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Waiting game evident in May 2011 comics sales

Friday, June 10, 2011

by John Jackson Miller


While Free Comic Book Day has been turning into the kickoff for the summer sales season, more of the action looks to be developing for later this year. Retailers gave away hundreds of thousands of free comic books in May but didn't order as many of the for-profit ones, making for a month that was softer year-over-year in all categories, according to data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. The preliminary rankings for May 2011 can be found here.

Unit sales were off by the greatest amount year-over-year, which is not too surprising: May 2010 saw the release of 2010's best-selling issue, Avengers #1. This year, Marvel's Fear Itself #2 took the top slot, followed by DC's Flashpoint #1; at first glance, it looks like the high-water level for top-sellers this month was probably in the 90,000s, but we'll know more when the full list releases.

Marvel, which has many biweekly releases slated for summer, had barely begun to double up releases in May. We would expect to see the real effect of this move beginning in June. (While June will also be our first month for any market reaction to DC's September restart, caution is advised in interpreting that data when it releases, as most of the June ordering decisions were made back in April.)

Crossed 3D Volume 1Notably, Avatar had the top-selling graphic novel, the 3-D Crossed 3D Vol. 1. It's a reminder that while digital may have come a long way, there are still plenty of tricks in the print comics bag (and 3-D comic books go back more than 50 years).

The average price of comic books in the Top 100 was $3.37; the average comic book ordered (or weighted price) was $3.42. $2.99 was both the median and most common price for comics in the Top 100.

The combined comics and trades market lost a point in dollar sales versus 2010, and is now off 7.5%. The aggregate figures appear below:

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
MAY 2011 VS. APRIL 2011
COMICS
-3.35%
-2.66%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
4.99%
12.69%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-0.64%
-1.42%
MAY 2011 VS. MAY 2010
COMICS
-14.39%
-15.46%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-4.42%
-3.14%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-11.21%
-14.46%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2011 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2010
COMICS
-8.50%
-8.80%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-5.41%
-9.80%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-7.51%
-8.89%
 
And the market shares:

PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
42.45%
46.35%
DC COMICS
26.68%
28.37%
DARK HORSE COMICS
4.89%
3.59%
IMAGE COMICS
4.88%
5.35%
IDW PUBLISHING
4.60%
4.26%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.83%
3.38%
BOOM! STUDIOS
2.33%
2.00%
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT
1.04%
0.96%
VIZ MEDIA
1.03%
0.47%
AVATAR PRESS
0.93%
0.76%
OTHER NON TOP-10
8.34%
4.51%

More data as it becomes available.

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