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December 2012 comics sales make for $475 mil year

Friday, January 11, 2013

by John Jackson Miller

Comic-book stores in North America ordered nearly $40 million in comic books and bound editions in December 2012, according to Comichron's anaylsis of data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. This is an increase of 15.74% over last year, and it confirms our estimate for 2012's overall sales earlier this week; retailers ordered $474.6 million worth of comics in the Direct Market in 2012, up from $413.55 million last year. That's a gain of $61 million, or 14.72%.

Total dollar sales for the fourth quarter eclipsed those of the third quarter by 3.5%, and beat last year's fourth quarter by 11%.

(The full December data will be released next week, which will also mean the release of Comichron's year-end Top Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Trade Paperbacks lists — and that is also when we'll update the Top Comics of the Century list. Click to see the 2011 Top Thousand lists.)

Amazing Spider-Man #700, the last issue in that numerical sequence (and we have heard that before) was the top-selling title, and as we already know it was the fourth-best-selling comic book of the year to the Direct Market, it's expected that its sales likely just topped 200,000 copies; it topped Avengers Vs. X-Men #2 in that list, which with reorders would have been getting toward the 200k territory. Priced as it was at $7.99, that's a noteworthy performance.

(UPDATE: Diamond noted that comics that were shipped to comic book retailers on Dec. 28, 2012 with an on-sale date of Jan. 2, 2013 were included in December's sales chart information. This isn't a bit of statistical legerdemain to improve the December figures; Diamond took a holiday skip week for the week of the 24th. So while it would seem to have made December a five-Wednesday month, it really isn't. But for comparison purposes, January 2013 will be a four-week month, despite the calendar.)

The aggregate change figures for the month, fourth quarter, and year:


COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
DECEMBER 2012 VS. NOVEMBER 2012
COMICS
-1.67%
-3.45%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-4.27%
-4.03%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-2.42%
-3.49%
DECEMBER 2012 VS. DECEMBER 2011
COMICS
19.03%
12.93%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
8.25%
6.65%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
15.74%
12.50%
FOURTH QUARTER 2012 VS. THIRD QUARTER 2012
COMICS
5.90%
6.71%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-1.57%
-11.29%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
3.50%
5.19%
FOURTH QUARTER 2012 VS. FOURTH QUARTER 2011
COMICS
9.51%
4.42%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
14.53%
13.86%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
11.00%
5.04%
YEAR 2012 VS. YEAR 2011
COMICS
14.94%
11.41%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
14.26%
13.66%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
14.72%
11.58%


Dollar sales for periodical comics were up substantially more than unit sales versus last year, so we'll want to look at the average prices when next week's data comes out. According to the all-time price change chart, the average weighted monthly price of a comic book last December was $3.45. The figure was at $3.56 last month. The $7.99 price tag for Spidey #700 likely had a lot to do with the shift, but we'll know more when we see the data.

The market shares for the month:


TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
MARVEL COMICS
33.40%
36.12%
DC COMICS
29.69%
34.84%
IMAGE COMICS
9.10%
8.49%
IDW PUBLISHING
5.82%
4.79%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.49%
4.56%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.60%
2.93%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.69%
1.88%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.13%
0.20%
VIZ MEDIA
0.94%
0.39%
AVATAR PRESS INC
0.91%
0.75%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
9.23%
5.05%


Comic-book unit sales were up 19% over last December, and that would seem to suggest that the Top 300 comics had orders of more than 7.3 million copies. That would give us 81 million copies for the year, which, as seen in the yearly tables, would closely match the figure last seen in 2008. (You can find monthly sales for the last two decades here.)

The top comic books:


RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$7.99

Marvel
2
Avengers #1
$3.99

Marvel
3
Batman #15
$3.99

DC
4
Justice League #15
$3.99

DC
5
Detective Comics #15
$3.99

DC
6
Avengers #2
$3.99

Marvel
7
Cable And X-Force #1
$3.99

Marvel
8
Batman And Robin #15
$2.99

DC
9
All-New X-Men #3
$3.99

Marvel
10
Thunderbolts #1
$2.99

Marvel


The top-selling collected edition for the month was Walking Dead Vol. 1, which also was the best-selling graphic novel for the year — and, in fact, the last three years. Given sales to date in the year, Comichron projects the overall orders for the volume for 2012 to be somewhat north of 70,000 copies, worth around three quarters of a million dollars at retail.

Retailers ordered more than 500,000 Walking Dead softcover and hardcover graphic novels in the year, worth nearly than $10 million at retail; combined with the comics, that likely comes close to $13.6 million — which would give Walking Dead comics, all on their own, a 2.8% market share. That would make it the seventh largest publisher for 2012!

The top graphic novel and collected editions:


RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$9.99

Image
2
The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us
$14.99

Image
3
Chew Volume 6: Space Cakes
$14.99

Image
4
Saga Volume 1
$9.99

Image
5
Fatale Volume 2: Devil's Business
$14.99

Image
6
The Walking Dead Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars
$14.99

Image
7
Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 Vol. 2: On Your Own
$17.99

Dark Horse
8
Green Lantern Volume 2: Revenge Of The Black Hand Hc
$24.99

DC
9
The Walking Dead Vol. 17: Something To Fear
$14.99

Image
10
Daredevil By Mark Waid Volume 2
$15.99

Marvel

The full estimates will be along next week, as well as Comichron's annual Top Thousand lists. Find out about them right away by following the site on Twitter and Facebook.

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