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


Friday, October 9, 2015

Shattered Empire #1, Saga Vol. 5 lead sluggish September comics orders

by John Jackson Miller
The ordering slowdown for periodical comic books in advance of the Marvel relaunch continued in September, according to preliminary data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.

(UPDATE: The September estimates are now online here.)

Comics dollar orders were down 19.6% year-to-year and graphic novel orders were up 12.5%, netting out to an overall drop of 10.7%. This, despite September 2015 having one more shipping week than the same month the previous year.

That said, September 2014 was nonetheless a very strong month, with Marvel launching its Death of Wolverine title and DC's orders boosted by its lenticular "Future's End" covers. Retailers ordered nearly $51 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines that month, as compared with the approximately $45.33 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines ordered this September. seen in one of the tables below, whereas the number of new graphic novels on offer rose substantially this September as expected with the fifth week, the number of new comics released barely changed, suggesting that publishers were trimming their periodical offerings as the market headed into autumn.

The third quarter of 2015 closed down 3% year-over-year, the first down quarter since the first quarter of 2014. It's also the first time the third quarter orders have been down year-over-year since 2010. Orders are still ahead for the year: September's orders bring the total for the first nine months of the year to $423.44 million, up 7.2%.

The comparative results for the month, quarter, and year:

Comics 0.89% -1.10%
Graphic novels 8.71% 14.79%
TOTAL 3.49% 0.30%
Comics -19.62% -20.15%
Graphic novels 12.51% 30.61%
TOTAL -10.73% -16.89%
Comics 7.21% 6.58%
Graphic novels 7.06% 8.48%
TOTAL 7.16% 6.73%
Comics -12.07% -14.18%
Graphic novels -0.26% 1.14%
TOTAL -8.49% -12.94%
Comics -8.08% -10.07%
Graphic novels 9.32% 17.13%
TOTAL -2.98% -8.07%

Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1, the first "Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens" comic book, took the top spot on the comics top-seller list.

Top 10 comic books
Title Price Publisher
1 Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1 $3.99 Marvel
2 Star Wars #9 $3.99 Marvel
3 Batman #44 $4.99 DC
4 Deadpool Vs. Thanos #1 $3.99 Marvel
5 Darth Vader #9 $3.99 Marvel
6 Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5 $3.99 Marvel
7 Batman Annual #4 $4.99 DC
8 Justice League #44 $3.99 DC
9 The Walking Dead #146  $2.99 Image
10 Deadpool Vs. Thanos #2 $3.99 Marvel
A new Saga volume helped graphic novels have a much better month, comparatively speaking, than the comics side of things did:

 Top 10 graphic novels
Title Price Publisher
1 Saga Vol. 5  $14.99 Image
2 Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars  $9.99 Image
3 Batman Vol. 7: Endgame HC $24.99 DC
4 Chrononauts Vol. 1  $9.99 Image
5 Batman Vol. 6: Graveyard Shift $16.99 DC
6 Avatar The Last Airbender Vol. 10: Smoke & Shadow Part 1 $10.99 Dark Horse
7 Mad Max: Fury Road  $14.99 DC
8 Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition HC $17.99 DC
9 The Joker: Endgame HC $29.99 DC
10 Saga Vol. 1  $9.99 Image

The order-of-finish in the market shares was identical on the dollar and unit sides for the top seven publishers:

 Top 10 graphic novels
Marvel 32.67%
DC 26.01%
Image 11.81%
IDW 5.72%
Dark Horse 4.42%
Boom 2.11%
Dynamite 1.79%
Avatar 1.55%
Viz 1.32%
Titan 1.31%
Other 11.29%
Marvel 38.12%
DC 26.32%
Image 12.07%
IDW 4.84%
Dark Horse 3.64%
Boom 2.08%
Dynamite 1.80%
Valiant 1.58%
Titan 1.25%
Avatar 1.19%
Other 7.12%

The number of new comics shipped was not appreciably higher than in September 2014, which is unusual considering the extra shipping week; 58 more graphic novels shipped last month than in the previous September.

 New items shipped
Publisher Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
Marvel 80 23 0 103
DC 70 25 0 95
Image 73 18 0 91
IDW 42 20 0 62
Dark Horse 29 26 0 55
Boom 30 9 0 39
Dynamite 20 7 0 27
Titan 11 12 3 26
Valiant 10 5 0 15
Oni 7 2 0 9
Other 118 190 49 357
Total 490 337 52 879
The detailed report with estimates can be found here next week. (And I can be found Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Madison (Wis.) Public Library main branch at 2 p.m., speaking as part of the Star Wars Reads Day literacy event.) curator 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 several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Trek: The Next Generation - Takedown, and Star Wars: A New Dawn. New Dawn appears with a new Miller short story as part of the Rise of the Empire compendium, out October 6. His Star Trek: Prey trilogy is set for late 2016 release from Pocket Books.
Visit his fiction site, and be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.
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