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Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, December 10, 2018

November 2018 comics sales estimates online: Uncanny X-Men tops 176,000 copies in U.S., Canada

by John Jackson Miller




As reported here on Friday, the momentum in Direct Market stores' purchases of comics and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors hit a bump in November due, in part, to significantly smaller slates from comics publishers. Click to visit our page for November 2018 comics sales estimates.


Already at a disadvantage against November 2017, which had one more shipping week, November 2018 saw 121 fewer comics released, a drop of 22% and the smallest new comics slate since April 2016, before the DC Rebirth event began. Marvel's 79 new comic books was its lowest number of new releases since October 2015 — and DC's 67 new comics were down from 95 the previous year. (Note that the number of items retailers had to choose from didn't necessarily go down; all variants are merged in these calcuations.)

 Find this issue on eBay
Despite the month's drop overall and its smaller slate, Marvel actually had a better month than it did the year before; its overall dollar sales were up 3%. The publisher had the top comic book in dollar and unit sales in Uncanny X-Men #1, priced at $7.99; it had North American orders topping 176,000 copies.

It was also a big month for Venom. In addition to the surprisingly strong performance of the character's film in theaters, Marvel had the top graphic novel in Venom by Donny Cates Vol. 1 and a top-three new-comics finisher in Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1; it had sales topping 104,000 copies. Amazing Spider-Man #10 did better than #9 thanks to a J. Scott Campbell variant, seen at right.

It was a much softer month for DC comparatively, year-over-year, largely because of the aforemetioned smaller slate, but also because November 2017 saw the launch of Doomsday Clock. It did have a significant launch in The Green Lantern #1, which shipped more than 113,000 copies to North America.


November's performance makes a return to a positive year saleswise in December more unlikely;
click to see some of our scenarios for 2018's final totals. 2018 will join four other years in the last decade with sales either up by less than 2% or down by less than 2%; it will be a much smaller drop than we saw in 2017, regardless.

Here are the vital statistics for the month:

Friday, December 7, 2018

November comics orders down on smallest new issue release slate since before Rebirth

by John Jackson Miller


 Find this issue at TFAW2018 is going to come down to a photo finish. We already knew that November comics orders would come in behind those of November 2017, due to that month having an extra New Comics Day, bringing the year-to-date figure back into the red and making December the deciding factor. The question was how much December would need to make up.

According to preliminary figures released today by Diamond Comic Distributors, the November loss came in on higher end of our estimated range for two major reasons: even with the shortened calendar, comics publishers did not commit nearly as many titles to the month — and increasingly, much of the holiday graphic novel business has moved to October. Click to visit our page for November 2018 comics sales estimates; the figures will be posted there on Monday.

Fully 121 fewer new comics were released versus the same month in 2017, a drop of 22%; that's the smallest new comics slate since April 2016, before the DC Rebirth event began. Marvel's 79 new comic books was its lowest number of new releases since October 2015 — and DC's 67 new comics were down from 95 the previous year. Through the end of November, publishers have released 5,155 comic books in 2018, versus 5,472 in 2017. The year is not going to catch up; it's like 2017 had a few extra weeks of comics. 2018 has seen 6% fewer new periodical releases.

 Find this book at TFAWThat figure exactly matches the comics unit sales drop for the year — and is, in fact, evidence that comics periodicals are doing better, per release, than they were in 2017. Comics dollar sales this year are up close to 1.5% on those 6% fewer releases — and we know 2017's units were padded by many overships and 25¢ issues, so the true unit performance is probably a couple of points better than that 6%. So the "sales per issue" performance is better.

Graphic novel slates were 12% smaller this November than in the previous November, but the 840-title October-November slate this year was actually 5% larger than 2017's total number of offerings. With Halloween being a New Comics Day, a big chunk of releases in advance of the holidays landed in October, instead. Dollar and unit sales changes for graphic novels are in a narrow range, so it doesn't appear that deep-discounting played a larger-than-usual role in the month.
 Find this book at TFAW
Despite the month's drop overall and its smaller slate, Marvel actually had a better month than it did the year before; its overall dollar sales were up 3%. The publisher had the top comic book in dollar and unit sales in Uncanny X-Men #1, priced at $7.99. The top dollar graphic novel was X-Men: Mutant Massacre, priced at $100. It was also a big month for Venom. In addition to the surprising strong performance of the character's film in theaters, Marvel had the top graphic novel in Venom by Donny Cates Vol. 1 and a top-three new-comics finisher in Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1.

DC benefited from a new Green Lantern #1, placing second. Overall, it was a much softer month for DC comparatively, year-over-year, largely because of the aforemetioned smaller slate; DC also had timing issues in play, as November had no new releases from Doomsday Clock or the bimonthly Batman Damned. Both those get new issues in December.  Image was off single-digits year-to-year after a big graphic novel month, and Dark Horse was up substantially.

The charts are below, as are some scenarios for 2018's final totals. We also have our explanatory video online:


Be sure to subscribe on Youtube to get all the videos as they release.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
November 2018 Vs. October 2018
Comics-16.49%-19.71%
Graphic Novels-21.10%-23.49%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-17.81%-19.99%
Toys+6.76%-23.81%
November 2018 Vs. November 2017
Comics-4.98%-11.24%
Graphic Novels-30.36%-31.11%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-13.61%-13.02%
Toys-10.88%-19.52%
Year-To-Date 2018 Vs. Year-To-Date 2017
Comics+1.48%-6.06%
Graphic Novels-6.67%-7.25%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.98%-6.15%
Toys-3.25%-3.25%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel40.80%43.75%
DC26.74%29.51%
Image8.57%8.50%
IDW3.62%3.39%
Dark Horse3.37%2.58%
Boom2.95%2.49%
Dynamite2.24%2.11%
Viz1.26%0.48%
Titan1.20%0.80%
Oni0.97%0.80%
Other8.28%5.58%

On the unit charts, we see that Amazing Spider-Man #10 beat #9 — there was a J. Scott Campbell variant available based on orders received for #10. (Thanks to Ryan Higgins for the heads-up!) The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Uncanny X-Men #1$7.99Marvel
2Green Lantern #1$4.99DC
3Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1$4.99Marvel
4Amazing Spider-Man #10$3.99Marvel
5Batman #58$3.99DC
6Batman #59$3.99DC
7Amazing Spider-Man #9$3.99Marvel
8Heroes In Crisis #3$3.99DC
9Avengers #10$5.99Marvel
10Venom #8$3.99Marvel

We see that in the dollar rankings, Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1 passed Green Lantern #1, which was ahead of it on the unit charts. How could that be, when they both cost the same? Simple: the dollar charts are based on invoiced dollars, or what retailers paid Diamond. The mix of retailers ordering Green Lantern must have gotten a slightly better discount from DC than the mix ordering Venom got from Marvel comics. Every retailer's discount is calculated individually based on their order volumes.

The The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Uncanny X-Men #1$7.99Marvel
2Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1$4.99Marvel
3Green Lantern #1$4.99DC
4Avengers #10$5.99Marvel
5Amazing Spider-Man #10$3.99Marvel
6Batman #58$3.99DC
7Batman #59$3.99DC
8Amazing Spider-Man #9$3.99Marvel
9Heroes In Crisis #3$3.99DC
10Venom #8$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Venom by Donny Cates Vol. 1: Rex$17.99Marvel
2Thanos: The Infinity Conflict HC$24.99Marvel
3Justice League Vol. 1: The Totality$17.99DC
4Black Eyed Peas Presents: Masters Of The Sun: The  Zombie Chronicles$24.99Marvel
5Amazing Spider-Man By Nick Spencer Vol. 1: Back To Basics$15.99Marvel
6The Immortal Hulk Vol. 1: Or Is He Both?$15.99Marvel
7Batman: White Knight$19.99DC
8Unnatural Vol. 1: Awakening$9.99Image
9Star Wars: Lando: Double or Nothing$15.99Marvel
10Domino Vol. 1: Killer Instinct$17.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1X-Men Mutant: Massacre Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
2Thanos: The Infinity Conflict HC$24.99Marvel
3Absolute Transmetropolitan Vol. 3 HC$125.00DC
4Silver Surfer By Slott And Allred Omnibus HC$75.00Marvel
5Black Eyed Peas Presents: Masters Of The Sun: The Zombie Chronicles$24.99Marvel
6Venom by Donny Cates Vol. 1: Rex$17.99Marvel
7Firefly: Big Damn Heroes Box Set$150.00Boom
8Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 3 HC$125.00DC
9Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Vol. 17 HC$75.00Marvel
10Justice League Vol. 1: The Totality$17.99DC


Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel79390118
DC67400107
Image5718075
IDW3314047
Boom2316039
Dark Horse1619035
Titan1013528
Viz026026
Dynamite174021
Oni84012
Other11320617336
TOTAL SHIPPED42339922844

Which brings us back to December's role in how 2018 finishes. As the autumn has progressed, I've been tending to think that the market would finish slightly ahead for one reason: that December 2017 was such a low target to beat. Its orders of $38.49 million made it the weakest month of 2017, worse than any winter month earlier in the year. The size of November's slate reduction, however, has increased the difficulty.

There are a number of scenarios for 2018 overall:

• If December orders are down by no more than 13% (a $33.54 million month):
The second half of 2018 will finish ahead of the second half of 2017.

• If December orders are flat year-over-year ($38.49 million): 
2018 will finish at $519.57 million, down 0.5%.

• If December orders are up at least 7% ($41.07 million):
The 4th Quarter of 2018 will finish positive, resulting in three up quarters in a row.

• If December orders are up at least 12% ($43.27 million):
2018 will finish above $522.24 million, ahead of 2017.

(Remember, the above totals are only for orders placed through Diamond; retailers order graphic novels from other distributors, as well, and of course book channel performance is a separate thing.)

So looking at the above, a second-half beat is very likely; that's because the weak part of 2018 was last winter. As to whether the other targets can be beaten, what is likely to matter most is how much material publishers bring to market. Advance reorders for December 2018 showed good results for Batman Who Laughs #1 and Batman Damned #2, as well as the Aquaman Omnibus, timed for the new movie.

So stay tuned — and drop back Monday when we'll have the individual title sales estimates for November.


Comichron founder 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, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Halo, Mass Effect, and Battlestar Galactica.

He is also the author of novels including Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.
Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Friday, November 23, 2018

New series: A journey through comics history with Comics Retailer magazine

by John Jackson Miller

Read the first chapter now!
Twenty-five years ago Friday, my comic industry career began with my first day editing Comics Retailer magazine, the trade publication for the comics industry through the 1990s and 2000s. (It would later be known as Comics & Games Retailer, after the makeup of the readership changed.)

Today, I begin a new article series on the site: a monthly look back on that magazine and the comics market in those tumultuous times, starting with...what else? An origin story, discussing both the origins of the comics retail market, the demand for the magazine, publisher Krause Publications' intentions for it, and some of the issues facing the market in 1992, when the publication was launched.

This installment closes with my arrival in the CR offices in November 1993, and the challenges the market was facing at the time. The plan (at least roughly) is for a continuing series, hopefully monthly, looking back at individual months as the 1993 boom went bust.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Green Lantern, mutants lead final pre-Black Friday reorder report

by John Jackson Miller

 Find this book at TFAW
Green Lantern and mutants led the last round of reorder reports from Diamond Comic Distributors before the Black Friday weekend.

Among comic books, Green Lantern #1 led retail reorders for the last week before Thanksgiving; Uncanny X-Men #1 (which had one less week on the shelves) second. The X-Men Mutant Massacre Omnibus hardcover led the list in overall dollars. Click to see the charts for November 2018.

Advance reorders found the Greg Capullo Batman Who Laughs #1 variant as the top-reordered December book, regular version second, an Infinity Wars #6 variant third. Click to see the charts for December 2018.

Finally, we've established landing pages for all the months of 2019. We note when the calendar will favor or disfavor specific months, note some known comics and movie events, and mention year-to-year comparatives. See them starting (naturally!) with January; or go to our 2019 master page.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Monday, November 12, 2018

October 2018 comics sales estimates online: Strong month for the midlist

by John Jackson Miller

 Click to see the estimates for October 2018

As reported last week, comics and graphic novel orders through Diamond Comics Distributors ended October ahead for the year-to-date, thanks to one additional New Comic Book Day during the month. We also know the month benefited from particularly strong sales of middle-tier titles, thanks to Comichron estimates, just posted: click to see the comics sales estimates for October 2018.

October was generally without the major launches that previous months saw; the major event for the month (besides the Venom movie) was Walking Dead Day on Oct. 13, which saw 15 different "blind bag" editions of previous issues (along with new variant covers) on offer. Batman #56, with its foil edition, finished first in units and dollars among comic books, with Walking Dead #1's 15th anniversary edition in second. The issues landed around 107,500 and 106,100 copies shipped respectively in North America.

But as noted, the performance of titles in the midsection of the charts was strong. The 150th place title shipped 17,305 copies, the third largest amount at that level in 20 years. The 200th place title sold 12,184 copies, the fourth highest amount in two decades. The 50th, 100th, 400th, and 500th place titles all hit one-year highs.

While in part due to more releases on offer after a year in which publishers had cut their slates back, it appears that, in the absence of a blockbuster title for the month, retailers may have spread their ordering dollars around to other issues. October's total comics shipment of 8 million copies was the largest since May 2017, which had the 25¢ Saga #43 padding the totals.

The Batman: White Knight trade paperback topped 12,000 copies shipped in October. It's now also nearly certain that Infinity Gauntlet will be the top-ordered graphic novel from Diamond in 2018; this would be the first time Marvel led that list since Civil War in 2007, after a five-year run with Saga volumes in the lead. Click to see sales for comics and graphic novels for the year to date; you can also see the top titles by year.

The vital statistics for October:

Friday, November 9, 2018

Comics sales ahead for year after $49.4 million October; Batman, Walking Dead's 15th anniversary drive month

by John Jackson Miller


As predicted here, comics and graphic novel orders through Diamond Comics Distributors ended October ahead for the year-to-date, thanks to a stronger midsection of 2018 and one additional New Comic Book Day during the month. Retailers ordered $49.39 million in comics and graphic novels in October, up 8.4% year-over-year; year-to-date orders stand at $438.4 million, up $1.6 million (or 0.4%) over the past year. Click to visit our page for October 2018 comics sales estimates; the figures will be posted there on Monday.

 Find this book at TFAWIt has been a slow and steady climb — the first time the year-to-date figure has been positive since December 2016. And while November 2018 is up against a month from last year with one more shipping week, December 2017's sales were low enough that 2018 overall has a good chance of eking out a modest win.

The extra week distorts the comparisons with last October, a month dominated last year by Marvel's Legacy launch; Marvel, DC, and Image's dollar sales performances all improved against that month. Marvel's dollar sales of comics and graphic novels to retailers are up $6 million year-to-date; DC's are up $4 million, and Image's are back even. The smaller publishers were the last into the recession; publishers seem to be exiting it in the same order they went in.

October was generally without the major launches that previous months saw; the major event for the month was Walking Dead Day on Oct. 13, which saw 15 different "blind bag" editions of previous issues (along with new variant covers) on offer. Batman #56, with its foil edition, finished first in units and dollars among comic books, with Walking Dead #1's 15th anniversary edition in second. With fewer launches, the charting comic books were generally cheaper than we've seen — leading to a total shipment of comic books topping 8 million copies for the first time since May 2017, which had hundreds of thousands of copies of the 25¢ Saga #43 padding the totals.

 Find this book at TFAW
Comics unit sales were up 5% in the month, bringing the year-to-year loss to a little over five-and-a-half percent, or about 4 million copies — though that shortfall is partially because 25-cent Image issues like that Saga edition were in 2017's charts, as well as many more overshipped comics. The number of normally-priced comics that retailers paid their regular discounts for in 2018 is a lot closer to even with 2017. But there's another factor inflating 2017's comic-book unit sales: the number of releases. Through ten months, publishers have offered 4,732 new issues to retailers, a drop of 198, or 4%.

The Batman: White Knight trade paperback was the top graphic novel for the month in units; Wonder Woman Earth One Vol. 2 was tops in dollars. The number of new graphic novel offerings is slightly up this year; sales for the category through October were down less than 4% — down, but continuing to improve.

There were significant deep-discount sales promotions for retailers in October, manifesting in a nine-point gap in the comparative change statistics for graphic novel unit and dollar sales. Year-to-date, the categories are much closer.

Check out our lists below, and also our explanatory video:



The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
October 2018 Vs. September 2018
Comics+11.93%+11.51%
Graphic Novels+3.28%-0.76%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+9.32%+10.49%
Toys+19.04%+22.50%
October 2018 Vs. October 2017
Comics+9.66%+5.33%
Graphic Novels+5.30%+14.38%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+8.38%+5.95%
Toys+21.58%+47.81%
Year-To-Date 2018 Vs. Year-To-Date 2017
Comics+2.13%-5.56%
Graphic Novels-3.76%-4.45%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.38%-5.48%
Toys-2.16%-1.15%

Thanks to its graphic novels and the Walking Dead event, Image's market shares vaulted to near 13%, both for units and dollars. A consequence: Marvel and DC's combined market shares were at their lowest level since August 2017.

The market shares:


PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel34.22%37.89%
DC30.48%32.99%
Image12.62%12.64%
IDW4.03%3.74%
Dark Horse3.32%2.41%
Dynamite2.37%2.06%
Boom1.86%1.52%
Viz1.34%0.48%
Titan0.87%0.57%
Random House0.78%0.16%
Other8.11%5.55%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman #56$3.99DC
2The Walking Dead #1 15th Anniversary Ed.$2.99Image
3Spider-Geddon #1$3.99Marvel
4Batman #57$3.99DC
5Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #1$3.99Marvel
6Heroes In Crisis #2$3.99DC
7Venom #7$3.99Marvel
8Justice League #10$3.99DC
9Amazing Spider-Man #7$3.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man #8$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman #56$3.99DC
2Spider-Geddon #1$3.99Marvel
3Venom #7$3.99Marvel
4Batman #57$3.99DC
5Venom Annual #1$4.99Marvel
6Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider #1$3.99Marvel
7Heroes In Crisis #2$3.99DC
8Amazing Spider-Man #7$3.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #8$3.99Marvel
10Justice League #10$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman: White Knight$19.99DC
2Wonder Woman Earth One Vol. 2 HC$24.99DC
3My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies HC$16.99Image
4Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding$16.99DC
5Gideon Falls Vol. 1: Black Barn$9.99Image
6Isola Vol. 1$9.99Image
7The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 7$17.99Image
8Death Or Glory Vol. 1$16.99Image
9Avengers By Jason Aaron Volime 1: Final Host$17.99Marvel
10Batman & The Justice League Manga Vol. 1$12.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2 HC$24.99DC
2Batman: White Knight$19.99DC
3My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies HC$16.99Image
4Amazing Spider-Man By Michelinie & McFarlane Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
5The Walking Dead Compendium 15th Annv Box Set$200.00Image
6Batman Vol. 7: The Wedding $16.99DC
7The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 7$17.99Image
8X-Men: Grand Design: Second Genesis$29.99Marvel
9Tomb Of Dracula Omnibus Vol. 1 HC$100.00Marvel
10Marvelocity: The Marvel Comic Art of Alex Ross HC$50.00Pantheon

Finally, the number of new items offered. The Image comics number is its highest in four years, but it's partially because all fifteen of the Walking Dead anniversary editions would have been tabulated as individual releases:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel95410136
DC78381117
Image78240102
IDW3416050
Dark Horse2320043
Boom2614040
Dynamite279036
Viz026026
Titan1212125
Archie114015
Other14223636414
TOTAL SHIPPED526440381004

Lastly, the chart at right is a pretty good visualization of the market over the last couple of years — at least in terms of its month-to-month status. It shows year-to-date performance, as it changed every month in 2017 and 2018. (It is not sales levels — it's how the year compared to the year before at each point.)

You'll see that 2017 started off softly, but that the year really lost ground as it got to summer, and the months where DC's Rebirth issues entered the 2016 tallies. By August, the hole was dug — and things stabilized in September as Legacy began to ramp up: it's also the first time I noted any hint of a change. It turned out we'd found something close to a bottom: the first months of 2018 are a bit distorted because January had a ship week that March didn't. Beginning in April with Action #1000, the market began a long, more or less steady trek to claw its way out of the red.

So as expected, October put the year-to-date slightly ahead and November may well return it slightly behind, leaving December as the deciding factor. We beat December 2017's sales this September by 17%, so the prospects for a sixth up year in seven remain good. Click to see what we know about November and December sales so far.

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Historical document alert: 1961 Marvel sales push letter to wholesalers now auctioning

by John Jackson Miller

A fascinating find is now being auctioned by Heritage Auctions: a form letter from Independent News Company, distributor for Marvel Comics in 1961, offering wholesalers an improved return on issues sold above a certain quantity. (Hat tip to Patrick Ford for alerting me to it.)

This was in the time before Marvel's Silver Age phenomenon got going; Fantastic Four had just started, and the other titles in its line were all romance, horror, or western books. In the letter, Independent News vice president Harold Chamberlain tells wholesalers that "a 3¢ per copy bonus will be paid on all Marvel Comics sold over 60% in each agency!" 

Imaged by Heritage Auctions, HA.com
That'd be 25% of cover price at the time, which had just gone up to 12¢ — and so a significant bonus. The 60% refers to sell-through — Independent wanted to see no more than four in ten unsold copies returned for credit.

But what's tantalizing about this letter is the comment that its recipient marked in pencil on the letter: "None ever sells as much as 60%". The remark would have come from one of the resellers — and it appears to be in line with what we know about Marvel's sell-through levels on the newsstand at the time.

What we know about that comes from the Postal Circulation Statements; I have a complete run of the Marvel ones, eventually to all be posted here. Beginning with the 1963 reports, publishers were legally obliged to report how many copies they printed, as well as sold — allowing us to make estimates of sell-through levels.

Looking at the filings for 1963 titles, we see the following sell-through levels:


Tales of Suspense: 59% 
Journey into Mystery: 59% 
Tales to Astonish: 59% 
Strange Tales: 59% 
Rawhide Kid: 59% 
Kid Colt Outlaw: 58% 
Patsy & Hedy: 58% 
Modeling with Millie: 56% 
Patsy Walker: 56% 
Millie the Model: 55%

Nothing above 60%, but they're close. The titles with the super-hero content in this era were clustered at the top, with the romance titles at the bottom — though within a narrow, four-point range. So 60% looks to be a reasonable goal to offer to distributors.

The letter touts that Marvel's seventeen titles had combined sales in 1961 of 18 million copies, a figure that looks reasonably close to what we'd expect, going by postal statements. Interestingly, that's only about half what Marvel sells of its periodical comics today — though, of course, that's across a much larger number of releases.

Bidding begins tomorrow, Nov. 5 on the item, with the close of the auction slated for Nov. 11. There's another page to this document, not depicted by Heritage; hopefully whoever wins will share the contents with the world. (Update: Hake's previously sold the letter for $253 in 2016, and has the second page online; it simply denotes the on-sale dates of the eligible issues. Thanks to Frank Motler for the find!)

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Alex Ross, Venom, Batman Damned lead latest reorder charts

by John Jackson Miller

 Find this book at TFAW
An interesting batch of reorder data from Diamond Comic Distributors today:

October reorders saw the Batman White Knight TPB climb to the top spot, after having placed second last week.

Alex Ross's Marvelocity from Random House was the top reordered hardcover. Harley Quinn #52's foil edition was the top reordered comic. Click to see the charts for October.

The top advance-reordered comic of November was Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1 from Donny Cates. Click to see the charts so far for November.

And the top December book and item overall was Batman Damned #2's recently announced Jim Lee variant cover. Click to see what's known so far about comics sales in December.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Monday, October 15, 2018

September 2018 comics sales estimates online: Return of Wolverine #1 ships 260k copies

by John Jackson Miller


In September, Marvel's Return of Wolverine #1 became the tenth comic book in 2018 to ship more than 200,000 copies and the sixth to top 250,000 copies, according to our analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors. By contrast, only three comics topped 200,000 copies in all of 2017, and only two were above a quarter-million. Click to see the comics sales estimates for September 2018.

As reported here on Friday, the recovery in the comics shop market gained steam in the third quarter of 2018, as September comics and graphic novel orders rose 4% over the previous year, allowing the three-month period to close up 6%. Significantly better than the second quarter's 1% win, the $137.5 million quarter was the best in dollar terms since the fourth quarter of 2016. In all, orders during the past six months were up $9 million over the same period in 2017. The $45.18 million month of September was up $1.6 million, meaning that the year-to-year loss piled up this winter was cut in half for the third month in a row.

Graphic novels were a big winner in the month, up 12% year-over-year thanks to the Image trio of new editions of Saga, Walking Dead, and Monstress, which finished 1-2-3 in the unit sales charts.

Marvel offered a free overship on Iceman #1, doubling its paid orders; it's the only Marvel title all year where an overship is evident, and the extra copies' effect on both Marvel's unit share for the month and the overall unit sales for the Direct Market is negligible. Oblivion Song #7 saw a modest increase and shows evidence of a significant added discount.

The average cover price for new comics dropped back down under $4, to $3.93.

The vital statistics:

Friday, October 12, 2018

September graphic novels power second consecutive growth quarter; Return of Wolverine, Saga lead charts

by John Jackson Miller


 FInd this issue at TFAW
The recovery in the comics shop market gained steam in the third quarter of 2018. September comics and graphic novel orders rose 4% over the previous year, allowing the three-month period to close up 6%. Significantly better than the second quarter's 1% win, the $137.5 million quarter was the best in dollar terms since the fourth quarter of 2016. In all, orders during the past six months were up $9 million over the same period in 2017. Click to visit our page for September 2018 comics sales estimates; the figures will be posted there on Monday.

Last winter, my reports that the rate of decline was decreasing may have seemed like an exercise in excess optimism. That wasn't the intention: rather, signs of what might be a market bottom were becoming detectable, and that seemed worth sharing. I tried not to overstate the possible case, as I did in 1998 when I had much less history to look back upon — but it does now appear that the change in trajectory starting last winter was real, and is continuing.

The $45.18 million month of September was up $1.6 million, meaning that the year-to-year loss piled up this winter was cut in half for the third month in a row. Year-to-date sales now stand at $389 million, off just a little more than $2 million.

 Find this book at TFAW
I had some concern in late September after a couple of weekly reorder charts came in with very few comic books charting; one week, no comic books at all charted. But comics share the reorder charts with graphic novels, and those charts are measured in dollars — so a dearth of comics entries in a month with many high-profile graphic novels on sale isn't necessarily a negative indicator. Graphic novels were indeed a big winner in the month, up 12% year-over-year thanks to the Image trifecta of new editions of Saga, Walking Dead, and Monstress, which finished 1-2-3 in the unit sales charts.

Marvel's Return of Wolverine #1 led new comics sales, with DC's Heroes in Crisis #1 placing second; the controversial Batman: Damned #1 placed fifth in units and second in dollars. (See auctions for the issue on eBay.) Comics unit sales for the month stood at 7.19 million units, down half a million copies against the previous September, which was fueled by Marvel Legacy #1 — and the category is down 4.6 million copies year-to-date.

 See eBay listings for this issue
As noted here all year, of course, unit sales comparisons with 2017 are distorted due to that year's inclusion of many overshipped and 25¢ titles (and the lack of inclusion of this year's million-copy DC Nation #0). And there's something else in play. Through September, 4,206 new comic books have been released this year. In the same period last year, the figure was 4,446. That's 240 fewer comics released this year, a drop of 5.5%.

Marvel released 10 more comics this September than last September; DC, 10 fewer. Perhaps consequently, Marvel's overall dollar sales were up 9% year-over-year for the month, while DC's were unchanged. (Both Marvel and DC's dollar sales are up, year-to-date.) Image's graphic novels joined with a larger new comics slate to send the publisher up 10%; Image had the same number of new comics as DC, 66. It's the first time Image's slate has been as large as DC's since September 2015. Dark Horse's dollar sales were up substantially, though we can't tell why from the Top 10s. (Update: It turns out to be right in Diamond's press release: Stranger Things #1 debuted in 20th place, very high for a Dark Horse launch.)

See our explanatory video, here:


The comparative sales statistics are up first. Remember, August had an extra week, so the month-to-month changes aren't that important:


DollarsUnits
September 2018 vs. August 2018
Comics-4.51%-0.16%
Graphic Novels-7.07%-3.86%
Total Comics/GNs-5.30%-0.48%
Toys-29.36%-9.02%
September 2018 vs. September 2017
Comics+0.75%-6.58%
Graphic Novels+11.74%+15.36%
Total Comics/GNs+3.84%-5.09%
Toys-1.58%+11.95%
Third Quarter 2018 vs. Second Quarter 2018
Comics+0.23%-0.05%
Graphic Novels+0.83%+1.89%
Total Comics/GNs+0.40%+0.10%
Toys+41.66%+28.44%
Third Quarter 2018 vs. Third Quarter 2017
Comics+7.44%-0.82%
Graphic Novels+1.95%+3.85%
Total Comics/GNs+5.81%-0.47%
Toys+9.23%+6.96%
Year-To-Date 2018 vs. Year-To-Date 2017
Comics+1.25%-6.78%
Graphic Novels-4.80%-6.37%
Total Comics/GNs-0.55%-6.75%
Toys-4.74%-6.11%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel39.86%43.24%
DC29.06%32.76%
Image10.13%8.74%
Dark Horse3.62%2.91%
IDW3.14%2.84%
Boom2.12%1.65%
Dynamite1.55%1.38%
Viz1.11%0.43%
Oni0.99%0.69%
Titan0.80%0.47%
Other7.63%4.88%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Return of Wolverine #1$4.99Marvel
2Heroes in Crisis #1$3.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #7$4.99DC
4Batman #55$3.99DC
5Batman: Damned #1$6.99DC
6Batman #54$3.99DC
7Thanos Legacy #1$4.99Marvel
8Fantastic Four #2$3.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #6$3.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man #5$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Return of Wolverine #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman: Damned #1$6.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #7$4.99DC
4Heroes in Crisis #1$3.99DC
5Thanos Legacy #1$4.99Marvel
6Batman #55$3.99DC
7Spider-Geddon #0$4.99Marvel
8Batman #54$3.99DC
9Amazing Spider-Man #6$3.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Saga Vol. 9$14.99Image
2Walking Dead Vol. 30: New World Order$16.99Image
3Monstress Vol. 3$16.99Image
4Oblivion Song By Kirkman & De Felici Vol. 1$9.99Image
5Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album HC$17.99DC
6Franklin Richards: A Fantastic Year #1$7.99Marvel
7DC Super Hero Girls: The Search For Atlantis$9.99DC
8Descender Vol. 6: War Machine$16.99Image
9Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 3: Burning Seas$19.99Marvel
10Action Comics #1000: The Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Saga Vol. 9$14.99Image
2Walking Dead Vol. 30: New World Order$16.99Image
3Monstress Vol. 3$16.99Image
4Batman by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale Omnibus HC$125.00DC
5Spider-Man Vs. Venom Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
6Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke HC$49.99DC
7Earth X Trilogy Omnibus Alpha HC$125.00Marvel
8Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album HC$17.99DC
9Dark Knight III: The Master Race$24.99DC
10Marvel Masterworks: Killraven Vol. 1 HC$100.00Marvel

Finally, the number of new items offered. This September saw 2% fewer comics released and 6% more graphic novels released than last September:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel99440143
DC66350101
Image6627093
Dark Horse2521046
IDW2910039
Boom2510035
Titan117321
Viz021021
Oni97016
Dynamite123015
Other13520214351
TOTAL SHIPPED47738717881

It is worth noting that, almost no matter what, October 2018 is likely to be a growth month, as well. It has five shipping weeks, versus four in last October. We give that week back in November — but historically, it's been better to get the extra week in October rather than November due to reduced slates the week of the Thanksgiving holiday.

A likely scenario is that October will put the year-to-date slightly ahead and that November will return it slightly behind — leaving December as the deciding factor. December 2017 was a horrible month, which we beat this September by 17% — so it would take a fairly significant change in direction to keep the year below break-even. Click to see what we know about October sales so far.

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

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