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October 2012 comics and GN sales clobber record

Friday, November 9, 2012

by John Jackson Miller
(REVISED: See below) The comic-book industry's momentum continued unabated into October, and in fact, grew, setting yet another record in a year of record-setting performances, according to preliminary data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors.

Comics shops in North America ordered more than $47 million in comic books, graphic novels, and  trade paperbacks in the month, beating by at least $2.5 million the previous record set in May 2012. (Click to see other Diamond sales records.)

The aggregate change figures appear here:

 
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
OCTOBER 2012 VS. SEPTEMBER 2012
COMICS
20.02%
16.15%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
24.41%
13.11%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
21.45%
15.90%
OCTOBER 2012 VS. OCTOBER 2011
COMICS
7.44%
-0.82%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
53.87%
52.85%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
19.50%
2.11%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2012 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2011
COMICS
15.89%
12.31%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
17.97%
17.10%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
16.55%
12.68%

Importantly, both the comic book and collected-edition segments performed well. Periodical sales were up 7.44% over last October, the second full month of the DC relaunch. (Correction: This is in dollar terms; and would make it the highest figure since November 1996, the marriage of Superman month. An earlier version of this post erroneously applied that percentage increase to unit sales. The Comics Chronicles estimates a strong chance that next week's complete tabulations will show Top 300 unit sales topping 7.5 million copies for the highest unit sales figure of the year thus far — but not higher than October 2011.)

Uncanny Avengers #1 led the periodical market, which saw a mix of publishers in the Top 10:

 
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$3.99

Marvel
2
AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #12
$4.99

Marvel
3
BATMAN #13
$3.99

DC
4
JUSTICE LEAGUE #13
$3.99

DC
5
A PLUS X #1
$3.99

Marvel
6
GREEN LANTERN #13
$2.99

DC
7
DETECTIVE COMICS #13
$3.99

DC
8
AVX VS. #6
$3.99

Marvel
9
WALKING DEAD #103
$2.99

Image
10
AVX: CONSEQUENCES #1
$3.99

Marvel


And November will have some strong contenders, as well, including some unusual ones for this market: it's been reported that IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1 surpassed 100,000 copies in preorders, and has already gotten a second printing. It could be the first chance for a four-publisher Top 10 since... 

...well, I'll have to look it up. But the obvious candidate months of 2002-2003, when Dreamwave was posting Transformers titles in the Top 10 regularly, fell during a period in which DC titles did not appear in the Top 10. In the absence of other months, we might have to go back to the early 1990s.

The book market also saw an eye-popping figure, with trade paperbacks and graphic novels bettering their October 2011 mark by 53.87%. The Superman Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover led the market in units, though the third-place Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 2 may well eclipse it in dollars — we'll see when the full data is released.

The charts:


RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$22.99

DC
2
SAGA VOLUME 1 TP
$9.99

Image
3
THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM VOL. 2 TP
$59.99

Image
4
THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 1: DAYS GONE BYE TP
$9.99

Image
5
THE WALKING DEAD VOL. 2: MILES BEHIND US TP
$14.99

Image
6
BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT VOLUME 1: KNIGHT TERRORS HC
$24.99

DC
7
DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE TP
$14.99

Marvel
8
NIGHTWING VOL. 1: TRAPS AND TRAPEZES TP
$14.99

DC
9
V FOR VENDETTA: BOOK AND MASK SET
$24.99

DC
10
BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS HC
$24.99

DC

The percentage change seems a bit larger than it probably is for a couple of reasons. Last October was a four-week month, versus a five-week month — but more importantly, the trade paperback sector performed relatively poorly back then, when all the attention was on the DC relaunch. The Top 300 trades sold for $5.78 million then; if we simply multiply by the percentage change, that would give us close to $8.9 million. That would still be the highest mark ever for that category, but we had an $8.27 million month back in May. (So it's big and record-setting — just not mind-bogglingly gargantuan.)

There is a five-week versus four-week month factor in play in comparing October 2012 versus October 2011 — but the fact that the market's beating its records from five-week months earlier this year says something.

Marvel led the market shares in both unit and dollar categories. Image's 8.47% dollar mark is large, but only its third highest for the year (which says something about how big a year it's been for the company).


TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
35.14%
39.54%
DC COMICS
31.51%
34.40%
IMAGE COMICS
8.47%
7.60%
IDW PUBLISHING
4.62%
3.82%
DARK HORSE COMICS
3.81%
3.11%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.71%
2.78%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.29%
1.39%
AVATAR PRESS INC
1.26%
1.04%
RANDOM HOUSE
1.19%
0.25%
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT INC
1.03%
1.03%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
8.96%
5.04%

After 10 months, the Direct Market stands at about $394 million in overall orders. "Gravy Day" — when the comics market passes its sales for the previous year — will come before Turkey Day at this point: it will probably happen with next week's comics shipments on November 14. The Comichron projection for the year is about $475 million, up more than $60 million from last year — and that isn't counting sales from other print markets, which will add at least $200 million, and digital, which is reportedly going to pass the $75 million mark.

This is also the season for comics Statements of Ownership to appear; while collecting new ones, Comichron is harvesting old ones, surpassing the 100 mark for titles published in 1960 this week. The long-promised update, nearly doubling what was known about the 1960s, is in the final stages.

And full estimates for October will appear next week. Be sure to follow Comichron on Facebook and Twitter to be alerted to them.

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