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Comics sales strong in April, highest Image share since 2003

Friday, May 4, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

It's an incredibly busy day in the comics world. The Avengers movie is releasing; see our post on Avengers sales history. It's the day before Free Comic Book Day; see our post on its history. And it's also May-the-Fourth-Be-With-You Star Wars Day (and USA Today just announced my new Star Wars comics series minutes ago). So it happens that the monthly preliminary release of comics sales figures comes on a day when many are paying attention to pop culture — and the news is just the kind you want to see on such a day. Click to see the preliminary comics sales charts for April 2012.


Diamond Comic Distributors reports that comics shops in North America ordered nearly 14% more dollars worth of comics and graphic novels than last April; The Comics Chronicles has a preliminary projection of $36 million for sales for the month. The performance in all categories is slightly better than the performance for the first quarter, and as this is our first really clean month-to-month comparison of the year, it indicates that what we were seeing in previous months wasn't a fluke.

With Marvel's Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 leading the market and DC's relaunch titles continuing, new comics orders continued to be up double digits — and the Image's Walking Dead trades continued to dominate their category. Graphic novels are now up nearly 10% for the year; the laggard category, thus far, trade paperbacks may be poised to break into double-digits as the DC relaunch trades enter the mix.

The aggregate change figures:


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
APRIL 2012 VS. MARCH 2012
COMICS
5.40%
2.47%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
9.84%
-0.28%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
6.77%
2.25%
APRIL 2012 VS. APRIL 2011
COMICS
16.30%
16.11%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
12.56%
15.32%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
15.09%
16.04%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2012 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2011
COMICS
15.94%
15.12%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
9.47%
9.29%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
13.84%
14.65%


Last month was the first month in the Diamond Exclusive Era that five publishers had topped 5% in dollar market share. That didn't happen this month, but an interesting thing appears in the distribution of shares. We had six publishers with 3% market share or more, something that has happened frequently lately. But that's usually been associated with those six publishers combining to sell more than 90% of the material in the market by dollars. This time, it was down under 87% — and we see that we're very close to having 10 publishers with a dollar market share of 1%.


TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
34.64%
39.07%
DC COMICS
30.12%
34.06%
IMAGE COMICS
8.60%
6.61%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.37%
4.64%
IDW PUBLISHING
4.22%
3.40%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
3.89%
3.90%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.67%
1.92%
AVATAR PRESS
0.97%
0.82%
VIZ MEDIA
0.92%
0.40%
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT
0.92%
0.89%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
8.68%
4.29%


It's possible in part because Marvel and DC only combined for 64.76% of the market this month — their lowest combined market share since March 2004. Contrast the current figure with October's 81.26%, during the early weeks of the DC relaunch. Image's Walking Dead-powered sales strength is a big factor — its 8.6% market share is its highest since February 2003.

As mentioned here many times previously, the recovery of the early 2000s was powered by a virtuous cycle of a hit from one publisher being followed by a hit from another publisher — so strength at middle-tier publishers is key to a recovery. But one difference in 2012 is that the trade paperback market is much more developed, so there is a place for retailers' dollars to go even when there are months without a major event comic book. Walking Dead and other trades may be evolving into just that — reliable places for retailers to hold their cash and a hedge against month-to-month volatility.

Full numbers next week. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!


3 comments:

Anonymous,  May 5, 2012 at 1:43 AM  

It's good to see that Comics are making a strong come back. I have a few friends who read comics, but it will be awesome to see the same circulation figures that this great nation once had during the Silver Age.

Anonymous,  May 5, 2012 at 7:27 AM  

DC is the big loser cause their unit and dollar share drops month after month while Marvel and Image rise. DC has been actually selling LESS books the past few months as opposed to what they were selling the summer months right before the reboot. The New 52 is a big fiasco, they alieanated the old fans with the silly change for a short term spike in sales and new readers that never came. You deserve the failure DC and it will only get worse!

Anonymous,  May 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM  

The NEW 52 did what It was make to do, Boost the sales in an uncanny way never seen in many years.

Its failure to get new young readers was to be expected.

Thats what happens when you have no patience and rush for It.

The winer was Didio as he left his position whit a succes and for the next guy to clean up the mess.

An expectacular political tactic.

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