Monday, August 11, 2014
by John Jackson MillerThe comics industry in North America moved into positive territory for 2014 with a record-setting month of July, according to Comichron's analysis of data released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in July 2014.
A much larger number of new comic book and graphic novel releases for the month helped July's sales to set a number of records for the Diamond Exclusive Era, which began in April 1997:
Highest dollar value for orders of the Top 300 comics: $30.62 million. This beat out the record set in September 2013.
Highest combined dollar value for orders of the Top 300 comics and Top 300 Graphic Novels: $39.27 milllion. This also beat out a record set in September 2013.
Highest dollar value for all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines: $53.63 million. This clobbered the previous record, set in October 2013, by more than $3 million.
Highest sales for the 300th-place comic book in a five-week month: 6,620 copies. This also beat the record set in October 2013.
Highest average price of comics offered in the Top 300: $3.79. This beat the previous record high by seven cents.
And we don't keep detailed records on this, but it really is remarkable how many new comic releases are coming from the middle-tier publishers. Image had 66 new comics this month, IDW 48, Dynamite 40, Dark Horse 39, Boom 29; it all contributed to a month where the 300th place book this July would have ranked 250th just five years ago and 192nd 10 years ago. The middle-to-lower tier titles are simply stronger relative to times past, and there are more of them.
And Titan Entertainment broke into the Top 100 this month now that it's offering the Doctor Who comics, with titles in 59th and 67th places. So there are more players vying for the top spots, too.
The aggregate change statistics:
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALESJuly 2014: 8.09 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +11%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +17%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +32%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +21%
YEAR TO DATE: 46.48 million copies, -5% vs. 2013, +10% vs. 2009, +10% vs. 2004, +4 vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.73%
YEAR TO DATE: -3.16%
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALESJuly 2014: $30.62 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +27%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +72%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +79%
YEAR TO DATE: $175.39 million, -1% vs. 2013, +21% vs. 2009, +45% vs. 2004, +54% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +19.23%
YEAR TO DATE: +1.76%
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESJuly 2014: $8.64 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +56%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +61%
YEAR TO DATE: $51.04 million, -6% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +4.84%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.25%
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESJuly 2014: $39.27 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +14%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +53%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +91%
YEAR TO DATE: $156.5 million, -5% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
July 2014 versus one year ago this month: +14.52%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.22%
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)July 2014: approximately $53.63 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +15%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +29%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +92%
YEAR TO DATE: $207.85 million, unchanged vs. 2013
New comic books released: 530
New graphic novels released: 312
New magazines released: 49
All new releases: 891
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.79, and the average comic book ordered did, too. The average comic book in the Top 25 also cost $3.79, possibly the first time all three of those figures have been equal. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
Rocket Raccoon #1 was the lead title on the comics list, and as discussed here on Friday, its reported sales of nearly 294,000 copies was boosted by at least 100,000 copies because of a sale to a single account, the subscription club Loot Crate. (Read more about the firm and its purchase here and here.) The company bought the comics non-returnably just as any other Direct Market account; in essence, it is somewhat like one of the other new-comics-by-mail services whose sales already are accounted for by Diamond's charts — with a significant exception: since the service only bought the one issue, the second issue's sales will reflect only the comics shops' sales.
Regardless, even if the Loot Crate contribution is half the title's orders, it would only account for a little over 1% of the market's sales this month.
Life with Archie #36 hit the charts at 27th place with orders of more than 57,000 copies — as did the magazine-format version of the issue, which made it into 297th place with orders of more than 6,000 copies. While Diamond keeps a separate tally for magazines, the magazine format Life with Archie was been appearing in Diamond's comics section all along, so there's no change there.
Batman Eternal no longer has the returnable asterisk in July's report; reported sales on the title increased, perhaps partially as a reflection of the sales no longer being reduced for returnability.
A few notes about some changes to the charts as they come from Diamond. First, once again, only the Top 300 was released to the media; I have confirmed with Diamond that the several months during the past year in which the Top 400 were released was an error, and not a change in policy. Diamond has released just the Top 300 for nearly 20 years, and that will continue to be the policy -- with the addition of a few items outside 300th place that appear in the Top 50 Small Publisher lists each month.
There is a case to be made for going out to 400th place when so many titles are coming out; only 14 publishers appeared in the Top 300 this month, just one more than the record low. My projections are that the Top 300 now captures 92% of all comics Diamond sells, while the Top 400 captures 97%, so it is a bit more than a marginal addition. But clearly the Top 300 still does capture the vast majority of comics sales (and far more than the Top 300 graphic novel list does). Comichron will continue to print any items after 300th place that Diamond sends, but will just the Top 300s for cross-time comparisons no matter what is released.
an imprint of Dynamic Forces, which has had a presence in the charts for more than a decade; when the Dynamite line was started, Diamond continued to refer to the company as Dynamic Forces in its market share reports and counted the sales of Dynamite as belonging to Dynamic Forces, just as Vertigo's share belongs to DC. Comichron likewise ignores imprint distinctions in its listings, so we continued to use "Dynamic Forces."
In recent times, however -- perhaps because the Dynamite line now represents most of Dynamic Forces' product moving through Diamond -- Diamond has gone back and forth between calling the publisher Dynamic Forces and Dynamite Entertainment in its market share listings in its spreadsheets released to the press. (It was listed as Dynamic Forces in the file as recently as June.) But whatever the name might be in the internal record-keeping (and I imagine that it's all still one account under the original name), Diamond has regularly been changing the name to Dynamite in tables in its press releases accompanying the sales charts. So we're doing it as well, starting with July. Offerings under the Dynamic Forces label rarely make the Top 300 in these days of so many new comics releases, so it makes sense to do it at this point.
But we will probably not make the change retroactive, as there's a lot to update -- and again, further back we get into a time when it's more Dynamic Forces-labeled material than Dynamite making the charts.
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!