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April 2008 comics sales estimates: Market up slightly overall

Monday, May 19, 2008

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

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Heritage auctions Big Boy file copies

Thursday, May 15, 2008

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!

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