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

 

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!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Comics and graphic novel sales hit new high in 2018

According to new estimate by ICV2 and Comichron

Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.095 billion in 2018, an $80 million increase over sales in 2017. The increase was due to gains in book channel and digital sales, and the inclusion of an estimate for U.S. and Canada sales through crowdfunding sites for the first time.


“After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year,” Miller said. “Popular releases helped right the ship in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains.”

“A historic shift is playing out as the market grew, primarily in the book channel, in 2018,” Griepp said. “While comics stores are still the largest channel, they represented less than half the market for comics and graphic novels in 2018 for the first time in at least three decades.”



Sales in the book channel, which includes chain bookstores, mass merchants, major online retailers, and Scholastic Book Fairs, were up by double digits, with sales of kids graphic novels the biggest factor. Digital sales were also up for the first time in several years, with increased title counts across multiple platforms a factor. Sales in comic stores were down very slightly versus the previous year.

Sales of all three formats, comics, graphic novels, and digital, grew in 2018, with graphic novels leading the way, followed at some distance by digital and comics.


As presented above and in the accompanying infographics, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription-based “all you can read” services.

A new category, “Other,” has been added to the channel breakdown. “Other” includes the Newsstand (periodical sales through specialty retail and mass merchant chains) and Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, etc.) channels. This year, those two channels each accounted for roughly half of the “Other” category.

Sources for the information include NPD BookScan, which collects weekly point-of-sale data on print books from over 16,000 locations including e-tailers, chains, mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, and more. NPD BookScan covers approximately 85% of the U.S. trade print book market. Some publishers classify titles that are primarily text, or art books, as graphic novels; we remove those titles from our analysis.

The analysis also incorporates information released by Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of English-language comics and graphic novels in the world, on sales to comic stores.

Information is also gathered from a variety of other sources, including publisher, distributor, and retailer interviews.

This is the sixth joint market size analysis from ICv2 and Comichron; the first four reports were for 201320142015, 2016, and 2017 sales. ICV2 and Comichron also previously collaborated on revised estimates for 2011 and 2012.

A video version of this report is here.


ICv2 is the #1 industry source on the business of geek culture, including comics and graphic novels, hobby games, and showbiz on its Website, www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence. For the people on the front lines of the geek culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance-it's a basic necessity for being successful. That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines. ICv2 is where trend-watching is a science.


Comichron is the world’s largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, featuring data from the 1930s to today about comic book and graphic novel circulation, cover prices, and market shares on its website, www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.

Original infographic design by Kate Willaert.

Monday, April 29, 2019

March 2019 Comics Sales Estimates: Detective #1000 near 527,000 copies, Spidey on move

by John Jackson Miller

 See the March 2019 estimates here

With Avengers: Endgame setting box office records this past weekend, we also got news of a blockbuster comic book's sales in the comics shop market — as well as a couple of dubious records when it comes to pricing. Click to see our comics sales estimates for March 2019.

See eBay listings for this issue
North American retailers ordered nearly 527,000 copies of Detective Comics #1000 in March, surpassing Action Comics #1000's figure from April 2018 — despite the fact that the Detective issue cost $2 more.

The issue easily became 2019's bestselling comic so far, according to our running totals. It immediately placed fifth on the list of top-selling comics of the century, before any reorders had been included; it will likely go higher. Orders for the comic book and its many variants were worth more than $5.25 million dollars; the supporting hardcover, Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, kicked in more than a quarter million dollars with its nearly 9,000 copies sold.

Such colossal unit sales for a $9.99 comic book drove the average price of comics drove the average weighted cost of comic books in the Top 300 — that is, total dollars divided by total units — to a record far surpassing the old one: $4.67. The average comic book in the Top 300 also set a new cover-price record (by one cent), $4.20. The median and most common cover price for comics remains at $3.99. March marked a full year since the weighted average had been below $4. (Click to see average prices across time and other record-setters.)

Amazing Spider-Man improved on its February numbers thanks to its "Hunted" arc. With its Captain Marvel movie in release in March, Marvel's bestseller from January, Captain Marvel #1, saw a second consecutive month with more than 10,000 copies reordered.

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

Batman's 80th birthday, Detective #1000 power big March, up 13%; DC takes top 6 slots

by John Jackson Miller


 Find this issue at TFAW!
It makes sense to announce good news when everyone is watching the industry — and with Avengers: Endgame hitting theaters, that's just what Diamond Comic Distributors did by releasing its preliminary March sales charts this morning. The Top 10s are below; the full estimates will appear here on Monday.

To no one's surprise, Batman's 80th anniversary gave comics shop market orders a boost; retailers ordered more than $43.5 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines, 13% more than they did in March 2018.

That March, which also had four shipping weeks, was seen as a disappointment compared with the year prior; this March's sales were $5 million greater, and doubtless having Detective Comics #1000 and the Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman hardcover around made much of the difference.

The month completes a $123.2 million first quarter, up 8% over the same quarter in 2018; that makes three growth quarters out of four. Essentially bookended by April 2018's Action #1000 and March 2019's higher-priced Detective Comics #1000, the last 12 months stand at $525.3 million, up from $511 million in the same period prior, an increase of 3%. The business spent most of 2018 clawing back from a weak first quarter, so a solid winter is a good thing to have for 2019.

 Find this book at TFAW!
Retailers ordered at least 6.34 million new comic books in the month, down 3% versus the same month in the previous year. There were 477 new periodical releases, up 9% year-over-year. Once again, DC offered fewer new comics, 18 less than last March; once again, Marvel picked up the slack, releasing 18 more than its 2018 total. That fact combined with the high price on Detective #1000 to result in a month in which DC led dollar sales overall, while Marvel led unit sales.

DC published the six bestselling comics, and improved on its overall dollar sales by 32% over its performance in March 2019, while Marvel's dollar sales rose 8%.

Graphic novel dollar sales were up 6%, against hugely expanded output: 387 new books were released, an increase of 38% over the spare offerings of March 2018, when publishers saw relatively less from the previous year worth reprinting. Marvel's slate grew significantly, while Image went from 13 graphic novel releases to 27. By far the largest grouping of new titles, however, came from firms outside the Top Seven publishers; Monday's charts will give us a better idea who published them.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
March 2019 Vs. February 2019
Comics+26.89%+9.90%
Graphic Novels+21.20%+33.41%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+25.30%+11.52%
Toys-8.40%-10.17%
March 2019 Vs. March 2018
Comics+15.82%-3.32%
Graphic Novels+6.35%+17.77%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+13.10%-1.87%
Toys+4.67%+8.49%
Year-To-Date 2019 Vs. Year-To-Date 2018
Comics+8.51%-2.12%
Graphic Novels+5.46%+3.95%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+7.64%-1.68%
Toys+20.14%+29.77%
First Quarter 2019 Vs. Fourth Quarter 2018
Comics-4.89%-7.30%
Graphic Novels+0.40%+2.03%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.46%-6.66%
Toys+14.61%+23.82%
First Quarter 2019 Vs. First Quarter 2018
Comics+8.51%-2.12%
Graphic Novels+5.46%+3.95%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+7.64%-1.68%
Toys+20.14%+29.77%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
DC36.20%34.00%
Marvel34.46%40.94%
Image9.63%9.36%
Dark Horse3.26%2.45%
IDW3.19%3.19%
Boom2.19%2.13%
Dynamite1.24%1.08%
Viz1.23%0.50%
Archie0.80%0.86%
Oni0.74%0.64%
Other7.07%4.85%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
2Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1$4.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #9$4.99DC
4Batman #67$3.99DC
5Batman #66$3.99DC
6Heroes In Crisis #7$3.99DC
7Amazing Spider-Man #17$4.99Marvel
8Amazing Spider-Man #18$3.99Marvel
9Spider-Man: City At War #1$3.99Marvel
10Justice League #20$3.99DC

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
2Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1$4.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #9$4.99DC
4Amazing Spider-Man #17$4.99Marvel
5Batman #67$3.99DC
6Spider-Man: City At War #1$3.99Marvel
7Batman #66$3.99DC
8Heroes In Crisis #7$3.99DC
9Amazing Spider-Man #18$3.99Marvel
10Spider-Man: Life Story #1$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Walking Dead Vol. 31$16.99Image
2Detective Comics: 80 Years Of Batman HC$29.99DC
3Saga Vol. 1$9.99Image
4Monstress Volume 1$9.99Image
5Wicked &The Divine Vol. 8: Old Is The New New$17.99Image
6Seven To Eternity Vol. 3$16.99Image
7Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing$16.99DC
8Super Sons: The Polarshield Project$9.99DC
9Saga Vol. 9$14.99Image
10Mera: Tidebreaker$16.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Detective Comics: 80 Years Of Batman HC$29.99DC
2Savage Sword Of Conan: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Vol. 1 HC$125.00Marvel
3Walking Dead Vol. 31$16.99Image
4Avengers Omnibus Vol. 4 HC$100.00Marvel
5Thanos Wars: The Infinity Origin Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel
6Uncanny X-Men Vol. 1: X-Men Disassembled$39.99Marvel
7Dark Nights Metal: Dark Knights Rising$24.99DC
8Wicked & The Divine Vol. 8: Old Is The New New$17.99Image
9Earth X Trilogy Omnibus Omega HC$100.00Marvel
10Seven To Eternity Vol. 3$16.99Image

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel99440143
DC66350101
Image6627093
Dark Horse2521046
IDW2910039
Boom2510035
Viz021021
Oni97016
Dynamite123015
Archie82010
Other13820717362
TOTAL47738717881

The estimated sales for all comics will appear here 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, 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.
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