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Strong August 2012 comics sales suggest $470 million year

Friday, September 7, 2012


by John Jackson Miller

For most of the year, the industry has been going like gangbusters — but there's always been a slight asterisk in that the year-to-year comparatives were against months before the start of the DC relaunch in 2011. With the August data previewed today by Diamond Comic Distributors, we finally hit a comparison with month — er, a day — from that relaunch, which started with the release of Justice League #1 on Aug. 31, 2011.

That first day's sales, plus strength from other titles, helped the industry erase half its losses for the year in 2011. It was a strong month, up 20% in overall dollars to $37.85 million. So how did August 2012's direct market orders for comic books and graphic novels compare? Up 18.41% over that month, to around $44.6 million. That figure would be just a smidgen less than the number for this past May, which saw the highest non-adjusted sales for one month since the Diamond Exclusive era began in 1997. Both this August and last August had five shipping weeks, as did the record-setting May.

The comparative sales statistics:


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
AUGUST 2012 VS. JULY 2012
COMICS
6.49%
6.38%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
22.13%
19.48%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
11.23%
7.43%
AUGUST 2012 VS. AUGUST 2011
COMICS
19.27%
14.22%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
14.95%
24.74%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
17.80%
15.09%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2012 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2011
COMICS
20.51%
17.97%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
14.13%
12.78%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
18.41%
17.54%


Avengers Vs. X-Men #9 was the top-selling comic book of the month, as seen here:




Top 10 Comic Books

Description
Price

Vendor
1
$3.99

Marvel
2
Avengers Vs X-Men #10
$3.99

Marvel
3
Batman #12
$3.99

DC
4
Justice League #12
$3.99

DC
5
Amazing Spider-Man #692
$5.99

Marvel
6
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1*
$3.99

DC
7
Avx Vs #5
$3.99

Marvel
8
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1*
$3.99

DC
9
Green Lantern #12
$2.99

DC
10
Detective Comics #12
$3.99

DC


...and the Batman Earth One hardcover repeated as the top graphic novel:

Top 10 Graphic Novels & Trade Paperbacks
Description
Price

Vendor
1
$22.99

DC
2
$9.99

Image
3
Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones
$14.99

DC
4
Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman Men Of Steel HC
$24.99

DC
5
Batman Vol. 1: The Court Of Owls HC
$24.99

DC
6
Hulk Season One Premiere HC
$24.99

Marvel
7
Scott Pilgrim Volume 1 Color HC
$24.99

Oni
8
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Sith Hunters
$7.99

Dark Horse
9
The Walking Dead Col. 2: Miles Behind Us
$14.99

Image
10
Fear Itself
$29.99

Marvel

And the market shares:


TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
DC COMICS
33.32%
37.12%
MARVEL COMICS
32.42%
37.18%
IDW PUBLISHING
5.88%
4.64%
IMAGE COMICS
5.75%
5.37%
DARK HORSE COMICS
4.92%
3.89%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
3.19%
3.16%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.83%
0.40%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.52%
1.48%
VIZ MEDIA
0.96%
0.41%
ARCHIE COMICS
0.85%
0.82%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
9.35%
5.52%


Batman: Earth One
So the question becomes, will the last four months of the year be able to match the 2011 figures, which had the full DC relaunch going? The biggest month last year was actually not September or October, but last November, once the charts were filled with DC reprintings and reorders. But November's sales were $41.3 million — much less than August 2012, and only about a million dollars more than this summer's four-week months. So far this year, only March 2012 has been beaten by the previous year's total; it's conceivable 2012 could be as 2006 was, a year in which that only happened for one month.

In the aggregate, with the first two thirds of the year now in, the comics shop market is on pace for at least a $470 million year, and at $308 million currently, the industry is only $105 million away from beating last year's $413 million end-of-year total, and is expected to surpass it in early November. At the current pace, the direct market could reach that mark even if Marvel — or DC — published nothing else in the year. So it's pretty much set: 2012 will beat 2011 — and could do so with one publisher tied behind its back!

Full figures next week. Watch for them by following Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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