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Friday, April 10, 2015

March 2015 sales mildly up as comics outperform graphic novels; Princess Leia #1 leads the charts

by John Jackson Miller
March closed the winter quarter on a mildly positive note in the comics industry, according to data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. Comic shops ordered nearly $42 million in comics and graphic novels, up about 3% over last March, which like this one had four shipping weeks.

Marvel's relaunch of the Star Wars line continued to energize what is usually a lighter quarter for new releases, with Princess Leia #1 taking the top slot and Star Wars #3 coming in second. The second issue of Princess Leia also made the top five, and Darth Vader #2 took eighth place. There weren't even four Star Wars titles in the Top 10 in May 1999 when Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace #1-4 all came out; the fourth issue of that placed 11th. So this is the first month four Star Wars titles have been in the Top 10 list in the Diamond Exclusive Era.

(Before that, we'd have to look at 1977, and when the waves of Whitman's reprints for the original Star Wars #1-3 were hitting; that would have put multiple Star Wars issues high on the charts. But we have no way of knowing how many of those came out, and in what months.)

Orders for the quarter totaled $127.9 million, up $11 million from the first quarter of 2014, which had an equal number of shipping weeks, despite what the calendar shows. (The first Wednesday of 2014 was counted with the December 2013 sales.)

Comparative Sales Performance
Comics -3.86% -4.32%
Graphic Novels 8.34% 10.63%
Total Comics & GNs -0.58% -3.37%
MARCH 2015 VS. MARCH 2014
Comics 11.19% 9.92%
Graphic Novels -12.56% -22.36%
Total Comics & GNs 2.99% 6.70%
Comics 13.85% 13.76%
Graphic Novels 0.65% -8.96%
Total Comics & GNs 9.63% 11.76%
Comics -9.56% -8.37%
Graphic Novels -17.28% -15.58%
Total Comics & GNs -11.97% -8.93%

Comics unit sales were up 10%, making the category the bright spot this month. For a change, there doesn't appear to be an issue in the Top 10 obviously influenced by a Loot Crate variant. The Top 10:

Top 10 Comic Books
Title Price Publisher
1 Princess Leia #1 $3.99 Marvel
2 Star Wars #3 $3.99 Marvel
3 Guardians Team-Up #1 $3.99 Marvel
4 Spider-Gwen #2 $3.99 Marvel
5 Princess Leia #2 $3.99 Marvel
6 Amazing Spider-Man #16 $3.99 Marvel
7 Howard the Duck #1 $3.99 Marvel
8 Darth Vader #3 $3.99 Marvel
9 Batman: Arkham Knight #1 $3.99 DC
10 Amazing Spider-Man #16.1 $3.99 Marvel

A side note about the Star Wars titles, of interest mainly to indexers: Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and April's Kanan: The Last Padawan appear to represent the first Star Wars comics in eons — maybe Marvel's Ewoks, ending in 1987 — not to have "Star Wars" in their titles as shown in the issues' indicias. That's what price guides and indexing databases use to classify books.

Graphic novel sales were down more than 12%, with the market up against a strong comparative month in March 2014 which saw new Walking Dead and Saga releases. The Top 10:

Top 10 Graphic Novels and Trade Paperbacks 
Title Price Publisher
1 Nemo: River of Ghosts HC $14.95 IDW
2 Ms. Marvel Vol. 2: Generation Why $15.99 Marvel
3 Low Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope $9.99 Image
4 Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool $16.99 Marvel
5 Saga Volume 4 $14.99 Image
6 Deadpool Volume 7: Axis $17.99 Marvel
7 Deadpool's The Art of War $12.99 Marvel
8 Deadly Class Vol. 2: Kids of the Black Hole $14.99 Image
9 Birthright Vol. 1: Homecoming $9.99 Image
10 Bob's Burgers Vol. 1 $17.99 Dynamite

The market share list contained the same ten publishers we've seen lately, with almost all of then topping 1% of the market in dollar sales:

Market shares 
Dollar share Unit share
Marvel 38.82% 41.53%
DC 23.01% 26.13%
Image 11.39% 12.98%
IDW 6.51% 5.16%
Dark Horse 3.90% 3.07%
Boom 2.41% 2.44%
Dynamite 2.37% 1.99%
Eaglemoss 1.83% 0.32%
Titan 1.01% 0.77%
Viz 0.98% 0.37%
Other 7.76% 5.23%

The new release slate was slightly larger this March versus last March on the comics side, but the number of new graphic novels released was almost identical:

New items released
Publisher Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
Marvel 79 30 0 109
DC 85 17 0 102
Image 59 20 0 79
IDW 52 18 0 70
Dark Horse 27 22 0 49
Boom 40 3 0 43
Dynamite 28 6 0 34
Viz 0 27 0 27
Titan 8 7 2 17
Eaglemoss 0 0 14 14
Other 86 98 13 197
Total 464 248 29 741

That's the preliminary report; the estimated sales will be up next week. 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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. He'll be in Anaheim, Calif. from April 16-19, speaking at Star Wars Celebration.

Visit his fiction site at And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook!
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