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More than 147,000 comic book and graphic novel circulation figures online!
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.


Friday, December 15, 2017

DC's Doomsday Clock helps make November 2017 second best month of year; GN orders grow

by John Jackson Miller

 See eBay listings for this issueDoomsday Clock and its continuing Batman-related event during the Justice League movie's release month combined to give DC its strongest month of 2017 by far in November 2017, outstripping its previous November (which also had five shipping weeks) by 21%. That's a major beat, and a reversal after a long string of comparatives against Rebirth months; we're now into comparisons with the 2016 months where Rebirth issues weren't returnable.

It was enough to give the Direct Market its second-best month of 2017, as retailers ordered almost exactly $47 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines from Diamond in the month. It would have been better had DC's strength been matched elsewhere — but orders for the market minus DC were down 15% year-over-year, including, unusually, Image, which had been pacing ahead of its 2016 performance all year. So the overall market was down 5.8% versus the previous November, but that's the lowest decline since we got into the Rebirth comparative months.

It was the first month with no Image graphic novels in the Top 10 since January 2016. It's something that's happened a few times this decade, but not very often. Only 14 new Image GNs were released, against even fewer (9) last November; Image appears to do the bulk of its holiday graphic novel releases earlier in the fall. Still, graphic novels had a good month, up 2.21% over the previous November. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi releasing, the franchise again topped the graphic novel charts with Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Imperial Machine.

 Find this book at
So we now have one positive category, with the others down only in single-digits percentage-wise — with the exception of comic book unit sales, which were off 13.28%. Recall, however, that November 2016 was a significant month for Marvel overship volume. We're going to get into some more months like as the winter progresses.

To get back to another five-week November to compare with before 2016, you have to go to November 2011, the strongest autumn month following the New 52 relaunch. November 2017's sales beat those from that month easily, $47 million to $41.28 million. That's an increase of 14% and demonstrates that, while 2017 has been a definite rough patch, major growth took place in the market following the last market lull, and we're still at a higher plateau.

We're looking now at a year between $525 and $530 million in overall comics, graphic novels, and magazines ordered, likely down 9%; comic book units are looking at around 90 million copies for the year, off around 9%. The latter is lower than recent levels, but, again, higher than 2013 and previous years of the decade.

The comparatives:

November 2017 Vs. October 2017
Graphic Novels19.29%27.04%
Total Comics/GNs3.11%-2.54%
November 2017 Vs. November 2016
Graphic Novels2.21%-1.73%
Total Comics/GNs-5.80%-12.36%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-9.32%-11.72%
Total Comics/GNs-9.72%-8.65%

Among the bright spots, Dynamite's orders were up nearly 50% over the same month in the previous year. That was enough to vault the publisher into fifth place. The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.08%1.53%

Doomsday Clock's regular and lenticular versions ended 1-2 in the rankings; it's already been reprinted. The promo button appears to have helped, and many of the eBay auctions for the book seem to be going with the button as a package deal. The top-selling comics:

1Doomsday Clock #1$4.99DC
2Doomsday Clock #1 Lenticular Edition$5.99DC
3The Batman Who Laughs #1$3.99DC
4Batman Lost #1$4.99DC
5Batman #35$2.99DC
6Batman #34$2.99DC
7Batman: The Devastator #1$3.99DC
8Captain America #695$3.99Marvel
9Batman Annual #2$4.99DC
10Star Wars #38$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels:

1Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Imperial Machine17.99Marvel
2Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe... Again$15.99Marvel
3The Flash Vol. 4: Running Scared$14.99DC
4Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Godwatch$16.99DC
5Rick And Morty Volume 1$19.99Oni
6Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation$19.99Marvel
7Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma$16.99Marvel
8Superman Volume 4: Black Dawn$16.99DC
9Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son Of Dathomir$15.99Marvel
10Justice League Vol. 4: Endless$16.99DC

And the total number of new items shipped:

Total shipped
Dark Horse1412026
TOTAL SHIPPED542455381035

The final estimates will be online here Monday. In the meantime, don't spoil the movie for anyone! 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: KenobiOverdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. His new Last Jedi prequel hardcover, Star Wars: Canto Bight, releases December 5. Read more at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, November 13, 2017

October 2017 comics sales estimates: Metal #3 near 159k copies, four over 100k

by John Jackson Miller

October brought the restoration of many Marvel titles' legacy numberings (as well as the creation of several legacy titles through the cobbling-together of multiple miniseries) as part of its Legacy event. The promotion, which required retailers to meet certain thresholds to order special lenticular covers, helped Marvel and the Direct Market's orders increase 5% over September, but paled in comparison to sales from the previous October, the Rebirth-driven second-strongest month of 2016. Click to see comics order estimates for October 2017.

Many fewer new comics were released this October versus the year before, however: 484, down 8% or 52 comics from the year previous. Perhaps owing to Legacy, Marvel's release slate was its smallest in a long time; Marvel released 81 new comic books, its fewest since February 2016 and eight fewer than it released last October. The 7.62 million comic books retailers ordered, while nearly identical to orders from the previous two months, was off 21% from 2016's overstuffed October; that shortfall likely drops to 18% with the Loot Crate book from that month removed. Marvel's Thor #700 was its top seller, in advance of the release of the popular film, Thor: Ragnarok.

Click to see listings for this issue on eBay
The Dark Multiverse event at DC — including Dark Nights: Metal #3 (with North American shipments of 158,700 copies) and various Batman specials — dominated the top 10; orders continued to come in for Dark Nights: Metal #1, bringing it above 271,000 copies. It remains second on the list of top-sellers for 2017. While the Marvel Legacy lenticular covers were priced identically with their normal counterparts and thus combined in rankings by Diamond, two DC issues had different prices and were not. With orders fused, Action Comics #989 and #990 would have placed 9th and 12th respectively.

Mister Miracle, one of September's most heavily reordered books, saw orders off very slightly from its second to third issue.

Image saw its dollar market share climb above 11% thanks to strong performances in the graphic novel category; the Here's Negan hardcover alone had first-month North American orders above 19,300 copies, with a full retail dollar value of nearly $400,000. (Edit: An errant decimal point resulted in an earlier incorrect headline.) Trade paperback and hardcover sales to retailers overall were up slightly over the previous year.

The vital statistics for the month:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Metal, Legacy dominate October sales to comic shops; Here's Negan pushes DM graphic novel category to first win in months

by John Jackson Miller

Earlier this week in advance of the release of the Diamond Comic Distributors preliminary sales report for October 2017, I tweeted that the same month last year would be very hard to beat, even with Marvel's Legacy event and DC's Dark Multiverse storyline underway. The second best month of 2016 in the Direct Market, October 2016 had a huge number of new releases: 536 new comics, the most all year, many of which were double-shipped Rebirth issues. And it was further assisted on the unit sales side by several hundred thousand copies of Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 which went to Loot Crate; it was the largest number of copies Diamond shipped of any comic book all year.

See Dark Nights Metal #3 at TFAW
But while beating last October seemed unlikely, I noted that trajectory mattered — and while Diamond today reported that orders for comics, graphic novels, and magazines were down 11% versus last October, they were up 5% over September 2017, a month which also had four shipping weeks. The month's top seller was Dark Nights: Metal #3, with six other Batman releases making the Top 10; three Marvel Legacy issues rounded out the top 10, including the second-place Thor #700.

calculates that retailers ordered $45.58 million in print material at full retail, $2 million more than September and almost tying the total from this August, which had an extra shipping week. While both were down versus last October, Marvel and DC sold retailers more dollars worth of merchandise this October than they did in September — and Image continued to outpace the market, beating its year-ago total by 8% and climbing to an 11.46% market share.

Order Here's Negan from TFAWSpeaking of Image, a positive sign was to be found in Diamond's graphic novel sales to comics shops, which managed to beat their pace from the same month a year ago by more than 2%. That's the first graphic novel year-over-year win since May, the only other month this year in which that happened. Image had six of the top ten graphic novels, including the top-selling Walking Dead: Here's Negan hardcover. The number of new graphic novels that shipped this October is the same as last October: 345.

Meanwhile, many fewer new comics were released this October: 484, down 8% or 52 comics from last October. Perhaps owing to Legacy, Marvel's release slate was its smallest in a long time; Marvel released 81 new comic books, its fewest since February 2016 and eight fewer than it released last October. The 7.62 million comic books retailers ordered, while nearly identical to orders from the previous two months, was off 21% from 2016's overstuffed October; that shortfall likely drops to 18% with the Loot Crate book removed.

The aggregate sales statistics:

October 2017 Vs. September 2017
Graphic Novels9.60%0.08%
Total Comics/GNs4.74%-1.02%
October 2017 Vs. October 2016
Graphic Novels2.37%-8.02%
Total Comics/GNs-11.12%-20.27%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-10.55%-12.76%
Total Comics/GNs-10.12%-8.27%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.82%1.74%

The top-selling comics:

1Dark Nights: Metal #3$3.99DC
2The Mighty Thor #700$5.99Marvel
3Amazing Spider-Man #789$3.99Marvel
4Batman #32$2.99DC
5Batman #33$2.99DC
6The Despicable Deadpool #287$3.99Marvel
7Batman: The Drowned #1$3.99DC
8Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1$3.99DC
9Batman: The Merciless #1$3.99DC
10Batman: White Knight #1$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels:

1The Walking Dead: Here's Negan HC19.99Image
2Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
3Seven To Eternity Volume 2$16.99Image
4Rat Queens Volume 4: High Fantasies$14.99Image
5Super Sons Volume 1: When I Grow Up$12.99DC
6I Hate Fairyland Volume 3: Good Girl$16.99Image
7Redneck Vol 01 Deep In The Heart$16.99Image
8Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel$17.99Marvel
9Batman: Detective Comics Volume 3: League$19.99DC
10Low Vol. 4: Outer Aspects Of Inner Attitudes$16.99Image

The number of new releases per publisher:

PublisherComics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazinesTotal shipped
Dark Horse1518033
Archie Comics114015
TOTAL SHIPPED48434528857

While October starts the fourth quarter out behind the same period last year, last October was the market's last peak month, in a sense; eleven out of the next twelve months would see declines. The comparatives get easier from here; there's a good chance that the overall year could end up only off in the single digits. That's not great news, but it would represent a boost over the worst point of the year, and would keep the Direct market ahead of the recession-year 10% drop seen in 2009.

As I noted in the Off Panel podcast which released earlier this week, perspective means a great deal to interpreting the market's position; while Star Wars' return to Marvel and Rebirth posed tough comparatives for 2016 and 2017 respectively, it's worth remembering that through October, the Direct Market is up 29.2%, or nearly $100 million, over its position at the same point of 2011, the year the New 52 helped re-energize sales. Dollar volumes this September and October, in fact, roundly beat those from the first two New 52 months — and while inflation plays a role, it does not account for all of the increases. 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: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. His new Last Jedi prequel hardcover, Star Wars: Canto Bight, releases December 5. Read more at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Where Bendis' Marvel successes began: Ultimate Spider-Man, the complete postal sales record

With news everywhere today about writer Brian Michael Bendis's departure from Marvel to an exclusive multi-year contract with DC, Comichron presents a look back to the beginning of his run with the publisher. 

See eBay listings for this issue All the filings Marvel made with the United States Postal Service about Bendis's flagship title can now be found here at Ultimate Spider-Man: The Postal Sales Record.

It's a bit of a complicated series to report on because it's actually under two different postal licenses: the 2000-2009 series was rebooted with a new #1 and a new license. But the rebooted series resumed the original's numbering with #150. There don't seem to be any reports on the third series by that name, nor the Marvel Universe-branded title.

Another unusual element is that Ultimate Spider-Man #1 has many reprints, and those appear to have impacted the first year's report; Marvel's reported sales for average issues in the year are far, far higher than anything anyone else was doing in comics at the time. It's possible to compare those sales, which include most channels, with just the sales to the Direct Market beginning with the first issue in September 2000; remember, however, that in that era reorders were not reported, so you won't see the very large traffic in reprints that followed.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Comichron visits the Off Panel podcast: A look at the numbers game

by John Jackson Miller
This month begins my twenty-fifth year of covering the comics industry professionally (for those counting, that means the actual anniversary is November 2018), and I speak about a number of the datasets that I've been developing over the years on the new Off Panel podcast with David Harper of SKTCHD.

It's a wide-ranging discussion, looking at the difference between distributor shipment figures and overall sales, touching on comic book variants and how they've changed over the years, and getting into the importance of having circulation figures to both retailers and the aftermarket. There's also some discussion of current market conditions — and many references to baseball statistics!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Marvel Legacy #1 ships 298k copies, top comic of 2017; DC's Dark Nights stays strong with #2 near 150k

by John Jackson Miller
 Marvel Legacy #1
Just back from New York Comic-Con, an amazingly busy event — and while attendance numbers have not been released, the outside observer certainly wouldn't have suspected it was taking place in a year in which comics and graphic novel orders had been, through September, down 10% in the Direct Market, as was reported here Friday. Of course, we don't know how independent the variables of convention attendance and comics sales are, but a strongly attended event is still likely to be a much better sign than the opposite. And on the print side, there's at least a change in trajectory because, again as noted Friday, this summer's losses have been pared somewhat, and Marvel's September beat its previous September by 14%, thanks in part to Marvel Legacy #1 moving more than 298,000 copies. Click to see our comics order estimates for September 2017.

That makes it the top-seller of 2017 thus far, beating out last month's new leader, Dark Nights: Metal #1; the second issue of that came in second place with nearly 150,000 copies shipped. It seems positive that we're getting new entries atop the top-sellers for 2017 list; again, better than the alternative. It'll be interesting to see how Legacy shakes up that list in October once the event is fully underway.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Marvel up 14% year-over-year in September as Legacy #1 tops charts; overall market pares losses

by John Jackson Miller

I had mentioned on Twitter earlier this week that while last September was a strong month for the Direct Market thanks to DC's Rebirth program, the month's sales levels offered a relatively reachable target. While information released today by Diamond Comic Distributors shows that September 2017 comics and graphic novel orders, at $43.52 million, fell six points short, that represents the smallest year-over-year drop since May.

Perhaps more significant, given the narrative we've seen in 2017, is that according to Comichron's analysis, orders for Marvel comics and graphic novels were up 14% in dollar terms over last September. That's an increase of about $2 million at retail, representing the publisher's best year-over-year performance since June 2016. The chart-topping Marvel Legacy #1 has something do with it, of course, and while there's always some level of deep-discounting on graphic novels, Marvel's unit and dollar shares were pretty close to one another -- right around 38% -- so there can't be too much of it involved. Marvel's 88 new comic books in September was also the smallest number of periodical releases for the publisher in any month this year.

Marvel's improvement relative to its past performance continues the reversal noted here last month of the trend seen earlier in 2017, in which the publisher was entirely responsible for the industry's decline in dollar terms; as of September it was DC, up against last year's Rebirth numbers, which accounts for the lion's share of the loss. But there, too, DC's rate of decline in September was nearly half what it was in August, thanks to the continuation of its Dark Multiverse event and the fact that Rebirth was starting to come down off its heights this time last year.

Does that mean that October, when DC's comparatives get easier and in which Marvel's Legacy event will be fully underway, will turn positive? Perhaps not a bet to take, as it will be a challenge: Marvel's October and November last year, while off from 2015, were relatively strong. An important question is whether graphic novels continue to under-perform: whereas periodicals pared their rate of loss for the year in September, graphic novels, led by Walking Dead Vol. 28, were down 13% in dollars. The number of new graphic novels in September was nearly the same as in August, which had an extra shipping week; new comics volume may seem high, but 365 new graphic novels is more than we've seen in a four-week month in three years.

The percentage changes:

September 2017 Vs. August 2017
Graphic Novels-14.41%   -15.46%
Total Comics/GNs-4.81%-0.08%
September 2017 Vs. September 2016
Graphic Novels-13.14%   -16.98%
Total Comics/GNs-6.07%-6.37%
Year-to-Date 2017 Vs. Year-to-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-11.83%-13.22%
Total Comics/GNs-10.00%-6.71%

While the rate of decrease, as noted, did improve in September, the overall quarter was off 16%, the largest quarterly drop since 2003, when final orders began being reported by Diamond. There aren't too many events like Rebirth to be found in previous years.

The market shares:

Dark Horse2.44%1.70%

The top-selling comics:

1Marvel Legacy #15.99Marvel
2Dark Nights: Metal #2$3.99DC
3Venomverse #1$4.99Marvel
4Batman #30$2.99DC
5Batman #31$2.99DC
6Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special #1$4.99DC
7The Walking Dead #171$2.99Image
8Batman: The Red Death #1$3.99DC
9Batman: The Murder Machine #1$3.99DC
10Action Comics #987 Lenticular Edition$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels:

1Walking Dead Vol. 28$16.99Image
2Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race HC$29.99DC
3Star Wars: Darth Maul$16.99Marvel
4East of West Volume 7$16.99Image
5DC Super Hero Girls Vol. 4: Past Times At Super Hero High$9.99DC
6Sex Criminals Volume 4: Fourgy$16.99Image
7All-Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy$16.99DC
8Royal City Vol. 1: Next Of Kin$9.99Image
9Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat$16.99DC
10Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 5: Past Lives$17.99Marvel

And the volume of new releases:

Dark Horse1613029
TOTAL SHIPPED48636520871

I'm appearing this weekend at New York Comic-Con, so look for the estimates next week as soon as I can get to them. But in the meantime, if you missed it, check out our feature on legacy numbering across time; my thanks to Bradley Glynn for helping to double-check some of the data there.

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: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar 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.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

New FAQ: How legacy numbering in comics has changed over time

by John Jackson Miller
The Legacy event — which will revise the issue numbering of many of its titles to restore their original numbering, or something close to it — released today, and it recalled that more than a decade ago, I had written a piece on what I termed "legacy titles" and their numbering for Comics Buyer's Guide, along with grids showing every title numbered above #100 at five year intervals beginning with 1935.

So now that readers have had a look at Marvel Legacy #1, I offer an updated list of those titles here on the site in our FAQ section: "How Legacy Numbering Has Changed Over Time." In addition to adding data for 2010 and 2015, there's a new essay about the origins of whole numbering in comics and the reasons that publishers have restarted titles in the past, as well as some reasons why, as Marvel has, they sometimes seek to recover a series' original numbering.

Additionally, I have a graphic showing how legacy numbering has changed across time, which clearly depicts the trends involved. You can see when several of the older publishers went away at once; likewise, you can see the echoes of events like Crisis on Infinite Earths. And depending on how long Legacy's changes continue, there may be significant shifts in the 2020 table on the next update. Time will tell.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dark Nights Metal ships 262k copies, most of 2017, beating Rebirth #1's first month: August comics sales estimates

by John Jackson Miller

 See current listings for this issue on eBay
While comics shop orders during the month of August 2017 were down in all categories versus last August's blockbuster, we've finally found a book that's been able to top a mark set in that summer of DC Rebirth launches. And it's another DC book: Comichron estimates that Diamond Comic Distributors shipped almost exactly 262,000 copies of Dark Nights: Metal #1, the kickoff point for this fall's Metal event, to North American retailers in the month — quite a few more copies than the 235,800 shipped of DC Universe Rebirth #1, the corresponding launch book, in its first month. Click to see the full estimates for comics sold in August 2017. 

After that first month, of course, Rebirth #1 would go on to multiple printings and top 300,000 copies in North America — but Dark Nights' second printing reached shops last week, and there's something else of note: Dark Nights cost $2 more, at $4.99. It's also marked by Diamond as the number one dollar title of the month, and if all copies sold at cover price, it's not just the top-selling comic book of the year in units, but also dollars, eclipsing the $10 Amazing Spider-Man #25 earlier this year. Click to see our running track of top sellers in 2017, along with our market shares for the year to date.

The internal benchmarks also showed something positive: the 300th place comic book, Jimmy's Bastards #3 from Aftershock, moved 5,621 copies in North America, which is more than any book in that position in a five-week month since December 2015. While it may not be particularly meaningful as wins go, it's surprising that any position on the chart could be higher against last August, a month in which far more comics moved overall.
On the graphic novel side, we find that the top-dollar book for the month is quite a ways further down the unit sales list: IDW's Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Worlds Greatest Artist Edition hardcover, a $150 book on the shelves in advance of the King's 100th birthday.

The larger picture of this August versus last August has been previously elaborated here; the market year-to-date is off 10%. But 2017 has big events yet on the slate with Metal and Legacy yet to come, and while there remain strong comparative months to come, the potential for a changed dynamic is there. Sometimes retailer money's on the sidelines, waiting for the right event; sometimes it just isn't there. This fall should tell us which is the case.

The data sheet for the month follow at the bottom of this post, but before that, I would like to remember Len Wein, comics writer and editor, who passed away on Sunday. Len is a large part of the success comics found in the Direct Market era, from his reboot of the X-Men and his introduction of Wolverine to his hand in developing comics for more sophisticated audiences with Swamp Thing.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with him at a convention several years ago and he was generous with his knowledge and his advice. His works were and are a big part of so many comics readers' lives, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to know him. He is already missed.

Friday, September 8, 2017

August's comics orders can't compare to 2016's Rebirth boom; Dark Nights: Metal, Paper Girls top charts

by John Jackson Miller

 See current listings for this issue on eBay
Full-line relaunches of the scale DC engineered in 2016 with "Rebirth" and 2011 with the "New 52" are colossal market-distorting moments, making a hash of the comparative statistics both when their sales are reported, and when any future month's sales are later compared with them. It takes a while for a revamped line to find its new equilibrium—sales levels that are achievable regardless of variants or the issue number on the cover—and only then are month-to-month or year-over-year comparisons of much use.

So when I warned a few weeks ago that August 2017 would not be the month to look to for any kind of revival in the comic shop market's fortunes, there was good reason: August 2016 was the epicenter of the Rebirth sales earthquake, with more than 10 million comic books shipping. It was the first time that mark had been seen in two decades, thanks in part to the Rebirth titles being returnable. Consequently, sales for last month were way off the previous year's pace, according to this morning’s report from Diamond Comic Distributors.

 See current listings for this issue on eBayShipments were down 26% in new comic book units, and overall retail dollars spent on comics, graphic novels, and magazines dropped by nearly 21%. Comichron calculates that $45.7 million in product shipped, down from the previous August’s 21st century record of $57.7 million; we also have revised our July figure down slightly here on the site, to $40.76 million. (Both Augusts had five shipping weeks, so that's not a factor.) Overall sales stand at $347.67 million, down about $41 year to date, or about 10.5%.

These are, in historic terms, significant drops. The period from June to August was down 20.5% against those Rebirth/Civil War II months a year ago, the worst three-month year-over-year comparison since… well, we have to go back 20 years to September 1997 though November 1997, the first set of year-to-year comparatives I ever calculated. Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” event in September 1996 and the wedding of Superman had been succeeded in 1997 by “Heroes Return,” which didn’t fare as well. Top 300 unit sales in that three-month stretch in 1997 were off 21.9%, and graphic novels, while growing, weren’t yet much of a factor. There are certainly worse year-over-year drops in the 1990s before that.

 See current listings for this issue on eBay
But while the 2017 drops are up there on the list, “Heroes Reborn” only rebooted four titles; a bigger explanation for the 1997 collapse, even beyond reboot fatigue, was the number of comics shop failures. Absent that in 2017 and given that DC relaunched so many more books, the scope of 2017’s comparatives may say more about Rebirth’s strength last year they do about conditions today.

So once you catch your breath after reading those numbers, it’s worth looking at some things going on under the surface. It’s no surprise that DC’s August sales weren’t able to come remotely near comparing with its performance last year; the company had been tracking ahead of its 2016 performance earlier in the spring, but now accounts for about a third of the industry’s 2017 shortfall in the Direct Market.

On the other hand, August wasn't a bad month for DC, volume-wise, when compared with more normal recent months; its sales were actually higher than the last five-week pre-Rebirth month in 2016. DC had the top seller in Scott Snyder and Greg Capello’s Dark Nights: Metal #1, the launching point for DC’s fall event; the second printing of the issue went on sale this past Wednesday. Priced at $4.99, it stands a chance at being the publisher’s release of the year in dollar terms, given how the cheaper lenticular and non-lenticular Batman issues added up.  The first issue of Rebirth was priced at $2.99; once we see the full numbers on Monday, we’ll have a better notion of the scope of what might be coming in September as the Metal event gets more fully underway.

 Paper Girls Vol. 3
Marvel’s position is also interesting. Secret Empire came to an end with three releases; #10, the finale, outranked the previous two issues. Again, through the spring, Marvel had been responsible for 100% of the industry’s shortfall for the year, but as of August that’s down to only around half, now that DC’s facing its toughest comparatives from last year. Further, while Marvel’s shipments continued to be down, it’s pared back its losses — only off around 10% this month as compared with the 21% drop the whole market suffered. With "Legacy" launching, there’s a chance for some ground to be made up.

It should also be noted that after everything else that’s happened in 2017, Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite remain ahead of where they were this time last year in terms of retail dollars ordered. Pockets of strength are good to see, because true recessionary times in comics tend to pull everything down. Image continues to be bolstered by strong graphic novel performances: Paper Girls Vol. 3 was the top-seller this month, and one of five Image GNs in the top 10.

The comparative statistics:

August 2017 vs. July 2017
Graphic Novels+18.34%+20.46%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+12.16%+10.12%
August 2017 vs. August 2016
Graphic Novels-6.89%-10.02%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-20.71%-24.84%
Year-To-Date 2017 vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-11.68%-12.77%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-10.47%-6.76%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse3.16%2.18%

The top-selling comics:

1Dark Nights: Metal #14.99DC
2Batman #28$2.99DC
3Batman #29$2.99DC
4Secret Empire #10$4.99Marvel
5Generations: All-New Wolverine/Wolverine #1$4.99Marvel
6Secret Empire #8$4.99Marvel
7Secret Empire #9$4.99Marvel
8Generations: The Mighty Thor/Unworthy Thor #1$4.99Marvel
9Star Wars #34$3.99Marvel
10Star Wars #35$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels:

1Paper Girls Volume 312.99Image
2Batman Volume 3: I Am Bane$16.99DC
3God Country$16.99Image
4Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2$16.99Image
5Wonder Woman Volume 3: The Truth$16.99DC
6X-Men Gold Volume 1: Back To Basics$15.99Marvel
7Reborn HC$24.99Image
8Superman Volume 3: Multiplicity$16.99DC
9Old Guard Book 1: Opening Fire$16.99Image
10X-Men Blue Volume 1: Strangest$15.99Marvel

The number of new releases is below. It may look like a lot of new comic books came out, but it's actually slightly down from the other two five-week months of 2017. It's the graphic novel count that spiked, up to its highest level since November:

Dark Horse

The full estimates will be published here Monday morning. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be alerted when they go online.

Lastly, we've added search and sorting mechanisms to all our end-of-year charts, beginning with 1991. Be sure to take a look.

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: KenobiOverdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. He has a new story in the 40th anniversary compendium, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, releasing October 3. Read more about that and other stories at his fiction site.


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