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

 

Monday, January 15, 2018

December 2017 estimates online: Diamond expands comics, graphic novel tables to Top 500

by John Jackson Miller


A big change, as the headline says, but first the news: As reported here Friday, after five consecutive years of growth following DC's "New 52" reboot, the Direct Market gave back some of those gains in 2017 — and December served as a lackluster finish to a disappointing year. Overall, Direct Market orders finished the year at $522.25 million, off 10%. Click to see our sales estimates for December 2017.

While publishers appear to have shifted into their winter crouch early, DC did slightly improve on its previous December, thanks in part to Doomsday Clock #2 and Dark Nights Metal #4. The former had shipments in the month of over 158,600 copies. But the overall direction was down. It was a straight-up comparative with December 2016, as both months had four shipping weeks. Saga Vol. 8 was the top-selling graphic novel, with the new release topping 21,100 copies ordered.

I have also just posted, as well, Comichron's Top 1000 Comics and Top 1000 Graphic Novels for 2017, along with market shares; more detailed analysis posts will follow. But first, the big change, which is to be found in data already released. In short, there's more of it — a lot more. Beginning with the December report, Diamond has increased its reporting to include the Top 500 comics and Top 500 graphic novels.

The move with regard to comics appears to have been a response to the fact that sales levels at 300th place have grown dramatically over the last decade and a half, pushing a significant number of releases of interest outside the Top 300. Comichron calculates that the extension from 300 to 500 comics brings the number of shipped comics units captured by the table in December from 91.9% to 97.4%.

Post-300th-place data had been available sporadically for comics and graphic novels over the years. Diamond had previously switched temporarily to running the top 400 in 2013-14, but that appears to have been more of an oversight, where this is known to be an intentional policy change. Because Diamond releases Top 50 charts for independent and small publisher comics and graphic novels, as well as manga, some items after 300th place have been known and published on Comichron over the past five years — but it was always scattershot. Now, we'll have more information every month, so we've used the past data to create a new page tracking 400th place items across time. All items on in the independent and small publisher charts were captured by the Top 500 list in December.

There will be material, eventually, for a 500th-place table, though the reader will see that quite a lot of reordered items appear in the lower ranks; if a figure looks low for a comic book, it's worth looking at the month before to see if there's an earlier, more highly ranked entry.

The increase in the number of graphic novels could possibly have been done to keep the chart consistent with the comics one; whatever the reason,  the move performed a service in that the table now captures a little more than half of the graphic novel units shipped.

For years, I've explained that the "overall" sales figure includes millions of dollars worth of material uncaptured by the Top 300 charts; in December, for example, the Top 300s only capture $28.67 million of the projected $38.49 million in sales overall. The additional 200 comics and graphic novels bring the total up to $31.31 million. So what's in the missing seven and a half million dollars?

Answer: the other half of the graphic novel revenue, all of the magazine revenue, and the missing fraction of comics. Thousands and thousands of different backlist books. On Friday, Diamond announced that it shipped 7.4 million graphic novels to the Direct Market in 2017; December's share of that you might figure at somewhere over 600,000 copies. How many units were sold of the Top 500 graphic novel sales for the month? Right at 350,000 copies. With those valued at $7.71 million at full retail, the other 250,000-plus would easily soak up the lion's share of the unreported dollars, with unreported comics and all the magazines covering the rest.

As will be seen in the table below, Comichron's measures, while reporting the Top 500 comics and graphic novels, will continue to use 300 items as the main benchmark, since it allows for comparisons across the largest span of Direct Market history.

The vital statistics for December:


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TOP 300 COMICS SHIPPED (in UNITS)
December 2017 5.73 million copies
1 Year Ago 7.39 million copies -22%
5 Years Ago 6.93 million copies -17%
10 Years Ago 7.02 million copies -18%
15 Years Ago 6 million copies -4%
20 Years Ago 8.99 million copies -36%
Top 500 Comics Shipped (Units) 6.07 million copies
ALL Comics Shipped in Month (Units) 6.23 million copies -24%
Year To Date 79.74 million copies
1 Year Ago 89.35 million copies -11
5 Years Ago 80.55 million copies -1
10 Years Ago 85.27 million copies -6
15 Years Ago 70.27 million copies 13
ALL Comics Shipped Year to Date (Units) 89.44 million copies -10%
TOP 300 COMICS SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
December 2017 $22.09 million
1 Year Ago $28.63 million -23%
5 Years Ago $24.81 million -11%
10 Years Ago $22.61 million -2%
15 Years Ago $16.32 million +35%
20 Years Ago $23.03 million -4%
Top 500 Comics Shipped (Dollars) $23.6 million
ALL Comics Shipped during Month (Dollars) -17%
Year To Date $308.41 million
1 Year Ago $344.28 million -10%
5 Years Ago $285.02 million +8%
10 Years Ago $270 million +14%
15 Years Ago $196.65 million +57%
ALL Comics Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) -10%
TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
December 2017 (Top 300 GNs) $6.58 million
December 2017 (Top 100 GNs) $4.06 million
December 2017 (Top 50 GNs) $2.58 million
December 2017 (Top 25 GNs) $1.55 million
Versus 1 Year Ago $7.13 million -8%
Versus 5 Years Ago (Top 300) $6.29 million +5%
Versus 10 Years Ago (Top 100) $4.22 million -4%
Versus 15 Years Ago (Top 50) $1.5 million +3%
Top 500 Graphic Novel Shipped in Month (Dollars) $7.71 million
ALL Graphic Novel Shipped in Month (Dollars) -10%
Year To Date $88.12 million
1 Year Ago $93.72 million -6%
ALL Graphic Novel Dollars Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) -9%
TOP 300 COMICS plus TOP GNs SHIPPED (in DOLLARS)
December 2017 (including Top 300 GNs) $28.67 million
December 2017 (including Top 300 GNs) $26.15 million
December 2017 (including Top 100 GNs) $24.67 million
December 2017 (including Top 25 GNs) $23.64 million
Versus 1 Year Ago $35.76 million -20%
Versus 5 Years Ago (Top 300) $31.1 million -16%
Versus 10 Years Ago (Top 50) $26.83 million -18%
Versus 15 Years Ago (Top 50) $18.43 million +35%
Top 500 Comics & Top 500 GNs Shipped in Month (Dollars) $31.31 million
All Comics & GNs Shipped in Month (Dollars) -15%
Year To Date $396.56 million
1 Year Ago $437.38 million -9%
ALL Comics & GNs Shipped Year to Date (Dollars) -10%
ALL COMICS AND GNs SHIPPED (in Dollars)
December 2017 $38,489,500.00
Versus 1 Year Ago $45.05 million -15%
Versus 5 Years Ago $39.84 million -3%
Versus 10 Years Ago $35.88 million +7%
Year To Date $522.248 million
1 Year Ago $580.913 million -10%
TITLE SPECIFICS
TOP SELLING COMIC BOOK
Doomsday Clock #2  158,603 copies at  $4.99
50th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Star Wars Jedi Republic Mace Windu #5  30,149 copies at  $3.99
100th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Guardians of the Galaxy #149  21,240 copies at  $3.99
150th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Rick & Morty #33  11,359 copies at  $3.99
200th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Maestros #3  8,003 copies at  $3.99
300th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Disney Princess #16  3,808 copies at  $3.99
400th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Misfit City #8  1,545 copies at  $3.99
500th PLACE COMIC BOOK
Secret Wars #8  580 copies at  $3.99
NEW RELEASE VOLUME
New Comics Released 447
New Graphic Novels Released 329
New Magazines Released 28
Total New Print Items Released 804
PRICING
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.90
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300, weighted by orders $3.86
Average Cover Price of Comics in the Top 25 $3.71
Median Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.99
Most Common Cover Price of Comics in the Top 300 $3.99

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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