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Happy 90th birthday, Stan Lee!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

Friday is the 90th birthday for Stan Lee, peerless purveyor of four-color fantasies, and it's a day I'm pleased to commemorate here by sharing the cover of Comics Buyer's Guide #1258, from fifteen years ago:


Marie Severin drew the above cover for a special 75th birthday issue, which I organized along with the CBG staff over the course of several months. We had solicited letters of congratulation for Stan in the issue — and we wound up with more than a thousand of them, including ones from former President George H.W. Bush and Henry Winkler. In addition to Marie's wonderful cover, we also received and included congratulatory sketches from Joe Sinnott and several other luminaries.
  
I had interviewed Stan on the phone before, but I finally met him in a San Diego elevator the summer after this issue reached him. (I think we sent several cases!) He was gracious and a real gentleman.

You can leave your greetings for Stan at his Twitter feed. Happy birthday, Stan! Excelsior!

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Full November 2012 comics sales estimates online; Pony stomps Godzilla

Monday, December 10, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

The full tables reporting the orders of comics shops in North America were released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, they depict a market that is maintaining most of its momentum heading into the end of the year. With the "Marvel Now" releases — led by All-New X-Men #1 — periodical orders were slightly up against a month that had one more shipping week last year. Click to see the full comics sales estimates for November 2012.

Every issue in the Top 10 had orders over 100,000 copies. (Over 110,000, actually.) This appears to be the first time there have been ten comic books with orders in six-digits since July 2007. The DC relaunch topped out with eight. There were only 19 issues in all of 2010 that beat 100,000 in their first month, so this is a meaningful change.

As mentioned in the preliminary Comichron report, Marvel's eight titles in the Top 10 is its best showing since February 2009, the first reorder month for the Obama Spider-Man issue. Marvel has taken the top slot eight of the last nine months, excepting only the month that Walking Dead #100 came out.

IDW appears to gotten had its best showing ever for a single issue on the Diamond chart, with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1, placing 15th.
It also appears to be the highest rank for a non-Marvel-DC-Image issue on the charts since Buffy: The Vampire Slayer last reached 14th place in May 2009.

At a glance through the past tables, IDW's previous best had been set by Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 in March 2011, at 16th place — but in a sign of how the market has improved since then, My Little Pony had orders more than 80,000 copies, versus nearly 59,000 for Godzilla. (Let the "My Little Pony Stomps Godzilla" headlines begin. Revenge for Bambi, perhaps?) Note that while IDW had announced that the preorder sales for the title had topped 100,000 copies, the Diamond figure does not include the United Kingdom sales — or the copies that shipped after the issue's Nov. 28 release.

The aggregate data:

TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2012: 7.41 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +7%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +19%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -6%
YEAR TO DATE: 73.62 million copies, +12% vs. 2011, -6% vs. 2007, +15% vs. 2002, -19% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
November 2012 versus one year ago this month: +2.59%
YEAR TO DATE: +11.27%

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TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2012: $26.37 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +21%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +50%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $260.21 million, +15% vs. 2011, +5% vs. 2007, +44% vs. 2002, +17% vs. 1997

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
November 2012 versus one year ago this month: -3.55%
YEAR TO DATE: +14.56%

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TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2012: $7.06 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -23%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 50 vs. the Top 50: +22%
YEAR TO DATE: $78.28 million, +22% vs. 2011

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
November 2012 versus one year ago this month: -10.86%
YEAR TO DATE: +14.78%

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TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
November 2012: $33.43 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +6%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 50 TPBs: +26%
YEAR TO DATE: $338.49 million, +16% vs. 2011

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
November 2012 versus one year ago this month: -1.10%
YEAR TO DATE: +14.63%

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OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
November 2012: approximately $40.85 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
YEAR TO DATE: $434.75 million, +15% vs. 2011

We continue to see a phenomenon in the graphic novel category where the Top 300 is faring much better than the much larger collection of offerings below 300th place each month. Led by Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something to Fear, Diamond's Top 300 graphic novel, hardcover and trade paperback collections had orders topping $7 million in November — off just 1% versus last November. But Diamond's overall sales for the category were down nearly 11%.

We've seen this all year. The "Top 300 alone" for the year in book sales is up 22% — whereas for everything, it's only up 15%. When there are higher-profile big-ticket items, such as this month's Avengers Vs. X-Men hardcover, priced at $75, or the New 52 hardcovers, that tends to make the list topheavy.

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.54, with the average comic book ordered by retailers costing $3.56. The average comic book in the Top 25 cost $3.67. $3.50 was the median price of comics, and $2.99 was the most common price. That's a decrease from October, which saw a one-month jump to $3.99.

With one more month to go, The Comics Chronicles now projects a $475 million year for the Direct Market, up 15%. Unadjusted for inflation, the dollar figure is probably the largest since at least 1995.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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November 2012 comics sales steady as Marvel relaunches titles

Friday, December 7, 2012

by John Jackson Miller

Comics shops in North America ordered nearly $41 million worth of comic books, hardcover graphic novels, and trade paperback collections in November, using a spate of new Marvel first issues to keep pace with last year's clip.

According to preliminary data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors, the four-week month ended just a few hundred thousand dollars behind last November's five-week month, which was the best month in the immediate aftermath of the DC relaunch. And this November actually topped that month in unit sales for periodicals.

The aggregate sales changes:

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
NOVEMBER 2012 VS. OCTOBER 2012
COMICS
-8.02%
-3.80%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-24.88%
-23.67%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-13.66%
-5.42%
NOVEMBER 2012 VS. NOVEMBER 2011
COMICS
3.55%
2.59%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-10.86%
-10.29%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-1.10%
1.63%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2012 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2011
COMICS
14.56%
11.27%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
14.78%
14.25%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
14.63%
11.50%

All-New X-Men #1 was the top comic book for the month, and was one of seven Marvel first issues in the Top 10. It's the first time in a long while that Marvel had this many entries in the top-sellers list: you have to go back to February 2009, the first reorder month for the Obama Spider-Man issue, to get to a month where Marvel has eight entries in the Top 10.

We will not know until next week the actual sales levels of the individual titles, but IDW had announced that the preorder sales for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #1, a Nov. 28 release, had topped 100,000 copies — and as we see, the title is not in the Top 10. Again, when publishers announce sales, they could be accounting for overseas copies and in some cases newsstand draws, neither of which would be reflected in the Diamond totals; we'll see where everything winds up.

The Top 10 comics:

RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$3.99

Marvel
2
Batman #14
$3.99

DC
3
Captain America #1
$3.99

Marvel
4
Deadpool #1
$2.99

Marvel
5
Indestructible Hulk #1
$3.99

Marvel
6
Iron Man #1
$3.99

Marvel
7
Fantastic Four #1
$2.99

Marvel
8
Uncanny Avengers #2
$3.99

Marvel
9
Justice League #14
$3.99

DC
10
Thor: God of Thunder #1
$3.99

Marvel


Graphic novel sales to comic book stores in North America  slipped 11% from year to year — an amount that just happens to match the ten-year variance that we find between four- and five-shipping week months.

Last November had the Batman: Noel hardcover in the mix as a big-dollar contributor. This month's sales were led by Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something to Fear.

The biggest-ticket item in the Top 10 was Marvel's Avengers Vs. X-Men hardcover, priced at $75.

The Top 10 graphic novels and trade paperbacks:

RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$14.99

Image
2
Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland HC
$22.99

DC
3
Adventure Time Vol. 1
$14.99

Boom
4
Fairest Vol. 1: Wide Awake
$14.99

DC
5
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Vol. 1
$19.99

DC
6
Avengers Vs. X-Men HC
$75.00

Marvel
7
The Boys Vol. 12: The Blood Doors Off
$19.99

Dynamite
8
The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
$9.99

Image
9
Scalped Vol. 10: Trails End
$14.99

DC
10
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Redemption
$14.99

DC

The market shares for the month:

Publisher
Dollar
Share
Unit
Share
Marvel Comics
34.35%
40.23%
DC Comics
30.04%
33.25%
Image Comics
7.70%
6.67%
IDW Publishing
5.60%
5.07%
Dark Horse Comics
4.72%
3.75%
Dynamite Entertainment
3.71%
3.33%
Boom! Studios
1.90%
1.81%
Eaglemoss Publications Ltd
1.40%
0.33%
Viz Media
1.33%
0.45%
Random House
0.97%
0.25%
Other Non-Top 10
8.28%
4.86%

If the estimates for the month hold up, the Direct Market finished the month at nearly $435 million, more than $20 million ahead of the industry's sales for 2011.

If "Black Friday" is so named because it's the day that retail businesses go into the black for the year, the comics industry beat its 2011 performance at least a week earlier than that. The Comics Chronicles now projects a $475 million year for the Direct Market, up 15%. Unadjusted for inflation, the dollar figure is probably the largest since at least 1995.

Final estimates become available next week. Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

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