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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.

 

Friday, December 19, 2008

November 2008 comics sales: Cover prices set record

The Top 300 comics and Top 300 trade estimates for November are now online, subject, as you'll learn in a moment, to change.

As noted earlier here, Diamond made a number of changes in the rollout of its charts this month, including the very important increase from reporting the Top 100 trade paperbacks to the Top 300. However, there may be some bugs to work out, as I and a number of other observers detected some discrepancies. Particularly, it appears that the same Order Index Number (equal to 1% of Batman unit sales) was not used for both the Top 300 Comics and the Top 300 Trade Paperbacks list. In looking at the publisher reports that we compare the Diamond charts with, it appears that the correct “magic number” for the trade paperback table is 999 copies, whereas the magic number that fits the actual periodical data best is 1,031.

There are a number of ways this could occur — particularly if the reports were prepared at two different times, which seems likely. Order codes for Batman were also combined this month, so they may have been aggregated for one purpose and not for the other.

So what’s right? On the periodical side, the cluster of actual sales versus estimates sales looks as close as it does every month — which is to say, if 1031 is not the right number for the model, then it can’t be off by more than a couple in either direction. The trade paperback clustering is unusual in that many trades reported match the publisher report exactly when 999 is used as the magic number; many more are just slightly off to the low side. I do not know how to account for this, except to say that it is never the case that the counts suggested by the Order Index Numbers exactly match what’s in the publisher reports. There is always a little variance in the mix.

Milton Griepp and I both arrived at the same conclusion independently with regard to the differences between the charts; and while there may be corrections coming from Diamond, in looking harder at the data, I think we can make a best-guess from the numbers at hand. There is significant matching on the two lists as long as two different Order Index Numbers are used; it’s possible that all that might be required to unify the lists is to generate order index numbers from 1031 instead of 999 — or to multiply the existing numbers in the TPB column by 1.032. The only other thing that might happen is that the actual order index numbers would change for the individual titles: this would seem unlikely to account for much, because, again, we do have strong correlation with actual publisher sales now. We might see a little oscillation, but not a whole lot affecting the bottom line.

So what appears here is my best guess; again, should corrections come, I'll take another pass through the data.

OK, now to the bottom line. Not much good news for consumers or the market this month: First, comics were more expensive in November 2008 than in any month in history. The average comic book offered in Diamond’s Top 300 comics had a cover price of $3.50, beating the previous record (from last month) by 12 cents. The median price is still $2.99, and $2.99 is still the most common price within the chart. The weighted average price — comics dollars divided by comics units — was $3.35, another record. The average price of comics in the Top 25 was $3.43.

I calculate the overall comics, magazine, and trade paperback sales at $33.06 million, off 9% for the month; for the year, we’re still up, but by only half a percent. Roger Fletcher said on ICV2 that Diamond’s sales to shops were off 3% for the year; I’m not certain what’s covered under that umbrella, but it’s possible the reference may include Diamond’s other lines. (Or my overall calculation could be off — although it is based on applying actual known sales to the market share charts, and there’s evidence that it’s been pretty close in the past.)

The narrower categories were off badly on the periodical side. The Top 300 Comics were off 17% in units, posting the worst monthly performance since January 2006 and the worst November performance since 2000. The Top 300 were off 11% in dollars; it was only the worst month since February 2008, though, and the worst November since November 2004.

The vital stats for the month, subject to change:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2008: 5.76 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -17%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -5%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -11%
YEAR TO DATE: 73.67 million copies, -6% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2008: $19.32 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +15%
YEAR TO DATE: $237.57, -4% vs. 2007

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2008: $8.31 million
Versus 1 year ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: unchanged
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +27%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 30 vs. the Top 30: -6%
YEAR TO DATE, comparing just the Top 100: $54.87 million, +4% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2008: $27.63 million
Versus 1 year ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -9%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 30 TPBs: +11%
YEAR TO DATE, comparing just the Top 100 TPBs: $292.44 million, -3% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
November 2008: $33.06 million ($37 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +41%
YEAR TO DATE: $396.8 million, +0.5% vs. 2007

Getting the Top 300 trades does really show us a lot more of the picture — just the Top 100 brought in $6 million, whereas the next 200 added $2.3 million. The “overall” total minus the combined comics and TPB totes leaves only $5.4 million, much of which is more trades — but now, we can say that the Diamond Top TPB list accounts for more than half of direct market initial orders. (Bookstore sales are another matter.)

With one month left to go in the year, it looks like there is a chance for the “overall” category to come in above 2007 — but the narrower categories are less likely to go positive, and Top 300 Units are trailing by 5 million copies, so that’s out of the question. While that mark be the first down year for comics in a long time, it would be exceptional indeed for the medium to outperform 2007 in an economy where very little else is. That the drops are likely to be single digits is a sign of strength, to some degree — although the full effect of price increases in comics (particularly in a period of stagnant inflation) is yet to be understood.

Again, when and if Diamond issues revisions, I’ll take another look under the hood — but my guess is things won’t change much.

Note for December's report: If, as I read from the Diamond retail newsletter, UPS is closed Dec. 31 in the United States, that day's shipments wind up on Jan. 2. I would imagine as they're in the December catalog, though, they'd be tabulated with it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Diamond goes to reporting Top 300 Trades

Diamond's new reporting for this month continues: After a web post of the Top 100 trades yesterday, the media release includes indexed figures for the Top 300 Trade Paperbacks and Graphic Novels, a three-fold increase bringing the TPB reporting in line with the Top Comics list.

It is unknown whether this is intended to be the manner for the future, but if so, it represents a significant addition to Diamond's reporting. I have yet to complete all calculations for November, but it looks as though the distributor sold a record $6 million of its Top 100 trades to retailers in the month, approaching June 2008's record; $8.3 million, when the next 200 places are added.

The Comics Chronicles has regularly reported how the unreported trades each month lately have accounted for business in the neighborhood of to $10 million that's not otherwise captured in the Top Seller lists. These 200 trades account for $2.3 million of that this month, so it would appear that the the Top Trades list is back to capturing at least half of all dollars represented by trades again.

I need to re-run some numbers before posting, as the cross-year comparisons now need to be adjusted. As done in the past when Diamond has added to the TPB count (from 10 to 25 to 50 to 100), we'll both provide the whole total, as well as comparing the same number of apples to the same number of apples. This month, for example, just the Top 100 trades would appear to be just slightly above November 2007 sales for the same number of items, while just the Top 50 appear to be 26% ahead of the Top 50 from November 2003, when only 50 TPBs were reported.

UPDATE: Looking into the numbers, it appeared probable that the Trade Paperback chart and the Comics chart were using two different "magic numbers" for the Order Index Number. I have heard that there may be revisions coming for the comics chart — of so, I will delay my report until everything appears.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Diamond November 2008 data rollout continues

And Diamond now has posted more charts on its website: the Top 100 comics for November, the Market Shares, the Top 50 Manga, and something called the Top 50 Independent Comics chart. I am told that the full charts are still yet to come.

The manga are, as in previous such lists, not indexed. The indies are indexed, and would seem to be a resorting of the list, pulling out Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse. I can see some definitional discussions — doing magazine issues about "independent" publishers in the past sometimes had every publisher wanting to be so labeled, or else publishers declaring they weren't indie publishers — but it's an interesting sorting nonetheless.

In terms of new information, this month's Indies list doesn't add anything to what would be the regular Top 300, as everything here is in the Top 300 already (by the Quantity Ranks listed). If it did, it would be tricky to overlay atop the existing data, at least in the apples-to-apples department — you might have items above 300th place one month, but not the next; and there'd of course be no items above 300th place for the majors. The info would be interesting on its own, but you'd probably still want to limit aggregate comparisons to the Top 300.

The spooling out of the release does have interesting effects for the blogosphere, which got the Top 10 last week — and Newsarama has a report on the Top 100 today. While The Comics Chronicles will post early data or links to it as time is available, we're more of an informational resource than a news site, so expect our main monthly posting to follow the release that includes the most data — the Top 300.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ultimatum #1 tops list in "early peek" at Diamond November list

About a week before Diamond Comic Distributors would customarily release its Top 300 Comics and Top 100 Trade Paperbacks lists for November, it has announced the Top 10 sellers in each category and the top five publisher market shares. Elissa Lynch at Diamond has confirmed for The Comics Chronicles that this list is preparatory to, and not in place of, the regular indexed sales figures.

The Top 10 comics:
1) Ultimatum #1 • $3.99 • Marvel
2) Batman #681 RIP • $3.99 • DC
3) Hulk #8 • $2.99 • Marvel
4) Wolverine #69 • $2.99 • Marvel
5) Uncanny X-Men #504 MD • $2.99 • Marvel
6) Amazing Spider-Man #577 • $3.99 • Marvel
7) Captain America #44 • $2.99 • Marvel
8) Buffy the Vampire Slayer #19 • $2.99 • Dark Horse
9) JSA Kingdom Come Special: Superman #1 • $3.99 • DC
10) Justice Society of America #20* • $2.99 • DC

The Top 10 Trade Paperbacks:
1) Fables Vol. 11: War & Pieces • $17.99 • DC
2) Michael Turner Tribute • $8.99 • Aspen
3) Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Vol. 3: Wolves at the Gate • $15.95 • Dark Horse
4) Heroes HC Vol. 2 • $29.99 • DC
5) Watchmen HC • $39.99 • DC
6) JLA/Avengers • $19.99 • DC/Marvel
7) Watchmen SC • $19.99 • DC
8) Joker HC • $19.99 • DC
9) Naruto Vol. 32 • $7.95 • Viz
10) Fruits Basket Vol. 21 • $9.99 • TokyoPop

The top five companies' market shares:


Dollars

Units

Marvel

36.96%

42.90%

DC

34.21%

34.52%

Dark Horse

5.86%

4.84%

Image

4.35%

3.80%

IDW

2.96%

2.83%

Other

15.65%

11.11%



The "early peek" at the top-sellers lists appears to be an enhancement from Diamond, capitalizing on the attention the indexed charts receive each month — charts that have appeared from one distributor or another in comics since the early 1980s, when Milton Griepp introduced them to Internal Correspondence at Capital City. Diamond is a longstanding supporter of increasing public awareness of what's going on in the medium, and The Comics Chronicles applauds its continuing efforts to do that with this added, early release of information.

EDIT: Link added and column headers corrected for table.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2004 monthly sales figures now online

And the posting of earlier months continues — this time with the full year 2004 and then back to fill in the end of 2003 for good measure. This is the year with Identity Crisis and "Avengers Disassembled," culminating in December with New Avengers #1.

February 2004 marked the first month that Diamond released indexed sales figures for its Top 100 Trade Paperbacks; previously, it had been the top 50. This marked the increasing importance of front-list trades to Diamond's business. I adjusted the comparatives for each month to account for the change — thus, while the February 2004-and-onward aggregate totals reflect the dollar value of the full Top 100, the percentage change is an apples-to-apples comparison using whatever portion of the chart Diamond was reporting earlier. It only reported the Top 25 in 1999, so the five-year comparisons are for just the Top 25, and so on.

This brings the number of products with sales figures on-site above the 25,000 mark. Still not quite to the halfway mark with the Diamond data, but there is less of it the further back we go because of that trade paperback change.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

October 2008 comics set sales records

The October 2008 comics sales estimates are online at The Comics Chronicles, and it turned out to be a record-setting month in a number of categories.

The Top 300 Comics Dollar sales were the highest they’ve been since the beginning of the Diamond Exclusive era, in April 1997. Likewise, the Top 300 Comics Plus Top 100 Trade Paperbacks (although only the Top 25 and then the Top 50 trades were reported up until a few years ago). The Overall Comics, Trade Paperback, and Magazine sales figure also set the highest mark since that category became trackable in 2003.

And the average cost and average weighted cost of new comics in the Diamond Top 300 is higher than at any time in the Diamond era, and almost certainly in the history of comics. The average cost of all comics in the Top 300 was $3.38 — and the weighted average, total dollars divided by total units, was $3.31. The Top 25 comics had an average price of $3.39, so the top of the list was particularly pricey.

The Top 300 Unit and Dollar sales and Top 300+100 TPB dollar sales remain off for the year, but by a lesser margin now. It is not impossible that these categories will completely catch up by the end of 2008, but we’d need to have a couple more record months. The gap in Top 300 Dollars for the year is $7.4 million, or 3%. But we’re up by $6 million in the Overall category, or 2%.

The "uncaptured" portion of sales — Overall Comics, Trades, and Magazines minus the dollars for the Top 300 Comics and Top 100 Trades — stood at $11.36 million, meaning the Trade Paperback total was in the neighborhood of $14-15 million. This gets trickier to estimate because the midlist has been pushed so far down the list, that the 300th place book had sales in the 4,000s. Only 23 publishers had titles in the Top 300.

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2008: 7.52 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +5%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +7%
YEAR TO DATE: 67.91 million copies, -5% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2008: $24.9 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +16%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $218.26, -3% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2008: $5.79 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +40%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +114%
YEAR TO DATE: $48.87 million, +4% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2008: $30.69 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +19%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +38%
YEAR TO DATE: $267.48 million, -2% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
October 2008: $42.05 million ($47 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +36%
YEAR TO DATE: $363.74 million, +2% vs. 2007

Average retail prices for comic books, 1996-2008

This is something I'll be setting up in table form along with some other pricing information on Comichron, but here are the average prices of comics in the Diamond Top 300 back to the beginning of the Exclusive Era. The first column is the flat average (all prices divided by 300), while the second column is the dollar value of all comics ordered that month divided by units. (This method winnows out the outliers that are priced too high or too low.)

We can see that October 2008's figures are indeed the highest all-time, but we also see the increase has been rather less steep than conventional wisdom might presume, with the march from $3 to $3.38 taking most of the 2000s.

I do need to go into some of the data sets in the early 2000s during the 10-cent promotional comic wave and pull them out, but there was only usually one such book each month. They'd affect the weighted average but not the flat average.

Average . . . Weighted Average
Sep-96 . . . . . $2.56 . . . . . $2.34
Oct-96 . . . . . $2.75 . . . . . $2.41
Nov-96 . . . . . $2.92 . . . . . $2.50
Dec-96 . . . . . $2.69 . . . . . $2.51
Jan-97 . . . . . $2.71 . . . . . $2.49
Feb-97 . . . . . $2.64 . . . . . $2.40
Mar-97 . . . . . $2.63 . . . . . $2.34
Apr-97 . . . . . $2.47 . . . . . $2.21
May-97 . . . . . $2.63 . . . . . $2.40
Jun-97 . . . . . $2.57 . . . . . $2.39
Jul-97 . . . . . $2.64 . . . . . $2.46
Aug-97 . . . . . $2.60 . . . . . $2.51
Sep-97 . . . . . $2.65 . . . . . $2.45
Oct-97 . . . . . $2.67 . . . . . $2.56
Nov-97 . . . . . $2.65 . . . . . $2.50
Dec-97 . . . . . $2.67 . . . . . $2.56
Jan-98 . . . . . $2.61 . . . . . $2.38
Feb-98 . . . . . $2.64 . . . . . $2.38
Mar-98 . . . . . $2.64 . . . . . $2.45
Apr-98 . . . . . $2.67 . . . . . $2.50
May-98 . . . . . $2.66 . . . . . $2.43
Jun-98 . . . . . $2.66 . . . . . $2.43
Jul-98 . . . . . $2.62 . . . . . $2.43
Aug-98 . . . . . $2.81 . . . . . $2.63
Sep-98 . . . . . $2.73 . . . . . $2.44
Oct-98 . . . . . $2.84 . . . . . $2.65
Nov-98 . . . . . $2.85 . . . . . $2.59
Dec-98 . . . . . $2.76 . . . . . $2.54
Jan-99 . . . . . $2.79 . . . . . $2.56
Feb-99 . . . . . $2.84 . . . . . $2.57
Mar-99 . . . . . $2.79 . . . . . $2.51
Apr-99 . . . . . $2.84 . . . . . $2.58
May-99 . . . . . $3.11 . . . . . $2.60
Jun-99 . . . . . $2.95 . . . . . $2.55
Jul-99 . . . . . $2.96 . . . . . $2.55
Aug-99 . . . . . $2.98 . . . . . $2.62
Sep-99 . . . . . $2.79 . . . . . $2.62
Oct-99 . . . . . $2.85 . . . . . $2.68
Nov-99 . . . . . $2.85 . . . . . $2.61
Dec-99 . . . . . $2.85 . . . . . $2.68
Jan-00 . . . . . $2.87 . . . . . $2.56
Feb-00 . . . . . $2.94 . . . . . $2.64
Mar-00 . . . . . $2.85 . . . . . $2.64
Apr-00 . . . . . $2.92 . . . . . $2.67
May-00 . . . . . $2.86 . . . . . $2.71
Jun-00 . . . . . $3.07 . . . . . $2.88
Jul-00 . . . . . $3.00 . . . . . $2.86
Aug-00 . . . . . $3.01 . . . . . $2.82
Sep-00 . . . . . $2.93 . . . . . $2.84
Oct-00 . . . . . $2.97 . . . . . $2.85
Nov-00 . . . . . $2.98 . . . . . $2.71
Dec-00 . . . . . $3.05 . . . . . $2.85
Jan-01 . . . . . $3.10 . . . . . $2.76
Feb-01 . . . . . $3.01 . . . . . $2.68
Mar-01 . . . . . $3.17 . . . . . $2.76
Apr-01 . . . . . $3.21 . . . . . $2.72
May-01 . . . . . $3.16 . . . . . $2.69
Jun-01 . . . . . $3.08 . . . . . $2.78
Jul-01 . . . . . $3.00 . . . . . $2.81
Aug-01 . . . . . $3.12 . . . . . $2.73
Sep-01 . . . . . $3.04 . . . . . $2.79
Oct-01 . . . . . $2.98 . . . . . $2.83
Nov-01 . . . . . $3.18 . . . . . $2.88
Dec-01 . . . . . $3.12 . . . . . $3.04
Jan-02 . . . . . $2.98 . . . . . $2.85
Feb-02 . . . . . $3.13 . . . . . $2.89
Mar-02 . . . . . $3.11 . . . . . $2.73
Apr-02 . . . . . $3.07 . . . . . $2.82
May-02 . . . . . $3.05 . . . . . $2.80
Jun-02 . . . . . $3.14 . . . . . $2.84
Jul-02 . . . . . $3.04 . . . . . $2.75
Aug-02 . . . . . $3.00 . . . . . $2.75
Sep-02 . . . . . $3.05 . . . . . $2.77
Oct-02 . . . . . $2.99 . . . . . $2.74
Nov-02 . . . . . $3.09 . . . . . $2.83
Dec-02 . . . . . $3.19 . . . . . $2.70
Jan-03 . . . . . $3.16 . . . . . $2.78
Feb-03 . . . . . $3.03 . . . . . $2.82
Mar-03 . . . . . $3.05 . . . . . $2.81
Apr-03 . . . . . $3.01 . . . . . $2.78
May-03 . . . . . $3.09 . . . . . $2.77
Jun-03 . . . . . $3.18 . . . . . $2.91
Jul-03 . . . . . $3.06 . . . . . $2.80
Aug-03 . . . . . $3.08 . . . . . $2.79
Sep-03 . . . . . $3.06 . . . . . $2.93
Oct-03 . . . . . $3.00 . . . . . $2.90
Nov-03 . . . . . $3.08 . . . . . $2.90
Dec-03 . . . . . $3.08 . . . . . $2.85
Jan-04 . . . . . $3.34 . . . . . $2.82
Feb-04 . . . . . $3.25 . . . . . $2.85
Mar-04 . . . . . $3.16 . . . . . $2.92
Apr-04 . . . . . $3.12 . . . . . $2.82
May-04 . . . . . $3.17 . . . . . $2.85
Jun-04 . . . . . $3.06 . . . . . $2.83
Jul-04 . . . . . $3.16 . . . . . $2.91
Aug-04 . . . . . $3.17 . . . . . $2.85
Sep-04 . . . . . $3.01 . . . . . $2.85
Oct-04 . . . . . $3.05 . . . . . $2.88
Nov-04 . . . . . $3.10 . . . . . $2.90
Dec-04 . . . . . $3.08 . . . . . $2.90
Jan-05 . . . . . $3.12 . . . . . $2.79
Feb-05 . . . . . $3.10 . . . . . $2.86
Mar-05 . . . . . $3.06 . . . . . $2.84
Apr-05 . . . . . $3.18 . . . . . $2.85
May-05 . . . . . $3.12 . . . . . $2.91
Jun-05 . . . . . $3.15 . . . . . $2.94
Jul-05 . . . . . $3.19 . . . . . $2.92
Aug-05 . . . . . $3.17 . . . . . $2.92
Sep-05 . . . . . $3.01 . . . . . $2.88
Oct-05 . . . . . $3.20 . . . . . $2.96
Nov-05 . . . . . $3.19 . . . . . $3.00
Dec-05 . . . . . $3.27 . . . . . $3.05
Jan-06 . . . . . $3.21 . . . . . $2.98
Feb-06 . . . . . $3.25 . . . . . $3.01
Mar-06 . . . . . $3.15 . . . . . $3.08
Apr-06 . . . . . $3.20 . . . . . $3.12
May-06 . . . . . $3.24 . . . . . $3.11
Jun-06 . . . . . $3.28 . . . . . $3.04
Jul-06 . . . . . $3.24 . . . . . $3.06
Aug-06 . . . . . $3.27 . . . . . $3.11
Sep-06 . . . . . $3.21 . . . . . $3.09
Oct-06 . . . . . $3.29 . . . . . $3.13
Nov-06 . . . . . $3.26 . . . . . $3.09
Dec-06 . . . . . $3.28 . . . . . $3.15
Jan-07 . . . . . $3.26 . . . . . $3.12
Feb-07 . . . . . $3.29 . . . . . $3.15
Mar-07 . . . . . $3.27 . . . . . $3.20
Apr-07 . . . . . $3.32 . . . . . $3.06
May-07 . . . . . $3.28 . . . . . $3.15
Jun-07 . . . . . $3.24 . . . . . $3.19
Jul-07 . . . . . $3.26 . . . . . $3.14
Aug-07 . . . . . $3.28 . . . . . $3.20
Sep-07 . . . . . $3.33 . . . . . $3.21
Oct-07 . . . . . $3.30 . . . . . $3.21
Nov-07 . . . . . $3.17 . . . . . $3.13
Dec-07 . . . . . $3.26 . . . . . $3.22
Jan-08 . . . . . $3.23 . . . . . $3.11
Feb-08 . . . . . $3.36 . . . . . $3.13
Mar-08 . . . . . $3.24 . . . . . $3.15
Apr-08 . . . . . $3.31 . . . . . $3.20
May-08 . . . . . $3.35 . . . . . $3.28
Jun-08 . . . . . $3.34 . . . . . $3.21
Jul-08 . . . . . $3.35 . . . . . $3.25
Aug-08 . . . . . $3.35 . . . . . $3.25
Sep-08 . . . . . $3.34 . . . . . $3.24
Oct-08 . . . . . $3.38 . . . . . $3.31

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

October 2008: Secret Invasion #7 in top slot

It will be a little while before I can attend to estimates, but the Diamond charts for October have been released (story at Newsarama). Usually in October I can make a good projection as to the overall year, but 2008 versus 2007 so far is looking like a very close-run thing, so we'll have to see what the margins are in each category.

Secret Invasion #7 is the top book, meaning that the Marvel title has topped the charts for every single month of 2008 since it began. This is the longest such run in the Diamond era since Uncanny X-Men had a ten-issue run topping the charts in 1999. Civil War's run was broken up by not shipping in two months, but it also had seven issues at the #1 slot.

Historically, Uncanny X-Men likely had longer runs than that at #1 in the 1980s, though further research is required to say exactly how long it went for consecutive months unbroken.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Avengers/JLA... JLA/Avengers... whatever

The October Diamond numbers won't be out for a few days, but in advance I have posted the October 1998 and October 2003 figures for comparison. October 2003 was topped by the second issue of the long-awaited Avengers/Justice League crossover — though in a sense, Avengers/JLA #2 was actually the first issue with that name. (Following past practice, the publisher actually printing and distributing the issue got top billing — and Marvel and DC alternated publication on this series. So the next issue was JLA/Avengers #3, the third issue of the storyline but actually the second issue by that name.)

Anyway, these two pages are up in advance, bringing the site above the 20,000 sales-figure mark; a raft of months will be up soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Marvel 3Q report tops estimates

Marvel announced earnings this morning topping analyst expectations, Reuters reports. "It now expects earnings of $2.45 to $2.65 a share on revenue of $640 million to $670 million," the report says. " Marvel had earlier forecast earnings of $1.55 and $1.75 a share for 2008, on sales of $450 million to $480 million. Net profits for 3Q 2008 were $50.6 million on net sales of $182.5 million, or 64¢ a share — more than the 52¢ that had been predicted.

Publishing is a big chunk of Marvel's business, but the piece gets into the contribution from films and licensing. It also says Marvel tried to reduce expectations for 2009.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Title spotlight section started

I realized there was still one section yet to be restored from the previous incarnation of the site — only, it wasn't really a section then, and it wasn't how I wanted to present it. The Yearly Comics Sales section presents rankings of comics sales figures reported in postal Statements of Ownership — but that's only one way to present that data, and it only shows a small part of it.

So take a look at the first of the Title Spotlights — which really are Postal-Statement spotlights, as, in the case of Batman, they only go up to when DC stopped mailing subscriptions Second Class (1987). But here — particularly in the case of a "completed" title from my database's standpoint, like Doom 2099, you can see almost every fact reported in the Statements (except for the ownership data itself, and the "most recent issue" data, which is always statistically less useful).

My hope is that I can get these tables online a few at a time. As there are more than 300 such titles, I'll probably end up with a different directory system for them when they appear online. You may also see me giving preference to posting short-run titles — it's better to post a completed title than one where data collection is in progress — although there will be cases where the page itself represents a call for data. In the case of Batman, you'll see that while I've got the sales figures for some years, because I used secondary sources, I didn't always have the print run data, etc. Those are places where your help is invaluable — and you'll see an e-mail address on these Title Spotlight pages. (For now, I'm only looking for the missing numbers on the titles I've got Spotlights for — I will probably post a more detailed "want list" later on.)

Finally, it is the season — so anyone who hits copies of Marvel or Archie comics (or any comics) with 2008 Statements, please drop me a line at jjm [ AT ] comichron.com. Clear scans are best, although simple numbers work too — please, also report the issue number and cover date the statement was found in.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Click-and-mortar

In passing on a link to a comics store closure story earlier this week, I was tempted to say that we're far more likely to learn of a store closure from the Internet than a store opening — hence, we can't always tell much about the market from how many such stories are out there.

Of course, the very next time I look, there's a story about a new store opening in Maryland — an online dealer whose business grew to the point where brick-and-mortar became attractive. "Opening a storefront and expanding to other games and comics was the next logical step,” Scott Campanella tells local site Eldersburg.net. There's some store photos with the piece.

I do have some data on the number of comics shops, both now and across time — but it's fairly scattershot and unpostable in its current state. Project #17 of a series...

2005 comics sales fully online

And now the other half of 2005 is online, starting with January. January is an odd month when it comes to the comparatives, as the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks only began being reported in February 2004. Forty-seven months online now, 98 to go.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2005 Q3 and Q4 comics sales now online

If you're wondering what the initial comics-shop sales were for All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, wonder no more. The second half of 2005 is now online at The Comics Chronicles, starting with July 2005.

Now less than nine years of Diamond-era sales to be posted. It actually gets a little easier going backwards, as there are fewer categories to calculate (we're already done with the ten-year comparisons).

Hang in there...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

California paper reports Claremont store closure

A micro-level market indicator we don't see too much these days in the mainstream press: the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports on the closure this week of Comic Bookie in Claremont, Calif. According to the report, the store has been open since Nov. 1, 1990, aptly characterized as the boom period for new shop openings. The piece suggests the store never recovered from its move to a smaller location, a 600-square-foot space in a business park.

The piece quotes owner Chris Peterson: "People say, 'With the movies, you must be doing really well.' Actually, the last few years have been among the toughest I've had." The report says the closure leaves three area stores: Comic Madness in Chino, 4 Color Fantasies in Rancho Cucamonga and Funny Business in Pomona.

It isn't the mission of The Comics Chronicles to detail every store opening and closure, but as I'm sifting reports from both the hobby and mass media, I want to pass along both good news and bad. It's also helpful to look at reports from the trenches to see what events seem ascribable to local conditions, and what things might be part of a larger trend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Miramichi Leader on comics sales charts

The Miramichi Leader in New Brunswick has a piece online about comics sales charts and how comics fans read them as much as film fans check out box office results. Reporter Darcey McLaughlin discusses the monthly ritual many of us take part in, and what the charts say about the medium — particularly in that genre variety tends to appear more often at the top of the trade chart than it does the top of the periodical chart.

When I was tracking comics sales for Comics Retailer magazine in the 1990s, a store in Miramichi was one of my regular reporters. I can't remember the name of the store now (it was a while back), but I always got the impression from the reports that comics had a strong presence in the local scene.

2006 comics sales charts, title search tool now online

And we're marching ahead — by marching backwards. Now online are all the charts from 2006, beginning with January 2006 and running to December 2006.

Return with us to what was a pretty good year for comics, sales-wise — the year of both Infinite Crisis and Civil War. It also marked the start of the weekly comics series 52. One of the results was that while sales increased across all categories, unit and dollar sales for Diamond's Top 300 Comic Books over the 12-month period actually increased more than its sales for its Top-Selling Trade Paperbacks and Graphic Novels. Theretofore, growth in trades generally outpaced growth in new comics sales.

Continuing to move along with this part of the project; 2005 monthly charts will be up in the next few days.

And we now have a search tool for the site set up, so it should be easier to find individual titles. I'm not sure how well it'll find specific issue numbers — note that I keep issue numbers in a separate table column with no number sign, so Google reads the issues as comma-delimited. (Thus Civil War #1 becomes Civil War, 1.) That's less than ideal, but it's important to be able to present issue numbers in a separate column.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Comic books and bubble markets

Forbes has an article on bubbles in collecting hobbies — certainly recalling what I used to see in my years at Krause Publications, where with our magazines in various collecting fields we were able to follow the speculator craze from sportscards, to comics, to Magic cards, to Beanie Babies, to action figures, to Pok√©mon cards — in about that order, I would guess. That was an occasion to be glad you were diversified; interestingly, we often saw some of the same dealers migrating from one advertising list to another, following the money. David Serchuk's article gets into several of these, including some I had no idea about — like crazes in collecting fossils and meteorites. (I guess we just didn't have any magazines for them!)

Joe Koch is interviewed and lays out some examples — and the article gets into April 1993, which is the month when Superman returned from the dead and comics orders hit a modern peak — 48 million copies in a month. It wasn't apparent for a while that the market had peaked for good, as my recent Newsarama column gets into — but it was clearly seen as an important moment.

Not really many historical quibbles — though I think maybe the mention that the boom period "started in the mid-1980s" might be conflating the Black and White Glut with the later, bigger color comics boom of 1989-1993 — there was a crash in between, big enough to take down distributors. (The multiple variant covers phenomenon mentioned was definitely a little later, following Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1 in 1989.) I also wonder if that Amazing Fantasy #15 price might be for one of the big Golden Age books, unless there's some monster sale I haven't seen.

But that's only of note to the us in the hobby; this article is a really useful piece to have out there for the general public. We used to say that speculators were like locusts — wait long enough, and they'll come back. But now, with the Internet spreading information — including what supply is really like, both on places like eBay and, in another sense, The Comics Chronicles — hopefully whatever wave comes won't be as destructive.

Fortune: Comics "alive and kicking"

I only caught this now, but Fortune has an article on "old-fashioned [comics] publishing" and how it's helping Marvel. A lot of interesting numbers here.

A favorable piece — though there is that line that comics shops are "one of the most archaic distribution systems in existence." One might note to the author that those shops arose to replace a certain distribution system that's even older: the traditional newsstand, which is where most copies of Fortune are sold, come to think of it...

[Edit: Of course, by "copies sold" I mean to say single copies — not subscription copies. Although increasingly, subscriptions at mass-market magazines doesn't mean direct revenue, either, given all the promotional subs out there. Newsweek, which I have handy, reported 87% paid in its Statement this week, as compared with most comics, which are in the high 90s. I'd be interested in seeing the trendline for that stat.]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yearly Diamond overviews now online

The new site has sped the restoration of pages to the point that now, we're back where we were, and then some. Now online are the Yearly Diamond (and Heroes World) Overviews, summing all the reports the distributors put out in each individual year. So you can start with the 1996 Comics Sales Market Summary and go straight through to the 2008 Comics Sales Market Summary.

You'll also find depictions of the #1 comic book for each individual month — but note that very few of the pages before January 2007 have been posted yet. These will be coming along in the next few months and can be found in an earlier, less detailed form still on CBGXtra. But you can see what the top-sellers were — pretty interesting, in the case of 1999, when, near the bottom of the market collapse the only thing that was really working was Uncanny X-Men — #1 ten out of 12 months! (Call it the widows-and-orphans stock of the comics industry — when there are no other big events going on, X-Men historically is #1 by default.)

Anyway, the structure is now there and the individual pages will be installed soon. Stay tuned!

September Newsarama column online


And The Comichron Report for September 2008 is now online at Newsarama.

Return to those years of the past with DC One Million, X-Men "Inferno", — and the beginning of the first Wolverine ongoing series.

I have a few more of these comics flashback features online over there — I hope to get an index of sorts for them together, soon. Also, the reposting of old charts is really getting streamlined on the new system here, so my hope is that there'll be a lot more online here very soon.

Monday, October 20, 2008

September 2008 Comics Sales Charts

And here are the comics sales charts for September, with my estimates. Same-day — that doesn't happen often!

Orders from the comics direct market, composed of all the comics specialty shops in North America, were up for the month across all categories — and up for the quarter and year in the widest category and in the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks. We’re still a bit behind in the narrower categories like Top 300 Comics and Dollars.

This month is notable as being the first since Diamond began reporting Final Orders in which Marvel’s Unit Share of all items shipped exceeded 50%, as originally noticed by Michael Doran. It’s at 45% in the dollar share, which is usually held as more important since a piece count can get complicated when mixing comics and trade paperbacks.

And I haven’t worked it out all the way back, but Marvel’s number of entries in the Top 300 is likely as high as it’s been since September 1996, when I began keeping track. It had 116 books in the Top 300, versus 87 for DC and 27 for Image. I think you probably have to go back to the early 1990s for as high a number of entries. Second-printing or variant covers may be part of the reason, although Diamond does lump all versions into the same entry in its Top 300 lists.

The comparatives:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
September 2008: 6.78 million copies Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +4%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -9%
3rd Quarter 2008: 22.02 million copies, -5% vs. 3Q 2007
YEAR TO DATE: 60.38 million copies, -6% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
September 2008: $21.96 million Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +15%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +21%
3rd Quarter 2008: $67.63 million, -4% vs. 3Q 2007
YEAR TO DATE: $193.36, -5% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
September 2008: $4.59 million Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: unchanged
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +49%
3rd Quarter 2008: $15.11 million, +12% vs. 3Q 2007
YEAR TO DATE: $43.08 million, +4% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
September 2008: $26.53 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +2%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +11%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +22%
3rd Quarter 2008: $82.73 million, -1% vs. 3Q 2007
YEAR TO DATE: $236.79 million, -3% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
September 2008: $35.11 million ($38.36 million with UK) Versus 1 year ago this month: +7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +25%
3rd Quarter 2008: $112.89 million, +4% vs. 3Q 2007
YEAR TO DATE: $321.69 million, +1% vs. 2007

I do plan a Newsarama column for this month, so more historical comparisons coming soon.

Bulletin: September, Third Quarter, YTD up overall for comics

Still putting together the Diamond estimates for September 2008 — but I can convey now that based on the numbers I have in, the Overall category (all comics, all trade paperbacks, and all magazines sold to retailers by Diamond) is up for the month, the third quarter, and the year to date. The estimates:

September 2008 Overall: $35.11 million
+7% over September 2007's $32.68 million
+25% over September 2003's $28.1 million

Third Quarter 2008: $112.89 million
+4% over 3Q 2007's $108.68 million

Year to date: $321.69 million
+1% over last year's $318.79 million

Note that September 2007 was one of the weaker months of last year, comparatively. And it is quite possible that the narrower categories may have performed worse than the overall category — that has been the pattern all year. We'll see when I finish the count. In the meantime, the widest measure is up. Developing...

Marvel's unit market share sets modern record

The Diamond charts for September 2008 are out today, and while I will have them here soon, I wanted to produce a supporting document to something mentioned in Michael Doran's Newsarama piece: whether Marvel's topping of 50% in the Final Pieces Sold Unit Share category represents a first in the post-bankruptcy era.

I don't often work with the unit share figure as when you're dealing with comics and trades mixed, dollars are more relevant — but as far back as the info at my fingertips goes, this appears to check out. Marvel topped 48% several times — hitting 48.96% in March 2005 — but never 50%. The below list shows the #1 Unit Sales Share publisher for each month, back to February 2003 when Diamond converted to Final Order reporting for everything.

TOP FINAL UNIT SHARES
Feb-03 • Marvel • 32.48%
Mar-03 • Marvel • 39.05%
Apr-03 • Marvel • 38.87%
May-03 • Marvel • 41.82%
Jun-03 • Marvel • 41.46%
Jul-03 • Marvel • 40.70%
Aug-03 • Marvel • 37.84%
Sep-03 • Marvel • 40.70%
Oct-03 • Marvel • 40.94%
Nov-03 • Marvel • 41.82%
Dec-03 • Marvel • 40.11%
Jan-04 • Marvel • 48.20%
Feb-04 • Marvel • 43.86%
Mar-04 • Marvel • 37.68%
Apr-04 • Marvel • 45.49%
May-04 • Marvel • 34.92%
Jun-04 • Marvel • 40.56%
Jul-04 • Marvel • 41.01%
Aug-04 • Marvel • 43.20%
Sep-04 • Marvel • 45.67%
Oct-04 • Marvel • 42.99%
Nov-04 • Marvel • 43.13%
Dec-04 • Marvel • 44.01%
Jan-05 • Marvel • 46.81%
Feb-05 • Marvel • 45.06%
Mar-05 • Marvel • 48.96%
Apr-05 • Marvel • 35.62%
May-05 • DC • 41.03%
Jun-05 • Marvel • 41.12%
Jul-05 • Marvel • 43.45%
Aug-05 • Marvel • 41.16%
Sep-05 • Marvel • 44.17%
Oct-05 • DC • 39.12%
Nov-05 • Marvel • 42.70%
Dec-05 • Marvel • 44.84%
Jan-06 • Marvel • 42.17%
Feb-06 • Marvel • 45.30%
Mar-06 • Marvel • 42.83%
Apr-06 • Marvel • 43.93%
May-06 • DC • 41.18%
Jun-06 • Marvel • 42.61%
Jul-06 • Marvel • 44.30%
Aug-06 • Marvel • 41.04%
Sep-06 • Marvel • 45.76%
Oct-06 • Marvel • 42.70%
Nov-06 • Marvel • 44.10%
Dec-06 • Marvel • 43.35%
Jan-07 • Marvel • 44.79%
Feb-07 • Marvel • 47.38%
Mar-07 • Marvel • 46.46%
Apr-07 • Marvel • 37.62%
May-07 • Marvel • 46.60%
Jun-07 • Marvel • 48.42%
Jul-07 • Marvel • 47.69%
Aug-07 • Marvel • 45.61%
Sep-07 • Marvel • 42.82%
Oct-07 • DC • 38.98%
Nov-07 • Marvel • 42.03%
Dec-07 • Marvel • 42.75%
Jan-08 • Marvel • 48.41%
Feb-08 • Marvel • 41.97%
Mar-08 • Marvel • 43.52%
Apr-08 • Marvel • 44.16%
May-08 • Marvel • 47.56%
Jun-08 • Marvel • 48.39%
Jul-08 • Marvel • 43.55%
Aug-08 • Marvel • 48.09%
Sep-08 • Marvel • 50.92%


I have the previous Unit Shares, but not electronically — again, they're not the most useful figure. But my guess would be that Marvel did not top the 50% level in the 1998-2002 period — it having many fewer trade paperback titles than DC in that time.

2007 sales charts reposted

And beginning with January 2007, the sales charts for 2007 have all been reposted — along with trade paperback charts and multi-year comparatives. Much more to come!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

August 2008 sales slip, but barely ahead overall for year

I am pleased to report that, website problems mostly past, my sales estimates for August 2008 are now online.

This is working out to be a year where we’re doing slightly worse than last year most months in the periodical categories; but slightly ahead most months in the trade paperbacks — and then when the whole backlist is filled in, we catch up with last year. We’re $10 million behind in the Top 300 year-to-date, almost $2 million ahead in the Top 100 trades in the year-to-date — and then the rest is made up by comics and trades outside the top groupings. Amazingly, the January-to-August total for 2008 is just $47,000 higher than the total for the same period last year — about the contribution of a single issue of a single mid-list comic book!

This is also the first month in some time where we’ve seen Marvel with this many more items than DC on the list — 19. They’re not all new titles, and a lot are variant covers and second printings. The breakdowns and comparatives:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2008: 6.86 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -2%
YEAR TO DATE: 53.6 million copies, -7% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2008: $22.27 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +32%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +20%
YEAR TO DATE: $171.4 million, -5% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2008: $5.36 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +16%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +60%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +60%
YEAR TO DATE: $38.51 million, +4% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2008: $27.63 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -6%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +36%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +19%
YEAR TO DATE: $210.27 million, -4% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2008: $36.26 million ($40 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +46%
YEAR TO DATE: $286.58 million, +0.2% vs. 2007, +47% vs. 2003

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not long now...

And now pages have been uploaded for all the months of 2008 that had been on the site before our crash, running from January 2008 to July 2008.

This leaves (besides August 2008, currently being generated) everything before 2008 — which should be able to be added to the site much faster than was the case at the previous host. I also need to add the monthly index and tweak a few things — and there are discussions from the old Forum that I would like to move to the FAQ section. But we're operational and mostly restored!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 1960s are back...

...as are lots of other pages on the new Comics Chronicles. Restored pages include...

comics sales for the 1960s
overall yearly comics sales
graphs for comics sales
frequently asked questions

...with more to come in short order — only the Diamond numbers are left to add.

There's even some new data in the 1960s tables — contributors and I located statements for Archie for 1961, Strange Suspense Stories for 1963, and Porky Pig and Life With Archie in 1968.

Posting tables, always a problematic thing online, is so much easier in the new system, I should be able to get a lot more posted fairly quickly.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quick status report

The August 2008 Diamond figures (along with the others no longer on the site) will be coming along shortly, as pages are restored to the main site. Again, nothing has been lost in our recent website difficulties, so it's just a matter of getting them back online. Thanks again for your patience!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Comics Market Shares, 1959, according to Ayer

On occasion, I look back at the N.W. Ayer & Sons Directory — an annual publication that for more than a century under various names included information on periodicals for the use of advertisers. In addition to publisher addresses and physical dimensions of their ad spaces, the Directories include information from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, the B.P.A., postal statements of ownership, and more.

Comics publishers are included, and I have not generally spent much time on the records because titles are aggregated; the volume says which comics are included, but there's no title-by-title breakdown. Still, what they say about those totals is interesting, as we can see the publisher-by-publisher breakdowns.

Here's what the 1960 edition has, which means the numbers are coming likely from the end of 1959:

American Comics Group • 650,000 copies monthly
American Romance Group • 325,000 copies monthly
Archie • 3,216,979 copies bimonthly
Charlton • 5,000,000 copies bimonthly
Dell • 9,686,424 copies monthly
Dennis the Menace • no figures cited
Harvey • 5,029,759 copies bimonthly
Marvel • 2,253,112 copies monthly
National (DC) • 6,653,485 copies monthly

Now, of these, Archie, Harvey, Marvel, and National/DC's figures were all from ABC audits. The others are from publishers' estimates to Ayer & Sons; Charlton was a "sworn" statement to Ayer, according to the book. American Romance is actually another imprint of ACG, which included Confessions of the Lovelorn and My Romantic Adventures. Dennis the Menace is listed as a separate publisher but actually it's coming out of the Fawcett offices; regardless, there are no figures cited with it.

The monthly/bimonthly thing appears to be how the publishers were packaging their titles for ad buys — in that event, the monthly totals would look like this:

Dell • 9,686,424 • 37%
National (DC) • 6,653,485 • 25%
Harvey • 2,514,879 • 10%
Charlton • 2,500,000 • 10%
Marvel • 2,253,112 • 9%
Archie • 1,608,489 • 6%
ACG • 975,000 • 4%
TOTAL: 26,191,389 monthly copies

OK, now there are clearly some publishers missing (Dennis/Fawcett among them), and I'm iffy on bringing in some other magazines with some comics content, like Calling All Boys. But if we take these as given, they're not too far off the rank order we might imagine. Charlton may seem high, but recall this is 1959 — and Charlton was churning out Westerns and war comics like crazy. Harvey I'm wondering a little about, but they are ABC figures.

And there are some interesting things here, were we to take these as everything there was. Marvel would appear to be selling a million more comics in the direct market today than it was 50 years ago (3.27 million copies monthly, the average through 2008 to date); so much smaller was its publishing slate back then — or at least the list of titles under audit. And now we would have a minimum of 26.19 million for 1959 monthly circulation — or 314.3 million copies annually at at least $31.43 million retail.

But I don't want to take these as exactly given until I can do some cross-checking to see what the publishers were including in these batches and what they weren't. The Ayers listings for each publisher say which titles are counted in the totals; it's possible some books aren't, which would mean the totals printed above for these publishers are, again, lower than reality. Another issue is that we can't just take the Statements we've seen for 1960 and compare them; DC's 29 titles with Statements found so far for 1960 had a total of 8.75 million copies sold monthly, but remember that many of the titles on that list were not monthly, so that total shouldn't be counted as a monthly average.

So I'll be doing more work with various Ayers guide in the future, but this is an interesting snapshot.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Comics and recessions

Here's part of a talk I had with Tom Spurgeon of ComicsReporter about comics and recessions. Some of this is stuff I've said elsewhere, but I think the general theory is true — we need to look at front-market and back-market separately, and then you need to look at how the structure of the comics market at any given time either exposes or protects the field from external forces.

Tom is a little surprised I consider the back-market in these discussions, but I think the scale of it is such that it shouldn't be overlooked. I did some figuring a few years ago, using eBay volume and some guesswork, which found it in the low single-digit hundreds of millions, comparable with what Diamond was selling that year. I no longer track back-issue sales to the degree I once had (where I used to track everything when writing my own price guide, as an Overstreet advisor I tend to focus on my specialty area, numeric supply), but I do still think it's a part of the comics economy that definitely impacts the frontmarket. Many of the dealers are the same people who sell new comics, and the health of the backmarket can also be a reflection of enthusiasm in the field.

Definitely check out ComicsReporter when you can — a great resource to have.

Monday, May 19, 2008

April 2008 comics sales estimates: Market up slightly overall

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors released its sales rankings today, and unusually I was able to attend to the math right away and generate the estimates for April 2008.

Overall, the comics industry fared better against last April — but only overall. Comparatives in the narrower categories remain slightly down, even considering this April had five ship weeks (versus four last year). But the backlist strength bumped the overall category up 6% this month — with the year-to-date now ahead by nearly $1 million, or 1%.


Look for my Newsarama column with in-depth historical analysis coming soon. (Update: And now it's online — you can find it here.)

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES

April 2008: 6.71 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +11%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -5%
YEAR TO DATE:  25.82 million copies, -6% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
April 2008: $21.45 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +28%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +22%
YEAR TO DATE: $81.24 million, -5% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
April 2008: $4.74 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +30%
YEAR TO DATE: $ 16.85 million, -1% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
April 2008: $26.19 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +28%
YEAR TO DATE: $98.45 million, -4% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
April 2008: $36.74 million ($40.39 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +38%
YEAR TO DATE: $135.04 million, +1% vs. 2007, +43% vs. 2003

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heritage auctions Big Boy file copies

by John Jackson Miller

And speaking of advertising and comics...
About a decade ago, I interviewed Manfred Bernhard, the advertising executive who produced the Big Boy comics series for the famed restaurant chain — and there began my attempts to begin tracking down some of the unusual artifacts of this series of promotional comics. Now, Hertiage is auctioning a rare gem indeed: Bernhard's own file copies of Big Boy #1-233!

Filling in a couple of blanks for Heritage's listing: The "Timely" part of the run isn't defined by when Dan DeCarlo is working on the series; DeCarlo worked for it well into its run. The distinction is that before #13 (that's the issue, to the best of my recollection), Bernhard had been contracting with Timely to produce the comics completely in-house; afterward, Bernhard's own W.E.B.S. Advertising Group managed production, evidently hiring work out to DeCarlo. I spoke with Stan Lee about it some years back; he recalled writing the first issue and meeting Bernhard when Timely had the account.

And there definitely are "East Coast" editions with a blond Big Boy — redrawn for a splinter group of franchisees until at least issue #152. No doubt there; I've been tracking them intermittently here with Ray Bottorff Jr. — lately, with Ray doing all the work. As noted in the auction, only the West Coast, or traditional, versions of Big Boy are in these bound volumes. We had been tracking what Western copies definitely existed, too; I think we can take it from this auction that all the West Coast issues did indeed circulate!

Surely a fascinating artifact — I envy the one who wins it!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iron Man sales history across time

by John Jackson Miller
I did this last year for Amazing Spider-Man when the third movie came out in response to media inquiries; now, I have plunged ahead and listed all the Iron Man sales figures from Statements of Ownership that I have found, from 1980 to 2003.

I can't locate my copies from Volume 4, so if anyone can dig those out, please post what you find in response. And while I went through most of the likely issues, if anyone can find anything from before 1980, please post it. I don't think they ever ran any in the 1970s, which is bizarre, considering it was offered by subscription the whole time. I'll have to ask Len Wein about it some day — he was editing it for a while in there.

I do intend more of these lateral title-centric tables, but after I get some more of the annual tables onto the site. I am up past 2,470 Statements in my database now. (Thanks to Johanna for the new Archie numbers!)

And this month's Comichron Report is now online at Newsarama. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

March 2008 comics sales data online

by John Jackson Miller

I'll be saving the more lengthy analysis for the Newsarama column coming up, but the tables with my raw estimates for March can be found here. I will say here that while it is a soft month, it's one that's following a year after a blockbuster March — and the first quarter has historically been slow in most normal years. 

In the widest category, the quarter is only off by almost exactly $1 million — less than the revenue of a single product, last year's Captain America #25. And the five-year comparatives are way up.

So it's our first slower quarter in a while — but it takes two down quarters in a row in the general economy to make a recession. And in this business, I'd make that two not including the first quarter!

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2008: 6.08 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -13%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -15%
YEAR TO DATE: 19.11 million copies, -6% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2008: $19.14 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -15%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +22%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +10%
YEAR TO DATE: $64.14 million, -7% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2008: $4.33 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +5%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +17%
YEAR TO DATE: $12.47 million, +5% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
March 2008: $23.47 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -12%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: $72.23, -5% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
March 2008: $31.21 million ($34.67 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +27%
YEAR TO DATE: $98.3 million, -1% vs. 2007, +46% vs. 2003

Monday, April 21, 2008

March 2008 rankings

by John Jackson Miller

It will be a bit yet before the calculations appear here (New York Comicon took everyone's weekend, along with my voice) but for the curious, here are the vanilla rankings for the Diamond Top 300, released today. This is raw — no clean-up work, no formatting. The "ratio" is the number of copies sold per 100 issues of Detective Comics sold. (Edit: And the Newsarama preliminary report is here.) Check back for the full report, soon!

1) Dark Tower Long Road Home #1 (Of 5) • MAR • Ratio 250.56
2) New Avengers #39  • MAR • Ratio 208.49
3) Thor #7 • MAR • Ratio 197.25
4) Amazing Spider-Man #552 • MAR • Ratio 181.76
5) Uncanny X-Men #496  • MAR • Ratio 180.18
6) Buffy Vampire Slayer #12 • DAR • Ratio 179.93
7) Justice League O/America #19 • DC • Ratio 177
8) Amazing Spider-Man #553 • MAR • Ratio 167.22
9) Mighty Avengers #11 • MAR • Ratio 166.42
10) X-Men Legacy #209  • MAR • Ratio 166.4
11) Mighty Avengers #10 • MAR • Ratio 166.21
12) X-Force #2  • MAR • Ratio 165.33
13) Captain America #36 • MAR • Ratio 164.65
14) Amazing Spider-Man #554 • MAR • Ratio 164.03
15) All Star Superman #10 • DC • Ratio 148.86
16) Cable #1  • MAR • Ratio 138.9
17) Green Lantern #28 • DC • Ratio 137.73
18) Countdown To Final Crisis 8 • DC • Ratio 137.66
19) Countdown To Final Crisis 7 • DC • Ratio 137.62
20) Countdown To Final Crisis 6 • DC • Ratio 137.37
21) Countdown To Final Crisis 5 • DC • Ratio 136.95
22) Fantastic Four #555 • MAR • Ratio 136.4
23) Green Lantern #29 • DC • Ratio 134.62
24) Wolverine #63  • MAR • Ratio 130.45
25) Logan #1 (Of 3) • MAR • Ratio 128.05
26) Serenity Better Days #1 (Of 3) • DAR • Ratio 126.05
27) Ultimate Spider-Man #120 • MAR • Ratio 116.8
28) X-Factor #29  • MAR • Ratio 110.94
29) Avengers Initiative #10 • MAR • Ratio 110.11
30) Wolverine Origins #23 • MAR • Ratio 100.42
31) Angel After Fall #5 • IDW • Ratio 100.27
32) Detective Comics #842 • DC • Ratio 100
33) Incredible Hercules #115 • MAR • Ratio 99.82
34) Teen Titans #57 • DC • Ratio 99.36
35) Ultimate X-Men #92 • MAR • Ratio 99.17
36) Superman Batman Annual #2 • DC • Ratio 94.89
37) Green Lantern Corps #22 • DC • Ratio 94.56
38) Ultimate Human #3 (Of 4) • MAR • Ratio 92.34
39) Justice League New Frontier Special • DC • Ratio 87.5
40) Superman #674 • DC • Ratio 84.4
41) Daredevil #106 • MAR • Ratio 84.04
42) Ultimate Iron Man Ii #4 (Of 5) • MAR • Ratio 83.67
43) Ms Marvel #25  • MAR • Ratio 82.94
44) Wonder Woman #18 • DC • Ratio 82.49
45) Captain Marvel #4 (Of 5)  • MAR • Ratio 82.19
46) Thunderbolts #119 • MAR • Ratio 81.28
47) Ultimate Fantastic Four #52 • MAR • Ratio 77.18
48) Brave & Bold #11 • DC • Ratio 76.38
49) Batman & Outsiders #5 • DC • Ratio 74.45
50) Booster Gold #7 • DC • Ratio 73.12

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New York Comicon

by John Jackson Miller

I'm off to New York Comicon (signing at the Dark Horse booth from 4-5 Friday, otherwise out and about, or at Marc Patten's booth) — which will be the answer to your question "Where are the March figures?" Diamond has not released them at this writing, but I would expect them to be out over the next few days.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Comichron article in new Overstreet

by John Jackson Miller

The new Overstreet Price Guide is out,  the first with yours truly as an Overstreet advisor — previously I'd worked exclusively for the competition. (Maggie Thompson is in the Overstreet group as well now — things change). My first contribution is a feature on Star Wars comics history, getting a bit into the scope and differentiated manner of its circulation in the 1970s.
It gets further into the copies that Western Publishing commissioned — the so-called "Whitman variants," which is an a propos term despite the fact that the Whitman logo does not appear on the comics themselves. As illustrated in my piece in Comics Buyer's Guide #1609, while these "fat diamond" copies of Marvel comics may at some point have been sold to direct market stores, the existence of this printing seems to spring strictly from Western/Whitman, as evidenced by the fact that the whole Marvel line was dumped by Whitman in late 1977 while they were printing more Star Wars reprints!

Fun stuff, and Overstreet is required reading in any event!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

February 2008 comics analysis online

by John Jackson Miller

My Newsarama feature for the month appears here (with lots of cool historical comparatives), and the charts and graphs here are updated, as well. X-Force #1 led the top-selling comics list in February:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2008: 6.26 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -5%
Versus 5 years ago this month:+7%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -5%
YEAR TO DATE: 13.02 million copies, -2% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2008: $19.62 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +19%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +25%
YEAR TO DATE: $40.65 million, -3% vs. 2007

TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2008: $4.01 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +7%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +13%
YEAR TO DATE: $8.14 million, +5% vs. 2007

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 100 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2008: $23.63 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 50 TPBs: +18%
YEAR TO DATE: $48.76, -1% vs. 2007

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES
(including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2008: $32.53 million ($36.85 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +48%
YEAR TO DATE: $67.09 million, +2% vs. 2007
 
The year-to-date figures are also available from anywhere on the site, on the Comichrometer at upper left.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

British comics sales

by John Jackson Miller


Linkworthy: This resource on sales figures for the many weekly British comics series. A lot of stuff I hadn't seen before, and definitely worth a look!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Maggie Thompson's sales stats from 1967

by John Jackson Miller

One of my various hobby projects has been helping Maggie Thompson get her fanzine library established on her new MaggieThompson.com site. Harbinger #1 and Comic Art #1 from 1960 and 1961 respectively are there — and now, she's posted the first ten issues of Newfangles from 1967 and 1968.

Scan quality varies with the originals — some of the newsletters are faded — but you can see
And relevant to the interest of The Comics Chronicles, issue #7 includes the entry noting when Don and Maggie's obsession with sales figures began. The second page notes the circulation statements from 1967 comics (as seen on Comichron) and speculates on the fate of Batman, both on television and on the racks.

There's a lot of interesting stuff in these old fanzines — check back for more as she gets more posted!
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