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The 2015 Two Thousand: Sales estimates for 2015's Top 1,000 comics and Top 1,000 graphic novels

Monday, January 11, 2016

by John Jackson Miller

With the release of December comics orders from Diamond Comic Distributors — and our subsequent analysis of and estimates for December 2015 comics sales now posted — Comichron has drawn upon that information to project estimates for the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Graphic Novels for 2015. The tables are on the page just beneath the image links to individual months.

This completes a quarter century of information, as there are 24 other years of Diamond annual reports on the site, going back to 1991. You can also find updated comparatives for how the market as a whole did across that time by viewing our Yearly Comics Sales page.

Led by Star Wars #1, the Top Thousand Comics accounted for around 58.59 million copies; Diamond reported it sold 98 million copies altogether, so that's nearly three-fifths of all copies. The figure is up from 52.07 million copies in 2014 and represents a big rebound. The totals from the past six years:

2010: 45.3 million copies
2011: 47 million copies
2012: 53.43 million copies
2013: 52.21 million copies
2014: 52.07 million copies
2015: 58.59 million copies

In full retail dollars, the Top Thousand Comics sold for $239.05 million, a huge increase over 2014's $201.03 million. (See the 2014 article here and charts here.)

Every single comic book in the Top 100 had "multiple order codes" at Diamond, meaning there were variant covers or reprints combined into one entry; one did not, but we believe that to be an error.

Noticing the trend, yet? The top-selling books were accounting for fewer copies sold in recent years than they had been, with books further down the charts accounting for more. But in 2015, that changed — and if you compare this year's titles with last year's titles, from 1st to 1,000th place, you see it in action.

In the first graphic above (click to enlarge) the Top 10 titles for the year are off the charts at the top, mostly above 250,000 copies. But then the titles through about 300th place had sales considerably higher in 2015 than in 2014.

Running the same kind of analysis shows us how much the quantities have increased in the last five years. The second graphic, below, compares Top 1000 comic sales by rank in 2010, the bottom of the last comics recesssion, with sales in 2015. Issues at every single ranking in 2015 outsold equivalently ranked comics in 2010.
Depicting the same information another way, we find the following breakdowns for unit sales:

NUMBER OF COMIC BOOK ISSUES SELLING
AT LEAST THIS MANY COPIES DURING YEAR
  



200,000+ 100,000+ 75,000+ 50,000+ 25,000+ 10,000+
2009 2 39 119 379 n.a. n.a.
2010 0 26 94 303 955 n.a.
2011 3 42 86 343 984 n.a.
2012 5 63 129 403 1100 2250
2013 6 64 178 390 1128 2430
2014 4 40 108 401 1195 2353
2015 21 95 167 367 1166 2280
  
What this table answers is: where does the 100,000-copy level start on the chart? In 2010, every book above 26th place sold that in the six figures; in 2015, six-figures went out to 95th place.
As you can see, the upper tiers, above 75,000 copies, soared dramatically from 2014 to 2015, reversing a dip from the previous year.

The Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Saga Vol. 4, went for $81.46 million, just barely up from $81.19 million in 2014. For the last five years, that comes to...

2011: $58.4 million
2012: $71.4 million
2013: $79.03 million
2014: $81.19 million
2015: $81.46 million

Combined, the Top Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Graphic Novel lists account for about 55% of all the orders by dollars Diamond received for print products in 2015. That's again another increase, after several years where the top-selling books were accounting for less of a growing pie.

Who published the Top Thousand Comics this year? Here's the breakdown:

Marvel: 517 (+5 from 2014)
DC: 381 (-26 from 2014)
Image: 62 (+5 from 2014)
Dark Horse: 10 (-4 from 2014)
IDW: 10 (+9 from 2014)

Oni: 6
(+6 from 2014)
Archie: 5 (+4 from 2014)
Valiant: 4 (+3 from 2014)
Titan: 2 (-1 from 2014)
Boom: 2
(+2 from 2014)
Dynamite: 1 (unchanged from 2014)

Boom reappeared on the list and Oni was added, thanks to Invader Zim and Rick & Morty. IDW recovered from the drop-off in 2014, while DC lost 26 entries.

And here's the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels. Those with 10 or more entries:

DC: 341 (-52 from 2014)
Marvel: 287 (+36 from 2014)
Image: 166 (+51 from 2014)
Dark Horse: 60 (-28 from 2014) 
IDW: 35 (-1 from 2014)
 Viz: 18 (+1 from 2014)
Boom: 14 (-5 from 2014)
Dynamite: 14 (+12 from 2014)
Random House: 13 (-12 from 2014)

Last year Marvel lost a lot of entries and DC gained them; the reverse happened this year. Image's increase was huge.

Comichron.com curator 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. New Dawn appears with a new Miller short story as part of the Rise of the Empire compendium, now available. His Star Trek: Prey trilogy is set for late 2016 release from Pocket books.


Visit his fiction site at http://www.farawaypress.com. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

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