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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.

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