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Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flags waving: Justice League of America #1 sets new high marks

by John Jackson Miller

DC's Justice League of America #1 turned in the strongest single-issue sales performance for a comic book in the month of February since at least 1996 — and the biggest single-month number for a DC title since that time, as well. That's based on Comichron's estimates of retailer orders from Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the complete estimates for comics sales in February 2013.

Released with more than 50 variant covers featuring flags of the individual U.S. states, Justice League of America #1 had orders of nearly 308,000 copies. That's more than 100,000 copies more than any DC relaunch issue reached in North America in a single month — and enough to rank it seventh on the list of top-selling comics of the 21st Century. (It could still go higher, with reorders.) The issue outranks any DC title in the Diamond Exclusive Era, including Superman: The Wedding Album back in November 1996.

The quantity is also higher than any February release since at least Marvel Vs. DC #3 in February 1996. We don't know the actual sales for that issue, as it came during the Distribution Wars period when Marvel was self-distributing, but I would guess that its sales were likely competitive with the February 2013 release. Click to see my column on past best-sellers for the month.

Another interesting cross-time comparison: with the top 300 comics selling just over 7 million copies in February, the figure beats not just the five- and 10-year comparisons, but also the 15-year comparative, as well. Retailers ordered 6.6 million copies in February 1998. By 1998, however, we're getting to the point where a 15-year beat isn't as impressive — the February 1997 figure was 8 million copies.

Graphic novel sales were slightly off from a year ago — by less than 1% overall — although when you drill down to just the Top 300 graphic novels, sales were actually up 14% in both dollars and units. That would require, if the figure is correct, for the backlist titles in the "long tail" to have significantly underperformed. It's within the range of differences we've seen between frontlist and backlist figures before. Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's Nemo: Heart of Ice hardcover from Top Shelf was the best-selling graphic novel.

The aggregate sales:
 
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2013: 7.01 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +15%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +20%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +6%
YEAR TO DATE: 13.73 million copies, +16% vs. 2012, +5% vs. 2008, +20% vs. 2003, +1% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2013 versus one year ago this month: +14.75%
YEAR TO DATE: +17.20%

---

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2013: $20.8 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +21%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +53%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +61%
YEAR TO DATE: $61.6 million, +21% vs. 2012, +21% vs. 2008, +54% vs. 2003, +52% vs. 1998

ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2013 versus one year ago this month: +15.91%
YEAR TO DATE: +18.95%

---

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2013: $6.5 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
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: unchanged
YEAR TO DATE: $13.81 million, +18% vs. 2012

ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
March 2013 versus one year ago this month: -1.47%
YEAR TO DATE: +17.14%

---

TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2013: $31.82 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +19%
Versus 5 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +32%
YEAR TO DATE: $63.08 million, +20% vs. 2012

ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
February 2013 versus one year ago this month: +10.48%
YEAR TO DATE: +18.39%

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OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2013: approximately $39.58 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +22%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +18%
YEAR TO DATE: $80.61 million, +18% vs. 2012

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.62; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.61. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.

The pages for monthly top sellers and 300th place titles across time have been updated. 

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Friday, March 8, 2013

February 2013 comics sales up, IDW sets new record

by John Jackson Miller

February 2013 orders for comics and graphic novels continued to outpace sales of a year ago, according to preliminary direct market sales data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. The 10% increase year-to-year is made more impressive by the fact that the comparison month was a very rare leap year February with five shipping weeks.

(The Flashback column for Februaries past is now online here at Comichron: click to read about the best-sellers from February five, ten, 25, and even 50 years ago.)

Retailers ordered around $39.6 million in comic books and collected editions from Diamond in the month, bringing the year-to-date to nearly $80.7 million. Comics sales — helped by the multiple-cover-and-how Justice League of America #1 release — beat their previous performance handily.

The edition had 53 covers (I think!) depicting state flags in addition to the U.S. flag. Wartime American flag covers from the 1940s are a favorite of Golden Age collectors, and this product continues in that tradition. (It also raises the multiple-cover bar for the next publisher: I think the Northern Mariana Islands territory has a flag!)

Graphic novel sales were down, if only just slightly. Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's Nemo: Heart of Ice hardcover from Top Shelf was the best-selling graphic novel.

The aggregate change figures:


DOLLARS
UNITS
FEBRUARY 2013 VS. JANUARY 2013
COMICS
5.04%
3.73%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-20.37%
-14.28%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
-3.53%
2.33%
FEBRUARY 2013 VS. FEBRUARY 2012
COMICS
15.91%
14.75%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-1.47%
0.90%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
10.48%
13.73%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
18.95%
17.20%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
17.14%
15.04%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
18.39%
17.05%

The top-selling comics for the month:

RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$3.99

DC
2
Uncanny X-Men #1
$3.99

Marvel
3
Batman #17
$3.99

DC
4
Justice League #17
$3.99

DC
5
Superior Spider-Man #3
$3.99

Marvel
6
Superior Spider-Man #4
$3.99

Marvel
7
Uncanny X-Men #2
$3.99

Marvel
8
Uncanny Avengers #4
$3.99

Marvel
9
Detective Comics #17
$3.99

DC
10
Secret Avengers #1
$3.99

Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels for the month: 
 

RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE

VENDOR
1
$14.95

Top Shelf
2
Batman: The Night of the Owls HC
$29.99

DC
3
Adventure Time Volume 2
$14.99

Boom
4
The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
$14.99

Image
5
Saga Volume 1
$9.99

Image
6
Batman: The Black Mirror
$16.99

DC
7
Catwoman Volume 2: Dollhouse
$14.99

DC
8
Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation2 Volume 2
$17.99

IDW
9
Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection
$14.99

DC
10
Adventure Time Volume 1
$14.99

Boom

IDW set a record dollar share for itself last February, and it seems to have done so again this February, topping 7% for the first time. Click to see more Diamond-era sales records.

The market shares:
 
TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
Marvel Comics
34.86%
38.46%
DC Entertainment
29.22%
32.89%
Image Comics
7.76%
7.89%
IDW Publishing
7.09%
6.04%
Dark Horse Comics
4.82%
4.16%
Dynamite Entertainment
2.80%
2.55%
Boom! Studios
1.97%
1.75%
Eaglemoss Publications
1.42%
0.30%
Zenescope Entertainment
0.99%
0.73%
Valiant Entertainment
0.94%
0.98%
Other
8.11%
4.25%

Dark Horse's share of comic book and graphic novel sales, it should be noted, may not be as high as its actual share of Diamond's overall sales: as with last month, its national bestseller Legends of Zelda: Hyrule Historia book was the #1 book sold by Diamond. I do not believe that the "Books" category has historically been part of the market share calculations seen above; I don't know if that's changed. The "Magazines" category is counted, which explains Eaglemoss's presence.

The full report should be along next week. In the meantime, check out the February Flashback column, with its reports on Stormwatch #1's number-one performance 20 years ago last month, among many other historical tidbits.

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