Monday, April 13, 2015
by John Jackson Miller
Diamond Comic Distributors, and as reported here on Friday, the first quarter closed with some modest improvement overall versus the same period last year. Marvel's Princess Leia #1, the top-selling title, topped a quarter million copies. Click to see the sales estimates for comics ordered in March 2015.
Readers studying Diamond's order index number will note a significant move this month; as there was no issue of Batman, the charts keyed off of Batman: Arkham Knight #1 instead. There also appears, from Diamond's wholesale rankings, to have been significant discounting on Guardians Team-Up #1. It had the same cover price as Amazing Spider-Man #16, which it sold nearly twice as many copies as — but Diamond took in more money for Amazing.
Someone asked what the first comic book was to top the monthly sales charts starring a female lead whose name was also the title of the comic book. (The title inclusion is an useful distinction, because several of the issues of Uncanny X-Men which led the market in the 1980s focused almost entirely on Storm, Kitty Pryde, and other characters.) My guess would be Dazzler #1, which sold 428,000 copies in Marvel's first major Direct Market-only experiment. For early 1981, that would have been enough to give it the top honors. Red Sonja's launch in the 1970s was certainly popular but likely didn't have near the distribution of other titles.
In the 1960s, Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane reached as high as third in 1962, behind Superman and Superboy — and did so again in 1965. DC didn't publish sales data for 1963 and 1964 for those titles, but it likely was in around the same place then. But while there were months back then that Superman wasn't published, there was always a Superboy issue in those months. And Uncle Scrooge, #1 in 1960 and 1961, did not file a circulation statement with the U.S. Postal Service for 1962 because of Gold Key's split from Dell, so it might have been a contender for the top spot in 1962 as well.
Before the 1960s, I don't see any likely challengers. Wonder Woman was never a top-tier seller, Little Lulu was middle-tier at Dell, and it was 1980 before Betty and Veronica were outselling Archie. So I think while there may have been individual shipping weeks where Lois Lane was the bestselling title on the racks, Dazzler #1 is likely the first such title that topped the charts for an entire month.
(Edit: And to quickly correct any misapprehension, there were other titles in the Diamond Exclusive era that fit the description. Lara Croft, Tomb Raider led the charts in November 1999. 1998 saw months led by Fathom and Witchblade/Tomb Raider, which may not fit the strict definition if those weren't the lead characters' proper names.)
As detailed in Friday's report, the quarterly sales were up nearly 10% for the Direct Market this winter. The aggregate changes are as follows:
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2015: 6.77 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: +9%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +1%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +16%
YEAR TO DATE: 20.77 million copies, +13% vs. 2014, +22% vs. 2010, +18% vs. 2005, +23% vs. 2000
ALL COMICS UNIT SALES
March 2015 versus one year ago this month: +9.92%
YEAR TO DATE: +13.76%
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALESMarch 2015: $25.17 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +10%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +18%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +32%
Versus 15 years ago this month: +64%
YEAR TO DATE: $79.63 million, +17% vs. 2014, +34% vs. 2010, +60% vs. 2005, +81% vs. 2000
ALL COMICS DOLLAR SALES
March 2015 versus one year ago this month: +11.19%
YEAR TO DATE: +13.85%
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESMarch 2015: $6.23 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -28%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -40%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -12%
Versus 15 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +22%
YEAR TO DATE: $18.82 million, -9% vs. 2014
ALL TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
March 2015 versus one year ago this month: -12.56%
YEAR TO DATE: +0.65%
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALESMarch 2015: $31.4 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -1%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +5%
Versus 10 years ago this month, counting just the Top 100 TPBs: +14%
Versus 15 years ago this month, counting just the Top 25 TPBs: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $98.42 million, +11% vs. 2014
ALL COMICS AND TRADE PAPERBACK SALES
March 2015 versus one year ago this month: +2.99%
YEAR TO DATE: +9.63%
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)March 2015: approximately $41.94 million (subject to revision)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +14%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $127.89 million, +10% vs. 2014
New comic books released: 455
New graphic novels released: 258
New magazines released: 29
All new releases: 742
The average comic book in the Top 300 cost $3.75; the average comic book retailers ordered cost $3.83. The median and most common price for comics offered was $3.99. Click to see comics prices across time.
And that concludes the March report. I'll be at Star Wars Celebration later this week; if you're there, stop by and say hello. My schedule is 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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. He'll be in Anaheim, Calif. from April 16-19, speaking at Star Wars Celebration.
Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!