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Villains propel September 2013 comics orders to record levels

Friday, October 4, 2013

by John Jackson Miller


DC's "Villains Month" prompted North American comics retailers to order in record volume in September, according to preliminary data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. The event, which saw many DC titles splitting for the month into several issues featuring different stories and 3-D covers, spearheaded a $48 million month for the trade overall.

That figure is the largest non-inflation adjusted dollar amount for orders seen in the 2000s, beating both last month and last September by more than $9 million. Despite the high month-to-month volatility recently, the quarter overall was up 7.64%. That looks a lot more like the rest of 2013.

In the 1980s, September was called "Black September" in the comics market, owing to a back-to-school dropoff in volume — but the last three years have seen major publisher events during the month, including the DC relaunch in 2011. Based on the comparative statistics below, Comichron estimates that the periodical sales, which were up an astonishing 34% year-over-year in dollar terms, likely topped 8.5 million copies, with DC contributing 4 million copies or more. That would put the month just beneath December 1997 (the 11-cover Darkness #11 month) in periodical orders.

The category comparisons are as follows:
 
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

DOLLARS
UNITS
SEPTEMBER 2013 VS. AUGUST 2013
COMICS
31.66%
29.26%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
11.93%
9.89%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
25.69%
27.79%
SEPTEMBER 2013 VS. SEPTEMBER 2012
COMICS
33.90%
26.97%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
1.76%
-2.96%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
23.40%
24.47%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
12.50%
9.56%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
6.03%
3.67%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
10.43%
9.09%
THIRD QUARTER 2013 VS. SECOND QUARTER 2013
COMICS
7.00%
5.59%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-1.79%
-2.05%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
4.21%
4.98%
THIRD QUARTER 2013 VS. THIRD QUARTER 2012
COMICS
11.12%
8.27%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
0.30%
-4.86%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
7.64%
7.16%


The hub title of the event, Forever Evil #1, led the comics chart for the month. Note that the various Batman issues are not grouped together, since these are not variant covers but actually different issues:

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
FOREVER EVIL #1
$3.99
DC
2
INFINITY #2
$3.99
Marvel
3
INFINITY #3
$3.99
Marvel
4
X-MEN: BATTLE OF ATOM #1
$3.99
Marvel
5
BATMAN #23.1: THE JOKER
$3.99
DC
6
BATMAN #23.2: THE RIDDLER
$3.99
DC
7
MIGHTY AVENGERS #1
$3.99
Marvel
8
BATMAN #23.4: BANE
$3.99
DC
9
AVENGERS #19
$3.99
Marvel
10
BATMAN #23.3: THE PENGUIN
$3.99
DC

All the attention was on the periodicals this month, with graphic novel orders flat year-over-year. Image's East of West Vol. 1 led the graphic novels chart:


RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
EAST OF WEST VOLUME 1: THE PROMISE TP
$9.99
Image
2
JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL. 3: THE THRONE OF ATLANTIS HC
$24.99
DC
3
STAR WARS VOLUME 1: IN THE SHADOW OF YAVIN TP
$19.99
Dark Horse
4
THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 9 
$34.99
Image
5
THE WALKING DEAD 100 PROJECT
$12.99
Image
6
JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL. 2: THE VILLAINS' JOURNEY TP
$16.99
DC
7
SAGA VOLUME 1 TP
$9.99
Image
8
SAGA VOLUME 2 TP
$14.99
Image
9
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC VOLUME 2 TP
$17.99
IDW
10
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN VOLUME 1 HC
$34.99
Marvel

 The market shares reflect Villains Month, as you would expect:


TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
DC ENTERTAINMENT
40.39%
45.17%
MARVEL COMICS
28.49%
29.83%
IMAGE COMICS
6.87%
7.00%
IDW PUBLISHING
4.89%
4.12%
DARK HORSE COMICS
4.76%
4.04%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.27%
2.19%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.83%
1.65%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS
0.95%
0.15%
AVATAR PRESS
0.88%
0.72%
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
0.87%
0.91%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
7.79%
4.23%

And as mentioned above, the "title-shipped" category was much impacted by Villains Month, since the added books weren't variants (which would be bundled with their parent titles):
 
NEW TITLES SHIPPED
PUBLISHER
COMICS 
SHIPPED
GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
MAGAZINES 
SHIPPED
TOTAL
SHIPPED
DC COMICS
129
22
0
151
MARVEL COMICS
67
32
0
99
IMAGE COMICS
39
15
0
54
DARK HORSE COMICS
27
19
0
46
IDW PUBLISHING
32
12
0
44
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
31
5
0
36
BOOM! STUDIOS
19
6
0
25
AVATAR PRESS
8
2
1
11
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT
7
2
0
9
EAGLEMOSS
0
0
4
4
OTHER
85
140
33
258

We'll have to see how many DC entries make the Top 300: the record in the Diamond Exclusive era was DC in October 2011 with exactly 129, but remember that reordered books can also make the Top 300, so there's a potential for the publisher's count to go higher.

The overall dollar volume for the year in Direct Market orders of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines now rests at nearly $383 million after three quarters. A half-billion dollar year is now almost practically assured.

A side note: this Saturday is Star Wars Reads Day, a literacy event celebrated with events in bookstores, libraries, and comics shops. My appearance schedule for that and for New York Comicon is here.

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