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2000 for 2010: The Top 1000 Comics and Top 1000 Trades

Monday, January 10, 2011

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors has released on its site its lists of Top 500 Comics and Top 500 trade paperbacks and graphic novels for 2010, following up its release of just the Top 10s last week. As I did last year, I have combined that information with my own estimates of aggregated sales of comics and trades throughout the year — now complete, with the addition today of December 2010 — to project longer lists, with estimates: the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Trades and Graphic Novels for 2010.

The page is pretty hefty so it may take a few seconds to load; 2,000 table items is likely too many for one page, but I'd need to fission off trades into a new architecture. I have rounded each entry to the nearest hundred copies, as before.

The Top Thousand Comics is a significant subset, in the sense that they account for 45.3 million copies, or well over half of all comic books Diamond sold. In retail dollars, they sold for $160 million. The Top Thousand Trades is a big chunk as well, worth more than $64 million. Combined, these two lists alone account for more than half the orders by dollars Diamond received in publishing last year.

Who published the Top Thousand Comics? Here's the breakdown:
Marvel: 554
DC: 406
Image: 14
Dark Horse: 12
Dynamite: 7
IDW: 6
Archie: 1

And here's the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels:

DC: 351
Marvel: 290
Dark Horse: 121
Image: 65
Viz: 35
Random House: 19
IDW: 17
Boom: 12
Dynamite: 10
Oni: 7
Hachette: 6
Archie, Avatar, Fantagraphics, Scholastic, and Zenescope: 5 each


 ...then assorted others combined for 42 entries.

Within the Top Comics list for the year, we find the following breakdowns for unit sales:

26 comics had orders of over 100,000 copies in 2010
68 comics had orders of 75,000-99,999 copies in 2010
209 comics had orders of 50,000-74,999 copies in 2010
648 comics had orders of 25,000-49,999 copies in 2010

I only ran the Top 500 comics in 2009, so we can only comparing the top three categories directly:

39 comics had orders of over 100,000 copies in 2009
80 comics had orders of 75,000-99,999 copies in 2009
260 comics had orders of 50,000-74,999 copies in 2009

So that's declines in every grouping, supporting my contention about the flattening of the curve at the front part of the list described here before. There well could be a point on the list where the 2010 entries are outselling the 2009 entries, but I would have had to take both lists out rather far. If it's the comics at the bottom of the Top 300 that are doing slightly better, those wouldn't appear on an aggregated annual list until closer to the 3,000s.

How many of these comics would have placed in the Top 300 comics for the last decade? Nine, it appears — with 2010's top comic book placing 51st.

The average price of comics in Diamond's Top 1,000 comics for 2010 was $3.52; the median price was $3.99. Last year, the mean for the Top 500 was $3.42, with a median price of $2.99.

There are other years of Diamond annual reports on the site; the earliest posted is 1992, which is the earliest listing I can find. More of the end-of-year lists since then will be added in the future, but monthly reports now exist on the site from 1995 onward.

Update: As seen here, Diamond has expanded its lists still further with its non-Premier publisher top sellers.

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