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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, September 8, 2014

August 2014 comics sales estimates — and a comic from the crypt charts!

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman34
The comics market continued to gain ground on its 2013 performance in August, according to Comichron's estimates of comic-book sales based on reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Retailers in North America ordered more than $41 million in comics and graphic novels in the month. Click to see the comics sales estimates for August 2014.

Unit sales for the Top 300 comics were up less than 1% over last August, a month which also had four shipping weeks; once comics outside the top 300 are accounted for, the margin of increase grows to 4%. Batman #34 led the market, while Rocket Raccoon established a more normal sales level for its second issue with orders above 56,000 copies, following a first issue that benefited from a gargantuan order from a single online retailer. Comics shops still ordered additional copies of Rocket Raccoon #1 in August, however, with reorders placing it in 227th.

http://www.mycomicshop.com/search?q=tales+from+the+crypt+3&pubid=&PubRng=?AffID=874007P01Positively the craziest thing I've seen in the Diamond Top 300 in a long time came along in 251st place: Tales from the Crypt #3, listed as being published by "WIL" with a cover price of $2 and an order code from 1991. Tales from the Crypt #3 was published in the summer of 1991 by Russ Cochran; Diamond listed it in its catalog under "E.C. Comics", and indeed, it was a reprint of the original E.C. issue, Tales from The Crypt #22 in from February-March 1951. On seeing it, I thought it a computer error; it had the same order number it did in 1991, but I couldn't imagine it being still in stock.

In fact, it was and is, as sources at Diamond have confirmed. When Diamond owner Steve Geppi purchased Cochran's company in the mid-1990s — which he folded into Diamond's sister company Gemstone Publishing — a large amount of inventory came with the sale, significant quantities of which still reside in Diamond's warehouse. Diamond confirmed that a very large sale of Tales from the Crypt #3 did take place, and that its presence on the chart is legitimate.

Diamond listed the publication as being sold by "WIL" — meaning William Gaines — though for chart purposes its sales could well be assumed to belong to Cochran's company, long gone. It's amazing that a reordered title could chart after 23 years — and still more amazing I could find the original listing for it in my files!

The aggregate change statistics:


TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2014: 6.39 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: unchanged
Versus 5 years ago this month: -6%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 15 years ago this month: -6%
YEAR TO DATE: 52.87 million copies, -5% vs. 2013, +8% vs. 2009, +9% vs. 2004, +3 vs. 1999
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +4.20%
YEAR TO DATE: -2.32%

TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $23.87 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +2%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +33%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +35%
YEAR TO DATE: $199.26 million, -1% vs. 2013, +19% vs. 2009, +44% vs. 2004, +51% vs. 1999
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +7.3%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.4%

TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $6.26 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -7%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +3%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +40%
YEAR TO DATE: $57.3 million, -5% vs. 2013
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +8.31%
YEAR TO DATE: +3.81%
 
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
August 2014: $30.13 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -8%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +18%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +45%
YEAR TO DATE: $256.55 million, -1% vs. 2013
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK  SALES
August 2014 versus one year ago this month: +7.6%
YEAR TO DATE: +2.84%

OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
August 2014: approximately $41.15 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +8%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +50%
YEAR TO DATE: $344.32 million, +3% vs. 2013

RELEASES
New comic books released: 451
New graphic novels released: 280
New magazines released: 47
All new releases: 778

The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.72, and the average comic book ordered cost $3.73. The average comic book in the Top 25  cost $3.67. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
A couple of sites have highlighted the paucity of comics above 100,000 copies; this is a headline that could have been written a few dozen times over the last decade and a half, and I'm not sure it matters as much when the market has the breadth that it does. The first time the market got down to having only a couple of titles above 100k was near the turn of the century, when the 300th-place title was doing less than 1,000 copies. Now, it's doing more than 5,000 copies. The sales are still there; they're just spread out.

Yes, it is more efficient for a retailer to sell one extra copy of a title selling a hundred copies, rather than a single copy of a less popular title which takes up an additional racking spot and time to process, but the market has been trending for a long time toward its current state. The need for more racking and time to handle each additional title has increased gradually over the years, rather than coming all at once, so that increased cost of doing business may not stand out as much.

This isn't to say the direct market doesn't "need" blockbusters; certainly, they produce many ancillary effects when they happen. But having them happen every other month or so, as we've seen this year, may generate much of the same effect.

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. His latest novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, has just been released by Random House. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Batman, Thanos keep strong summer for comics sales going in August

by John Jackson Miller

http://bit.ly/CCBatman34
After a summer of "bombshell" covers, anniversary covers, high-profile relaunches, and giant purchases by online retailers, August appears to have been something more resembling a generic month in the comics industry. Comic-book retailers purchased more than $41 million in comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines in August 2014, according Comichron's analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. Dollar sales for the month were up 7.6% year over year, bringing annual sales to $344 million, up nearly 3% over 2013.

http://bit.ly/CCThanosJuly's sales, the highest recorded dollar amount paid for comics and graphic novels in the seventeen-year long Diamond Exclusive Era, were boosted in part by a fifth week to the month, by the addition of thousands of Rocket Raccoon #1 copies bought by Loot Crate, and by DC's Batman 75th Anniversary covers, among other things. August's sales appear to have returned to a more regular pattern, with Batman #34 taking the top slot.

The leading new series launch  was DC's Multiversity #1, in fourth place, with the Thanos: The Infinity Revelation hardcover from Marvel leading the graphic novel list.

The aggregate change statistics:

DOLLARS UNITS
AUGUST 2014 VS. JULY 2014
COMICS -23.77% -22.73%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -22.06% -20.96%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -23.26% -22.60%
AUGUST 2014 VS. AUGUST 2013
COMICS 7.30% 4.20%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 8.31% 9.95%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 7.60% 4.63%
YEAR-TO-DATE 2014 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2013
COMICS 2.40% -2.32%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 3.81% 5.79%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 2.84% -1.69%

PRODUCTS SHIPPED
Diamond shipped 778 new releases in August; all variants for a single title are counted together as one in the chart below. That's 113 fewer releases than July, including 79 fewer comics and 32 fewer graphic novels; still, it's 45 more comic books than were released last July. So 11% more comics came out this year versus last and 7% more comics units sold. Changes in the number of releases are  strongly tied to changes in overall performance; when trying to explain massive shifts one way or another, it is advisable to look there first.

PUBLISHER COMICS GRAPHIC NOVELS MAGAZINES TOTAL SHIPPED
DC 85 22 1 108
Marvel 78 29 0 107
Image  63 5 0 68
IDW 42 17 0 59
Dark Horse Comics 36 18 0 54
Dynamite 25 12 0 37
Boom 23 9 0 32
Random House 1 27 0 28
Eaglemoss 0 0 25 25
Viz 0 24 0 24
Other 98 117 21 236
TOTAL 451 280 47 778


MARKET SHARES
Marvel led in both unit and dollar shares. Remember, this chart includes magazine sales, which is why we see Eaglemoss in eighth. It shipped 25 magazines this month.

PUBLISHER DOLLAR SHARE UNIT SHARE
Marvel 34.27% 35.85%
DC 28.71% 32.56%
Image 8.83% 10.97%
IDW 5.43% 4.67%
Dark Horse 4.73% 4.03%
Dynamite 2.59% 2.40%
Boom 2.32% 2.14%
Eaglemoss 1.65% 0.43%
Random House 1.14% 0.38%
Viz 1.04% 0.42%
Other 9.28% 6.17%


TOP PRODUCTS

TOP COMIC BOOKS PRICE VENDOR
1 Batman #34 $3.99 DC
2 Amazing Spider-Man #5 $3.99 Marvel
3 Original Sin #7 $3.99 Marvel
4 Multiversity #1 $4.99 DC
5 Superior Spider-Man #32 $4.99 Marvel
6 The Walking Dead #130 $2.99 Image
7 Harley Quinn #9 $2.99 DC
8 Amazing Spider-Man #1.4 $3.99 Marvel
9 Guardians Of The Galaxy #18 $3.99 Marvel
10 Batman Eternal #18 $2.99 DC
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS PRICE VENDOR
1 Thanos: The Infinity Revelation OGN Hc $24.99 Marvel
2 Fables Volume 20: Camelot $19.99 DC
3 Deadpool Vs. Carnage $16.99 Marvel
4 Trillium $16.99 DC
5 Batman: Earth-One $12.99 DC
6 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers $19.99 Marvel
7 Saga Volume 3 $14.99 Image
8 Watchmen Hc $39.99 DC
9 Saga Volume 1 $9.99 Image
10 Saga Volume 2 $14.99 Image

The final estimates for August are expected next week.

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. His latest novel, Star Wars: A New Dawn, has just been released by Random House. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!
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