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John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Retailers order 114,000 Amazing Spider-Man #25s, most expensive comic ever to top charts

by John Jackson Miller

http://www.shareasale.com/r.cfm?u=296154&b=44882&m=8908&afftrack=&urllink=www%2Etfaw%2Ecom%2FComics%2FProfile%2FAmazing%2DSpider%2DMan%2D25%5F%5F%5F532191Comics retailers in North America ordered nearly 114,000 copies of the $9.99 Amazing Spider-Man #25 in March, making it both a million-dollar item at full retail and the most expensive comic book ever to top the monthly sales charts. That's according to Comichron's estimates based on an analysis of the latest information released by Diamond Comic Distributors. Click to see the comics sales estimates for March 2017.

As noted here Friday, March was the best week of the year thus far, helping the market to edge back to just a 3% loss for the quarter — a middling performance when it comes to the light-volume winter season. Ten percent more comic books were shipped in the month than in the same month in the previous year. A particularly heartening sign is that the 300th-place title for the month had orders of 4,812 copies, many more than last March's 4,269 copies for that level.

Fewer new graphic novel releases meant the category continued to lag year-over-year; in all, 6% fewer graphic novels have been released this year versus last year. Unit sales levels were down all along the Top 300 list for graphic novels, in part but probably not entirely because of these missing new releases. That said, the #2 book for the month, Walking Dead Vol. 27, had an identical number of copies ordered as last March's Walking Dead Vol. 25, so there's no apparent slowdown in that line. There was major deep-discounting on several books, including Marvel hardcovers, so while those appear in the Top 300s, those don't have much as effect on the market shares.

There's been online discussion lately about Marvel's performance at the end of last year and the possible reasons involved — but as I told NPR last week, there are elements in play that make comparatives more complicated, not just for the publisher but for the market in general. As I reported at the end of 2016, 2015 saw a major publishing event — the return of Star Wars comics to Marvel — that added $31 million that we know of in Direct Market orders to that year. The impact of that return in 2015 made it especially challenging for 2016's orders for all publishers combined to keep pace, and they only just barely did — and Marvel's Direct Market fourth quarter was down in 2016 versus 2015. But total Q4 2016 retailer orders from the publisher still appear to have increased quite a bit from the same season in 2014, before Star Wars arrived at Marvel, so while the effect was diminished, the publisher still netted out ahead of where it was two years before.

As mentioned often here, the monthly Diamond shipment numbers aren't always the best metric when it comes to evaluating the cross-time performance of individual titles; the aggregate figures are usually the better thing to look at. But 2015 falls into a small category of timeframes (including, most recently, 2011-12) with events so impactful that even the wider measures require comparative caveats for years to come. Those events may not always be decisive in looking at various trends, but they are part of the statistical environment.

The vital statistics for the month:


TOP 300 COMICS SHIPPED (in UNITS)
March 2017 6.64 million copies
1 Year Ago 6.01 million copies +10%
5 Years Ago 6.02 million copies +10%
10 Years Ago 7 million copies -5%
15 Years Ago 5.12 million copies +30%
20 Years Ago 8.45 million copies -21%
ALL Comics Shipped in Month (Units) 7.48 million copies +9%
Year To Date 20 million copies
1 Year Ago 18.45 million copies +8%
5 Years Ago 17.89 million copies +12%
10 Years Ago 20.3 million copies -1%
15 Years Ago 16.18 million copies +24%
ALL Comics Shipped Year to Date (Units) 22.89 million copies +11%
TOP 300 COMICS SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
March 2017 $26.03 million
1 Year Ago $24.38 million +7%
5 Years Ago $20.8 million +25%
10 Years Ago $22.44 million +16%
15 Years Ago $14.01 million +86%
20 Years Ago $19.7 million +32%
ALL Comics Shipped during Month (Dollars) +6%
Year To Date $75.37 million
1 Year Ago $72.8 million +4%
5 Years Ago $61.6 million +22%
10 Years Ago $64.14 million +18%
15 Years Ago $45.81 million +65%
ALL Comics Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) +1%
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
March 2017 (Top 300 GNs) $9.89 million
March 2017 (Top 100 GNs) $6.2 million
March 2017 (Top 50 GNs) $3.31 million
March 2017 (Top 25 GNs) $1.95 million
Versus 1 Year Ago $8.67 million +14%
Versus 5 Years Ago (Top 300) $6.44 million +54%
Versus 10 Years Ago (Top 100) $4.14 million +50%
Versus 15 Years Ago (Top 50) $2.77 million +19%
ALL Graphic Novel Shipped in Month (Dollars) -15%
Year To Date $24.21 million
1 Year Ago $24.49 million -1%
ALL Graphic Novel Dollars Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) -11%
TOP 300 COMICS plus TOP GNs SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
March 2017 (including Top 300 GNs) $35.92 million
March 2017 (including Top 300 GNs) $32.22 million
March 2017 (including Top 100 GNs) $29.34 million
March 2017 (including Top 25 GNs) $27.97 million
Versus 1 Year Ago $32.73 million +10%
Versus 5 Years Ago (Top 300) $27.23 million +18%
Versus 10 Years Ago (Top 50) $26.58 million -2%
Versus 15 Years Ago (Top 50) $16.78 million +86%
All Comics & GNs Shipped in Month (Dollars) -2%
Year To Date $99.62 million
1 Year Ago $96.67 million +3%
ALL Comics & GNs Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) -3%
ALL COMICS AND GNs SHIPPED (in Dollars)
March 2017 $45,792,244.00
Versus 1 Year Ago $46.58 million -2%
Versus 5 Years Ago $33.72 million +36%
Versus 10 Years Ago $33.43 million +37%
Year To Date $125.67 million
1 Year Ago $129.57 million -3%
TITLE SPECIFICS
TOP SELLING TITLE
Amazing Spider-Man #25  113,934 copies at  $9.99
300th SELLING TITLE
Doctor Who 11th Year Three #3  4,812 copies at  $3.99
NEW RELEASE VOLUME
New Comics Released 536
New Graphic Novels Released 325
New Magazines Released 27
Total New Print Items Released 888
PRICING
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.95
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300, weighted by orders $3.92
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 25 $3.91
Median Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.99
Most Common Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.99

One change for March in the comparatives: fifteen years ago, Diamond started reporting the Top 50 rather than the Top 25 trade paperbacks, so the comparatives for the 15-year columns now look at just the Top 50 when it comes to 2017's sales.

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Some improvement in March 2017 comics orders; $9.99 Amazing Spider-Man #25 tops charts

by John Jackson Miller


If you didn't know a number of things about the comics market this past winter, looking at the comics shop market sales estimates for the first quarter would be extremely confusing. By the numbers, for example, fewer comics were shipped in five-shipping-week March, 7.47 million copies, than in either of the four-week months of January and February, for example (7.57 and 7.85 million copies respectively). Yet retailers spent more on comics in March than in either of those two months.

That's because -- as you know if you've been reading -- Marvel shipped a significant number of copies to retailers for free in January, while February saw retailers buy three quarters of a million copies of a 25-cent issue of Walking Dead. Meanwhile, March's top-ordered comic book, Amazing Spider-Man #25, cost nearly $10!

As a result, according to Comichron's analysis of data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors, March was the best month of the year thus far, with nearly $45.8 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines shipping to retailers.

That's still a drop from the previous year, but only of 1.68% -- meaning that the year-over-year decline has narrowed to just 3%, or about $4 million dollars ($125.67 million versus $129.58 million last year). And if we skip back to the first quarter of 2014 -- before Star Wars arrived at Marvel and transformed the winter charts dramatically -- we find that the first quarter of 2017 is up 8% in dollars by comparison.

The aggregate sales statistics:

DollarsUnits
March 2017 vs. February 2017
Comics+15.00%-4.72%
Graphic Novels+15.44%+19.72%
Total Comics/GNs+15.14%-3.13%
Toys+34.66%+55.98%
March 2017 vs. March 2016
Comics+6.02%+8.93%
Graphic Novels-15.36%-17.47%
Total Comics/GNs-1.68%+6.21%
Toys-9.24%+0.51%
Year-to-Date 2017 vs. Year-to-Date 2016
Comics+0.70%+11.05%
Graphic Novels-10.68%-13.49%
Total Comics/GNs-3.01%+8.89%
Toys-2.52%-0.31%

Now, as you can see from the above, it's not all good news, because dollar orders for graphic novels were off more than 15%. But on comparison, we see that 12% fewer new graphic novel titles were released this March versus last March, 325 versus 371. That explains a lot; with 46 more graphic novel releases, March overall might have gone into positive territory. The new release figures:

PublisherComics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazinesTotal shipped
Marvel
92
39
0
131
DC
92
31
0
123
Image
61
16
2
79
IDW
60
19
0
79
Dark Horse
25
14
0
39
Titan
24
6
5
35
Boom
24
10
0
34
Viz
0
26
0
26
Dynamite
21
1
0
22
Valiant
7
2
0
9
Other
130
161
20
311
TOTAL SHIPPED
536
325
27
888

It's DC and Image that had the largest declines in new graphic novel releases versus last March. On the comics side, the number of new releases increased, from 488 last March to 536 this March, with Marvel shipping fewer titles and DC, Image, IDW, Dark Horse, and Titan expanding their release slates.

On the market share side, Marvel led the dollar shares while DC again took the unit share lead, with its cheaper price points. The market shares:

Dollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel35.41%34.34%
DC28.75%35.46%
Image10.71%10.02%
IDW5.68%4.72%
Dark Horse3.48%3.09%
Boom2.15%1.86%
Dynamite1.76%2.00%
Titan1.15%1.06%
Viz1.14%0.43%
Valiant1.14%1.37%
Other8.62%5.64%

As suggested in the headline, part of what helped build Marvel's dollar-share is a comic book that, if it led the unit shares, must have done gangbusters on the dollar side: the $9.99 Amazing Spider-Man #25. It beat out the $5.99 Dark Knight III: The Master Race #8 and everything else for the top slot:

COMIC BOOK
PRICEPUBLISHER
1Amazing Spider-Man #259.99Marvel
2Dark Knight III: The Master Race #8$5.99DC
3Batman #18$2.99DC
4Batman #19$2.99DC
5Iron Fist #1$3.99Marvel
6X-Men Prime #1$4.99Marvel
7Star Wars #29$3.99Marvel
8All-Star Batman #8$4.99DC
9The Walking Dead #165$2.99Image
10Justice League #16$2.99DC

Saga Vol. 7 and Walking Dead Vol. 27 led the graphic novel charts. The final month of the quarter is when you often see publishers offering deep discounts on hardcovers, and this March was no different -- but the presence of these high-volume titles atop the list probably worked to keep the graphic novel unit and dollar share performances reasonably close, only two percentage points apart. The titles:

GRAPHIC NOVELPRICEPUBLISHER
1Saga Vol. 714.99Image
2The Walking Dead Vol. 27: The Whisperer War$14.99Image
3Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Die Laughing$16.99DC
4Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault$16.99DC
5Death of X$17.99Marvel
6Titans Vol. 1: The Return of Wally West$16.99DC
7Wolverine: Old Man Logan$29.99Marvel
8Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional$16.99DC
9Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside$16.99DC
10Deadly Class Vol. 5: Carousel$14.99Image

That's it for the preliminary analysis of March's sales; a first quarter that, for all the hue and cry heard about it, lands right in the middle of winters over the last twenty-plus years; neither particularly strong or weak. That is, of course, from the 30,000-foot level of aggregate sales -- but when the market's increased in dollar volume five years in a row and book channel graphic novel sales are up 12%, it should take a bit more than a 3% drop in the traditionally smallest quarter of the year to sound the general alarm. A defining feature of the comics market in 21st Century has been its resilience, and there's nothing in the numbers -- as yet -- to suggest that's going away any time soon.

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 6, 2017

February 2017 comics sales estimates now online

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors has released its full comics sales report for February 2017, and the Comichron estimates based on those sales figures are now online. The estimates now appear on our master page for February 2017 Comic Book Sales, and are sortable and searchable.

As mentioned here Friday, February was another month in which a lot of comic books were shipped to the Direct Market at relatively little cost to retailers, although for a different reason than in January. That month, Marvel’s 10% minimum overship resulted in the largest number of comic books sent to market in any January since 1997. This time, it was Image’s 25th anniversary — and its promotionally priced comic books — that caused the largest number of new comic books to be shipped than in any February since 1997, according to Comichron’s analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.

More than 7.85 million comic books were shipped by Diamond to retailers in North America, and more than 750,000 of them were copies of Walking Dead #163, which retailers ordered at its 25-cent cost. Special no-cover-price variants were also offered for retailers who ordered 250 copies or more, and again for 500 copies or more.

Diamond does not include comics cover-priced under a dollar in its Top Sellers lists, a move made after Batman: The Ten-Cent Adventure, a nine-cent issue of Fantastic Four and a 13-cent Gen13 topped the charts in 2002, along with all the original Free Comic Book Day issues. (We removed those issues to the tops of their respective months, with asterisks rather than rankings, in the Comichron charts.) So while Diamond acknowledged the performance of the Walking Dead issue in its press release, it ranked Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 as the top-seller for February.

The 25-cent Image copies resulted in a lopsided market share reading for the company; its unit share was 18.13%, as compared with a 9.58% dollar share. While Diamond’s unit shares from month to month can be found on Comichron’s individual monthly pages, it isn’t something we keep a trendline file on (in part because of volatility like this) — so we can’t really say the last time its unit share hit such a level. The 9.58% dollar share is Image’s best since January 2016, so while it’s on the high end, it’s hit loftier marks relatively recently.

We see the absence of the Walking Dead issues from the charts when we add up the sales of the Top 300 comics. 6.33 million copies of the Top 300 comics were sold, but 7.85 million copies were sold overall. That's a larger than usual gap unaccounted for, and includes the Walking Deads.

Retailers ordered $39.77 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines across February’s four shipping weeks; that’s the first time the overall total has been below $40 million since February 2014. Comics dollar sales were off 4.47% and graphic novels off 3.3%, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 4.11%. The aggregate sales statistics appear below:

Friday, March 3, 2017

Darth Maul, Marvel top February comics orders; more than 750,000 25-cent Walking Deads ship

by John Jackson Miller


February was another month in which a lot of comic books were shipped to the Direct Market at relatively little cost to retailers, although for a different reason than in January. That month, Marvel’s 10% minimum overship resulted in the largest number of comic books sent to market in any January since 1997. This time, it was Image’s 25th anniversary — and its promotionally priced comic books — that caused the largest number of new comic books to be shipped than in any February since 1997, according to Comichron’s analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.

More than 7.85 million comic books were shipped by Diamond to retailers in North America, and more than 750,000 of them were copies of Walking Dead #163, which retailers ordered at its 25-cent cost. Special no-cover-price variants were also offered for retailers who ordered 250 copies or more, and again for 500 copies or more.

Diamond does not include comics cover-priced under a dollar in its Top Sellers lists, a move made after Batman: The Ten-Cent Adventure, a nine-cent issue of Fantastic Four and a 13-cent Gen13 topped the charts in 2002, along with all the original Free Comic Book Day issues. (We removed those issues to the tops of their respective months, with asterisks rather than rankings, in the Comichron charts.) So while Diamond acknowledged the performance of the Walking Dead issue in its press release, it ranked Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 as the top-seller for February.

The 25-cent Image copies resulted in a lopsided market share reading for the company; its unit share was 18.13%, as compared with a 9.58% dollar share. While Diamond’s unit shares from month to month can be found on Comichron’s individual monthly pages, it isn’t something we keep a trendline file on (in part because of volatility like this) — so we can’t really say the last time its unit share hit such a level. The 9.58% dollar share is Image’s best since January 2016, so while it’s on the high end, it’s hit loftier marks relatively recently.

Retailers ordered $39.77 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines across February’s four shipping weeks; that’s the first time the overall total has been below $40 million since February 2014. Comics dollar sales were off 4.47% and graphic novels off 3.3%, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 4.11%.

The comparative sales statistics:

DollarsUnits
February 2017 vs. January 2017
Comics-4.67%3.65%
Graphic Novels9.05%3.04%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.82%3.61%
Toys23.91%3.09%
February 2017 vs. February 2016
Comics-4.47%17.29%
Graphic Novels-3.30%-12.98%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-4.11%14.70%
Toys25.46%0.38%
Year-To-Date 2017 vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Comics-2.06%12.11%
Graphic Novels-7.60%-10.88%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.76%10.26%
Toys3.18%-0.94%

Marvel and DC’s unit market shares were nearly tied this month, though you can easily see from the dollar market shares the impact of the $3.99/$2.99 contrast between Marvel and DC’s cover prices. Marvel’s dollar market share is nearly four points higher than its unit share; DC’s more than three points lower.

Dollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel37.46%33.64%
DC30.23%33.47%
Image9.58%18.13%
IDW5.83%3.27%
Dark Horse2.57%1.45%
Boom2.08%1.84%
Dynamite1.52%2.06%
Titan1.16%0.92%
Viz1.10%0.35%
Oni0.86%0.60%
Other7.62%4.27%

The Top 10 comics included three DC titles whose sales were reduced by 10% due to returnability: Justice League of America #1, Super Sons #1, and Justice League of America: Rebirth #1.

COMIC BOOKPRICEPUBLISHER
1Star Wars Darth Maul #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman #16$2.99DC
3Batman #17$2.99DC
4Justice League of America #1*$2.99DC
5Super Sons #1*$2.99DC
6Walking Dead #164$2.99Image
7All Star Batman #7$4.99DC
8Star Wars #28$3.99Marvel
9Justice League of America Rebirth #1*$2.99DC
10Justice League #14$2.99DC

The regularly priced Walking Dead #164 also shipped in the month, and placed sixth.

On the graphic novel side of things, unit sales of graphic novels were down quite a bit against a February last year that had both a new Wicked & Divine and a new Lumberjanes volume. Seven to Eternity Vol. 1 led the chart:

GRAPHIC NOVELPRICEPUBLISHER
1Seven to Eternity Vol. 1$9.99Image
2Love Is Love$9.99IDW
3Batman Detective Vol. 1 Rise Ot Batmen (Rebirth)$16.99DC
4Snotgirl Vol. 1 Green Hair Dont Care$9.99Image
5Wonder Woman Vol. 1 The Lies (Rebirth)$16.99DC
6March Book 3$19.99IDW
7Superman Action Comics Vol. 1 Path of Doom (Rebirth)$16.99DC
8Hal Jordan & The GLC Vol. 1 Sinestro's Law (Rebirth)$17.99DC
9Outcast By Kirkman & Azaceta Vol. 4$14.99Image
10Civil War II HC$50.00Marvel

Low-priced comics aside, the number of different new comic books in February was off 7% versus the previous year, so this February’s releases punched their weight a little better. That said, Marvel’s 104 new comics was a higher figure than we usually see in the first quarter — and Titan’s 24 new comics is likely a new high for that company.

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic Novels
 shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel104360140
DC82331116
Image4614161
IDW3622058
Titan246030
Boom243027
Dark Horse1313026
Viz023023
Dynamite164020
Oni105015
Other9413820252
Total44929722768

Boom, which made headlines a year or so ago by directing its efforts away from periodicals toward more graphic novels, seems to have gone back the other direction; it shipped 24 new comic books in February versus only three new graphic novels, according to Diamond.

Thus far it’s a slightly off start to the year, if a highly idiosyncratic one in statistical terms; as with all winter months, Comichron recommends not reading too much into it. Many is the year in which even a slightly strong April or May erased an entire first-quarter’s deficit. The volumes in play are simply lower at this time of year.

What was selling in Feburary in years past? Check out of Flashback column for the month.

This month marks the start of Comichron’s tenth anniversary celebration; I’m doing an Ask-Me-Anything on Reddit’s Comic Books subreddit at 3 Eastern today, March 3. (UPDATE: And you can read the questions and answers here.)

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Comichron Ask-Me-Anything set for Reddit on Friday

by John Jackson Miller

March 2017 marks ten years that Comichron has been online, and we have some interesting additions planned for the site this month. To kick things off, this Friday at 3 p.m. EST I'll be doing an Ask Me Anything in the Reddit Comic Books section. Be sure to drop by with any questions you have about comic book circulation, comics cover price history, or the other things we cover on the site!

That's 3/3 at 3 EST. Suitable for a site about numbers! (UPDATE: You can read the questions and answers here.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

January 2017 comics sales estimates online; overships visible in charts (without affecting much)

by John Jackson Miller

Comichron's estimates are now online for comics and graphic novels shipped in January by Diamond Comic Distributors, and while a number of elements make analyzing this month trickier than usual, the month's $40.1 million performance doesn't look too far out of line with what we've come to expect from winter months in the past when no blockbusters like Star Wars #1 were around. Click to see Comichron's comics sales estimates for January 2017.

As noted here Friday, U.S. Avengers #1 topped the charts in a month that saw Marvel offer retailers a free 10% overship on its titles, essentially sending extra copies for free matched to their existing orders. This is reflected when dollar rankings are compared with what we might expect those rankings to have been by multiplying unit sales by cover price; fully 84 of Marvel's 91 entries in the Top 300 have dollar rankings that are worse than we'd expect to see had all their copies all shipped at their regular discounts.

While overshipped copies for obvious reasons have no impact on the dollar market shares, they are counted toward the unit market shares and in the Top 300 lists, and that's readily apparent from looking at the data. Marvel's unit share was six points higher than its dollar share, and the gap was wider than the gap for DC; that is simply not possible given how many DC books are cheaper unless the effective wholesale price of Marvel's comics is somehow less. Overships are one way of making that happen.

The other real tipoff is in the dollar rankings, which you can now see alongside the unit sales rankings in Comichron's charts. In the era of $2.99 DC comics, Marvel's dollar rankings have tended to be a good deal better than its dollar rankings. In January, much of that advantage was gone. You can really see the impact, however, by an experiment: if you multiply the number of copies sold of each title by cover price, you can project "expected dollar rankings." The Diamond-reported dollar rankings of 84 of Marvel's 91 titles in the Top 300 were worse than their expected dollar rankings, which, again, can only mean that either Marvel's discount was much bigger last month, or that some of the copies were free.

For an example of the effect that removes cover-price from the equation, look to $3.99 Gwenpool #10, in 127th place; it sold about the same number of copies as the $3.99 DC book just above it and the $3.99 Image book just below it. Yet Gwenpool's dollar ranking was 133rd place, while the other two books were at 108th and 112th. Those books didn't have overships diluting their dollar rankings.


http://bit.ly/CCSaga41
For a much less complicated confirmation of how free copies can impact the charts, there's actually a unique example in Saga #41 in January. The Image comic book was produced in December with a cover printing error, and it appears from reports that most retailers received it; the book made the charts in December, and many of the error copies are now on eBay. In January, replacement copies were sent — evidently at no cost, because the dollar ranking of the issue was way up at 548th place. The fact that it appears in the rankings at all may attribute to retailers having paid regular wholesale price for a small fraction of those copies — reorders received after December issue's cutoff.

(Interestingly, the number of replacement copies Diamond shipped in January was slightly smaller than the number appearing in December's charts, even with reorders in play. One possible reason for this could be end-of-year churn in the retail base, a not uncommon time for it as a few operators always avoid going into a new tax year.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

More comics shipped in January 2017 than any January in 20 years; U.S. Avengers #1 leads pack

by John Jackson Miller

January comics and graphic novel orders got 2017 off to a slightly slower start than last year, according to Comichron's analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. But while the $40.1 million in orders — off 3% — was the lowest one-month total since February 2014, Marvel's overship promotion offering a free 10% match to retailers' orders helped create a situation in which more comics were shipped than in any first month of the year since January 1997, 20 years ago.

Diamond shipped 7.57 million comic books to retailers in the month, up 7.21% over January 2016 and even beating out 2015's massive Star Wars #1 month. Free comics obviously don't impact dollar sales, so comics dollar sales were only up 0.36%.

That disjoint suggests that while January's performance was off at the distributor level, it could easily have been an up month at the retail level, depending on how all that extra material sold. Diamond's comparative sales statistics charts and market share charts are based on wholesale prices and not retail, which is what that $40.1 million figure is; the real dollar value of comics and graphic novels retailers had to sell was probably several million higher.

This isn't new; every month there's some level of deep discounting of graphic novels or promotional pricing of comics, and so there's always a bit more — and some months, a lot more — potential sales out there for retailers than the overall sales number suggests. The comparative stats for the month:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Comichron's provisional Direct Market comics sales rankings and market shares for 2016

by John Jackson Miller

In the rules of golf, if a ball is lost in the woods, the player continues with a "provisional ball." If the original ball is found within a limited time, the original is the one played; if not, the player takes a penalty and continues with the provisional ball as if it were the original.

This diversion into USGA Rule 27-2 is relevant to comics because — as many have noticed — the 2016 end-of-year Top Sellers and Market Shares from Diamond Comic Distributors have been lost in the proverbial woods this year. There is a multi-step process involved every year in the publication of Diamond's year-end charts; the distributor has informed me that the process for 2016’s reports was not fully completed — and is not now expected to be, especially as we're already in mid-February. (CORRECTION: The latter characterization was mine, stemming from my misunderstanding of what I had been told. While it is correct that steps remain before publication, there was no intention on Diamond's part to convey that it would never happen. I apologize for the error.)

As such, Comichron’s provisional rankings and market shares, which we've based on the previous twelve months’ estimates, now appear on our 2016 page and will remain unless and until more definitive information becomes available. These figures have also become the basis for our updates to several other tables on the site, including the Top-Selling Comics of the 21st Century.  
Click to see our projections for the Top Thousand Comics and Graphic Novels for 2016, or read on for more detail on how we arrived at the calculations:

Monday, February 13, 2017

New Comichron FAQ section launched

As part of our ongoing renovations, we're building out our FAQ section to give permanent homes to a lot of the primers and essays once found as blog posts here. Some of the pages there are among our most popular:

The Best-Selling Comic Book of All Time
A look at X-Men Vol. 2, #1 (1991), and how it compares with international rivals.

Comics Buyer's Guide: A Look BackA 46th anniversary look back at how a newspaper started by a teenager became one of the hubs of comics fandom, running nearly 1,700 issues.

Where Did Comics Numbering Come From?
Comics are numbered unlike most other American magazines; a look at some of the historical reasons that may be involved.

There are also pieces on how to interpret our postal sales figures and monthly distributor reports. Much more to come!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

February Comics Flashbacks: Some strong winters past


Top comics shop seller:
Justice League #6 (DC)
135,400 copies first month
145,200 copies sold by year-end

February 2012 was that rarest of beasts, as it had five Wednesdays; that helped the month end up considerably over the year before. It was the start of a very strong year for the Direct Market, as the DC relaunch was still young; Justice League #6 was the top title.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2012. You can also read my original preliminary and final analysis pieces for the month.



Top comics shop seller:
Civil War #7 (Marvel)
265,900 copies first month

Civil War wrapped up with an issue that helped give the Direct Market as strong a February in 2007 as January had been, a month with an additional shipping week. It was the best February since the Diamond Exclusive Era began, and with sales up 20% in the first two months of the year, it kicked off a very strong 2007.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2007. You can also read my original analysis.



Top comics shop seller:
Dark Knight Strikes Again #3 (DC)
184,300 copies sold first month

At $7.95, Dark Knight Strikes Again remains one of the most expensive comic books ever to top the sales charts. Issue #3 brought in more dollars for retailers than the next half-dozen comic books on the charts combined.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2002.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #343 (Marvel)
171,400 copies preordered first month
Around 300,700 copies sold overall

Uncanny X-Men #343 led the charts in a weak month for the Direct Market. In addition to being the dead of winter — with no "Age of Apocalypse" or "DC Versus Marvel" event as in the previous two years — changes in discount incentives at Diamond resulted in lower sales. Soon Diamond would offer products from all the industry's publishers again; on February 7, Marvel announced it would be shutting Heroes World Distribution down and returning to Diamond.

Click to see the sales charts for February 1997.



Top comics shop seller:
X-Men Vol. 2 #7 (Marvel)
535,200 copies sold to comics shops
645,400 copies sold overall

Marvel's "adjectiveless" X-Men series, launched the previous summer with the bestselling comic book to that time (or ever since!) was still going strong by this point in 1992. Internal Marvel records put the number of comics sold to the Direct Market at 535,200 copies; 150,600 of those went to Capital City.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #217 (Marvel)
270,000 copies sold to comics shops
431,400 copies sold overall

Preorders for January-shipping titles were found in the January issue of Capital City's Internal Correspondence magazine, where reports were slightly out of sync with the shipping schedule. Capital ranked Uncanny X-Men #217 at #1. Capital sold 55,400 copies out of the 267,300 copies that Marvel internal records report were shipped to the Direct Market. The total was 431,400 copies sold overall once subscriptions and other markets were accounted for.

 Marvel, which had just been sold by Cadence to New World, had a 48.3% market share at the end of 1986 at Capital. DC was at 26.8%.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #157 (Marvel)
Around 313,000 copies sold overall

One of the first of many Phoenix-is-back-from-the-dead tease covers, Uncanny X-Men #157 found Kitty Pryde pretending to be Jean Grey while aboard a Shi-ar ship. The comics series was riding high, selling around 313,000 copies per issue.

There were no indexed distributor sales charts before 1984, but we know from Statements of Ownership that Uncanny X-Men was by far the year's bestseller, beating out second-place Amazing Spider-Man by more than 20%.



Top comics shop seller:
Amazing Spider-Man #168 (Marvel)
Around 282,000 copies sold overall

Amazing Spider-Man did lead once you go five more years back; February's issue, #168, featured Will-o-the-Wisp and probably had close to a 45,000-copy lead on Superman. Supplementing this issue's sales were simultaneous printings for sale in three-pack bags from Whitman.



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #250 (DC)
Around 318,000 copies sold

Spider-Man was chasing Superman down in this era, but DC's flagship title still had a lead of about 30,000 copies per issue. The series by now was monthly after many years with two skip months, which impacts what months it was leading as we project backwards.



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #195 (DC)
Around 649,300 copies sold

The bestselling comics series in 1967 was Batman, boosted by the ABC TV series — but there was no Batman issue in February, so Superman took the top slot in this tale of the "Furty of the Kryptonian Killer."



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #152 (DC)
Around 740,000 copies sold

And it's Superman all the way to the end of our sales data, with the challenge of "The Robot Master" leading sales during the second month of 1962.
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