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

 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Marvel up 14% year-over-year in September as Legacy #1 tops charts; overall market pares losses

by John Jackson Miller

I had mentioned on Twitter earlier this week that while last September was a strong month for the Direct Market thanks to DC's Rebirth program, the month's sales levels offered a relatively reachable target. While information released today by Diamond Comic Distributors shows that September 2017 comics and graphic novel orders, at $43.52 million, fell six points short, that represents the smallest year-over-year drop since May.

Perhaps more significant, given the narrative we've seen in 2017, is that according to Comichron's analysis, orders for Marvel comics and graphic novels were up 14% in dollar terms over last September. That's an increase of about $2 million at retail, representing the publisher's best year-over-year performance since June 2016. The chart-topping Marvel Legacy #1 has something do with it, of course, and while there's always some level of deep-discounting on graphic novels, Marvel's unit and dollar shares were pretty close to one another -- right around 38% -- so there can't be too much of it involved. Marvel's 88 new comic books in September was also the smallest number of periodical releases for the publisher in any month this year.

Marvel's improvement relative to its past performance continues the reversal noted here last month of the trend seen earlier in 2017, in which the publisher was entirely responsible for the industry's decline in dollar terms; as of September it was DC, up against last year's Rebirth numbers, which accounts for the lion's share of the loss. But there, too, DC's rate of decline in September was nearly half what it was in August, thanks to the continuation of its Dark Multiverse event and the fact that Rebirth was starting to come down off its heights this time last year.

Does that mean that October, when DC's comparatives get easier and in which Marvel's Legacy event will be fully underway, will turn positive? Perhaps not a bet to take, as it will be a challenge: Marvel's October and November last year, while off from 2015, were relatively strong. An important question is whether graphic novels continue to under-perform: whereas periodicals pared their rate of loss for the year in September, graphic novels, led by Walking Dead Vol. 28, were down 13% in dollars. The number of new graphic novels in September was nearly the same as in August, which had an extra shipping week; new comics volume may seem high, but 365 new graphic novels is more than we've seen in a four-week month in three years.

The percentage changes:


DollarsUnits
September 2017 Vs. August 2017
Comics-0.44%1.26%
Graphic Novels-14.41%   -15.46%
Total Comics/GNs-4.81%-0.08%
Toys-18.35%-15.27%
September 2017 Vs. September 2016
Comics-2.98%-5.49%
Graphic Novels-13.14%   -16.98%
Total Comics/GNs-6.07%-6.37%
Toys-13.86%-30.78%
Year-to-Date 2017 Vs. Year-to-Date 2016
Comics-9.20%-6.15%
Graphic Novels-11.83%-13.22%
Total Comics/GNs-10.00%-6.71%
Toys-11.33%-18.24%

While the rate of decrease, as noted, did improve in September, the overall quarter was off 16%, the largest quarterly drop since 2003, when final orders began being reported by Diamond. There aren't too many events like Rebirth to be found in previous years.

The market shares:

DOLLAR
SHARE
UNIT
SHARE
Marvel37.97%38.13%
DC30.21%36.68%
Image9.55%8.81%
IDW4.30%3.67%
Dark Horse2.44%1.70%
Boom1.99%1.77%
Dynamite1.94%1.91%
Viz1.40%0.49%
Titan1.16%0.85%
Oni1.10%0.72%
Others7.94%5.27%

The top-selling comics:

COMIC BOOKPRICEPUBLISHER
1Marvel Legacy #15.99Marvel
2Dark Nights: Metal #2$3.99DC
3Venomverse #1$4.99Marvel
4Batman #30$2.99DC
5Batman #31$2.99DC
6Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special #1$4.99DC
7The Walking Dead #171$2.99Image
8Batman: The Red Death #1$3.99DC
9Batman: The Murder Machine #1$3.99DC
10Action Comics #987 Lenticular Edition$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels:

GRAPHIC NOVELPRICEPUBLISHER
1Walking Dead Vol. 28$16.99Image
2Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race HC$29.99DC
3Star Wars: Darth Maul$16.99Marvel
4East of West Volume 7$16.99Image
5DC Super Hero Girls Vol. 4: Past Times At Super Hero High$9.99DC
6Sex Criminals Volume 4: Fourgy$16.99Image
7All-Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy$16.99DC
8Royal City Vol. 1: Next Of Kin$9.99Image
9Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat$16.99DC
10Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 5: Past Lives$17.99Marvel

And the volume of new releases:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel88420130
DC77340111
Image5825083
IDW4021061
Viz043043
Boom2810038
Dynamite297036
Titan1910332
Dark Horse1613029
Oni86014
Others12315417294
TOTAL SHIPPED48636520871

I'm appearing this weekend at New York Comic-Con, so look for the estimates next week as soon as I can get to them. But in the meantime, if you missed it, check out our feature on legacy numbering across time; my thanks to Bradley Glynn for helping to double-check some of the data there.



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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