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April 2014 comics sales: Amazing Spider-Man #1 best-selling issue of 21st Century

Friday, May 9, 2014

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCAmz1
As expected, Marvel's second reboot of the Amazing Spider-Man title was a record-setter in April: Diamond Comic Distributors reported today that the issue "was the best-selling comic book in both units and dollars in over a decade." More importantly, the market turned positive for the year, mostly erasing a slow start. Diamond sold nearly $48.2 million in comics and graphic novels to comics shops in the month of April, a larger total than any month in 2013 except for the record-breaking $50 million October. This brings the first third of the year to nearly $165 million, up almost $2 million over the same period in 2013.

But first, a quick look at Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3. #1, which had multiple variant covers, including many produced for specific comics shops. Diamond's wording means the issue outsold (by however much) 2009's Amazing Spider-Man #583, the Barack Obama inauguration issue: according to our Top Comics of the 21st Century list, that issue sold at least 530,500 copies across multiple printings.

Since that issue beats anything else on the post-1999 list, the next earlier top-selling single issues in the comics market overall would be likely be the 1999 issues of Pokémon: Pikachu Shocks Back, which Viz reported sold on average 680,000 copies each through multiple printings on the mass market; its predecessor title, Pokémon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu was the last title to top a million copies, during 1998 and 1999. The last million-seller in the comics shop market alone was likely Batman #500 in 1993. Click to read more about the last million-copy sellers.

It's unlikely that Amazing Spider-Man #1 will put those earlier records at risk, given the number of outlets that exist today: it's possible to top half a million, but the next half a million is a the much harder part. But it will likely wind up being the best-selling single issue in the Direct Market during the Diamond Exclusive Era, which began in 1997. We'll have a better idea of final sales at the end of the year, once reorders are added and any damaged copies — which appear to have been a concern — that are eventually allowed as returns get subtracted out.

Back to the overall. The sales changes:

DOLLARS UNITS
APRIL 2014 VS. MARCH 2014
COMICS 23.22% 14.36%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 8.90% -0.33%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 18.27% 12.90%
APRIL 2014 VS. APRIL 2013
COMICS 17.37% 6.96%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 16.78% 11.20%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 17.18% 7.32%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
COMICS -0.89% -6.91%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 5.44% 10.38%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 1.04% -5.61%

I said more than a few times that a strong April could easily wipe out the year-to-year deficit piled up this winter, and that is mostly what happened, with overall dollar sales and graphic novel dollar sales going positive for the year, with comics unit sales paring their deficit to under 7%. There is a caveat, however: this April was a five-shipping-week month, versus a four-week month last year.

That said, April 2013 was very strong relative to its previous year — up 14%, versus May and June 2013 which were up 1% and 3% respectively — which suggests that this May and June may not have very far to go to keep the industry on an even pace. April was strong enough this year that May and June can each be down 8% relative to 2013 and the market will still be matching last year's sales.

The market shares appear to have been impacted by the big seller at Marvel. Marvel's dollar share was higher than it's been since March 2013, while DC's 23.65% dollar share was its lowest showing since May 2002's 21.89%, when Dreamwave was around and the release of Star Wars Episode II bumped Dark Horse up to nearly 9%:

PUBLISHER DOLLAR SHARE UNIT SHARE
Marvel 39.27% 41.15%
DC 23.65% 27.24%
Image 9.34% 10.31%
Dark Horse 5.54% 5.18%
IDW 5.10% 4.24%
Dynamite 2.49% 2.47%
Eaglemoss 2.14% 0.54%
Boom 2.07% 1.97%
Avatar 1.15% 1.03%
Valiant 1.04% 1.18%
Other 8.21% 4.69%

As noted above, Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #1 led the Top-Selling Comics list this time out:

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE VENDOR
1 Amazing Spider-Man #1 $5.99 Marvel
2 Superior Spider-Man #31 $5.99 Marvel
3 Batman #30 $3.99 DC
4 Batman Eternal #1* $2.99 DC
5 Justice League #29 $3.99 DC
6 Batman Eternal #2* $2.99 DC
7 Hulk #1 $3.99 Marvel
8 Original Sin #0 $4.99 Marvel
9 Batman Eternal #3* $2.99 DC
10 Batman Eternal #4* $2.99 DC

Image scored seven slots on the Top Selling Graphic Novel and Trade Paperback list:

RANK Description PRICE VENDOR
1 Sex Criminals Volume 1 $9.99 Image
2 Saga Volume 3 $14.99 Image
3 East of West Volume 2: We Are All One $14.99 Image
4 Saga Volume 1 $9.99 Image
5 Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business HC $24.99 Marvel
6 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers $19.99 Marvel
7 The Joker: Death of the Family $24.99 DC
8 Saga Volume 2 $14.99 Image
9 Pretty Deadly Volume 1 $9.99 Image
10 The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye $14.99 Image

In part due to the five-week month, more titles were offered this April — 49 more comics  and 52 more graphic novels than March. It's the largest number of new comics released since the 515 in that record-breaking October:

PUBLISHER COMICS SHIPPED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED MAGAZINES SHIPPED TOTAL
Marvel 80 35 0 115
DC 79 26 1 106
Image 71 13 0 84
IDW 45 24 0 69
Dark Horse 38 27 0 65
Dynamite 43 6 0 49
Boom 25 7 0 32
Eaglemoss 0 0 26 26
Avatar 11 2 2 15
Valiant 13 2 0 15
Other 77 157 35 269
TOTAL 482 299 64 845
 
The final estimates for April should be out early next week. In the meantime, you can find your local comic shop here. (UPDATE: And now the estimates are online, here.)

John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Star Wars: Kenobi and the upcoming hardcover Star Wars: A New Dawn. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!

2 comments:

hugo bott May 11, 2014 at 1:37 PM  

Sales as in sales to comic shops?

Well then, no wonder! Not only do you have a #1 issue of a series tied in to a popular film's release date, but you have a crazy number of highly desirable variants. For the shops to "earn" copies of issues with insane covers by people like Marcos Martin or Alex Ross (which they could then sell on to collectors at very high prices), they had to order a significant number of regular copies. No wonder the numbers were huge - Marvel played this right.

But the sales aren't reflective of the quality of the story, etc. This was great marketing.

www.comicsty.com/

Threshold May 11, 2014 at 6:29 PM  

I can't believe that these reboots, renumbers or whatever you wanna call them keep working.
At least they seem to work in the short term.
This will unfortunately mean we will keep getting them so rest assured that, when the time comes, we will go back to Amazing Spider-Man #800 with its insane cover price and gazillion variants to than back to #1 few months later.

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