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Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Detective Comics #1000 dominates reorders as March ends

 FInd this issue at TFAW
The reorder data for the final week of March are out, and to no one's surprise, Detective Comics #1000 and its many variants took multiple slots on the chart.

The top reordered item in dollars, meanwhile, was Savage Sword of Conan: The Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 1.
The top reordered comic book apart from Batman  was Tim Seeley's Dark Red #1 from Aftershock; the second issue made April's advance reorder chart.

See the March charts so far here.

The advance reorder chart was led by  a variant second printing of Immortal Hulk #16.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge #1 placed second.

See the April charts so far here.

Friday, March 15, 2019

February sales dip on lean new comics slate, but per-title sales improve; Marvel sees growth

by John Jackson Miller


 Find this book at TFAW
For decades in the comics industry, the winter has often earned the monicker "Dead Quarter" — not so much for sales, which have often been strong, but because publishers, anticipating bad weather,  simply don't release much into the market. That dynamic, combined with DC's stated plans to reduce its new comics offerings by 10-15% over the past year, has seriously reduced new offerings in three of the last four months. November had the smallest new release slate for comic books since before DC's Rebirth; December, truncated by the holidays, had even fewer new releases, and the smallest DC periodical slate since 1991.

After a rebound in January, February 2019 returned to the trend, with the smallest number of new comics releases since Diamond Comic Distributors began reporting overall figures in July 2013. There were no first issues in the Top 9 at all, indicating few publishers were interested in launching big projects into the month. Sixty fewer new comics were released versus the same month in 2018, a drop of 13%; new comics unit sales were consequently off 8.47% to 5.77 million copies, the lowest figure since May 2011. Dollars were down just 6.06%. Retailers ordered $34.73 million in comics and graphic novels overall, down 5% and the lowest figure since March 2012. Click to visit our page for February 2019 comics sales estimates; the figures will be posted next week.

DC was responsible for nearly half of the drop in the number of new comics periodical offerings: its slate was chopped a full third, from 88 comics last February to 59 this February. Graphic novel new release volume was less severely cut, from 318 new releases last February to 304 this February; there, DC only shipped five fewer graphic novels than in the year before.

 Find this book at TFAW
DC's stated goal in cutting back its offerings was to improve the performances of individual titles; it was at least partially successful in this, with the publisher's overall dollar sales of comics and graphic novels down 15% in a month when the number of new offerings had been cut by twice as much. (The market-leading Batman Who Laughs #3 helped that cause.) Image likewise offered many fewer new comics, dropping from 70 last February to 47 last month; its year-to-year drop was similar to DC's. Marvel, meanwhile, grew its slate, with five more comic books and nine more graphic novels released than in the previous February — and it appears to have benefited from it, selling 9% more dollars worth of material versus its performance then.

We thus see competing strategies at work: attempting to maximize the benefits from a smaller number of titles versus business-as-usual. The net impact on the charts this month was a low-single digit loss, but there is some evidence that leaner may be working. The number of new offerings in the past year has dropped, and average sales per title — the number of comics bought divided by the number of new titles offered — has increased eight of the last 12 months versus the previous year. Regard the chart, which looks at year-over-year changes to sales of the average comic book offered:


The average new release in February 2019 had orders of 14,830 copies, up from 14,038 in February 2018. That's an increase of 6% in copies ordered per new release; the fact that there were 60 fewer releases is what pulled the market lower overall. There's a "sweet spot" between the number of new releases and sales-per-title for each publisher; finding that is always the trick.

So we'll see if there's additional fine-tuning to new-release totals as we head out of what was, for much of North America, a particularly harsh winter. And no matter what else happens, the presence of Detective Comics #1000 in March seems pretty likely to improve DC's average-title sales considerably, just as Action #1000 did last April.

The comparative sales statistics are up first. Comics and graphic novel units were off by exactly the same amount, something we have never seen before:


February 2019 Vs. January 2019
DollarsUnits
Comics-21.31%-18.10%
Graphic Novels-26.09%-25.43%
Total Comics/GNs-22.71%-18.65%
Toys-19.93%-35.10%
February 2019 Vs. February 2018DollarsUnits
Comics-6.06%-8.47%
Graphic Novels-3.16%-8.47%
Total Comics/GNs-5.27%-8.47%
Toys+20.34%+18.44%
Year-To-Date 2019 Vs. Year-To-Date 2018DollarsUnits
Comics+4.82%-1.51%
Graphic Novels+5.00%-2.56%
Total Comics/GNs4.87%-1.59%
Toys+27.83%+39.44%

The market shares reflect the very lean offerings by the major publishers; the mainstream book channel publisher St. Martin's Press has never made the Top 10 before.

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel40.20%44.48%
DC28.69%30.64%
Image9.49%9.30%
Dark Horse3.25%2.58%
Dynamite2.58%2.35%
IDW2.55%2.20%
Boom2.38%2.26%
Viz1.78%0.67%
St. Martins0.60%0.16%
Oni0.56%0.39%
Other7.91%4.96%

Batman Who Laughs continued its run atop the charts, for the third issue in a row. The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman Who Laughs #3$4.99DC
2Batman #64$3.99DC
3Batman #65$3.99DC
4Venom #11$3.99Marvel
5Heroes In Crisis #6$3.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #15$3.99Marvel
7Uncanny X-Men #12$3.99Marvel
8Flash #64$3.99DC
9Uncanny X-Men #11$7.99Marvel
10Avengers No Road Home #1$4.99Marvel

The $7.99 Uncanny X-Men #11 bounds up the charts when we look at the top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman Who Laughs #3$4.99DC
2Uncanny X-Men #11$7.99Marvel
3Batman #64$3.99DC
4Batman #65$3.99DC
5Venom #11$3.99Marvel
6Amazing Spider-Man #16$4.99Marvel
7Heroes In Crisis #6$3.99DC
8Return of Wolverine #5$4.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #15$3.99Marvel
10Uncanny X-Men #12$3.99Marvel

Mister Miracle performed well in reorders all month, and led the top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Mister Miracle$24.99DC
2Spider-Geddon$24.99Marvel
3Infinity Wars$34.99Marvel
4Immortal Hulk Vol. 2 Green Door$15.99Marvel
5My Hero Academia Vol 17$9.99Viz
6Deadpool Secret Agent Deadpool$14.99Marvel
7Man-Eaters Vol. 1$12.99Image
8Infinity Gauntlet Deluxe Edition$34.99Marvel
9Captain America Vol. 1 Winter In America$17.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man By Nick Spencer Vol. 2$15.99Marvel

The book also led the top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Mister Miracle$24.99DC
2He Man & The Masters Of The Universe Omnibus HC$150.00DC
3Captain Marvel/Ms. Marvel A Hero Is Born Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
4Venomnibus HC Vol. 2$125.00Marvel
5Infinity Wars$34.99Marvel
6Infinity Gauntlet Deluxe Edition$34.99Marvel
7Spider-Geddon$24.99Marvel
8Star Wars By Jason Aaron Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
9Mmw Luke Cage Power Man HC Vol. 3$75.00Marvel
10Wonder Woman By Phil Jiminez Omnibus HC$75.00DC

Finally, the aforementioned number of new items offered. Again, this is a six-year low, at least:

Publisher
Comics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel86400126
DC5928188
Image4719066
Dark Horse2413037
IDW2211033
Boom2110031
Viz027027
Dynamite201021
Seven Seas021021
Oni4307
Other10613122259
TOTAL SHIPPED38930423716

We'll have the full estimates along next week. In the meantime, you can find me this weekend appearing at Midsouthcon in Memphis, where I'm toastmaster this year.

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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

25 years ago: Marvel tries to launch a mail-order store -- and ignites the Distributor Wars

by John Jackson Miller

 Find listings for this this catalog on eBayTwenty-five years ago today, shoplifters struck a comic shop. Spider-Man entered, foiling the crooks — and declaring, after it was all over, "This shopping thing is way too dangerous!"

It was a silly bit of advertising copy, included in an eight-page catalog insert that appeared on March 7, 1994 (or March 8, in some stores) in arriving copies of X-Men Adventures Vol. 2, #4, a Marvel comic book that tied in with the Fox TV cartoon. It wasn't unusual for a comic book to include a catalog insert; Gold Key had run them in its comics decades before, and Mark Jewelers insert variants are something many collectors of 1970s Marvel comics prize.

The difference was that this catalog, appearing in a small percentage of Marvel's March-shipping copies, was for its own merchandise outlet, called "Marvel Mart." And with the bubble comics market of the early 1990s just beginning to deflate (as described in my retrospective series here), it immediately became the focus of retailers' anxieties — and, in many cases, fury.

Retailers in the period had been fearful of many different kinds of storefront competitors, including Blockbuster Video, which had been rumored to be interested in comics. (Coincidental timing: as of today, that chain is finally down to one location.) Retailer worries surrounding Marvel had often centered on the possibility of Marvel getting into retail itself, with its own chain stores. But Marvel launching its own mail-order merchandise outlet was seen as no less a threat. The internet wasn't a retail competitor, yet, but catalogs were booming, as were TV home shopping channels. Mail-order was a big deal.

The Marvel Mart catalog that appeared first in certain copies of X-Men Adventures and later in Amazing Spider-Man #389, possibly among others — included (as my article at left, from Comics Retailer #26, described) offers for individual comics, trade paperbacks, and back issue runs, including Marvels #1-4 and Daredevil: Man Without Fear #1-5. (At least two versions of the catalog are said to exist; several loose copies are available on eBay.)

Retailers objected immediately and vehemently to the whole idea of the mail-order outlet — not to mention Spider-Man declaring that shopping in a comics store was dangerous. But that wasn't all. The inclusion of the catalog in comics they had bought to resell had many retailers feeling that they were being made instruments of their own demise — the catalogs increased the weight of the comics, even, which made shipping more expensive for the distributors. One retailer shipped his Marvel neon sign back to the company with an angry note. Another reported sending (rather melodramatically) a nail, "dipped in the 'blood' of the Direct Market."

Diamond Comic Distributors faxed a bulletin to its accounts warning them of the presence of the catalog. "We are extremely disappointed at Marvel's apparent lack of concern for its most viable market: the direct market retailers and distributors who provide a solid financial base for their current business operations." While praising Marvel's other outreach efforts, Diamond said the Marvel Mart program had "serious implications for retailers, distributors, and the entire direct market distributing system."

With criticisms mounting, Marvel soon reacted, apologizing for what it called a test-marketed effort from its Corporate Marketing Department. "We did a lot of things badly," said Matt Ragone, Marvel's VP for the Direct Market on March 18. Marvel canceled inclusion of the catalog in further copies. "Marvel takes seriously its mission  to bring as many people into the circle of comics and comics merchandise buyers as humanly possible," he said, and the catalog effort was in that spirit — but Marvel put the kibosh on the whole thing.

The episode had raised retailer ire, but its longest term effects may have come instead from the anger expressed by another distributor. Comics Unlimited, a regional distribution operation, opened its April 1994 newsletter to retailers (part of which is seen at right) with a broadside against Marvel by owner Walter Wang, calling the inclusion of the catalog "at best insensitive, and at worst deliberately insulting" — and while he did not call for a boycott, he advised retailers "to try to reduce the importance of Marvel comics sales in your store" in a number of ways, including promoting other publishers and doing less co-op advertising with Marvel.

Marvel strongly objected to such advice coming from a distributor, whose job, ostensibly, was to represent its products favorably. After a series of communications, Marvel discontinued selling comics to Comics Unlimited on May 18, saying later that the fundamental distributor relationship "was severely damaged." Unable to continue without Marvel, Wang sold his company to Diamond on May 29.

Marvel would leave its relationships with all distributors following its Dec. 28, 1994 purchase of Heroes World Distribution — an event that led to either the collapse or exit of all comics distributors but Diamond from the market. And while that purchase may have been prompted more by other factors — including investor Ronald Perelman's acquisition spree and the speed with which the Direct Market distributors made possible the rise of Image — buzz from behind the scenes has long suggested to me that this first break with a distributor may have set the stage for all the later ones.

If Comics Unlimited was the first casualty in the Distributor Wars — and in some measure, it was — then Marvel Mart's part in comics history thus looms a bit larger than a simple side-business gone awry. Recriminations were flying at all levels in the crashing comics market of 1994; for a publisher, buying a distributor and going exclusive had the effect of removing one of those levels entirely. In Marvel's case, it worked for exactly 21 months; by the time it returned to open distribution, Diamond was the only player left.

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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Star Wars, War of the Realms lead reorders as March begins

 Find this book at TFAW
Last week's reorders were led by the Jason Aaron Star Wars Omnibus, followed by the Mister Miracle trade — with Batman #65 the top reordered comic book. Umbrella Academy trades ranked highly thanks to the TV show. Click to see reorder activity for February 2019.

Martian Manhunter #4 was the top advance-reordered March issue. Click to see reorder activity for March 2019.

Advance reorders were led by April-shipping War of the Realms #1 and its variants, with the J. Scott Campbell one the most popular. Click to see reorder activity so far for April 2019.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

He-Man, Incredible Hulk #181 Facsimile lead mid-February reorders

 Find this comic at TFAW
DC's He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Omnibus was the top reordered item in dollars last week in comics shops, while Batman Who Laughs #3 was the top reordered comic book. Mister Miracle repeated as the top reordered softcover.

Click to see the February charts.
 
Marvel's Incredible Hulk #181 Facsimile Edition was the top advance-reordered comic last week, while a July release, Thanos By Donny Cates, was the top advance reordered graphic novel.

Click to see the March charts.

Monday, February 25, 2019

January 2019 comics sales estimates online: Four comics over 100k copies

by John Jackson Miller


A year after just two comics had sales over 100,000 copies, January 2019 doubled that number, with sales led by Batman Who Laughs #2. Diamond Comic Distributors shipped nearly 117,000 copies of the comic book to stores in the United States and Canada, with Captain Marvel #1, Guardians of the Galaxy #1, and Conan the Barbarian #1 also reporting sales in six figures.

Click to see the comics sales estimates for January 2019.

You can also see a video walkthrough of the month's preliminary sales report.

The vital statistics, after the break:


Friday, February 22, 2019

January comics sales start 2019 strong, up 14%; Batman Who Laughs #2, Conan top charts

by John Jackson Miller

 Find listings for this book on eBay
The holidays often make the charts for December and January vary greatly from expectations, and the 2018-19 season was no different. After a December that saw Diamond Comic Distributors take Christmas week off and DC release a 28-year-low number of comic books, January came roaring back with healthy-sized slates from major publishers; it was the largest January, in nominal dollars, in the Diamond Exclusive Era.

An early look at the sales for the month is below: on Monday, we'll have the full January 2019 comics sales estimates online.

The $44.9 million that retailers spent on comics, graphic novels, and magazines in January is more than $5 million more than last January, which also had five shipping weeks; that's an increase of 14%. It even beat out the $43.75 million spent in January 2015, the month of the release of million-copy seller Star Wars #1. Retailers bought 7.04 million comic books in January 2019, 300,000 more copies than the previous January. That's around the range for the first month of the year for several of the healthier years this decade, though some of those Januaries reached the 7 million mark with one fewer shipping week.

As mentioned, December's sales were artificially low because Diamond did not have a full release week during Christmas Week: rather, a handful of select titles had been shipped to stores the Friday before, street-dated for the 26th. While those comics weren't invoiced until Jan. 9, it does appear that the expected dollar value was figured into the December charts, because those Christmas-week releases have normal dollar rankings. It does appear that significant business that otherwise would have transpired in December occured in January instead; graphic novel shipments were up dramatically, 43% over December dollars and 12% over the previous January's.

If we're looking for a measure that wipes out the holiday factor, consider the sales when December and January are considered a single nine-week unit: $82.55 million, up 6% over the same two months a year earlier. Comics unit sales were 13.25 million copies, up 310,000 copies over December 2017/January 2018. The chart below shows the two-month combo across the decade:


New Comic
Book Days
New Comics
Released
Comics shipped
(millions of
copies)
New Graphic
Novels
Released
Overall comics
+ GN sales
(millions of dollars)
Dec 10/
Jan 11
9
n.a.
10.48
n.a.
61.45
Dec 11/
Jan 12
8
n.a.
12.71
n.a.
66.68
Dec 12/
Jan 13
8
n.a.
14.76
n.a.
80.87
Dec 13/
Jan 14
9
905
13.94
493
81.16
Dec 14/
Jan 15
9
938
14.92
511
87.17
Dec 15/
Jan 16
9
1006
16.03
575
94.42
Dec 16/
Jan 17
9
935
15.78*
535
85.16
Dec 17/
Jan 18
9
925
12.94
625
77.8
Dec 18/
Jan 19
9
913
13.25
627
82.55

The asterisk with January 2017 denotes that month's unit sales were artificially inflated by a massive Marvel overship of its entire line. It's worth noting, as well, that this decade, the five-week month only fell in January in this year and last; for the mid 2010s, December got the fifth Wednesday.

Here's our explanatory video about the month's sales:


The comparative sales statistics:

DollarsUnits
January 2019 Vs. December 2018
Comics+11.93%+13.49%
Graphic Novels+42.79%+40.93%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+19.47%+15.18%
Toys+154.01%+234.27%
January 2019 Vs. January 2018
Comics+15.32%+5.03%
Graphic Novels+11.98%+2.36%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+14.33%+4.82%
Toys+34.53%+57.58%

Would the comics market have ended 2018 in positive territory had Christmas Week been a normal week for shipments? It's impossible to tease out what January sales wouldn't have fallen into the first week of 2019 otherwise, but we do know this: if the year ran from December to November, then 2018 would have ended very narrowly up.

MARKET SHARES

Among publishers, Marvel bettered its January 2018 dollar orders by a massive 31%; Dark Horse, by an even larger 81%. DC was up very slightly, and Image slightly down. Dark Horse found its way back to the #4 position in dollars, while IDW held that slot in units.

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel39.24%41.29%
DC29.70%33.39%
Image7.56%7.77%
Dark Horse3.95%2.97%
IDW3.65%3.32%
Boom2.32%2.23%
Dynamite2.13%1.83%
Viz1.55%0.61%
Titan0.80%0.60%
Archie0.78%0.77%
Other8.31%5.20%

TOP SELLING COMIC BOOKS

Batman Who Laughs #2 continued the title's reign as the top comic book in the Direct Market. Batman was the only title running for longer than a year to make the Top 10. The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman Who Laughs #2$4.99DC
2Captain Marvel #1$4.99Marvel
3Guardians of the Galaxy #1$4.99Marvel
4Conan The Barbarian #1$4.99Marvel
5Amazing Spider-Man #14$3.99Marvel
6Batman #62$3.99DC
7Batman #63$3.99DC
8Heroes In Crisis #4$3.99DC
9Heroes In Crisis #5$3.99DC
10Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel

The dollar rankings reversed the positions of the top two, putting Captain Marvel #1 in first place and bringing Young Justice #1 into the Top 10. The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)
PRICEPUBLISHER
1Captain Marvel #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman Who Laughs #2$4.99DC
3Guardians of the Galaxy #1$4.99Marvel
4Conan The Barbarian #1$4.99Marvel
5Amazing Spider-Man #14$3.99Marvel
6Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
7Young Justice #1$4.99DC
8Batman #62$3.99DC
9Batman #63$3.99DC
10Heroes In Crisis #4$3.99DC

Why did Captain Marvel pass Batman Who Laughs, despite the two comic books having the same cover price? Simple: remember that the dollar charts (just like the market shares) are computed based on the number of dollars Diamond received. The mix of retailers who bought Captain Marvel #1 appear to have done so at a slightly less favorable average discount, meaning they paid more per copy. This happens all the time, and is why there is no simple metric for relating invoiced dollars to retail dollars.

In most of these split-decision cases, the two books have order quantities that are pretty similar.

TOP SELLING GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Dark Nights Metal softcover was the top-selling graphic novel, while last year's leader, Infinity Gauntlet, placed second. The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)
PRICEPUBLISHER
1Dark Nights: Metal$19.99DC
2Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
3The Life of Captain Marvel$15.99Marvel
4Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Volume 4: Fortress Vader$19.99Marvel
5Cosmic Ghost Rider: Baby Thanos Must Die$15.99Marvel
6Black Hammer Vol. 3: Age of Doom Part I$19.99Dark Horse
7Farmhand Vol. 1$12.99Image
8Dark Days: The Road to Metal$19.99DC
9Batman: White Knight$19.99DC
10Spider-Geddon: Edge of Spider-Geddon$15.99Marvel

Conan's return to Marvel was celebrated with graphic novel that brought in the most money, Conan the Barbarian Omnibus Vol. 1. The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)
PRICEPUBLISHER
1Conan The Barbarian Omnibus Vol. 1$125.00Marvel
2Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
3Dark Nights: Metal$19.99DC
4Marvel Masterworks: Uncanny X-Men Vol. 11$100.00Marvel
5House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1$99.99DC
6Infinity$49.99Marvel
7Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Team-Up Vol. 4$75.00Marvel
8Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Volume 4: Fortress Vader$19.99Marvel
9Black Hammer Vol. 3: Age of Doom Part I$19.99Dark Horse
10Spider-Man: Ben Reilly Omnibus Volume 1$125.00Marvel

NEW RELEASE VOLUME

As mentioned earlier, new release volume significantly rebounded, with 8% more new comics released versus January 2018 and 21% more graphic novels. It was the most new comics from Marvel since September 2017; just since February 2018 for DC. The number of new items offered:

Publisher
Comics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazinesTotal shipped
Marvel102400142
DC87310118
Image5710067
IDW3917056
Dark Horse2719046
Boom2511036
Dynamite196025
Viz025025
Titan109019
Archie135018
Other13618637359
TOTAL SHIPPED51535937911

The estimated sales for individual issues should be up on Monday.

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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spider-Verse continues to dominate reorders

 Find this book at TFAW
Comics shop reorders were led last week by the Spider-Verse TPB, while Uncanny X-Men 3D #1 was the top reordered January-shipping comic book. 

Check out all the January-so-far charts (the final rankings and estimates will get posted in a few days).

We also now have the first advance reorders by retailers for March-shipping comics. The Derrick Chew variant cover of Harley Quinn #59 was the top advance-reordered item overall, with Amazing Spider-Man #16 in second. 

Click to see all the March 2019 data so far. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

December 2018 sales slightly off on smallest new comics slate in years; DC's 52 new comics its fewest since 1991

by John Jackson Miller


 Find this comic at TFAW
The December report for comics sales is always a strange one, because the annual report from Diamond Comic Distributors, which these days gets released before it, obviously has December data baked into it. From the annual report, we already know many of the top entries in the charts—and from the indexed charts, we know how many copies those issues sold. (Click to see the Top Thousand Comics and Graphic Novels for 2018.)

The annual report also sometimes includes metrics
, and while often they come from the monthly change tables, at other times they've reflected more complete information, factoring in sales not included in the monthly reports. (Read more about that dynamic here.) So it is that the December 2018 report arrives with some information already known, and a little more explanation than usual on a few fronts. (UPDATE: The sales estimates for all comics in the month are now online here.)

Batman Who Laughs #1 was the top-selling comic book in December, with orders (already known from the annual report) of more than 226,000 copies. DC had all five of the top five comics — yet in a month that was down 2% for the business overall, the publisher was down 11% in dollar orders versus December 2017.

A possible contributing factor: DC only released 52 new comic books in December, which appears to be the lowest number in any month for that publisher since February 1991. (Click to see our 1991 page.) Meanwhile, Marvel, which had 90 comic books out, slightly over its annual average for 2018, was up 12% in dollars year-over-year in December.

The fact that more new titles being offered often correlates with higher overall sales may not be much of a surprise; at the same time, it wouldn't be strange at all for publishers and retailers to prefer to have more profit coming in from a smaller number of titles that perform better on average. In December 2018, they got their way in that fully 11% fewer comic books came out versus the same month last year; at 398 releases, it was the smallest number in any month in at least four years. Yet the number of units sold in the month was only slightly down versus December 2017.

However, that was not the rule during 2018 overall: we now know that 5,553 new comics came out in 2018, down 6% from the 5,919 in 2017 — and comics unit sales were down for the year by 6%. In 2018, lighter new release volume coincided with an equally lighter number of copies sold.

The usual caveats with new-release volume measures apply. They count the number of unique comic book interiors, regardless of variant covers; the number of stories, if you will. Retailers actually were coping with many more specific items to order and stock; 87% of the Top 1,000 comics of 2018 had variants, and 97% of the Top 100. But the median number of copies of a single comic book purchased by individual consumers is still one; total purchases do not increase in parallel with the number of variants, because most people just want one copy to read. It's the fact that that "one copy" might not be the main cover that makes retailers' lives more complicated.

(The holiday schedule did play a role in output in December; Diamond limited Christmas week to a book apiece from major publishers. It did reduce slates overall, but not everyone's: Marvel's 90 releases were 11 more than November, and several other publishers were above their 2018 averages. The other weeks were just heavier.)

Analysis of the monthly table grids suggests that the month came in at $37.61 million in comics, graphic novels and magazines shipped — slightly less than December 2017, possibly due in part to the unexpectedly small number of releases. That puts the year-end at nearly $517 million at full retail. The aggregate charts:


DollarsUnits
December 2018 Vs. November 2018
Comics-3.53%-3.58%
Graphic Novels-17.46%-17.18%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-7.35%-4.55%
Toys-58.05%-53.99%
December 2018 Vs. December 2017
Comics+9.29%-0.42%
Graphic Novels-26.35%-35.98%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-2.26%-3.72%
Toys-44.01%-47.06%
Year 2018 Vs. Year 2017
Comics+2.04%-5.67%
Graphic Novels-8.22%-9.71%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-1.08%-5.98%
Toys-6.39%-6.48%

(Update: Diamond has issued corrected charts, above; a previous version included the numbers reported in the 2018 end-of-year press release; which we assumed were reflective of a larger and more accurate data set in our Monday analysis; those figures have been corrected in the Diamond release as well.)

Diamond did not release quarterly and half-year information in its grids, but we calculate that were one to go just from the monthly charts, the quarter was slightly down, and the second half of the year was slightly up.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel38.57%44.09%
DC31.51%30.75%
Image8.73%9.06%
IDW4.10%3.66%
Boom2.98%2.38%
Dark Horse2.82%2.37%
Dynamite2.11%2.10%
Viz1.03%0.38%
Titan0.82%0.59%
Valiant0.71%0.78%
Other6.62%3.85%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman Who Laughs #1$4.99DC
2Batman: Damned #2$6.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #8$4.99DC
4Batman #60$3.99DC
5Batman #61$3.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #11$3.99Marvel
7Fantastic Four #5$7.99Marvel
8Amazing Spider-Man #12$3.99Marvel
9Batman Annual #3$4.99DC
10Shazam #1$4.99DC

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Batman Who Laughs #1$4.99DC
2Batman: Damned #2$6.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #8$4.99DC
4Fantastic Four #5$7.99Marvel
5Batman #60$3.99DC
6Batman #61$3.99DC
7Batman Annual #3$4.99DC
8Shazam #1$4.99DC
9Infinity Wars #6$5.99Marvel
10Fantastic Four Wedding Special #1$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Paper Girls Vol. 5$14.99Image
2Batman Vol. 8: Cold Days$16.99DC
3Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance Part One$10.99Dark Horse
4Saban's Power Rangers: Soul Dragon Original$19.99Boom
5Star Wars Vol. 9: Hope Dies$19.99Marvel
6The Flash Vol. 8: Flash War$16.99DC
7My Hero Academia Vol. 16$9.99Viz
8Thor Vol. 1: God Of Thunder Reborn$17.99Marvel
9Venom: First Host$15.99Marvel
10Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On The Outside$16.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Paper Girls Vol. 5$14.99Image
2Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 6 HC$125.00DC
3Fantastic Four By Waid & Wieringo Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
4Marvel Masterworks: Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 20 HC$75.00Marvel
5Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue, Gray & White Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
6Batman Vol. 8: Cold Days$16.99DC
7Saban's Power Rangers: Soul Dragon Original$19.99Boom
8Marvel Universe By John Byrne Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$125.00Marvel
9Before Watchmen Omnibus HC$125.00DC
10Wonder Woman Diana Prince: Celebrating The 60S Omnibus HC$125.00DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total shipped
Marvel90380128
DC5237190
Image5210062
IDW3210042
Boom2416040
Dark Horse2111032
Viz023023
Titan87217
Dynamite131014
Valiant5207
Other1011139223
TOTAL SHIPPED39826812678

No videos right away this month, as there's still a lot of data to digest, and the December estimates are yet to be done. Those estimates should appear here soon.


Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 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 the just-announced Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War, releasing July 30 from Gallery Books, as well as Star Wars: Kenobi and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The 2018 Two Thousand: A look at the 1,000 top-selling comics and graphic novels ordered by comic shops

by John Jackson Miller


With the release of 2018 end-of-year comics orders from Diamond Comic Distributors, Comichron has drawn upon that information to project estimates for the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Graphic Novels for 2018. The tables are on the page just beneath the image links to individual months.

This year's charts have our sorting and searching features implemented, as now do our previous 27 years of annual charts, going back to 1991. You can find the links to them, along with updated comparatives for how the market as a whole did across that time, by viewing our Yearly Comics Sales page.

 Find eBay listings for this issue

Led by Action Comics #1000, the Top Thousand Comics accounted for around 50.43 million copies; we don't yet know how many copies Diamond sold altogether. (We'll see that when the December data comes out.) This is an increase of 1.5% in units over what the Top Thousand sold in 2017.

Here are the totals for the Top Thousand Comics from the past few years. Diamond did not release figures for 2016, but we calculated minimum values for the Top Thousand based on known orders and reorders from that year:

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
2016: 59.8 million (minimum, probably slightly higher)
2017: 49.68 million copies
2018: 50.43 million copies

As you can see, 2018's figure comes in under 2012's — but we know that Diamond sold more comics in 2017 than in 2012, so it may have done so in 2018, too. This is a consequence of the Top Thousand representing a smaller portion of the distributor's volume. In full retail dollars, the Top Thousand Comics likely sold for $213.3 million, a big 11% leap over 2017's $190.6 million. That's a consequence of the top sellers being so much more expensive; $8 and $10 were not impediments to sales, in many cases.

Almost everything in the Top 100 had "multiple order codes" at Diamond, meaning there were variant covers or reprints combined into one entry; sometimes it's not a simultaneous variant, but rather a reprint with a different cover.

Breaking down unit sales — and again employing our estimated minimums for 2016 — we see a rebound in the higher tiers in 2018, but declines in the midrange and lower-tier sellers, in part a consequence of so many fewer comics (not variants, but unique interiors) being released in the year. The first chart shows what's in each bracket; the second is a cumulative measure:

NUMBER OF COMIC BOOK ISSUES SELLING THIS MANY COPIES DURING YEAR


200,000+100,000+75k-100k50k-75k25k-50k10k-25k
200923980260
201002668209652
201134244257641
2012563662746971150
20136641142127381302
2014436682937941158
20152174722007991114
2016*1183111261n.a.n.a.
2017346502338341200
20181144771797631104


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+
2009239119379n.a.
201002694303955
201134286343984
201256312940311002250
201366417839011282430
201444010840111952353
2015219516736711662280
2016*1194205466n.a.n.a.
20173499933211662366
2018115513231110742178

2018 actually wound up better than 2014 when it came to the number of comics moving more than 100,000 copies. But the number selling between 50,000 and 75,000 copies is the lowest it's been this decade.

(Update: I was asked about variants. Fully 870 of the 1,000 bestselling issues in 2018 had multiple covers; 464 of the top 500, and 97 out of the top 100. That's 87%, 93%, and 97%. It's not localized to any one publisher; every single one with issues in the Top 1000 had some with variants. In 2018, it was standard.)

Every year we also add a number of items to the Top Comics of the Decade and the Top Comics of the Century (So Far, in each case) lists. A large number of new entrants, this time: The year 2018 added 21 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 2010s, with Action #1000 placing fifth, behind 2015's Star Wars #1, 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1, 2015's Secret Wars #1, and 2009's Amazing Spider-Man #583. It also added 34 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 21st Century, with Action #1000 placing fourth.


 Find this book at TFAW
The Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Infinity Gauntlet, went for $58.2 million. This is a major 20% drop from 2017's $73.19 million.

2011: $58.4 million
2012: $71.4 million
2013: $79.03 million
2014: $81.19 million
2015: $81.46 million
2016: $69.48 million (minimum, likely a good deal higher)
2017: $73.19 million
2018: $58.2 million

That brings the year down just below what it was in 2011. Accounting for the difference: a lot of money was tied up in comics this year, which beat their 2017 performance, and the Walking Dead factor appears to have faded from what it was in previous years. It's also likely many of the graphic novels are still being sold to retailers, just not necessarily by Diamond.

Overall graphic novel sales were reported by Diamond to be down only 6.6%, which tells us that the long tail is where more of the business is being done. It's just that the bestsellers of 2018 weren't as popular; more of the sales went to a wider variety of books.

Combined, the Top Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Graphic Novel lists account for more than half of all the orders by dollars Diamond received for print products in 2018, a slight increase.

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

Marvel: 535 (+33)
DC: 399 (-60)
Image: 52 (+23)
Boom: 3 (+3)
Dark Horse: 3 (unchanged)
IDW: 3 (+1)
Valiant: 2 (-1)
Archie: 1 (+1)
Dynamite: 1 (unchanged)
Oni: 1 (+1)


DC, which published many fewer comics in 2018, saw the biggest drop, with gains to Marvel and Image. Titan dropped out of the list.

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

Marvel: 312 (+8)
DC: 277 (-29)
Image: 190 (+2)
 Viz: 58 (+17)
Dark Horse: 50 (unchanged)
Boom: 30 (+8)
IDW: 14 (-4)
Oni: 14 (unchanged)

Big move for Viz, moving into fourth, with Marvel passing DC.

So that's the year that was. December data will be on the way later.


Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 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 the just-announced Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War, releasing July 30 from Gallery Books, as well as Star Wars: Kenobi and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.
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