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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, August 12, 2019

July 2019 comics sales estimates: House of X #1 hits 185k copies, combined editions lift DCeased #3 to third

by John Jackson Miller


As reported here on Friday, House of X #1 led new comics sales by Diamond Comic Distributors to retailers in July — and our full estimates, just posted, place its sales at more than 185,000 copies to North America. We're also able to report that Walking Dead #193, the surprise final issue, topped 111,000 copies — and more than that, given that its returnability means Diamond reduced its reported sales in the charts. Click to see our comics sales estimates for July 2019.

Of additional note is something new we've tried. With DC's Year of the Villain resulting in many comics having their sales split across multiple entries (standard practice when versions of the same comic book have different cover prices), 22 different comics got additional entries. Using the sorting functionality of our tables, the Comichron chart for July can be sorted in an additional way — to combine those comics into single entries. It's uncertain yet whether this is just for this month or for the entire duration of DC's event, but it seemed to be worth an experiment. Check it out!

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

Friday, August 9, 2019

X-Men reboot, Walking Dead finale, extra ship week help comics sales in July; first 1-2 finish for X-comics since 2001

by John Jackson Miller


Value judgments are tough to avoid in describing economic activity, even when the changes under discussion are very small. One person's "stable" is another person's "stagnant." Much depends on expectations: if you think comics stores should be proliferating like sandwich shops, then "flat" is a bad word. If you think over-fast growth often leads to chaos, "steady" sounds just fine.

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The Comichron position is often seen as defaulting toward the positive — at least in headline copy! — but it's a bit more nuanced than "ties go to the runner." For the last 20 years, monthly periodical sales in comics shops have oscillated around a mean of about 7 million copies a month — all while the dollar volume of the comics market overall has nearly tripled thanks to graphic novels collecting those monthly comics. If you believe that a desirable level of comics sales is "whatever allows Direct Market stores to subsidize the serialization of enough stories to keep the bookshelves full," then sales volume has clearly hit that level most years, and "unchanged" is, very much, "stable." (Inherent in that is the strong belief that serialization is not just a necessary part of the publishers' toolkit, but a valuable one; monthly comics amortize as they advertise, and feed a secondary market which many retailers also realize revenue from.)

Whichever way your adjectives go, a market constantly dipping above and below "no change" throws a constant series of choices at headline writers — and thus far, 2019 has been a workout for those of us looking for new descriptive terms. This year and last year haven't tracked exactly, but the deviations have been small, like January, which saw the release of a lot of comics delayed from 2018. Or the fact that while Action Comics #1000 came out in April 2018, this year's anniversary blockbuster, Detective Comics #1000, dropped in March. We see now from Diamond Comic Distributors that July, aided by a fifth shipping week, had another wobble, this time to the plus side; look here on Monday for the estimates for individual comics sales in July 2019.

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Against last July's Batman #50 and Amazing Spider-Man #1, retailers last month had Jonathan Hickman's X-Men relaunch and Robert Kirkman's surprise Walking Dead finale. The net result was a July that was up 7% in dollars, or by about $3 million; that brought the year-to-date total to $298 million, up about $2 million, or less than 1%.

Marvel beat its dollar sales of comics and graphic novels from last July by more than $2 million, or 13%; it's up 8% year-to-date. That July performance was boosted by House of X #1 and Powers of X #1, and it also had Amazing Spider-Man #25 in the Top 3. It's published 118 more new comics this year than last year, so far, but its July total was only up by one new comic despite the extra shipping week.

Not counting when Avengers Vs. X-Men double-shipped, July was the first time two X-Men comics finished 1-2 since August 2001. X-Men comics finishing in the top two slots was once incredibly common, back in the 1990s days of Uncanny X-Men and "adjectiveless" X-Men. Indeed, in the latter years of the 1990s it had come to be seen as symbolic of the market's malaise: literally nothing else in comics was going on that was interesting enough to unseat them. August 2001 was right when things were finally turning around.

Meanwhile back in July 2019, DC saw a major rebound in its number of new comic books on the market, with 86 titles out; far above its 50 from June and its most since January. The publisher, which had the top graphic novel in the Black Label release The Joker, was still down in dollars versus the previous July (again, supercharged by Batman #50). The publisher still has a long way to go to catch up to its new-release pace from 2018, if that were its interest: it's published 92 fewer comics and 18 fewer graphic novels so far this year.

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Image had a stronger July than it did last year thanks in part to Walking Dead #193, which placed fourth; eBay prices for #193 that had approached $40 seem to have settled back into the teens as the reprint became available, though professionally graded copies differ (a 9.9 CBCS-slabbed issue, priced by its seller at $855, appears to be the high end).

Dark Horse
had another strong month and is up 27% year-to-date thanks in part to Umbrella Academy. And Dynamite saw a big jump in dollar sales overall with Vampirella #1which broke into the Top 10 on the dollar charts; we know 90,000 copies of that went to Diamond, though that figure likely includes overseas copies.

The number of new graphic novels on the market was essentially unchanged versus July 2018; dollars brought in by the category improved 12%.

One other thing we know — while we don't track the category, Diamond is having a blockbuster year when it comes to toys. They were up 72% in July, and 32% in the year overall. It's been some years since Diamond published data about the relative sizes of its categories, but the contribution of toys to Diamond and many of its retailers is significant.

The comparative sales statistics:



DollarsUnits
July 2019 Vs. June 2019
Comics+15.75%+12.25%
Graphic Novels+5.58%+4.42%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+12.93%+11.72%
Toys+48.78%+61.20%
July 2019 Vs. July 2018
Comics+4.99%-0.73%
Graphic Novels+12.83%+0.08%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+6.91%-0.68%
Toys+72.30%+84.85%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+0.97%-4.36%
Graphic Novels-0.25%-6.20%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.63%-4.50%
Toys+32.17%+35.90%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel41.38%45.49%
DC26.79%27.63%
Image8.43%8.64%
IDW4.22%3.99%
Dark Horse3.10%2.42%
Dynamite2.31%2.19%
Boom2.05%1.86%
Viz1.51%0.58%
Titan0.74%0.68%
Archie0.68%0.75%
Other8.80%5.77%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1House of X #1$5.99Marvel
2Powers of X #1$5.99Marvel
3Amazing Spider-Man #25$7.99Marvel
4Walking Dead #193*$3.99Image
5Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2$5.99DC
6Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1$4.99DC
7The Batman Who Laughs #7$4.99DC
8Black Cat #2$3.99Marvel
9Immortal Hulk #20$3.99Marvel
10Batman #74$3.99DC

The asterisk with Walking Dead #193 means it's returnable, which I presume was the case because retailers were not informed of its significance. It's hard to imagine anyone had any copies to return!

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1House of X #1$5.99Marvel
2Powers of X #1$5.99Marvel
3Amazing Spider-Man #25$7.99Marvel
4Batman: Last Knight On Earth #2$5.99DC
5Walking Dead #193*$3.99Image
6Batman: Curse of The White Knight #1$4.99DC
7The Batman Who Laughs #7$4.99DC
8Black Cat #2$3.99Marvel
9Immortal Hulk #20$3.99Marvel
10Vampirella #1*$3.99Dynamite

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Joker$14.99DC
2Bad Weekend HC$16.99Image
3Deadly Class Vol. 8: Never Go Back$16.99Image
4They Called Us Enemy$19.99IDW
5Adventure Zone Vol. 2: Murder on Rockport Limited$19.99First Second
6Dear Justice League$9.99DC
7Conan The Barbarian Vol. 1: The Life and Death of Conan Book 1$19.99Marvel
8Miles Morales Vol. 1: Straight out of Brooklyn$17.99Marvel
9Die Die Die Vol. 1$19.99Image
10Daredevil By Chip Zdarsky Vol. 1: Know Fear$15.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Conan The Barbarian: Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$125.00Marvel
2The Joker$14.99DC
3Monstress Volume 1 HC$49.99Image
4Bad Weekend HC$16.99Image
5DC Universe: Bronze Age Omnibus By Jack Kirby HC$150.00DC
6Adventure Zone Vol. 2: Murder On Rockport Limited Gn$19.99First Second
7They Called Us Enemy$19.99IDW
8Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 6 HC$125.00DC
9Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Vol. 11 HC$75.00Marvel
10Thanos by Donny Cates HC$34.99Marvel

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel105450150
DC86240110
IDW4520065
Image5010060
Dark Horse1820038
Boom1516031
Viz023023
Dynamite165021
Archie133016
Oni4509
Other Non-Top 1014315023316
TOTAL SHIPPED49532123839

The normal prediction would be that August 2019 would see the market dip back under the 2018 pace year-to-date; last August was a $47 million month and had both Fantastic Four #1 and one more shipping week. But with Marvel Comics #1000 in the mix as well as continuing reorders on House of X and Powers of X, it's too early to say. A year-over-year increase in August, if it happened, would be the first time all year we've had three in a row.

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 his new novel from Gallery Books, 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, July 15, 2019

June 2019 comics sales estimates: Black Cat #1 tops charts with nearly 256,000 copies

by John Jackson Miller


Our full comics and graphic novel sales estimates for June 2019 are now online — and we see there's a lot of competition for the second-place comic book for the year overall.

In April, War of the Realms #1 became the second-bestselling comic book of the year so far; in May, DCeased #1 did the same thing. Now our analysis of comics sold by Diamond Comic Distributors shows that, in June, Black Cat #1 approached 256,000 copies in sales, giving it the second-place slot for the year. (Still nothing yet to challenge Detective Comics #1000 — though Marvel Comics #1000 is on the way.)

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

Friday, July 12, 2019

June comics sales slightly up, led by Black Cat #1; DC released 24% fewer new comics in first half of 2019

by John Jackson Miller


We can say two things for sure about the first half of 2019: DC released a lot fewer comic books, and Marvel came close to taking every shelf space its rival vacated. The result was that Marvel beat its own dollar sales performance from the first half of 2018, though not by as much as all those new releases would suggest — whereas DC's total dollar volume slipped during that period, but not by as much as its fewer new releases would suggest.

The upshot? A Direct Market almost completely flat at midyear, down less than one-half of one percent in dollars. It's a slight improvement from the trajectory seen in 2018, which was down a whole percentage point; that year's sales wound up being strongly up once channels outside comics shops were included. 

June's comics orders, as reported today by Diamond Comic Distributors, were slightly up; retailers ordered $42.3 million dollars of comics, graphic novels, and magazines in the month, an increase of 0.4%. The year-to-date total, $250.2 million, is down a little over a million dollars. The quarterly breakdowns this year are near inverses of one another, with the first quarter up year-over-year and the second quarter down. This is in some measure an anomaly: If Detective Comics #1000 had come out just a week later to land in the same quarter that Action Comics #1000 shipped in, both quarters' performance would be close to even with 2018.

Comics had a better month of June relative to 2018 than graphic novels did, with dollar sales for comics up 3.6%. Nearly 40 million comic books shipped to retailers in the first half of 2019, down about 2 million copies — but there's little doubt that DC's slimmer-offerings approach under AT&T's ownership was a contributor. Because while Marvel, on paper, replaced many of the missing DC releases, many of those books were reprints priced at a dollar, which neither sell as many copies nor for anywhere near the value of a regular Big Two release..

Comparing the release slates. DC's 374 new comics in the first half of 2019 was down 24%, or 115 comics, from the same period in 2018. Marvel's 615 new comics in the first half of the year represent a 20% increase, up 102 releases — not quite enough to cover DC's shortfall. Image published 301 new comics in the first half of the year, down from 376. The total number of new issues in the first half of the year stood at 2,704, down 3%.

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The new-title austerity accelerated for DC in June, as it published just 50 new comic books in the month, a new 28-year low for the publisher. Marvel more than doubled its total, with 104. Marvel also more than doubled DC's total output of new graphic novels in the month, 43 to DC's 20. June also saw DC's smallest new graphic novel slate since March 2015, and that could be an echo of the smaller new comics slate: when there are fewer new titles out, logically there are fewer issues to collect into squarebound editions.

But, as mentioned above, there's a difference in what each of the titles published contributed to retailers' bottom lines. DC may have released 24% fewer new comics in the first half of the year, but retailers orders of DC publications in dollar terms were only down 5%, or about $4 million. It helps when there's a Detective #1000 in the mix; if there had been two, it'd be up for the year.

Meanwhile, Marvel — which saw its June dollar sales up 13%, aided by the top-selling Black Cat #1 — has moved 7% more dollars worth of material into comics shops in the first half of 2019, an increase of about $7 million over the same period in 2018. Why isn't it larger, given Marvel's increase in releases? Again, it's what many of them are. Marvel appears to have released 59 different True Believer comics in the first six months of 2019; they account for more than half of Marvel's slate increase, even though their $1 price tag means they don't add a lot to the dollar totals. (Update: Marvel also had True Believer titles in the first half of 2018, so the added number of True Believer books for 2019 is probably closer to 30.) 

That's something to remember when looking at the stats below: not all releases are created equal.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
June 2019 Vs. May 2019
Comics-6.44%-6.55%
Graphic Novels-18.39%-15.92%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-10.09%-7.26%
Toys-2.86%-15.02%
June 2019 Vs. June 2018
Comics+3.56%-4.63%
Graphic Novels-7.11%-13.13%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.36%-5.27%
Toys+35.23%+14.34%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+0.21%-5.03%
Graphic Novels-2.25%-7.19%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.49%-5.19%
Toys+24.92%+27.33%
Second Quarter 2019 Vs. First Quarter 2019
Comics+3.15%+6.51%
Graphic Novels+3.01%-3.86%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+3.11%+5.72%
Toys-9.68%-11.18%
Second Quarter 2019 Vs. Second Quarter 2018
Comics-6.71%-7.62%
Graphic Novels-8.72%-16.49%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-7.28%-8.29%
Toys+30.69%+24.68%

We don't track the toy market here, but it's clear it's done very well for Diamond this year.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel43.38%48.93%
DC26.71%26.44%
Image7.58%8.01%
Dark Horse3.23%2.16%
IDW3.08%2.83%
Boom2.43%2.31%
Dynamite2.15%2.02%
Viz1.61%0.59%
Oni0.74%0.53%
Archie0.57%0.60%
Other8.52%5.59%

Dark Horse's sales  saw significant improvement in the first half of the year, up $2 million year-to-date. Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things are both factors.

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Black Cat #1$4.99Marvel
2DCeased #2$3.99DC
3Silver Surfer: Black #1$3.99Marvel
4Batman: Damned #3$6.99DC
5Batman Who Laughs #6$4.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #24$3.99Marvel
7Immortal Hulk #19$3.99Marvel
8Walking Dead #192$3.99Image
9Batman #73$3.99DC
10Batman #72$3.99DC

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Black Cat #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman: Damned #3$6.99DC
3Superman: Year One #1*$7.99DC
4Dceased #2$3.99DC
5Silver Surfer: Black #1$3.99Marvel
6Batman Who Laughs #6$4.99DC
7War of the Realms #6$5.99Marvel
8Immortal Hulk #19$3.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #24$3.99Marvel
10Walking Dead #192$3.99Image

The asterisk means that Superman: Year One #1 is returnable; its unit sales numbers would have been reduced slightly for purposes of the charts.

Image, which lately has a sizable portion of its line going to series with either "Die" or "Dead" in the title, saw Die Vol. 1 become the top graphic novel. The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker$9.99Image
2Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
3DC Poster Portfolio: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau$24.99DC
4DC Super Hero Girls: Search For Atlantis Tp$9.99DC
5Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 2$15.99Tokyopop
6Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 1$15.99Tokyopop
7Teen Titans: Raven$16.99DC
8Batman/The Flash: The Button$14.99DC
9Miraculous Tales: Ladybug and Cat Noir Season 2 Vol. 4$8.99Action Lab
10My Hero Academia Vol. 19$9.99Viz

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Blackest Night Omnibus: 10th Anniversary Edition HC$150.00DC
2Dc Poster Portfolio: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau$24.99DC
3Batman By Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$75.00DC
4Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
5Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 7 HC$125.00DC
6Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 2$15.99Tokyopop
7Marvel Masterworks: Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 HC$75.00Marvel
8Berserk Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC$49.99Dark Horse
9Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker$9.99Image
10Hulk By Loeb & Mcguinness Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel

Finally, the chart discussed so much this year, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel104430147
DC5020171
Image4611057
IDW3017047
Dark Horse1922041
Boom2011031
Dynamite187025
Viz023023
Archie112013
Oni55010
Other12118418323
TOTAL SHIPPED42434519788

July 2019 is going to present one of the more peculiar chart comparisons we've seen in a while. It has an extra New Comic Book Day (which we give back in August), so you'd expect it to be up — but last July had Batman #50 and Amazing Spider-Man #1.

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But then on top of that, there's Walking Dead #193, the surprise of the year; unannounced as the final issue, it went on sale July 3. It's already been running above $20 in back issue sales (see eBay listings for the issue here), but since aftermarket sales aren't captured in Diamond's charts, that part of the dollar impact of the issue isn't likely to be seen. The snap reprint, landing July 31, will be counted in July's sales, and has already appeared in last week's advance reorder charts in second place, behind only Power of X #1.

For those who've asked what impact the end of the series would have on Image's market shares, it's important to remember that the monthly comic book was an increasingly smaller portion of both the franchise's revenue and the publisher's business as more and more graphic novel collections came out. Image has more than tripled — sometimes quadrupled — its Direct Market dollar share from a dozen years ago, largely on the building of its graphic novel library.

The estimated sales data will appear on this page early next week. In the meantime, check out the comparative months' data from five, 10, 20, and 30 years ago.

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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The complete Mad Magazine sales history, 1960-present: Over 2 million copies per issue in 1974

by John Jackson Miller


Reports began circulating the evening of July 3 regarding Mad magazine (the latest is that new content is ending and that the title is leaving newsstands), so I've responded by doing something that's been long overdue: I've posted the full postal-data sales history of the title since 1960 in our Title Spotlights section.

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The main reason it hasn't happened before now is that — alone among all publications with a majority-comics content — Mad was the only publication still running circulation statements as required by the United States Postal Service. But it was worth doing in any case, because the numbers connected to it dwarf any other comics series: counting copies just of the main title beginning in 1960, Mad sold more than 400 million copies. The overall figure since 1952, reprints included, is probably past half a billion.

A part of American pop culture for more than half a century, William Gaines' humor periodical Mad began as a comic book in 1952, before switching to magazine format with #24. That act had the dual results of protecting the publication from the oversight of the Comics Code Authority, while also giving it a better position than the comics shelves, where newsstand sales of those books were declining.

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Mad had already run several years' worth of Statement of Ownership filings when the U.S. Postal Service changed the rules in 1960, requiring actual sales data. On reading the form in issue #61, the world of comics readers discovered that Mad was selling in excess of a million copies an issue, just slightly more than the top-selling comic book, Uncle Scrooge. But the sales figures thereafter went in opposite directions, with no American comic book topping a million copies sold until Star Wars #1 in 1977 — whereas Mad's sales went upward, nearly steadily, through the 1960s.

An on-ramp to the counterculture for younger readers, the title became a staple of Baby Boomer life in the 1960s; it topped 100,000 subscribers in 1969, a number never seen for any other comics periodical. The title reached its peak circulation in 1974, the culminating year for Watergate, with average sales per issue of 2,132,655 copies. (Perhaps the title's most controversial cover, #166's upraised middle finger, thus landed at the absolute height of the magazine's popularity; many retailers refused to stock it.) Mad's imitators were many over the years, three of which — Cracked, Crazy, Sick — ran postal circulation statements, but none was in Mad's league when it came to sales.

 See eBay listings for this issueBut even though Mad's position on magazine racks gave it a relatively safer position than comic books had in the newsstand market, the channel was in overall decline. The last year the title had sales over 1 million copies was 1982, perhaps not coincidentally when coin-operated and home video games were dominating youth culture.

The growing comics shop market didn't do much business in Mad, which was largely seen still as a newsstand and subscriber-targeted product. Still, sales hovered near three quarters of a million copies through the second half of the 1980s, with a six-year peak of 784,206 copies in 1989. That year saw the title buoyed in part by an issue and a special parodying Batman, a property owned by its then-parent company, Warner.

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A television show added to Mad's brand in the 1990s, and the publication moved from its longtime eight-a-year schedule to monthly. But the decade saw the magazine's circulation drop down below 300,000 copies, more than 100,000 of which were by subscription. Subscription sales would pass dealer copies in 2005, and they would continue to be the largest portion of sales until 2014.

By that time, sales of the now-bimonthly issues were below 140,000 copies, only slightly exceeding that number in 2018 when Mad moved its production from New York City to the West Coast and rebooted its numbering in 2018.

Mad is the last majority-comics periodical still publishing Statement of Ownership reports. It was also the only one to report, only occasionally, digital circulation in its forms. So it's very much the last publication standing among titles in our Postal Data Repository; cancellation or an end to Periodical Class subscriptions would bring to a close (possibly temporarily) a data source that had first become available in 1960.

Whatever happens, no postal record is longer than the one for Mad, so be sure to check the full data out.

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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

BATMAN at 30: Check out the June 1989 comics sales charts, with estimates!

by John Jackson Miller

Tim Burton's Batman movie came out 30 years ago this weekend, so we've just posted the June 1989 sales charts for both Diamond Comic Distributors and Capital City Distribution. See what was selling by clicking the links:

June 1989: Capital City Sales Charts

June 1989: Diamond Sales Charts


Capital was the second largest distributor, with 1,200 accounts at the time; its exact sales are known, due to its founders providing me with many records when it closed in 1996. Overall circulations would be about 4-5 times higher than what are seen in the Capital table.

These are now the earliest Direct Market charts on the site; reporting from this era is complicated by the existence of multiple distributors, with varying levels of sales reporting. But all bet heavily on Batman, offering multiple pages of related goods in their catalogs.

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Diamond's charts don't have order indexes in that era, but we see that the regular Batman title leaps past Uncanny X-Men to the #1 slot. Shades of 1966, when the Batman TV show briefly propelled the DC series into the top position.

A big earner in comics shops associated with Batman was the adaptation, which released to distributors in a $4.95 "prestige" format June 20, 1989 from Ronald's Printing, and a $2.50 standard version June 22 from World Color Press. Distributors also sold a 25-copy prepack unit.

The top graphic novel for the month was Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, which sold 11,650 units just through Capital alone. No distributor ran separate tables for graphic novels back then, but we've created them by pulling them from the existing comics and dollar-ranking charts.

Readers of modern charts will see some peculiarities. Preorders were being reported, so books are listed that never came out, such as a June 1989 Punisher original graphic novel. Others came out later: after Dolph Lundgren's Punisher movie was yanked from the 1989 schedule, the comic adaptation limped out in 1990.

 See the June 1989 Capital sales charts

We've included the shipping dates from the distributor catalogs, which introduce even more oddities. Diamond listed mostly Tuesdays, which was when Ronald's released comics, whether Ronald's printed them or not; Capital went with Thursdays, when World Color released them.

And DC in the 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps due to a holdover from the newsstand era, ran solicitations in the distributor catalogs that straddled into the next month, so May's catalog has part of June in it. It would realign its schedule in March 1995.

Only Capital City published market shares back then, but you'll find them eerily similar to those from today:

JUNE 1989 UNIT SHARES
Marvel 51%
DC 32%
Dark Horse 2%

MAY 2019 UNIT SHARES (just Top 300, so we exclude Year of the Villain #1)
Marvel 50%
DC 33%
Dark Horse 2%

For the 20th anniversary, I wrote about the specific circumstances under which a comics movie can help comics sales — and Batman 1989 is one of the key examples. It found comics shops well-stocked, giving them a head-start on a mass market that'd soon be gripped with Batmania. It helped kick off the early 1990s comics boom — and solidified Batman's position in the top echelon of comics sales, where it remains today. Read more about it on the charts pages!

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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Monday, June 10, 2019

May 2019 Comics Sales Estimates: DCeased #1 ships 242,000 copies, five titles above 100k

by John Jackson Miller

A month after War of the Realms #1 became the second-bestselling comic book of the year so far, DCeased #1 did the same thing, with retailers ordering more than 242,000 copies. Click to see our estimates for comics shipping in May 2019.

Several of the internal benchmarks showed growth year-over-year, with the 50th, 200th, 400th, and 500th place comics all seeing increases versus the books in the same slot in May 2018. Click to see the benchmark tables.

As mentioned here Friday, DC's 25-cent Year of the Villain #1 was counted toward its unit market share, which is part of why the unit gap between DC and Marvel was narrow. Our analysis shows the market share tables appear to been calculated based on a data set that included as many as a million copies that do not appear in the regular comics charts; the DC issue likely accounts for most of them.

All the year's bestsellers had reorders that charted in the month:




Detective Comics #1000 picked up a couple more thousand copies. Click to see the sales for the year to date.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

DCeased #1 leads May 2019 comics orders; Marvel's new comics slate may be largest since 1993

by John Jackson Miller


 Find eBay listings for this issue
May's orders of comic books and graphic novels in the comics shop market were higher than in any month since last October, but not quite good enough to beat May 2018, which had Amazing Spider-Man #800 among other blockbusters in the mix. Retailers ordered almost exactly $47 million in comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors this May, including 7.27 million comic books; both of those figures were down 4% year-over-year versus last May.

DC's DCeased #1 led new comics periodicals; we'll report on its estimated sales on Monday, when you'll be able to click here to find estimated sales figures for May 2019.

The tale of two strategies we've seen in 2019 continued with Marvel publishing more different periodical titles, and DC and Image publishing fewer. Diamond reported that market-share leader Marvel shipped 118 new comic books to market, a figure that's higher than any since Diamond began reporting monthly release counts in 2013. We're not absolutely certain that figure represents only unique new comic books, with no second or later printings included; it depends on how Diamond is keeping track. But if that 118 number holds, it’s likely to be the highest figure this century. Marvel placed 119 comics in the Top 300 in June 2009, but several of those were previously listed books that had been reordered.

(Update: I've confirmed the understanding I previously assumed to be correct — that second and later printings are not counted as new titles, but $1 reprints like the True Believers books are counted as new and distinct publications. So the 118 number is solid. Variants are only counted separately if they're at a different price point as the "regular" version.)

The month's total wouldn't be an all-time record, though. At the peak of the early 1990s comics boom, Marvel shipped 126 new comic books to retailers in August 1993, of which 123 issues made Diamond's Top 300. That appears to be the all-time record for it or any other American publisher.

Regardless, Marvel's May total was 26 more comics than it released in May 2018 — and necessary to allow the publisher to come close to its Spidey-fortified performance from that month. The total retail dollar value of Marvel's shipments to retailers was off single digits percentage-wise from that month. The publisher remains up 6% for the year.

 Find this book at TFAW
DC's 60 comics released in May 2019 was 14 fewer than last May, yet the publisher does appear to be succeeding at its stated goal: releasing fewer comics while increasing the sales of the ones it releases. Taking four of the top five slots on the comics charts, DC's shipments to retailers were up 5% in dollar terms versus last May, and its year-to-date shortfall narrowed to 4%. DC also had the top graphic novel by units in Lauren Myracle'Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale.

(Update: I've confirmed that DC's 25-cent Year of the Villain #1 was counted toward its unit market share, which is part of why the unit gap between DC and Marvel is narrow.)

Image, meanwhile, cut its offerings even more than DC did versus last May — releasing 38 new comic books in the month, the publisher's smallest slate since at least 2013. That's down from 65 comic books released in May 2018 — and the bottom line shows the impact, as Image's year-to-year sales to retailers for the month were greatly diminished. By this point in 2018, Image had shipped at least $4 million more in comics and graphic novels to retailers; that's twice the size of the industry's year-to-date shortfall.

Dark Horse, meanwhile, benefited from Umbrella Academy's Netflix show, placing fourth in dollar market share and landing three of the series' collections in the Top 10 Graphic Novels by units. The publisher's overall sales are up significantly year-over-year and also year-to-date.

May had one more shipping week than April (though the same number as last May), explaining part, but not all, of the boost in sales from that month; a 51% increase in graphic novel dollars over April is significant. We saw several hardcover-laden reorder charts in May, usually an indicator of sales and promotions. Graphic novel units are down versus last May by the same percentage that dollars are up, something explained partially by the fact that the $7.99 Tag & Bink Were Here #1 was classified as a graphic novel last May; it led the charts then with more than 16,000 units but didn't translate to as many dollars.

The year-to-date total slipped into the red for the first time in 2019, down less than 1%; orders through May 31 are $1.4 million shy of the total last year. That's less than a third of what Spidey #800 brought in last year, so the margin is fairly narrow.

The comparative sales statistics:



DollarsUnits
May 2019 Vs. April 2019
Comics+15.60%+14.51%
Graphic Novels+50.97%+44.63%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+24.51%+16.35%
Toys+27.91%+46.27%
May 2019 Vs. May 2018
Comics-7.81%-4.30%
Graphic Novels+5.36%-5.36%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-4.15%-4.38%
Toys+40.65%+40.25%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics-0.45%-5.12%
Graphic Novels-1.21%-5.94%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.66%-5.18%
Toys+23.04%+30.09%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel40.46%39.75%
DC28.22%38.58%
Image6.88%5.53%
Dark Horse3.78%2.19%
IDW3.61%2.98%
Boom2.21%1.76%
Viz1.84%0.65%
Dynamite1.78%1.50%
Oni0.84%0.56%
Titan0.67%0.49%
Other9.72%9.72%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1DCeased #1$3.99DC
2Doomsday Clock #10$4.99DC
3Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1$5.99DC
4Savage Avengers #1$4.99Marvel
5The Batman Who Laughs #5$4.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #21$3.99Marvel
7The Immortal Hulk #17$3.99Marvel
8Batman #70$3.99DC
9Batman #71$3.99DC
10Amazing Spider-Man #22$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1DCeased #1$3.99DC
2Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1$5.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #10$4.99DC
4The Batman Who Laughs #5$4.99DC
5Savage Avengers #1$4.99Marvel
6The Immortal Hulk #17$3.99Marvel
7Amazing Spider-Man #21$3.99Marvel
8War Of Realms #3$4.99Marvel
9War Of Realms #4$4.99Marvel
10Batman #70$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale$16.99DC
2Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
3Middlewest Book 1$9.99Image
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
5East Of West Vol. 9$16.99Image
6DC Super Hero Girls: Spaced Out$9.99DC
7The Immortal Hulk Vol. 3: Hulk In Hell$15.99Marvel
8Legend Of Korra Part 1: Ruins Of Empire$10.99Dark Horse
9Rat Queens Vol. 6: Infernal Path$16.99Image
10Saga Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC$49.99Image

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 4 HC$125.00Marvel
2Saga Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC$49.99Image
3Amazing Spider-Man By J. Michael Straczynski Omnibus Vol. 1  Hc$125.00Marvel
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
5Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale DC Ink$16.99DC
6Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
7East Of West Vol. 9$16.99Image
8Six Days: The Incredible Story Of D-Day's Lost Chapter HC$24.99DC
9Absolute Batman: The Black Mirror HC$99.99DC
10Batman: White Knight HC$29.99DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazine
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel118360154
DC6033093
Image3823061
IDW3718055
Dark Horse2230052
Viz045045
Boom2213035
Dynamite194023
Titan106218
Oni95014
Other15119027368
Total48640329918

While April and May of 2018 were banner months for the business, last June represented a slight pause in that year's momentum, so getting back to even this month is at least possible. (Then July 2018's Batman #50 sales will presumably lend that year a boost, before August's Marvel Comics #1000 sends the pendulum back in 2019's direction.)

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. You can also support us on Patreon!

Monday, May 13, 2019

April estimates: War of the Realms #1 tops 187k copies, Detective #1000 now #2 bestseller of 21st century

by John Jackson Miller

War of the Realms #1 became the #2 bestselling comic book of the year so far in April with sales over 187,000 copies, while the top book of 2019, Detective Comics #1000, racked up another 45,700 copies shipped, moving it into second place on the list of the bestselling comic books of the 21st Century so far. Click to see the sales estimates for April 2019, and the sales estimates for 2019 so far.

Immortal Hulk #16 showed significant improvement in sales over its previous issue, landing in fourth place with more than 90,000 copies sold. Second printings of many issues of the series made the Top 500.

The top comics of the century chart will be updated at the end of the year, but it appears that Detective has sailed past 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1, 2015's Secret Wars #1, and 2009's Amazing Spider-Man #583 into the second spot. Star Wars #1 appears unassailable, though the just-announced Marvel Comics #1 may make a run on it, depending on its cover price. (It's unclear whether there's enough money in the market to make a $10 or $12 book a million-copy seller, especially without blowing a hole in the month's other sales, so it'll be interesting to watch.)


Technically, something in the neighborhood of 400,000 of those Star Wars #1 copies were shipped to buyers through Loot Crate, and were not actual comics shop sales, so it's entirely possible more copies of Detective #1000 have already shipped to comics shops.

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

Friday, May 10, 2019

April sales down in a month with no Action #1000; Marvel releases twice as many comics as DC

by John Jackson Miller

 See eBay listings for this issue
There's a lot of things that make the aggregate numbers in the distributor sales charts swing up and down; the shipping calendar is the one we note here the most, as comparing five-shipping-week months with four-week ones always gives a distorted picture. Add to that list blockbuster anniversary issues, which, in the case of last year's Amazing Spider-Man #800 and last month's Detective Comics #1000, have dollar sales large enough to move the market on their own. (EDIT: Before the day was out, that list grew with the announcement of Marvel Comics #1000 in August.)

So, too, do we see swings later on when we compare months without such books — and that's a big part of what happened in April, as the month's $37.75 million in comics and graphic novel sales to comics shops represented a sharp drop from last April's Action Comics #1000-fortified total. The top sellers are below; the full estimates will appear here on Monday.

Action #1000 alone isn't enough to explain the difference, however, and the contributing factor there is one we've talked about a lot lately: DC just isn't publishing many comics. Back in December, DC released just 52 comic books, its lowest number in any month since 1991; the holiday-truncated month was partially the cause of that. Last month, DC matched that number with no holidays in the mix; its 52 new periodical releases were 29 fewer than April 2018. Marvel, meanwhile, took up the slack again, releasing 106 comic books, 20 more than last April and its highest number since June 2016, before the 2017 slowdown began.

That's right: Marvel released more than twice as many new comic books than DC did in April. That has never happened in the six years since Diamond's been publishing new release counts — nor does Marvel appear to have doubled DC's number of entries in the Top 300 charts at any point since at least 1996. The only time we can definitely say it happened before was in 1974, when DC's line had shrunk and Marvel was practically blowing it off the newsstands, publishing dozens more titles (including more than 20 monthly comics featuring just reprints, mostly horror).

Interestingly, it has occurred in recent memory in the other direction: when Marvel reduced the size of its line after its bankruptcy, DC more than doubled Marvel's periodical output several times; March 2000 saw DC chart 98 new comic books versus Marvel's 41. (It was also a historically bad time for sales overall, though it appears that Marvel did not simply expand its way out of that crisis: per-release sales appear to have improved before line size increases took place.)

 Find this book at TFAW
DC's number of new graphic novel offerings, 32, went up by two versus last April, while Marvel's remained the same; it's the other publishers whose output shrank considerably. Only 275 new graphic novels were offered to market, down 22% year-over-year. Image published 22 new graphic novels last April; 13 last month. IDW went from 19 to 9.

How do these differing strategies measure up? Marvel's overall dollar sales to the market, aided by the chart-topping War of the Realms #1, were almost exactly even year-over-year — significantly better than the overall market, but requiring more new releases to get there. DC, meanwhile, was down quite a lot, although again last year's Action #1000 accounts for a big chunk of the comparative shortfall. Excising that one title from the 2018 mix, DC is still behind year-over-year, but (as we saw before in February) not by as much as we might expect given the reduction in release slate size.

DC had announced it was going to be publishing fewer periodicals, and there's no doubt it's happened; in the last six months it's released 383 new comics, versus 517 from November 2017 to April 2018. That's a drop of more than 25%, and cannot be discounted when looking at overall unit sales; when the #2 bestselling publisher goes from releasing 20 books a week to 14 or 15 (or 13, as happened last month) that's bound to show up various places in the charts.

See listings for this set on eBay
There was also an Avengers movie out in April; rumor is it did some business. Its impact can be seen in the comics charts via Thanos #1, which ranked sixth in dollars and seventh in units, but the greater effect was on graphic novels, where the Infinity War Omnibus, the Infinity by Starlin and Hickman Omnibus, and the $500 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase all made the top five in dollars.

I was asked this week why movies don't seem to more obviously drive comics sales; I answered that they do, but what they seem to help most is the source-material graphic novels where retailers can more easily and lucratively focus newcomers' attention.

April's orders bring the year-to-date orders close to $161 million, just slightly better than even with the same period in 2018; May was one of the two best months of the year last year and part of a string of months topping $40 million, so the market will need to improve on its April pace to keep up. Last May saw the DC line reduction starting in earnest, so at least that publisher's comparatives should be somewhat closer.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
April 2019 Vs. March 2019
Comics-11.12%+0.07%
Graphic Novels-19.02%-27.69%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-13.26%-2.22%
Toys-11.38%-8.24%
April 2019 Vs. April 2018
Comics-14.67%-13.92%
Graphic Novels-25.37%-31.39%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-17.65%-15.24%
Toys+15.41%+18.74%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+1.83%-5.35%
Graphic Novels-3.18%-6.11%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.41%-5.40%
Toys+19.14%+27.48%

Note that comics units were actually up a few thousand copies over March; that's likely because Detective #1000 soaked up a lot of purchasing dollars with its $9.99 price.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel45.50%50.70%
DC25.73%25.89%
Image7.93%7.60%
IDW3.26%2.76%
Dark Horse2.89%1.92%
Boom2.46%2.75%
Dynamite1.71%1.53%
Viz1.07%0.40%
Valiant0.76%0.91%
Aftershock0.70%0.71%
Other7.99%4.83%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
5Batman #69$3.99DC
6Batman #68$3.99DC
7Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
8Heroes In Crisis #8$3.99DC
9Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man #20$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
5Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
6Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
7Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
8Batman #69$3.99DC
9Batman #68$3.99DC
10War of the Realms #2$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
2Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
3Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
5Catwoman Vol. 1: Copycats$16.99DC
6Star Wars Vol. 10: Escape$17.99Marvel
7Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface The Face$16.99DC
8The Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
9Unnatural Vol. 2$16.99Image
10Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter$19.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Infinity War Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
2Death & Return Of Superman Omnibus HC$150.00DC
3Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
4Infinity By Starlin & Hickman Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
5Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase$500.00Marvel
6Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol. 19 HC$75.00Marvel
7Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
8Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC$34.99Image
9Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
10Batman/Superman Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$99.99DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel106370143
DC5232185
Image4713060
IDW329041
Boom2011031
Dark Horse197026
Yen024024
Dynamite164020
Aftershock114015
Valiant91010
Other10113318252
Total41327519707

Check in again for the full charts 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. You can also support us on Patreon!
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