the long-awaited 2013 end-of-year data, including the direct market, outside channels, and digital, the product of our first-ever joint analysis with ICV2.

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Kenobi and the upcoming hardcover Star Wars: A New Dawn. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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