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Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics in stores today

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


by John Jackson Miller

Reference work plug: Just a note that your archivist is among many comics collectors and creators profiled in the new Overstreet Guide to Collecting Comics, available today from your local comics shop, as well as from Gemstone Publishing. (See my excerpt here.) A full color, 336-page, comic book-size trade paperback, the book is a fun read and a useful reference tool to collection care, storage, and the purchase of classic comics.


© Bongo Comics, 20th Century Fox
The book is available in two softcover editions: one has a new Spider-Man cover by Joe Jusko, and another features the previously unpublished DC Heroes cover by the late Don Newton. Both editions are available for ordering on the Gemstone Publishing site and are also available today from your local comics shop or online retailer.

And also in the plug department, but related to the activities here — today's Bart Simpson #77 from Bongo Comics contains a tip of the hat to one of the main obsessions of this site and yours truly (who authored the tale). I figured if Comic Book Guy was going to tell a Statement of Ownership joke, I'd have to write it!

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The Hostess comics ads

Friday, November 16, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

Hostess has asked a court to allow it to go into bankruptcy, selling its iconic brands — and it is of interest to comics fans because of an iconic series of advertisements that appeared in comic books in the mid- and late 1970s. The one-page comic ads appeared in Marvel, DC, Harvey, Archie, and Gold Key comics (but only those using Warner Brothers characters) and used the companies' characters in stories about Hostess Twinkies, Cupcakes, and Fruit Pies. Click to see near-comprehensive assortment of Hostess comics ads; at least 234 different ones exist!

The ads were produced in-house at the publishers in question; Bob Rozakis wrote several for DC, and is interviewed on the SeanBaby site, which also has a colorful collection of content on the campaign. The ads have been fodder for lampooning in comics for years; normalman interrupted Cutey Bunny filming an ad in an issue of his comics series in the 1980s, and there were quite a few more.

I arrived late to the game in 1999 with my Faraway Looks column in Comics Buyer's Guide, where every week I wrote a fake news story from the world of the Hostess ads, where you'd have political movements like the Phoomie Goonies being distracted from their cause — which appeared to be taking over post offices — by fruit pies. What a wonderful world!

Seriously, the Hostess campaign, as I first wrote back then, was one of the more effective ad buys in print history. Comics are considered to have strong "pass-along" readership since they're not destroyed after they're read — and in the case of these comics, they've probably been passed along at least a dozen times each on average since their publication. With the advertised products still in existence, the ads aren't just part of the popular culture — they're still doing their job selling Twinkies. That really should be a consideration for advertisers approaching comics: if your product is likely to still be available 10 or 20 or 50 years later, a comic-book ad is a better print buy than most. Especially if you do something clever with it!

(Personal plug: On that exact score, I have a story about classic comic book ads in Bart Simpson #77,  out in two weeks.)

Whatever develops for Hostess in the future — hoping for the best for everyone involved — the ads were a fun addition to the history of comics. Now, I'm off to try to make sure the Giant Frog gets a good home...

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October 2012 full comics sales estimates online

Monday, November 12, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

The full Comichron estimates for comic books and graphic novels ordered in October 2012 by comics retailers in North America from Diamond Comic Distributors are now online. They fill out the picture described Friday of a record-setting month for the Direct Market.

On top of having the highest dollar-value month for combined comics and trade paperbacks since tracking of that figure became possible in 2003, October saw retailers ordering more dollars worth of the Top 300 trade paperbacks than they ever have before — more than $8.6 million worth.

In addition to the top unit seller Superman Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover from DC, retailers also ordered nearly $620,000 worth of copies of Walking Dead Compendium Vol. 2, giving the book the biggest one-month dollar volume for a trade since July's Batman: Earth One. The top 10 trades along had a retail value of nearly $2 million.
 

The unit sales for the Top 300 comics came in slightly lower than projected on Friday, because the top portion of the list performed slightly worse than the group of comics below 300th place. But Uncanny Avengers #1 topped 300,000 copies ordered, and while that's less than Walking Dead #100 earlier this year, it will likely earn the title a place in the Top 10 bestselling comics of the 21st century list, once final numbers are known for the year.

It was Marvel's best month for Top 300 Comics unit and dollar sales since June 2009, and also Marvel's best month since then when it came to the Top 300 Comics and Top 300 Trade Paperbacks combined. (June 2009 saw the release of Captain America #600 — and Marvel topping 50% in unit market share.)
For Image, it was the best combined top-comics-and-trades dollar month since the meaningful reporting in the category began, in 1999. (Image most certainly had better months just from comics alone during the comics boom of the early 1990s; it wasn't possible then to track comics and trades together as so few trades were reported.)

Only 14 publishers had titles in the Top 300, just one more than the record low. The 300th place comic book, a benchmark showing depth in the market, was above 5,000 copies but just missed the record for a five-week month. This month's 300th place title would have ranked in the 250s five years ago, and the 180s (!) ten years ago. That is significant, and it's part of what's keeping unit sales overall so high.

The breakdown:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2012: 7.38 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +3%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +28%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -13%
YEAR TO DATE: 66.21 million copies, +12% vs. 2011, -7% vs. 2007, +14% vs. 2002, -21% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: -0.82%
YEAR TO DATE: +12.31%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2012: $27.03 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +7%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +72%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +24%
YEAR TO DATE: $233.84 million, +15% vs. 2011, +4% vs. 2007, +44% vs. 2002, +16% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +7.44%
YEAR TO DATE: +15.89%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2012: $8.61 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +49%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -3%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +253%
YEAR TO DATE: $71.22 million, +25% vs. 2011

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +53.87%
YEAR TO DATE: +17.97%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
October 2012: $35.65 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +44%
YEAR TO DATE: $305.06 million, +17% vs. 2011

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
October 2012 versus one year ago this month: +19.5%
YEAR TO DATE: +16.55%

---

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
October 2012: approximately $47.31 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +20%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: $393.9 million, +17% vs. 2011
 

There is a returning cloud on the horizon, however. Average and weighted average cover prices were together at their highest points since the end of 2010, when DC began cutting back its prices. The average price of comics in Diamond's Top 300 was $3.63, and the cost of the average comic book retailers ordered was $3.66. The average comic book in the top 25 was priced at $3.87. The median price of comics offered rose to $3.99. The most common price for comics went also back up again to $3.99. The list of month-to-month comics cover prices from 1995 to present has been updated.

As noted Friday, the Direct Market remains strong going into the holiday season. An double-digit up year is nearly assured. The next pertinent question would seem to be how much of that energy the market can conserve going into the winter months, those notorious assassins of industry momentum.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Facebook and Twitter!

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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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