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October 2013: First $50 million comics sales month in Diamond Exclusive Era

Friday, November 8, 2013

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCWD115
Last October was the best month in all of 2012 for retailer orders of comic books and graphic novels — and still, this October was able to better its mark, passing $50 million in merchandise for the first time in the 16 years that Diamond Comic Distributors has been the exclusive sales agent for all the major publishers.

It's a five-shipping-week month versus a five-shipping-week month, so this is a straight-up comparison — and with comics shops ordering approximately $50.3 million worth of comics and graphic novels in the month, we can see what's been added to the market in the slightly more than two years since the DC relaunch. June 2011, the last five-week month before the relaunch, had orders of $36.5 million. So that's a increase on the order of 37%, over a period when average comic book cover prices have only gone up by about 4%.

With October sales this strong, odds are good for the year-over-year growth to hold up through November and December. Last November and December's combined orders were $80.6 million: two flat months would finish off 2013 at $514 million, up 8%. Two months at October's 6% growth level would end the year at $519 million, while two months at 2013's 10% growth pace would end the year at $522 million. That's the likely range, then somewhere around $519 million for the year, an increase of $45 million over 2012. The "gravy day" for the industry — on which we move ahead of 2012's total sales — should be right at Thanksgiving, no pun intended.

The aggregate change figures:


DOLLARS
UNITS
OCTOBER 2013 VS. SEPTEMBER 2013
COMICS
0.30%
-0.57%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
16.57%
16.62%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
4.68%
0.55%
OCTOBER 2013 VS. OCTOBER 2012
COMICS
11.90%
8.69%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
-4.65%
0.05%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
6.36%
7.98%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2013 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2012
COMICS
12.42%
9.46%
GRAPHIC NOVELS
4.69%
3.25%
TOTAL COMICS/GN
9.95%
8.96%

The Walking Dead #115 was the most-ordered comic book in the month and is expected to be in contention for the top seller of the year. Diamond noted in its press release that Image had taken over 10% of the unit market share in October:


PUBLISHER
DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
DC ENTERTAINMENT
31.02%
33.15%
MARVEL COMICS
30.47%
33.63%
IMAGE COMICS
9.26%
10.85%
IDW PUBLISHING
6.27%
4.96%
DARK HORSE COMICS
5.36%
4.70%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
2.47%
2.54%
BOOM! STUDIOS
1.84%
1.78%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD
1.40%
0.32%
ARCHIE COMICS
1.01%
1.24%
AVATAR PRESS
1.01%
0.90%
OTHER NON-TOP 10
9.88%
5.94%

The dollar sales track is the one that Comichron has paid more attention to across time (see the charts here), and Image's 9.26% dollar market share this month is only its highest level since July 2012, when Walking Dead #100 came out. Meanwhile, Image's unit share this month is its highest since February 2003, when its unit sales mark that month was 11.24%. Image was regularly above 10% in unit market share in the late 1990s.

Image, we can see from the below, released 59 comics in October to Marvel's 78; that kind of ratio squares with the last time Image was above 10% in unit sales (in February 2003, it had 35 new comic book titles on the market compared to Marvel's 53). The total number of new items shipped:

PUBLISHER
COMICS 
SHIPPED
GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED
MAGAZINES 
SHIPPED
TOTAL
SHIPPED
DC ENTERTAINMENT
100
29
0
129
MARVEL COMICS
78
35
0
113
IDW PUBLISHING
48
29
0
77
IMAGE COMICS
59
17
0
76
DARK HORSE COMICS
38
18
0
56
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
40
2
0
42
BOOM ENTERTAINMENT
25
3
0
28
VIZ MEDIA
0
25
0
25
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS
16
6
0
22
RANDOM HOUSE
0
21
1
22
OTHER
111
157
36
304

Diamond shipped 515 new comics issues in the month, and 342 new graphic novels.

Comic books, up 11.9% over a year ago, saw a $7 title in the #2 slot, Batman #24:

-->
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
$2.99
IMAGE
2
BATMAN #24
$6.99
DC
3
INFINITY #4
$3.99
MARVEL
4
FOREVER EVIL #2
$3.99
DC
5
INFINITY #5
$3.99
MARVEL
6
JUSTICE LEAGUE #24
$3.99
DC
7
SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #1
$3.99
DC
8
THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE #1 (MR) [*]
$4.99
DC
9
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #20
$3.99
MARVEL
10
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #19
$3.99
MARVEL

On the graphic novel side of things, the Batman Vol: 3 Death of the Family hardcover placed first in a list topheavy with higher-priced items:

-->
RANK
DESCRIPTION
PRICE
VENDOR
1
$24.99
DC
2
AVENGERS: ENDLESS WARTIME HC
$24.99
MAR
3
THE JOKER: DEATH OF THE FAMILY HC
$29.99
DC
4
BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS BOOK & MASK SET
$24.99
DC
5
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER VOL. 6: THE SEARCH PART 3
$10.99
DAR
6
HELLBOY: MIDNIGHT CIRCUS HC
$14.99
DAR
7
BATMAN VOLUME 2: THE CITY OF OWL SC
$16.99
DC
8
LAZARUS VOLUME 1
$9.99
IMA
9
SAGA VOLUME 1
$9.99
IMA
10
SAGA VOLUME 2
$14.99
IMA

The final data should be released early next week.

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