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More than 139,000 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 16, 2005

All gravy from here as TPBs post big November 2005

by John Jackson Miller

Infinite Crisis, All-Star Superman, and a great month for new trade paperback sales helped the direct market to double-digit gains in November, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Dec. 16. Click to see the estimates for November 2005.

Stable year-over-year sales for comics were complemented by a $4.74 million month for Diamond's Top 100 trade paperbacks, a 23% increase over the same month in 2004.

DC's OMAC Project led the way among trades, with more than 10,000 copies sold into the direct market.

The market continues on pace for a $350 million year in the direct market. I had earlier projected a range between $340 and $350 million, but the market now looks as if it'll wind up nearer the higher end of that range.

As of this past Wednesday, December 14, we have passed the overall dollar sales mark in the direct market set in 2005. From here on out it's new growth. It's all gravy from here.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.47 million copies in November 2005, essentially unchanged from November 2004, which had one less shipping weeks. November 2004 was actually slightly higher in units, but by less than half a percentage point.

For the first 11 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 69.57 million copies, an increase of 2% over the same period in the previous year.

DC's Infinite Crisis #2 ran away with the top spot, moving more than 207,000 copies. All-Star Superman's debut issue topped 170,000 copies to come in second.

The two debut publishers in the Top 300 were Udon, which placed 198th with Exalted #1 selling about 7,300 copies, and ACC Studios, whose Liberality for All sold about 2,600 copies through Diamond in November, placing 262nd.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $19.37 million in November, 3% more than in November 2004.

For the first 11 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $201.72 million, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $4.74 million at full retail in November 2005. That's an increase of 23% over November 2004, by far the biggest growth category.

Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $24.11 million, an increase of 5% over November 2004.

For the first 11 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $243.71 million, an increase of 6% over the same period in 2004.

Diamond's overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The November 2005 total was $32.28 million, which increases to $35.92 million, when Diamond?s United Kingdom orders are added. The November figure is a 12% increase over that of November 2004. Overall, the last 11 months stand at $320.7 million, up 8% over the same period in 2004.

Market shares: Marvel retook the top slots in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, thanks in part to its placing 87 items on Diamond's Top 300 comics list versus DC's 93. Dark Horse again tops Image's dollar share in the wider categories, whereas Image is third when looking just at comics.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.19, up from $3.10 in November 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $3.00, up from $2.90 last year. This explains how the number of comic-book units sold could go down while the dollars they represented went up.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.84, up 12¢ from November 2004.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Fifth straight growth year projected for comics

by John Jackson Miller

The recovery which began in the comics industry in late 2000 is continuing, with 2005 now projected to be the fifth consecutive year of overall sales growth, according to my analysis of the October 2005 sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Nov. 11.

Diamond's sales of comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines to North American retailers are on pace for a $352 million year, up from $328 million in 2004. We're up 7% year-over-year for the first ten months, and it would take a cataclysmic holiday sales season to prevent a positive performance. Overall comics, trade, and magazine sales are estimated at $288.42 million through October 2005, versus $269 million through October 2004. A growth rate of 7%, if it holds, would be slightly better than 2004's 6% rate, an improvement over 2003's sales of $310.6 million.

It might not be the double-digit gains we were on pace for earlier in the year, or like we saw in 2002, but it's better to be in a class with 2004, which saw modest growth, than 2001 or 2003, in which the industry eked out the narrowest of gains. And they all beat anything we went through in the mid- and late-1990s, when there were minus signs attached to everything.

Helped by the estimated 249,100 copies of Infinite Crisis #1 ordered by retailers, DC managed a rare feat, leading Marvel in every single category I calculated: Top 300 Comics units, Top 300 Comics dollars, Top 300 Comics plus Top 100 Trades, and the Overall category, which includes backlist trades and comics not in the Top 300.

While it came close in May of this year, DC last led Marvel in all calculations in August 2000. Observers will note that there aren't many high-profile DC products in that month's listing, but where it surpassed Marvel was in volume of releases.

In August 2000, DC placed fully twice as many comics in Diamond's Top 300 as Marvel did, 98 to 49. This was right at the end of the comics recession and preceded the increase in Marvel's number of offerings. By contrast, in October 2005, DC ranked 91 items to Marvel's 78. Since Marvel has often been able to outsell DC in units despite having fewer offerings, this change suggests that DC is digging into Marvel's per-title performance advantage.

However, he said those figures can be hard to interpret. When it comes to computing per-title sales averages for publishers -- comics' version of baseball's "slugging percentage" -- it's necessary to drop out reprints, reordered titles that make it into the Top 300 a second of third time, variant covers and other things that might be oranges to the apples of titles receiving initial orders. Doing that, DC appears to have had 80 first-time items in October, averaging 32,000 copies each, where Marvel had 69 first-time offerings averaging 36,700 copies each.

It does suggest the old axiom of the random Marvel selling one-and-a-half times the copies of the random DC is no longer accurate, now that Marvel's line has grown to include kids' titles and subgenres that aren't necessarily at the top of the charts. On the other hand, it's the presence of that new material that's helped make the difference between the recession of 2000 and the recovery of 2005.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.12 million copies in October, 3% more than October 2004, which had the same number of shipping weeks.

There were only two publishers new to the Top 300. Zenescope was the highest ranking publisher debut, with its Grimm’s Fairy Tales #1 placing 197th with approximately 6,100 copies ordered. The first comics product from Bill Jemas’ new firm, 360ep, placed 242nd with approximately 3,400 copies ordered. The issue, Advent Rising: Rock Planet #1, is based on the Majesco video game.

For the first 10 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 63.1 million copies, an increase of 3% over the same period in the previous year.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $18.16 million in October, 6% more than in October 2004.

For the first 10 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $182.35 million, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.76 million at full retail in October. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $21.91 million, an increase of 2% over October 2004.

For the first 10 months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $219.6 million, up 5% over the same period in 2004.

Among trade paperbacks, Vertigo First Offenses was the top seller. Essentially a DC 100-page giant at $4.99, its inclusion in this category is unusual, since similarly sized items (and at higher prices) have been customarily been classed by Diamond with the comic books.

It’s not unprecedented, however, as Diamond has classed a handful of periodical-like items before with the trades — usually items likely to be listed on the Star System for reorders. The Top Cow Collected Editions from several years back were smaller still, for example. Now, as it has on those occasions, it is likely to feed fuel to the debate about what physically constitutes a comic book as opposed to a trade paperback. Marvel Must Haves, for example, are today categorized with the comics, despite being the size or larger than the Top Cow editions which once were listed for a time as trades.


Overall: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The October 2005 total was $29.11 million, which increases to $32.44 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is 4% over October 2005. Again, overall, the last 10 months stand at $288 million, up 7% over the same period in 2004.

Note the nearly $70 million difference between the "overall" grouping for the year and the Top 300 comics plus Top 100 trades grouping. While there are magazines and comics below 300th place each month in there, most of this money is coming from trade paperbacks below 100th place: the ever-growing backlist. It can be argued that two-thirds of trade paperback dollar sales are now in that region not reported on Diamond's charts.

Market shares: Again, DC led Marvel in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares. Image again led Dark Horse in narrower categories but was surpassed in the overall category.

Apart from the DC/Marvel reversal, little movement can be seen in the market shares in October; in fact, 19 out of last month’s Top 20 dollar suppliers for comics, games, and magazines appeared in this month’s Top 20 list.


Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.20, up from $3.05 in October 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.96, up from $2.88 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.74, up from $2.68 in 2004.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

September 2005 puts trade on pace for $350 mil year

by John Jackson Miller

All-Star Batman's second issue and a two-issue month for New Avengers and JLA helped the comics market close out the third quarter 5% above the same period in 2004, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors. See the estimates for September 2005 comics sales.

It was actually an off month compared with last September, which had one more shipping week. But it's interesting to see that the gap pretty much disappears in some comparisons. The Top 300 Comics plus the Top 100 Trades sold almost exactly in September what they sold last September ? which, again, had an additional shipping week to do it in.

It's a good sign that, despite monthly fluctuations, the market still seems headed in the right direction. We're up $18 millon in the overall category in the year-to-date, which means 2005 may pass 2004's annual sales during the first week of December. We're on pace for $350 million in the direct market alone — a number we haven't seen since 1996 and probably first saw in 1991, the year of X-Men #1. That said, note that there would have been a lot more individual sales adding up to the totals in those years, given that prices have gone up and our total today includes far, far more trade paperbacks.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.74 million copies in September, 4% less than September 2004, which, again, had one more shipping week.

All-Star Batman #2 posted sales of 178,600 copies to easily lead the list. That is a 31% drop from the 261,000 copies the first issue sold two months ago. As a bimonthly, retailers may have had a somewhat easier job of gauging second-issue demand than they normally have on monthlies. The third issue will absolutely reflect how well those 261,000 copies sold through.

Bakers #1 from Kyle Baker ranked as the top new publisher debut, landing in 226th place with 2,900 copies ordered.

For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 56.97 million copies, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $19.41 million in September, 3% less than September 2004.

For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $164.19 million, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.89 million at full retail in September. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $23.3 million, almost even with September 2004, even with its one more shipping week.
For the first nine months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $197.69 million, 6% over the same period in 2004.

Overall sales: The September 2005 total was $29.33 million, which increases to $31.91 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is 4% lower than that for September 2004. Overall, the last nine months stand at $259.3 million, almost 8% more than the same period in 2004.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, although by only 2.6% in the dollar category. DC had an even 100 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel's 82.

Image led Dark Horse in all the narrower market share categories; in the overall category where backlist trade paperbacks are added, Dark Horse springs forward to a four-to-three advantage.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond?s Top 300 list cost $3.01, the exact same as in September 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.88, up from $2.85 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.70.

Friday, September 16, 2005

August 2005: Justice powers market to 18% gain

by John Jackson Miller

Powered by a strong launch for Justice by Alex Ross, the August comics market posted solid double-digit gains over the same month in 2004, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Sept. 16.

August shows it doesn't take a comic book topping 200,000 copies for the market to wind up ahead. While there wasn't an All-Star brightening the scene, the large number of offerings from the five largest periodical publishers combined to put this August ahead by low double digits over last August. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW combined to take 246 spots — meaning last place in the Diamond Top 300 was around 2,100 copies, higher than we've seen it in a while.

Combined sales of comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines by Diamond are estimated to be $32.6 million, up 18% over last August. See the full list of August 2005 comics estimates here.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 7.13 million copies in August, 12% more than August 2004, which had one less shipping week.

August was the second five-week month in three months, a quirk of the calendar that's provided this summer with an additional week of sales. While some contend that publishers spread their monthly offerings out such that the number of shipping weeks don't matter, obviously when it comes to late product, five-week months have a 25% better chance of catching sales for products not originally scheduled for them.

Two issues each of New Avengers and Green Lantern helped power the strong month.
The highest (and only) debut publisher in the Top 300 was Red Eagle. Its Robert Jordan's New Spring placed 215th, with approximately 5,500 copies sold.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined 50.23 million copies, an increase of 4% over the same period in the previous year.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.83 million in August, 14% more than August 2004.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $144.78 million, an increase of 5% over the same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.66 million at full retail in August. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $24.5 million, an increase of 11% over August 2004.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $174.39 million, an increase of 7% over the same period in 2004.

Overall sales: The August 2005 total was $32.58 million, which increases to $36.03 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The U.S. figure is a whopping 18% over that for August 2005. Overall, in the last eight months the U.S. industry stands at $230 million, up 9% over the same period in 2004.

Market shares: Marvel led both unit and dollar categories in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, but each had well over a third of the market to themselves. DC had 97 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel's 85. Image, with 37 titles in the Top 300, posted one of its better months in a while — though Dark Horse still surpassed it in the overall categories. 

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.17, unchanged from the same month in 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold was $2.92, up from $2.75 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.82, up from $2.57 last in August 2004.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

July 2005: All-Star fastest seller since 1997'’s Darkness #11

by John Jackson Miller

More copies of All-Star Batman and Robin #1 were ordered by comics shops in July than any other comic book since 2003's Batman #619, also from DC — and more were sold in a single month than any comic book since Top Cow's Darkness #11 back in 1997, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Aug. 12. Click to see the estimates for sales for July 2005.

More than 261,100 copies of All-Star were ordered by retailers, outpacing all non-promotional-price releases since the end of the "Hush" storyline nearly two years ago.

Actually, it's hard enough to parse Diamond's sales figures from 2003 that All-Star might be a brighter star, still. Diamond sold 235,000 copies of Batman #619 in September 2003 across both direct covers and the newsstand version, and then sold another 71,000 copies in October. But the order codes are aggregated, and the specific reprint order code from the special solicitation in Diamond Dateline appears nowhere in any of Diamond's charts. So it's hard to sort out what are true reorders for the original copies from the orders for the gatefold-less second printing, which shipped Oct. 22 of that year.
Either way, All-Star had a stronger first month, and may yet surpass the total number of Batman #619s out there.

The top-selling single issue before Batman #619 was Darkness #11, which had preorders of 357,000 copies across its 11 different covers. That issue shipped the final week of 1997.

The top-selling DC comic book prior to 2003 was Superman: The Wedding Album, which had Diamond preorders of 346,000 copies in its November 1996 release. A contemporaneous Marvel peak could be found in the "Heroes Reborn" Fantastic Four Vol. 2, #1, which had preorders of 314,000 copies from Heroes World Distribution. The comic book with the largest print run of all time was 1991's X-Men Vol. 2, #1, with 7.1 million copies across five covers.

A decent July. Thanks to All-Star and a strong line of new series launches, July sales of comic books and trade paperbacks to comics shops increased 3% over the same month in the previous year, keeping alive a year that's flirting with double-digit growth overall. Sales of comic books and trade paperbacks to comics shops have increased 8% in the first seven months of 2005 to $192 million.

While July was slower than June — which had an extra shipping week — it nonetheless showed year-over-year increases in all categories. Retailers have been reporting strong rack sales, indicating high sell-through levels and bettering their bottom lines.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.53 million copies in July, 6% more than July 2004, which also had four shipping weeks.

Dynamite's Red Sonja #1 placed 14th, one of the highest debuts by an independent publisher since the 1980s nostalgia wave landed several smaller companies high spots in the early part of this decade.
New publishers posting in the Top 300 included BuyMeToys.com, with its Oz/Wonderland Chronicles Preview landing in 233rd, and Boom Studios, with its Hero Squared #1 evidently placing in 236th.

I'm saying "evidently" on that because of a typographical error in the charts Diamond sent out, in which that issue's order index number appears to have had its decimal point moved by one space to the left. Despite its order-index number being boosted by a factor of 10, the issue is ranked 236th, nonetheless, and Boom Studios is absent from Diamond's market-share list, where it might be, if the larger number was correct. If the larger number is the correct one, it would boost the month's sales by $100,000.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $19.03 million in July, 7% more than July 2004.

For the first seven months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $123 million, a 3% increase over the same half-year period.

Trade paperbacks: The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.47 million at full retail in July. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $22.5 million, an increase of 6% over July 2004.

For the first seven months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $149 million, an increase of 6% over the same six months in 2004.

Diamond's overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The July 2005 total was $28.96 million, which increases to $31.36 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 3% over July 2005. Overall, the last seven months stand at $192.4 million, as mentioned above — up nearly 8%.

Interestingly, July-to-July comics sales grew at a faster rate than July-to-July sales overall, suggesting that the lower backlist — the thousands of trade paperbacks that do not make Diamond's Top 100 list each month — wasn't where the action was for this month. There are a lot of high-octane events on the periodical side of things, and that may be drawing some of the new dollars away from the shelves and toward the racks.

The overall category overstates comics' actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers' market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, and that held true for each of the narrower calculations. DC had 98 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel?s 80; and Image again posted a strong month, with 31 titles making the list. Dark Horse's strength continues to be in its backlist — coming in third in Diamond's overall dollar list, despite having only 14 comics in the Top 300, the same number as Archie.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.19, up from $3.16 in July 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.92, up from $2.91 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.69, up three cents from July 2004.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Comics sales post 9% gain in first half of 2005

by John Jackson Miller


Sales of comic books and trade paperbacks to comics shops increased 9% in the first half of 2005 to $168.4 million, according to my analysis of sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on July 21. June's double-digit percentage sales increase helped push the first half of 2005 toward solid gains. This bodes well for a continuation of the recovery in comics that began in July 2000. Click to see the sales estimates for June 2005.

Comics unit sales: Led by House of M #1 and 2, the Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 7.08 million copies in June, 8% more than June 2004, which also had five shipping weeks.

Having the same number of shipping weeks in months in consecutive years helps comparison. While some say that publishers spread out their schedules to balance the number of titles in each month, it's one more week for late (or early) titles from other months to wind up in. Year-to-year comparisons are cleanest, when it's four weeks versus four weeks or five versus five.

New publishers posting in the Top 300 included APComics, with Mr. T #1, and Silent Devil, with Dracula vs. King Arthur #1.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.83 million in June, 11% more than June 2004. For the half-year, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $104.8 million, a 2% increase over the same half-year period.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.79 million at full retail in June. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $24.62 million, an increase of 11% over June 2004.

For the half-year, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $127.31 million, an increase of 5.5% over the same six months in 2004.

Diamond's overall sales: Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines. Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond's total orders across these product groups.

The June 2005 total was $32.83 million, which increases to $35.73 million, when Diamond's United Kingdom orders are added. The figure is up 11% over June 2005. Overall, the last six months stand at $168.44 million, as mentioned above: up nearly 9%.

This largest category continues to show faster growth than the more narrow ones, suggesting that an ever-increasing amount of business is being generated by the thousands of backlist trade paperbacks that do not make Diamond's Top 100 list each month. The overall category overstates comics' actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers market shares would actually be slightly higher if you could knock out some of the ancillary items.

Market shares: Marvel led DC in Diamond's reported overall unit and dollar market shares, and that held true for each of the narrower calculations. DC had 98 comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel's 86; Image posted a strong month with 35 titles making the list. Dark Horse's strength continues to be in its backlist, coming in third in Diamond's overall dollar list despite having only 13 comics in the Top 300, just one more than IDW.

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond's Top 300 list cost $3.15, up from $3.06 in June 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold — was $2.94, up from $2.83 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.60, however, down two cents from June 2004.
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