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Marvel's Star Wars #1 boosts January 2015 comics sales; market up 12% to start year

Friday, February 6, 2015

by John Jackson Miller
The year is off to a solid start, according to preliminary statistics released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. Comic shops in North America ordered nearly $44 million in comic books and graphic novels in the month, up 12.27% over last January and topping the total for December, a rare but not unprecedented feat. It is the largest dollar figure for January in the Diamond Exclusive Era, and nearly double what it was in January ten years ago

In the least surprising news in some time, Star Wars #1 from Marvel was the chart-topper: the comic book is reported by its publisher to have sales over a million copies, helped by an unprecedented number of variant covers and boosted by special editions for Loot Crate and other channels. Marvel's market share jumped as a consequence, accounting for 45.64% of units and 41.05% of dollars. Overall comics unit sales were up 10.27% year-over-year, but slightly off from December.

This January was a four-ship-week month, but while January 2014 had five Wednesdays, its first Wednesday was counted as part of December 2013's shipping. So it's really a four-week-to-four-week comparison.

The comparative sales statistics:

Comics -2.69% -2.59%
Graphic Novels 9.12% 10.49%
Total Comics & Graphic Novels 0.77% -1.66%
Comics 10.27% 9.65%
Graphic Novels 16.83% 12.33%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 12.27% 9.86%
We'll be able to provide estimates for Diamond's January sales of Star Wars #1 next week, but as always when a publisher announces a sales number for a blockbuster — and Marvel, DC, Image, and many other publishers have done so in the past — be advised that the Diamond figure will almost certainly be lower. Diamond's figure only includes the copies it shipped to North American outlets in the calendar month. There's sure to be chart activity for the title in February; there are copies going to the U.K. market; and with this particular release, there are many custom releases going outside the comics field, and it's hard to know whether they all went through Diamond.

The Death of Wolverine hardcover led the graphic novel list. The top selling comics and graphic novels:

1 Star Wars #1 $4.99 Marvel
2 Batman #38 $3.99 DC
3 Amazing Spider-Man #12 $3.99 Marvel
4 Amazing Spider-Man #13 $3.99 Marvel
5 Uncanny Avengers #1 $3.99 Marvel
6 Wolverines #1 $3.99 Marvel
7 Ant-Man #1 $4.99 Marvel
8 Thor #4 $3.99 Marvel
9 Justice League #38 $3.99 DC
10 The Walking Dead #136 $2.99 Image
1 Death of Wolverine HC $24.99 Marvel
2 Outcast By Kirkman & Azaceta Vol.  1  $9.99 Image
3 Saga Vol.  4 $14.99 Image
4 Black Science Vol.  2: Welcome To Nowhere $14.99 Image
5 Saga Vol.  1 $9.99 Image
6 Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2: Spider-Verse Prelude $17.99 Marvel
7 Saga Vol.  3 $14.99 Image
8 Saga Vol.  2 $14.99 Image
9 The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye $14.99 Image
10 Deadpool: The Ones With Deadpool $15.99 Marvel

The market shares:

Dollar Share Unit Share
Marvel 41.05% 45.64%
DC 24.18% 27.06%
Image 9.21% 8.91%
IDW 5.78% 4.52%
Dark Horse 4.01% 3.03%
Dynamite 2.41% 2.22%
Boom 2.26% 2.28%
Eaglemos 1.46% 0.32%
Avatar 1.08% 0.81%
Viz 0.95% 0.39%
Other 7.61% 4.82%
 And finally, the number of new items shipped:

Comics Shipped Graphic Novels Shipped Magazines shipped Total Shipped
Marvel 79 33 0 112
DC 86 23 0 109
IDW 50 26 0 76
Image 54 14 0 68
Dark Horse 28 19 0 47
Boom 34 6 0 40
Dynamite 31 6 0 37
Viz 0 31 0 31
Eaglemoss 0 0 19 19
Avatar 10 2 1 13
Other 78 115 28 221
TOTAL 450 275 48 773

A last caveat: while January's figures surged, remember that the same things we say about poor Januaries applies here. The amount of volume in the business is lower, so swings can look large but not have much impact later in the year. Last April's volume was sufficient to erase the deficit from the winter months; likewise, a slightly off April might negate a very strong January. It's all about what's available on the shelves, and how much publishers release.

Full estimates should appear here Monday. 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

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