Diamond Comic Distributors — and they depict a market that closed out the year on a positive note. It is, in fact, probably more positive than it looks. Meanwhile, we have a curious situation in that while Batman #37 was the top-seller in the Direct Market in December, the highest-circulation comic book in North America was probably actually November's issue, #36, which had a Loot Crate edition not distributed by Diamond.
More about that in a moment. December's sales of comic books and trade paperbacks to comics shops amounted to around $43.4 million, up 2.83% from the same month in 2013. December 2013 only had four Wednesdays, but Diamond did a small shipment on New Year's Eve, which was a Tuesday — making it effectively a five-week month. This December was a five-Wednesday month, as well, and while comics were up. graphic novels were down considerably:
|DECEMBER 2014 VS. NOVEMBER 2014|
|DECEMBER 2014 VS. DECEMBER 2013|
|YEAR 2014 VS. YEAR 2013|
|4th QUARTER vs. 3rd QUARTER 2014|
|4th QUARTER vs. 4th QUARTER 2013|
|2nd HALF 2014 vs. 2nd HALF 2013|
|2nd HALF 2014 vs. 1st HALF 2014|
But there's a reason for the evident softnesss in the graphic novel market: it may not be there. As we reported last year, December 2013 had about the same number of new graphic novel releases, but there was a huge amount of holiday-season (or end-of-fiscal-year clearance) graphic novel discounting going on that month: more than $3 million in sales came from older Omnibus hardcovers from Marvel which were steeply discounted. December 2013 set a record that stands for dollar value of Top 300 Graphic Novels ordered, topping $10 million — but publishers realized a relatively smaller portion of that money.
Looking at the unit to dollar change spreads, I would expect that this December did not have the same level of deep-discounting. With Saga Vol. 4 topping the December graphic novels chats, I would expect that when comparing only new material that sold for regular price, this year's December graphic novel bottom line probably compares rather better with last December's.
|Loot Crate Edition of #36 (pic from Boxesfordays.com)|
Now, before we lament that we're running out of symbols to use for asterisks, it's important to remember what the charts are: a record of what Diamond sold. It happens that increasingly, some of its sales each month are going to places other than comic shops — but in general, its tables are a fairly good expression of the sales picture for the Direct Market. There have always been comics selling other places — the newsstand, obviously! — and while we count those sales in broader indexes, we don't worry with them in the monthly charts. Diamond can't rank what Diamond didn't ship.
just-announced Loot Crate edition: there's enough Direct Market copies that it will clearly be the top seller on our 21st Century charts here, but we'll have to see from the numbers in a few weeks just how many of them moved through Diamond.
If there are companies that deal directly with repackagers like Loot Crate — as appears to be the case with DC here — we might expect there to be quite a few more months where the top comic book in the industry isn't reflected in the Direct Market. Since Comichron's monthly charts are based on what Diamond sells, we'll continue to keep to that in our charts — though we might acknowledge what else is out there parenthetically when we know about it. (More parenthetically than this!)
With all that said, the Top 10 comics Diamond sold in the month of December:
|2||Amazing Spider-Man #11||$3.99||Marvel|
|4||Batman Annual #3||$4.99||DC|
|6||Justice League #37||$3.99||DC|
|7||Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1||$4.99||Marvel|
|8||Avengers and X-Men Axis #7||$3.99||Marvel|
|9||Avengers and X-Men Axis #9||$4.99||Marvel|
|10||Avengers and X-Men Axis #8||$3.99||Marvel|
|1||Saga Vol. 4||$14.99||Image|
|2||Captain America Peggy Carter Agent of Shield #1||$7.99||Marvel|
|3||Just the Tips HC||$12.99||Image|
|4||Manhattan Projects Vol. 5 The Cold War||$14.99||Image|
|5||Sunstone Vol. 1||$14.99||Image|
|6||Superman Unchained Deluxe Ed HC||$29.99||DC|
|7||Batman the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 1||$14.99||DC|
|8||New 52 Futures End Vol. 1||$39.99||DC|
|9||Nightwing Vol. 5 Setting Son||$16.99||DC|
|10||Walking Dead Vol. 1 Days Gone Bye||$14.99||Image|
|Dollar Share||Unit Share|
Finally, the number of new items released to the market:
|Publisher||Comics shipped||Graphic Novels shipped||Magazines shipped||Total shipped|
That's a considerable number from Action Lab, appearing on this chart for the first time.
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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, releasing January 27. Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com.
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