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November 2014 comics sales estimates online; top comic book at 135k

Monday, December 15, 2014

by John Jackson Miller
 
http://bit.ly/CCWD22
November was no October when it came to comics sales, but it didn't need to be to improve upon last year's performance. Based on Comichron's analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors, comics shops in North America ordered nearly $46 million in printed product during the month, 8% more than last November — and the gains were made by both comic books and graphic novels. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in November 2014.

The graphic novel category improved more during the month, up 14.4% thanks in part to the category leader, Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning, which debuted with first-month orders of nearly 23,000 copies. Sales of the Top 300 graphic novels for the whole year to date are still lagging 1% behind the same grouping last year — but since Diamond reports that all graphic novels sold are up 6%, that means the growth has all been in the "long tail," the books outside the Top 300. (And there are a lot of them!)

http://bit.ly/CCAMZ9
Amazing Spider-Man #9, one of two issues of the title released in the month, led the comics category with sales of more than 135,000 copies. The Top 300 comics for the month outsold the same grouping for last November by nearly 100,000 copies, so that extra Spidey issue could be considered the margin of difference.

Walking Dead returned to its previous sales level, following last month's Loot Crate-enhanced sales; this would seem to strengthen the case that the October Loot Crate purchase of Walking Dead #132 was likely around 256,000 copies. That's more than Loot Crate appears to have bought of the Guardians of the Galaxy spinoff Rocket Raccoon #1 earlier in the summer, so it's likely there's quite a bit of variance in its orders from set to set. Given how the "crates" can be purchased a la carte as well as by subscription, that would make sense.

The aggregate changes:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2014: 6.73 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 15 years ago this month: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: 75.9 million copies, -3% vs. 2013, +11% vs. 2009, +12% vs. 2004, +6% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +5.84%
YEAR TO DATE: -0.11%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $25.12 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +35%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +44%
YEAR TO DATE: $287.5 million, +1% vs. 2013, +22% vs. 2009, +48% vs. 2004, +55% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +5.47%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.80%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $8.8 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +19
Versus 5 years ago this month: -9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +45%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +39%
YEAR TO DATE: $82.31 million, -1% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.44%
YEAR TO DATE: +6.16%

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2014: $33.92 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +11%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +24%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +59%
YEAR TO DATE: $369.8 million, +1% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
November 2014 versus one year ago this month: +8.36%
YEAR TO DATE: +4.52%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
November 2014: approximately $45.77 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +31%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +59%
YEAR TO DATE: $496.96 million, +5% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 499
New graphic novels released: 301
New magazines released: 32
All new releases: 832

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.71; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.73. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

As mentioned Friday, Comichron projects the comic shop market will complete the year with orders totaling around $542 million, up a little less than 5% over 2013. You can contribute to that total by visiting your local comic shop; find one here.
  
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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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November comics orders strong; 2014 sales projected to finish up 5%

Friday, December 12, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

bit.ly/CCAMZ9
Retailer orders for comic books and graphic novels in November 2014 were reported this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors, and the preliminary report finds overall sales were up for the sixth month in a row. Comic shops in North America ordered $45.7 million in print product in the month, up about $3.5 million, or 8.36% over last November. Both this November and last November had four shipping weeks.

Both comics and graphic novels were up year-over-year in units and dollars. Comic book unit sales had been running slightly behind last year overall; November's strong comic book sales brought the category almost to parity with last year's total. A similar performance in December would mean all categories in 2014 would finish ahead of 2013.

The month-to-month numbers were down from October's blockbuster figures, though that month had one more sales week. The comparative sales statistics for November:
 
  DOLLARS UNITS
NOVEMBER 2014 VS. OCTOBER 2014    
Comics -22.73% -22.12%
Graphic Novels -8.49% -3.21%
Total Comics & Graphic Novels -18.40% -20.73%
     
NOVEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2013    
Comics 5.47% 5.84%
Graphic Novels 14.44% 21.00%
Total Comics & Graphic Novels 8.36% 7.03%
     
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013    
Comics 3.80% -0.11%
Graphic Novels 6.16% 6.52%
Total Comics & Graphic Novels 4.52% 0.39%

Marvel led the market shares in both units and dollars in a month in which Image, boosted by a new Walking Dead collection, crossed into double digits in both categories. The market shares for November:

PUBLISHER DOLLAR SHARE UNIT SHARE
Marvel 34.88% 37.82%
DC 27.47% 31.64%
Image 10.62% 11.06%
IDW 5.65% 4.53%
Dark Horse 4.85% 3.58%
Dynamite 2.84% 2.54%
Boom 2.73% 2.68%
Random House 1.20% 0.49%
Viz 0.97% 0.36%
Eaglemoss 0.77% 0.18%
Other 8.01% 5.13%
 
After October's thousand new releases, the amount of new material dropped in November. But even as the number of new graphic novels released was essentially unchanged from last November, the number of new comics released ballooned, from 406 last November to 499. The number of new items shipped by each publisher in the month:

PUBLISHER Comics shipped Graphic Novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
DC 95 29 0 124
Marvel 76 37 0 113
Image 74 13 0 87
IDW 46 27 0 73
Dark Horse 36 27 0 63
Boom 41 6 0 47
Dynamite 33 10 0 43
Viz 0 31 0 31
Random House 4 24 0 28
Eaglemoss 0 0 7 7
Other 94 97 25 216
TOTAL 499 301 32 832

Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man #9 took the top slot in a month in which every item in the Top 10 was priced at $3.99 or above. The Top Ten Comics:

  COMIC BOOK PRICE VENDOR
1 Amazing Spider-Man #9 $4.99 Marvel
2 All-New Captain America #1 $3.99 Marvel
3 Batman #36 $3.99 DC
4 Amazing Spider-Man #10 $3.99 Marvel
5 Spider-Woman #1 $3.99 Marvel
6 Thor #2 $3.99 Marvel
7 Superior Iron Man #1 $3.99 Marvel
8 Avengers And X-Men: Axis #4 $3.99 Marvel
9 Avengers And X-Men: Axis #5 $3.99 Marvel
10 Justice League #36 $3.99 DC

As mentioned above, Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning led the Top Ten Graphic Novels:
 
  GRAPHIC NOVEL PRICE VENDOR
1 The Walking Dead Vol. 22: A New Beginning $14.99 Image
2 Teen Titans: Earth One Volume 1 HC $22.99 DC
3 Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1 HC $49.99 Image
4 The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act $9.99 Image
5 Saga Volume 1 $9.99 Image
6 Serenity: Leaves On Wind HC $19.99 Dark Horse
7 Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 9: Rift Part 3 $10.99 Dark Horse
8 Batman Eternal Volume 1 $39.99 DC
9 The Wake HC $24.99 DC
10 Deadpool Volume 6: Original Sin $17.99 Marvel

Year-to-date sales for the market reached nearly $497 million with this month's report, meaning only $21 million needed to be shipped in December in order for 2014 to beat 2013. That mark was likely met this week, and Comichron now projects that the sales for the year will land around $542 million, up a little less than 5% over 2013.

Look for the full estimates to appear on Monday.
 
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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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Marvel Star Wars #1 sales to top 1 million, matching title's 1977 feat; some historical context

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

Marvel's Star Wars #1s in 1977 (left) and 2015 (right) topped 1 million copies
Marvel has confirmed this morning a report from Comicbook.com that its Star Wars #1, releasing in January, has orders of more than 1 million copies, which would make it the best-selling print comic book in North America since at least 1999 — and possibly since 1993, depending on the final tallies.

Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing David Gabriel confirmed to the site that the order total for Star Wars #1, releasing January 14, had passed a million copies, saying in an interview that the figure comes from a variety of channels. "There are a number of new outlets that we're working with here in terms of the folks purchasing and selling a large number of exclusive covers," Gabriel said, "which in the end means that this very large number of comics will be sold in places where we haven't necessarily had comic sales." The RebelScum website has a list of variants, many of which are exclusives with individual comic shops.

Diamond Comic Distributors releases its sales reports for January-shipping items in early February, so we won't see figures until then — though we know that it topped the advance reorders chart released last week. As noted here in the past when publishers have announced sales figures, the Diamond figure will almost certainly not be the same; the Diamond totals only include what it shipped to North American shops in a particular calendar month. (Read a primer about the Diamond figures here.) If some of the special market sales didn't pass through Diamond, they won't be reflected. This is completely normal: the Diamond charts aren't a scoreboard, but rather a tool for North American comic shop managers to use in placing future orders based on what other comic shops in their geographic marketplace are ordering. Comichron, however, is in the business of recording both that information and any other print circulation data which comes to light — and there, the Marvel report is of major significance in the recent history of comics sales, even as it has an interesting echo to the past.


http://bit.ly/CCAmz1
When Amazing Spider-Man #1 was released this April, I had occasion to study the past to see what the most recent million-copy sellers were. No title in the 2000s had done so at the time of Amazing Spider-Man's release, and while ASM went on to be the top-selling comic book of the century so far, it appears to have topped out somewhere below 600,000 copies. The book moved 532,586 copies to the Direct Market in its first month, and charted again with 13,240 copies in May and 10,631 copies in June; that totals 556,457 copies. We may assume that there were additional sales in July and later that did not reach the charts — but we know where the bottom of the charts is, and that gives us the 600k ceiling. The issue won't appear on Comichron's Top Comics of the 21st Century list until 2014 ends and Diamond's final reports are released, but it will take the #1 slot. At least until Star Wars #1 replaces it, in early 2016 when the 2015 titles are added (presuming nothing even bigger comes along). 

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=145981?AffID=874007P01As I figured back then in examining the Spider-Man case, the most recent million-copy seller before now would have been Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu #4, the final issue of the 1999 mini-series from Viz; all four issues topped a million copies in sales, according to the publisher. Released in the heat of the Pokémon video game and collectible card game craze, most of the sales of those comic books were not in comics shops, but rather in bagged editions sold in department stores and other mass-market outlets. Each issue was reprinted many times, as well.

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=batman+500&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01For something sold primarily — but not entirely! — in comic shops, one has to go back to Batman #500, cover-dated October 1993 and on sale in August 1993, just before the market collapse. (We can see from the 1993 overall chart at Diamond that the "Return of Superman" issues and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter #1 all ranked higher at the end of the year, but those all came out before Batman #500.)

Capital City Distribution's sales for Batman #500 were known to have been 318,450 copies, and since Capital City's share of comics DC sold to the Direct Market was likely lower than 31.845%, that means that the overall Direct Market sales were over 1 million copies. Newsstand sales would have taken it even higher. So it's over a million copies, but we don't know exactly how much over.

There were several million-plus and multimillion sellers before that issue during the boom of the early 1990s. The title for best-selling comic book in American publishing history belongs to 1991's X-Men Vol. 2 #1, with its more than 8 million copies sold. Before that stretch, however, was a long period likely without any million-sellers — with a particular and familiar island in the middle: Star Wars, in 1977.

I have written a lot about the history of Star Wars comics in the past (including having written quite a few of them myself), and the million-copy mark bears a particular historical importance for the line. Star Wars #1 in 1977 was the first comic book since Dell's Uncle Scrooge in 1960 to top a million copies sold. Star Wars #1 did that in 1977 not through its initial sale to newsstands, but also through a newsstand reprint and at least three waves of bagged reprints offered to department stores through Western Publishing's Whitman arm. Sales of the bagged editions of the movie adaptation were so strong, according to former Marvel Editor in Chief Jim Shooter, that Western temporarily suspended its program of printing variant editions for other Marvel titles to focus solely on Star Wars reprints in late 1977. At least the first three issues of the 1977 series all would have topped a million copies, and possibly more.

So a million-copy sale for the issue today would replicate the feat of the first Star Wars comic book in 1977, which Shooter has said saved Marvel Comics during what was otherwise a disastrous decade for publishing. Comics cover prices tripled over the course of the 1970s, even as story page counts dropped for several publishers — and the newsstand market shriveled, making things like the Whitman distribution program necessary for both Marvel and DC. Star Wars didn't turn the tide for the market — the DC Implosion was to follow, and more pain was to come — but it was an important burst of revenue for Marvel at the time and helped it survive until the growth of the comic shop market revived the business in the 1980s. (The title also kept a number of customers in the field, including this writer; I write a bit about my personal experiences as a reader of Star Wars tie-in comics and books here.)

Comics today are on a much better footing than they were then, of course, but strong winter offerings never hurt. Comics sales in January have been weak historically not so much because of the weather but because publishers have tended to offer fewer high profile projects then; when major events have been launched in winter, such as "Age of Apocalypse" or "DC vs. Marvel," they have tended to make an outsized impact. So if we know nothing else about 2015, we now know it begins with at least one likely record-setter.

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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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October 2014 comics estimates online: Looking at the Loot Crate Effect

Monday, November 10, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCWD132
October smashed all comics records from the last decade-plus again, with a thousand new comic books, graphic novels, and magazines hitting the market. Based on Comichron's analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors, comics shops in North America ordered more than $56 million in printed product during the month. Seven comic books had orders of more than 100,000 copies. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in October 2014.

Highlights of the month included Diamond's Halloween ComicFest, its fall counterpart to Free Comic Book Day — and topping the charts again, we have a comic book whose sales were greatly inflated by a single order from the pop culture subscription club, Loot Crate. Image's Walking Dead #132 far outdistanced other comic books offered in October, with estimated orders of more than 326,000 copies.

The question is, how many of those copies did Loot Crate order? There's no way to know for sure — and no reason to expect that Diamond would reveal the ordering levels of one of its customer accounts. But unlike Rocket Raccoon #1, this issue of Walking Dead was in the middle of a series — and as such, the issues around it serve as clues. Issue #131 in September had first-month estimated sales of 69,810 copies; issue #133, which also came out in October, ranked 16th with orders of 69,561 copies.

The July Loot Crate included a Rocket Raccoon #1 variant
(Image © Loot Crate)
That suggests a floor for #132 in the Direct Market of nearly 70,000 copies — meaning however many copies Loot Crate purchased, it could not have been more than 256,000. How many fewer? While the Walking Dead fifth season did premiere on TV on Oct. 12, eleven days after the release of #132, it doesn't seem from the solicitation materials that the particular issue was the target of special attention. Diamond shipping records indicate no variant editions for the Direct Market. So while I had suggested here on Friday that the comic book could have topped the charts without Loot Crate's help, seeing the numbers suggests that's less likely. It could be possible, in fact, that Loot Crate ordered a quarter million copies of the issue.

Earlier in the year, Rocket Raccoon dropped 237,000 copies from its first Loot Crate-ordered issue to the next, but it would've dropped some part of that because of the difference between first- and second-issue sales. Loot Crate offers orders of specific individual bundles in addition to its subscriptions, so there could well be significant volatility from order to order. We need more data points to get a better gauge, but we are almost certainly in the peculiar situation of a variant, the Loot Crate labeled edition, being more numerous than the regular Direct Market version. 

All this raises the question of whether such colossal orders are being reported in the right place. Yes, Diamond is selling the books nonreturnably to Loot Crate, just as it does copies of other variant comics produced for mail-order houses — though none of them, to my knowledge, have ordered more copies than the entire Direct Market bought of a comic book. Does it make a difference if these orders are reported with the regular monthly data? It really depends on your point of view.

Certainly the publisher with the Loot Crate deal benefits by having the orders reported in the same place, while all the other publishers who might have vied for first place do not. While the importance of its suppliers' views are obvious, however, the target audience of distributor sales charts has always been retailers, looking to see what other shops are having success with and using the Order Index numbers to adjust their purchase numbers. The figures for Loot Crate-enhanced titles are thus basically useless for such a purpose, although they may tip shop-owners off that a bunch of new people have been introduced to the title.


http://bit.ly/CCMsMarvel1
Yet another group of end-users for the data is collectors who want to know how scarce a given comic book is, and the more data points for them, the better. We'd hate not to know how many total copies are out there. But there's no returning to the days of breaking out variant covers into their own entries, now that such variants are ubiquitous. I honestly don't know what the solution is, but I suspect that if other firms enter the Loot Crate space offering comics, odds are the question will be raised again. For Comichron's part, the sales are ginormous enough that we'll be including a dagger (as we're already using the asterisk) when any Loot Crate-enhanced issue appears in the rankings. Future readers won't need to wonder why sales spiked so high.

There's no similar gap on the graphic novel side of things; we see from the numbers that Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 topped the graphic novel charts with first-month orders of about 7,795 copies, surpassing the #2 title by a couple of cases.

RECORDS: There was, of course, the main record broken: the highest dollar value for comics, graphic novels, and magazines ordered in the Diamond Exclusive era, at $56.09 million. That's double the total for ten years earlier, October 2004.

But other records were set. Retailers ordered 8.41 million copies of the Top 300 comics, the highest number since December 1997, when Darkness #11 led the market. The Top 300 comics were valued at $31.94 million, the highest figure seen in the period. Image's unit sales in that grouping — again, boosted by Loot Crate — were its highest since April 2000 when Fathom was atop the charts, and Image's dollar sales in the Top 300 were at the highest level since July 1998.

Retailers ordered $40.76 million of the Top 300 comics and the Top 300 graphic novels, the highest figure for that category in the Diamond Era. Marvel's sales in that grouping were also its highest in the era.

The aggregate changes:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2014: 8.41 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +36%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +42%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +30%
YEAR TO DATE: 69.17 million copies, -3% vs. 2013, +11% vs. 2009, +13% vs. 2004, +7 vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2014 versus one year ago this month: +10.14%
YEAR TO DATE: -0.66%

 ---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2014: $31.94 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +49%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +87%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +84%
YEAR TO DATE: $262.38 million, +1% vs. 2013, +23% vs. 2009, +49% vs. 2004, +57% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2014 versus one year ago this month: +10.84%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.64%
---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2014: $8.82 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +24%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: 13%
YEAR TO DATE: $73.51 million, -3% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2014 versus one year ago this month: +12.9%
YEAR TO DATE: +5.31%
---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2014: $40.76 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +36%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +60%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +98%
YEAR TO DATE: $335.88 million, unchanged vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2014 versus one year ago this month: +11.46%
YEAR TO DATE: +4.15%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
October 2014: approximately $56.09 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +64%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +101%
YEAR TO DATE: $451.19 million, +4% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 590
New graphic novels released: 374
New magazines released: 55
All new releases: 1,019

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.75; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.80. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

As mentioned Friday, Comichron projects the comic shop market will complete the year with orders totaling around $535-540 million; the smaller figure is reached if November and December are completely flat, the larger if sales are up 5%. Either one would bring the year-to-year increase to around 4%, the smallest year-to-year gain of the three up years. "Gravy Day" — the point after which any new sales are an increase over last year's sum — should fall in the second week of December this year.

That's it for October's report. I'll be speaking about the comics market in panels this weekend at Atomacon in N. Charleston, S. Carolina, and the weekend of Nov. 21-23 at Memphis Comic and Fantasy Con. Hope to see you there — and wherever you are, you can find your local comic shop here.
  
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 several bestselling novels including Star Wars: Kenobi and the recently released 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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October comics shop orders best in 17 years on huge volume; Walking Dead, Ms. Marvel top charts

Friday, November 7, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

The records just keep breaking in the comics industry. October 2014's shattered the record for retailer orders of new comic books and graphic novels in a single month in the Diamond Exclusive Era, which began in 1997; a record which was only three months old! Retailers ordered an estimated $56.09 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines from Diamond Comic Distributors, according to Comichron's analysis of data released by the company today.

It's an 11.46% increase over last October's $50.32 million figure, which itself was a record for the business; both were five-week months. The comparatives for the month:

DOLLARS UNITS
OCTOBER 2014 VS. SEPTEMBER 2014
Comics 6.30% 9.64%
Graphic Novels 21.30% 25.98%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 10.45% 10.69%
OCTOBER 2014 VS. OCTOBER 2013
Comics 10.84% 10.14%
Graphic Novels 12.90% 6.28%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 11.46% 9.85%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. 2013
Comics 3.64% -0.66%
Graphic Novels 5.31% 5.13%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 4.15% -0.22%
 
This makes the third straight year in which October has been the strongest month for comics. Overall, the Direct Market's orders for the year now total an estimated $451.19 million, up $18 million, or 4.15%, over 2013 through October. This now guarantees that overall comics shop sales will increase for the third year in a row: retailers only need to order $66 million in merchandise in November and December to beat the 2013 total.

Comichron projects the comic shop market will complete the year with orders totaling around $535-540 million; the smaller figure is reached if November and December are completely flat, the larger if sales are up 5%. Either one would bring the year-to-year increase to around 4%, the smallest year-to-year gain of the three up years. "Gravy Day" — the point after which any new sales are an increase over last year's sum — should fall in the second week of December this year.

Back to October, that $56.09 million figure remains impressive; it is more than double the $27.9 million sold exactly 10 years earlier in October 2004. That was a four-week month back then — and there is far more material available for ordering today. But it should be apparent that inflation alone does not account for the increase in sales. The market has grown larger. Is it because of demographic changes (as the graphic-novel chart-topping title this month, Ms. Marvel, might suggest), because existing customers are simply able to buy more, because digital and movies have expanded readership, or simply because of a change in the number of accounts? I suspect there's something of all of these in the answer (along with the much larger number of graphic novels available now, and the sales charts alone don't tell us for sure.

But they do demonstrate that a big part of the sales increase over last year is in the sheer volume of new material being released. Diamond has only been reporting its number of new releases for a bit over a year, but the totals for October are the highest we've seen. Diamond shipped 590 comics in October, up from 515 last October — and 374 new graphic novels, up from 342 last October. The number of comics, magazines, and graphic novels offered topped a thousand for the first time since the data began being reported, and at 1,020 items, that's 126 more than shipped last October:

Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
DC 109 34 1 144
Marvel 94 45 1 140
Image 72 17 0 89
Dark Horse 38 34 0 72
IDW 47 25 0 72
Boom 38 9 0 47
Dynamite 38 9 0 47
Eaglemoss 0 0 22 22
Archie 16 5 0 21
Avatar 17 2 1 20
Other 121 194 31 346
TOTAL 590 374 56 1020

Comics shipped and ordered do not equal sales to consumers, of course. But a comic shop owner told me October 18 was the best sales day in his business's history not connected with any kind of special event; there's a lot more volume, but evidently also customers to buy the material. If that's being seen elsewhere, then we have what might be a sustainable increase.

http://bit.ly/CCWD132
Looking back to 2010, the best month of the year has always been whatever month of September, October, or November has five weeks; if that continues, look for September 2015 would be the big one next year.

For the second time this year, the online retailer Loot Crate made figuring out the comics shop sales of the market-topping comic book more complicated. Walking Dead #132 from Image topped the bestseller list, and releasing as it did at the start of the TV season, it may well have done so entirely on the basis of its comics-shop sales. But Loot Crate ordered thousands of copies of a variant edition through Diamond, making it the second comic book (after July's Rocket Raccoon #1) to see a giant boost. Dark Horse's Halo: Escalation #1 was part of the September Loot Crate offering, but only in the form of a digital download card. The physical comic book was not included.

The Death of Wolverine helped Marvel take most of the slots in the Top 10:

COMIC BOOK PRICE VENDOR
1 The Walking Dead #132 $2.99 Image
2 Death Of Wolverine #4 $4.99 Marvel
3 Thor #1 $3.99 Marvel
4 Death Of Wolverine #3 $4.99 Marvel
5 Avengers And X-Men: Axis #1 $4.99 Marvel
6 Batman #35  $4.99 DC
7 Amazing Spider-Man #7 $3.99 Marvel
8 Amazing Spider-Man #8 $3.99 Marvel
9 Harley Quinn Annual #1 $5.99 DC
10 Avengers And X-Men: Axis #2 $3.99 Marvel

Among graphic novels, the Ms. Marvel collection took the top spot:

GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS PRICE VENDOR
1 Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal $15.99 Marvel
2 Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman $15.99 Marvel
3 Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year: Secret City $16.99 DC
4 East Of West Volume 3: There Is No Us $14.99 Image
5 Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year: Dark City HC $24.99 DC
6 Southern Bastards Vol. 1: Here Was A Man $9.99 Image
7 Harley Quinn Volume 1: Hot In The City $24.99 DC
8 Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1: The Parker Luck $17.99 Marvel
9 Moon Knight Volume 1: From The Dead HC $17.99 Marvel
10 Batman: Death Of The Family Book & Joker Mask Set $39.99 DC
 
In the market shares, Marvel retook the lead in both the dollar and unit sales categories, bolstered by "The Death of Wolverine." Image's dollar share approached 10%:

Dollar share Unit share
Marvel 34.82% 36.35%
DC 27.53% 31.00%
Image 9.77% 12.28%
IDW 5.18% 3.94%
Dark Horse 4.74% 3.25%
Dynamite 2.60% 2.00%
Boom 2.39% 2.26%
Archie 1.19% 1.20%
Avatar 1.18% 1.25%
Eaglemoss 1.17% 0.30%
Other 9.43% 6.18%

The comics sales records page has been updated to reflect the October sales. Readers may wonder why I cut off records at the mid-1990s; it is because of the gap in data caused by the Exclusivity Wars between the distributors; read more about it here and here. I have materials enough to piece sales from that era and before together, but it is a large project and one that is still ongoing.

Look for the final estimates to appear on Monday.

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 several bestselling novels including Star Wars: Kenobi and the recently released 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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