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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.

 

Monday, February 17, 2020

January 2020 estimates: Wonder Woman leads charts for first time with 167k copies sold

by John Jackson Miller


Our January 2020 comics sales estimates are now online. Wonder Woman #750 moved more than 167,000 copies in North America, with the series leading the market for its first time ever. That was about a third of what Action and Detective #1000 did, but WW's sales were strong enough to more than double the dollars spent on any other January item.

As expected, Batman #86 and #87, the debut issues of James Tynion IV, moved up in Diamond's chart once the regular and cardstock versions were combined. Use the "Fused" column to re-sort Comichron's comics chart to combine DC's (and other publishers') differently priced editions.

No three-peat for Star Wars #1 as a million-copy seller, though the 2015 issue's presence is felt in this month's charts in that all the five-year comparatives are skewed. (Every seventh comic Diamond sold in January 2015 was a Star Wars #1, wildly distorting the month's data.) It did double the sales of Dark Horse's 1998 and and 2013 Star Wars #1s, so it's right in the middle.

X-Men #4 significantly outsold #5, but a portion of that comes from the former's spotlight focus as a Jan. 1 release, whereas #5 only was out three days in January. Issue #5 did well in advance reorders and the issue is sold out at Diamond, so the difference may wash out in time.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Wonder Woman #750 leads January comics sales; orders down on fewer new comic releases

by John Jackson Miller


Longtime readers of Comichron know that the first quarter of the year is smaller than the other three in dollar terms — and that January is second only to December when it comes to months where year-to-year comparisons have a way of getting messy. For the latter, it's mostly for the same reason as December: the holidays impact the shipping calendar, and when New Comic Book Day falls makes a difference.

 Find this issue at TFAW
This year, for example, it's a five-Wednesday to five-Wednesday comparison from this January to last, but one of the Wednesdays this year isn't like the rest. New Year's Day 2020 was a Wednesday, and publishers slated a number of high-profile issues for release by stores that chose to open that day. Yet the day was lighter on new releases than any other New Comic Book Day in the month, and it also had a third fewer releases than the first week of 2019, when New Year's Day fell on a Tuesday.

The result this time out was a month that was down 8% or so in the number of new comic books offered to market once the DC card stock variants (which get counted twice) were weeded out, and unit sales for comics were down by a similar amount. Dollar orders for comic books and graphic novels were down less, off 3% to $43.37 million. One way to normalize the cross-calendar comparisons is to look at November through January; that grouping was up 3% in dollar orders over the same three months in 2018-19.

Graphic novels appear to have taken more of their share of the focus in January; 52 more graphic novels were offered to market in the month than in the previous January, an increase of 14%. Graphic novel units — a figure we rarely consider because of how widely pricing varies — were even from year to year, while dollars were up 6%.

Wonder Woman #750 followed in the footsteps of Action Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #1000 as a chart-topper for DC; its 80th anniversary issues haven't missed placing first yet. It is the first time ever that an issue of Wonder Woman was the bestselling comic book in the business, although she of course appeared in many issues that were #1. Marvel had two Jan. 1 relaunches in second and third place: Thor #1 and Star Wars #1. (The latter series had previously relaunched with a million-copy seller five years earlier, in January 2015.)

 Find this book at TFAWBatman #86, beginning James Tynion IV's run on the title following Tom King, placed seventh, but note that the card stock copies are not included in that calculation, so it could well move higher.

To repeat: the Top Five may not necessarily remain the Top Five when our final report appears here next week. Stay tuned!

The Absolute Carnage trade paperback led graphic novels in units, while the Incredible Hulk by Peter David Omnibus Vol. 1 hardcover was the top graphic novel in dollars.

The comparative sales statistics are here:


DollarsUnits
January 2020 Vs. December 2019
Comics-2.48%-1.59%
Graphic Novels+29.62%+36.99%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+5.84%+0.73%
Toys-1.05%-4.04%
January 2020 Vs. January 2019
Comics-6.70%-8.64%
Graphic Novels+5.09%+0.00%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.26%-7.99%
Toys+4.00%-16.26%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel39.98%46.67%
DC29.33%29.73%
Image5.60%5.60%
IDW4.05%3.28%
Dark Horse3.09%2.28%
Boom3.04%3.10%
Viz2.59%1.04%
Dynamite2.21%2.08%
Random House0.76%0.22%
Titan0.57%0.41%
Other8.77%5.59%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Wonder Woman #750$9.99DC
2Thor #1$4.99Marvel
3Star Wars #1$4.99Marvel
4X-Men #4$3.99Marvel
5X-Men #5$3.99Marvel
6Guardians of the Galaxy #1$4.99Marvel
7Batman #86$3.99DC
8Amazing Spider-Man #38$3.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #37$3.99Marvel
10Star #1$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Wonder Woman #750$9.99DC
2Thor #1$4.99Marvel
3Star Wars #1$4.99Marvel
4X-Men #4$3.99Marvel
5Guardians of The Galaxy #1$4.99Marvel
6X-Men #5$3.99Marvel
7The Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #2$5.99DC
8Batman: Curse of The White Knight #6$4.99DC
9Iron Man 2020 #1$4.99Marvel
10Venom: The End #1$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Absolute Carnage$29.99Marvel
2Diana: Princess of The Amazons$9.99DC
3Watchmen$24.99DC
4League of Legends: Lux$15.99Marvel
5House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
6Stranger Things: Zombie Boys$10.99Dark Horse
7My Hero Academia Volume 22$9.99Viz
8Black Hammer Vol. 4: Age of Doom Part II$19.99Dark Horse
9Green Lantern: Legacy$9.99DC
10Wonder Woman: Warbringer$16.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Incredible Hulk By Peter David Omnibus Vol. 1 HC$125.00Marvel
2Conan The Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 3 HC$125.00Marvel
3House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
4Absolute Carnage$29.99Marvel
5Daredevil By Bendis & Maleev Omnibus Vol. 1 HC$100.00Marvel
6Junji Ito: No Longer Human HC$34.99Viz
7Watchmen$24.99DC
8Batman: Black & White Omnibus HC$125.00DC
9Marvel Masterworks: Daredevil Vol. 14 HC$75.00Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Maximum Carnage$39.99Marvel

Finally, the number of new items offered. Note that DC's total appears to have been bumped up by what we think are 18 cardstock covers; we'll see what actually appears in the charts:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel101560157
DC98300128
IDW3516051
Image437050
Viz043043
Dark Horse259034
Boom226028
Source Point163019
Dynamite144018
Titan62311
Other13023528393
TOTAL SHIPPED49041131932

Ten of the New Year's Day releases were from Source Point Press, which leapt onto the New Release Count charts with 16 comic books total in the month, making it the seventh most prolific publisher of comics. (The publisher's releases included issues like Boston Metaphysical Society #6, Seance Room #1and Touching Evil #2.)

Again, check in here next week to see the estimates. It looks from the April 2020 solicitations that DC isn't stopping its differently pried cardstock covers; we've said that we don't intend to merge them indefinitely (the charts aren't a scoreboard, anyway), so the first month we don't have time to do it, we'll probably stop doing it for good. Which month will it be? Check in and see...

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 Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New DawnStar Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War, and his July release, Star Trek: Discovery - Die StandingRead more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The 2019 Two Thousand: A look at the 1,000 top-selling comics and graphic novels ordered by comics shops

by John Jackson Miller


With the release of the December sales charts 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 2019. 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 28 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 this issue at TFAW
Led by Detective 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
2019: 49.88 million copies

As you can see, 2019'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 2019, 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 $225.54 million, a 6% jump over the previous year, when the 2018's Top 1000 sold for $213.3 million. That total was itself a big 11% leap over 2017's $190.6 million, so the trend is continuing: the top sellers are more expensive, and $8 and $10 price tags are not seemingly impediments to big sales.

Almost everything in the Top 1000 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 little movement in the higher tiers in 2019, but significant declines in the 25,000 to 50,000 tier; that's likely a response to smaller slates from DC and Image, as well as the fact that DC's cardstock program broke up many of its midrange sellers into multiple entries in Diamond's Top Thousand chart.

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
2019847711926861272


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+
2009
2
39
119
379
n.a.
2010
0
26
94
303
955
2011
3
42
86
343
984
2012
5
63
129
403
1100
2250
2013
6
64
178
390
1128
2430
2014
4
40
108
401
1195
2353
2015
21
95
167
367
1166
2280
2016*
11
94
205
466
n.a.
n.a.
2017
3
49
99
332
1166
2366
2018
11
55
132
311
1074
2178
2019
8
55
126
318
1004
2276

Every year we also add a number of items to our lists for the Top Comics of the Decade and the Top Comics of the Century (...So Far, in the latter case). The final year of the decade added a large number of new entrants, 33, to the Top 300. That's one more than the previous year, and the fourth most all decade.

The decade's bestsellers break down by year as follows:

2010: 8
2011: 23
2012: 40
2013: 27
2014: 15
2015: 55
2016: 44
2017: 24
2018: 32
2019: 33

Detective Comics #1000 was the big one, of course, placing second in both the decade and century behind 2015's Star Wars #1. The best performance by another comic was Spawn #300, which landed at 34th in the decade and 42nd in the century.

2019 overall added 17 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 21st Century.

The Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Watchmen (for the third time in the last 30 years!) went for $58.2 million. This is a small drop from 2018's total, less than half a percent. It's a far cry from 2018's major 20% drop.

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
2019: $57.94 million

Accounting for the difference once again this year: a lot of money was tied up in comics, and the Walking Dead factor appears to have faded from what it was in previous years. It's also more the case that retailers today are buying graphic novels from more sources than Diamond.

Overall graphic novel sales were reported by Diamond to be down 2.1%, so the Top Thousand fared relatively better than the long tail.

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 2019.

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

Marvel: 597 (+62)
DC: 351 (-48)
Image: 27 (-25)
Boom: 8 (+5)
Dynamite: 6 (+5)
IDW: 6 (+3)
Dark Horse: 3 (unchanged)
Valiant: 1 (-1)
Archie: 1 (unchanged)

DC's line cutbacks in the first half of the year impacted it, as did the fact that its cardstock cover program meant many of its titles were broken up into multiple entries. Image published many fewer comics in 2019 and saw a significant, with gains to Marvel and Boom. Dynamite owed four of its newly gained spots to Vampirella. Oni dropped out of the list. 

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

Marvel: 292 (-20)
DC: 248 (-29)
Image: 199 (+9)
 Viz: 79 (+21)
Dark Horse: 70 (+20)
Boom: 23 (+7)
IDW: 18 (+4)
Oni/Lion Forge: 13 (-1)

Another big move this year for Viz — and a significant one as well for Dark Horse. Marvel lost entries but stayed ahead of DC, which lost 29 entries for the second year in a row.

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 Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and 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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Monday, January 20, 2020

December 2019 full estimates posted; King Batman finale enters Top 5

by John Jackson Miller


We've just posted our estimates for December Top 500 comics and graphic novel orders. Tom King's Batman #85 finale issue entered the Top 5 on combined orders. Fourth quarter up 10%, best quarter in 2019 and biggest quarterly year-over-year rise since 2015.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!

Friday, January 17, 2020

December 2019 comics and graphic orders up 9%; House of X/Powers of X top dollar GN

by John Jackson Miller


Led by Doomsday Clock #12 and the House of X/Powers of X hardcover, comics shop orders of comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors closed 2019 out strongly, up 9.2% year-over-year in dollars in December. That's a better-than-expected total, due to a revision Diamond's made since its end-of-year report came out last Friday. (The distributor's December report, showing the new 2019 percentage change total, is here.)

 Find this book at TFAWWhen Diamond released its Top 500 Comics and Top 500 Graphic Novels lists earlier in the week (see our estimates for their sales here), that provided us with a partial list for December — 37 comic books released in the month made the overall charts. We temporarily posted those on our December 2019 page (where the final estimates will appear next week), but we also spotted that something was a bit amiss with a handful of those entries, as their dollar sales rankings in the overall 2019 chart suggested they hadn't made any money.

That obviously wasn't the case, and neither was there likely to have been any secret overship; rather, the fact that all the impacted books were Christmas Day releases points to an accounting issue. If those Christmas Day comics — including Venom #21, Incoming #1, Dr. Strange #1, and Spider-Ham #1 had their dollar earnings attributed to January 2020 rather than December 2019, where their units were rightfully counted, that would cover the difference in the percentage change statistics.

Diamond appears to have caught that in compiling its December charts. The units didn't change in the end-of-year statistics. It meant the addition of about one and a half million dollars to 2019's total sales overall, boosting the year-to-year increase from 2.23% to 2.54%. (End-of-year dollar market shares would also theoretically be impacted, although very slightly.)

To be clear, these aren't comics that went on sale Jan. 1 that would have been affected — they're December books, so nothing is being borrowed from 2020. And nothing else from the 2019 unit sales charts would be likely to change in this scenario: just the dollar rankings. This means that we're able to provide, below, unit sales with the Top 10 when it comes to the comics. (And the rest of the Top 37 are, again, here, to be joined next week by the rest of the month.)

(EDIT: Shortly after this post, Diamond confirmed the above undercounts of invoiced dollars during the skip weeks, and issued revised end-of-year Top Sellers and Market Shares — which, as expected, only added the missing dollar rankings and fractions of percentage points, mostly to Marvel. You can see the revised 2019 charts with our estimates here.)

The percentage changes from December, with the new, revised totals year-to-year:


DollarsUnits
December 2019 Vs. November 2019
Comics+0.18%-1.28%
Graphic Novels-11.06%-18.03%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.00%-2.48%
Toys+13.47%+16.61%
December 2019 Vs. December 2018
Comics+7.08%+5.36%
Graphic Novels+15.77%+2.87%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+9.20%+5.21%
Toys+166.96%+191.68%
Year 2019 Vs. Year 2018
Comics+4.33%-0.92%
Graphic Novels-2.01%-7.95%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+2.54%-1.44%
Toys+25.96%+28.65%

The market shares for December:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel37.89%45.60%
DC33.55%31.35%
Image5.91%5.93%
IDW4.34%3.51%
Boom4.03%3.66%
Dark Horse2.67%1.87%
Dynamite2.56%2.51%
Viz1.00%0.38%
Titan0.57%0.51%
Random House0.48%0.13%
Other7.00%4.54%

The top-selling comic books by units, with our estimates known from the 2019 Top 500:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHERUNITS
1Doomsday Clock #125.99DC117,926
2X-Men #3$3.99Marvel105,708
3Batman: Last Knight On Earth #3$5.99DC90,058
4Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1$5.99DC88,794
5Venom #21$3.99Marvel74,071
6Harley Quinn: Villain Of The Year #1$4.99DC73,146
7Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1$4.99Marvel71,341
8Incoming #1$9.99Marvel69,025
9Amazing Spider-Man #35$3.99Marvel67,111
10Superman #18$3.99DC66,684

The top-selling comic books by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Doomsday Clock #125.99DC
2Incoming #1$9.99Marvel
3Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3$5.99DC
4Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1$5.99DC
5Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1$4.99DC
6Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100$7.99IDW
7Harleen #3$7.99DC
8X-Men #3$3.99Marvel
9Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1$4.99Marvel
10Venom #21$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units are here. We know from the yearly chart that House of X/Powers of X's sale was more than 10,000 copies; Watchmen's performance was enough to vault it into first place for the year.

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
2Batman Vol 11 The Fall And The Fallen$17.99DC
3Watchmen$24.99DC
4Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition$29.99Marvel
5Black Hammer Vol. 4 Age Of Doom Part II$19.99Dark Horse
6Boys Omnibus Vol. 6 $29.99Dynamite
7Green Lantern Vol. 1 Intergalactic Lawman$17.99DC
8Daredevil By Chip Zdarsky Vol. 2 No Devils Only God$15.99Marvel
9My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies$12.99Image
10Star Wars Doctor Aphra Vol. 6 Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon$15.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
2Annihilation Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
3Y The Last Man Omnibus HC$150.00DC
4Injustice Gods Among Us Omnibus HC Vol. 01$125.00DC
5Absolute Dark Knight III The Master Race HC$125.00DC
6Animal Man By Jeff Lemire Omnibus HC$99.99DC
7Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition$29.99Marvel
8Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four HC Vol. 21$75.00Marvel
9Watchmen$24.99DC
10Boys Omnibus Vol. 6$29.99Dynamite

And, finally, here's what shipped in December:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel103320135
DC86321119
Image367043
IDW2813041
Boom2314037
Dark Horse229031
Dynamite144018
Kodansha013013
Titan82212
Archie9009
Other8010911200
TOTAL SHIPPED40923514658


The above completes the picture of comics released in 2019. As we can see below, the number of new comics released was down slightly, largely due to reduced lines from DC and Image; DC's cutbacks are camouflaged by the fact that Diamond counts comics at different price tags as separate releases. Around 90 cardstock books fit that description. Variants with the same cover price are not counted separately.
Here's the same chart, only with graphic novels:


Look for the full December charts here next week.

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 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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Top 500 comics, graphic novels from 2019 online; Doomsday Clock #12 led December

by John Jackson Miller
http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2019.html

With the release of the 2019 end-of-year comics orders from Diamond Comic Distributors, Comichron has projected estimates for the Top 500 Comics and the Top 500 Graphic Novels sold by the company, which can be found on our page for 2019.

This year's charts have our sorting and searching features implemented, as now do our previous 28 years of annual Diamond 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. 2019 data will be added to that page when more is known.

Detective Comics #1000 led the list with nearly 575,000 copies sold, an increase of nearly 50,000 copies from its release month in March.

We can see from the end-of-year chart that Doomsday Clock #1 was the top-seller for December, with nearly 118,000 copies sold, and a number of other December items can be seen in the chart.

The rest of the month's Top 5 appears to shake out as follows:

2) X-Men #3

3) Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3

4) Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1

5) Venom #21


We've generated a partial list that shows just the 37 titles from December, and we'll of course run the full Top 500 when Diamond releases the next round of data.

Back to 2019: Almost everything in the Top 500 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.

We'll do our annual Top Thousand comparisons and extend the charts next week when the December data is released. But we have at this point finalized our Top Comics of the Decade chart for the 2010s, and we've added 2019 to the Top Comics of the Century So Far chart.

The final year of the decade added a large number of new entrants, 33, to the Top 300 for the 2010s. That's one more than the previous year, and the fourth most all decade.

The decade's bestsellers break down by year as follows:

2010: 8
2011: 23
2012: 40
2013: 27
2014: 15
2015: 55
2016: 44
2017: 24
2018: 32
2019: 33

Detective Comics #1000 was the big one, of course, placing second in both the decade and century behind 2015's Star Wars #1. The best performance by another comic was Spawn #300, which landed at 34th in the decade and 42nd in the century.

2019 overall added 17 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 21st Century.

December's report and estimates are up next, and our Top Thousand chart.


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 Star Wars: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and 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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Comic book, graphic novel sales to comics shops up 2% in 2019; Detective #1000, Watchmen top charts

by John Jackson Miller



The decade of the 2010s ended on a note of growth for the Direct Market when it comes to retailer orders from Diamond Comic Distributors. According to our analysis of a report released today by the firm, comics shops bought $528.1 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines from it in 2019, an increase of 2.23% or $11.5 million over 2018's total of $516.6 million. We expect to have the full charts for 2019 from Diamond early next week. (UPDATE: They're online, and can be found here.)

Implicit in the report is that December 2019's performance was, as predicted here, an improvement over the moribund and holiday-shortened December 2018 showing. December 2019's orders appear to have been around $39.5 million, up around 5% and finishing a strong quarter year-over-year. Three out of four quarters in 2019 showed improvement; that hasn't happened since 2015, a year partially fueled by Star Wars' move to Marvel. The last time every quarter was up was 2013, a year supercharged by significant line growth at the middle-tier publishers; only one month that year was down.

The performance for 2019 represents a return to growth for this subset of the comics shop market, joining 13 other positive years this century including 2001-2008 and 2012-2016; two of the down years, 2011 and 2018, were off by just a single percentage point. Last year eclipsed not just last year, but the year before; this century only 2014, 2015, and 2016 have seen more dollars worth of merchandise ordered. Orders in 2019 were 25% above those of 2010, 8% higher when adjusted for inflation.

Aided by Detective Comics #1000 — a rare case, along with 2015's Star Wars #1, of a first quarter release leading the year, dollar sales of periodical comic books were up nearly 4% in 2019. Graphic novel sales were down 2%. Both figures represent significant improvements over 2018, which saw comics up 2% and graphic novels down 8%. Comics shops order significant quantities of graphic novels from channels outside Diamond — and as we know the book channel was booming in 2019, it's a near-certainty that the overall market, which we track in our annual industry-wide report, will find print sales above $1 billion at full retail for the first time ever. Look for that report later in 2019.

Market shares: DC, Image line reductions make impact

The market shares finished the year very close to what we'd predicted, with Marvel topping 40% in dollar share, an upward move of nearly two percentage points. Its unit sales increased by nearly four points. The unit gains came partially at the expense of DC, which had pared back its line in the first half of the year; its unit share dropped a little more than three points. But its dollar share suffered much less, down only three-quarters of a point, indicating that the products it did put our earned more on average.

Image, which also cut back its offerings significantly in 2019, saw both its unit and dollar shares each drop by a couple of points. Dark Horse, Boom, Dynamite, and Viz saw their dollar shares increase. The only change in the order of the Top 10 in the dollar rankings came at ninth and tenth place, where Oni and Titan reversed positions.

The market shares:


PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel40.20%44.72%
DC29.29%30.74%
Image8.04%7.69%
IDW3.55%3.29%
Dark Horse3.19%2.33%
Boom2.56%2.42%
Dynamite2.16%1.88%
Viz1.45%0.55%
Oni0.61%0.43%
Titan0.60%0.49%
Other8.34%5.47%

Comics: First issues and anniversaries take the entire Top 10

Comichron's tracking all year had predicted Detective Comics #1000 would be the top-selling comic book — it's the second best-seller of the decade, after all, with more than half a million copies shipped — but we also saw that the Top 10 comics through November remained the Top 10 after December, with only one change in position. X-Men #1 edged past Black Cat #1 for third place, on the strength of December reorders.

DC's other entry in the Top 10, DCeased #1, was the only comic book in the top ten regularly priced at $3.99.

House of X #1 and Powers of X #1 held steady at eighth and ninth places. That they are no higher, despite their buzz, testifies to the surprise popularity of the event (and likely also the availability of reprints).


The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
2Spawn #300$7.99Image
3X-Men #1$4.99Marvel
4Black Cat #1$4.99Marvel
5DCeased #1$3.99DC
6Absolute Carnage #1$7.99Marvel
7Marvel Comics #1000$9.99Marvel
8House of X #1$5.99Marvel
9Powers of X #1$5.99Marvel
10War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel

It's clear that nothing from December made the Top 10 for the year overall, which means there's an upper limit on whatever that month's top seller is at 191,000 copies or so. We'll find out soon enough.



Graphic novels: "As Seen On TV"

 Find this book at TFAWOver on the bookshelves, Watchmen  fueled by its HBO series and a new trade paperback edition that makes good and sure you know about it — leapt past newer entries to become the #1 graphic novel for the year. It is the third time since 1991, when Diamond began reporting annual graphic novel sales, that it has placed #1; the other two times were 2008 and 2009, aided by the movie.

If you've been following our sales-to-date charts throughout 2019, its final showing may be a bit of a surprise; our table listed the $19.99 previous edition and the $24.99 new edition as separate entries, while Diamond followed its usual form for the end-of-year graphic novel charts by merging different prices. (Walking Dead Vol. 1 has editions at several different price points in Diamond's system; they've been merged in year-end charts for a long time.)

Watchmen's combined sales through November would have placed it #2 by units among graphic novels, so clearly the TV show fueled a late surge that pushed it past Saga Vol. 1. Television programming also played a role in Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite placing third — and of course, the performance of the final Walking Dead volume.

Die Vol. 1, in sixth, was the highest-ranking graphic novel not previously released in graphic novel form before 2019.

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Watchmen$24.99DC
2Saga Volume 1$9.99Image
3Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
4Monstress Volume 1$9.99Image
5Mister Miracle$24.99DC
6Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker$9.99Image
7Batman: White Knight$19.99DC
8Walking Dead Vol. 31$16.99Image
9Batman: The Killing Joke HC$17.99DC
10Batman: Damned HC$29.99DC

As noted above, the full estimates will be along next week, and if Diamond follows past practice, we'll see December's full data along some time after that. Look for it on our December page.

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 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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Comichron's Decade in Review: The 2010s, year-by-year

by John Jackson Miller


Here's a look at the Decade in Review, a year-by-year glance back at the trends shaping comics shop orders. It's mostly been a decade of growth, with downturns in 2010-11 and 2017-18.

PRICES UP, SALES DOWN. Summer new comics sales were the worst since 2001; only one issue after July topped 100,000 copies. DC reversed its increase to $3.99; it didn't help. "The most popular, least successful move we ever made," a DC rep said. See the charts.


NEW 52 TO THE RESCUE. The 2010 woes dragged into 2011, with the worst monthly top-seller ever moving just 71,517 copies in February. But DC turned it all around with its reboot, nearly turning the year positive and taking 11 of the Top 12. See the charts.


ROBUST REBOUND. The New 52 continued to rule. Marvel had Avengers in theaters and Marvel NOW on shelves in the fall, and Walking Dead's anniversary issue was the bestselling comic in three years. Comics shop sales finished up 15% over 2011. See the charts.


MIDDLE TIER GROWS. Midrange publishers continued to grow their lines; "everybody else combined" surpassed both Marvel and DC. Direct Market sales passed $500 million for the first time since 1993; they'd stay above it the rest of the decade.  See the charts.


STILL CLIMBING. Amazing Spider-Man #1 outsold anything in 19 years; many of its 48 variants were available only to specific shops or outside retailers. The "subscription box" fad hit comics, with some variants included in Diamond's sales.  See the charts.


MORE RECORDS FALL. Star Wars went from Dark Horse to Marvel in January and got the first million-copy seller, partially fueled by sales to Loot Crate, which also aided other like Bravest Warriors and Orphan Black. Overall sales grew 7%.  See the charts.


A NEW HIGH. The Star Wars-fueled 2015 was hard to beat, but 2016 did it anyway, squeaking past it thanks to DC's Rebirth and Marvel's Civil War II, whose first issue was probably the real market leader if you discount Loot Crate's copies.  See the charts.


CORRECTION TERRITORY. After several years of ever-increasing sales, 2017's slate, headed by Secret Empire, couldn't match 2016's Rebirth/Civil War II performance. Direct Market orders saw a 10% drop; overall industry losses were smaller.  See the charts.


REBUILDING YEAR. The decline in Direct Market orders ended after the winter, with special issues like Action #1000 helping to fuel two growth quarters. A prospective narrow increase became a 1% drop as DC cut back its offerings at year-end.  See the charts.



AHEAD AGAIN. Helped by the X-Men relaunch, Detective #1000, and DC bulking up its offerings again, comics sales are poised to end higher in 2019. An increase of 25% over 2010's dollar totals; adjusted for inflation, it's still up about 8%. See the charts.

Finally, here's our chart combining the bestsellers from 2010-18; we've included where Detective #1000 will likely land once 2019's data hits.


Any official rankings released from Diamond are likely differ, because this method — just looking back at the year-end charts — shortchanges issues that release late in the 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 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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Monday, December 9, 2019

November 2019 comics sales estimates online: New Mutants sales top 138,000 copies

by John Jackson Miller

The debut issue of New Mutants moved more than 138,000 copies to stores in North America as part of Marvel's X-Men relaunch in November. The month saw increases in both units and dollars for bot the comics and the graphic novel category.

Click to see the full comics sales estimates for November 2019.

The split covers on DC's titles for the month resulted in a number of titles improving in our charts, which again provide the option of fusing together such titles: Batman #82 entered the top five as a result.

No comics gained changed position in the Top 5 for the year so far; X-Men #1 gained some ground on Black Cat #1 but did not pass it. We'll see where it winds up after December's orders.

Click to see the bestselling comic books of 2019 so far.



Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!
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