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Friday, November 6, 2015

Marvel sweeps October 2015 top 10; market slips on lower new release volume

by John Jackson Miller
Marvel swept the Top 10 new comics titles in the first month of its "All-New, All Different" relaunch but it wasn't enough to top last October's record sales month, which had an additional shipping week to boot. Retailers ordered $50.73 million in new comic books, graphic novels, and magazines in October according to Comichron's analysis of data released this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. That's a healthy month but only the third best for the year.

However, any comparison with last October, which was the best month in seventeen years for the Direct Market, must begin with the difference in new release volume. Diamond shipped 743 new comics, graphic novels, and magazines in the month — versus an astounding 1,020 last October; a fifth week might have brought the month into closer parity this time out. Marvel and DC's slates were much smaller this October: Marvel shipped 68 new comics versus 94 last year, while DC's new-release volume went from 109 comics to 78.

Smaller new release volumes can be seen for the smaller publishers, as well; Dynamite offered less than half as many comics this October than it did last October. In any event, a month in which new release volume is off by 28% while sales are off less than 10% likely nets out positive: the titles that are out there are doing relatively better. (Last October also saw the Loot Crate Walking Dead release; another complicating factor for comparisons.)

The comparative sales statistics for the month:

Dollars Units
October 2015 vs. September 2015
Comics 22.33% 20.47%
Graphic Novels -7.57% -17.96%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 11.91% 16.59%
October 2015 vs. October 2014
Comics -7.49% -12.27%
Graphic Novels -14.27% -14.94%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -9.55% -12.47%
Year-To-Date 2015 vs. 2014
Comics 5.37% 4.21%
Graphic Novels 4.45% 5.80%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 5.08% 4.33%

Marvel's Invincible Iron Man #1 led the comics charts. Diamond reports that Batman #45 clocked in at 11th place for the month, which likely means that at least eleven titles topped 100,000 copies. There may be more than that; we'll know next week.

Top-selling comic books
Comic Book Price Publisher
1 Invincible Iron Man #1 $3.99 Marvel
2 Amazing Spider-Man #1 $5.99 Marvel
3 Spider-Gwen #1 $3.99 Marvel
4 Secret Wars #6 $3.99 Marvel
5 Doctor Strange #1 $4.99 Marvel
6 Star Wars #10 $3.99 Marvel
7 Chewbacca #1 $3.99 Marvel
8 Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2 $3.99 Marvel
9 Guardians Of The Galaxy #1 $3.99 Marvel
10 Amazing Spider-Man #2 $3.99 Marvel

Graphic novels were off considerably this month, which saw the charts led by the first collection of Marvel's main Star Wars series:

Top-selling graphic novels
Graphic Novel Price Publisher
1 Star Wars Volume 1: Skywalker Strikes $19.99 Marvel
2 Star Wars: Darth Vader Volume 1: Vader $19.99 Marvel
3 Bitch Planet Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine $9.99 Image
4 Deathstroke Book and Mask Set $29.99 DC
5 Marvel Super Hero: Contest Of Champions Vol. 1 $7.99 Marvel
6 The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 3 $59.99 Image
7 Saga Volume 5 $14.99 Image
8 Outcast By Kirkman & Azaceta Volume 2 $14.99 Image
9 Lumberjanes Volume 2 $14.99 Boom
10 Injection Volume 1 $9.99 Image

Now for the market shares, which found Marvel beating DC nearly two-to-one in dollar shares. It is Marvel's highest dollar share since December 2009, when it posted 44.57%; and DC's lowest dollar share since March 1998, which was just a bit lower at 21.83%. That was DC's low-water mark for the Diamond Exclusive Era, incidentally; Marvel's high for the era was September 2008, and 45.31%. Recall that market share means little without considering the size of the pie; October 2015 is enough larger than August and September that DC's order volume is in fact not that much changed from those months.

Market shares
Dollar share Unit share
Marvel 43.65% 48.26%
DC 21.85% 22.92%
Image 9.17% 9.27%
IDW 6.16% 4.96%
Dark Horse 4.04% 3.10%
Boom 2.41% 1.93%
Dynamite 1.60% 1.53%
Titan 1.21% 1.16%
Valiant 0.92% 0.99%
Viz 0.88% 0.34%
Other 8.12% 5.54%

And here's that breakdown of new comics and graphic novels shipped to market. Again, all of the Top 10 publishers from last year offered fewer new releases:

Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
DC 78 34 1 113
Marvel 68 33 0 101
Image 55 14 0 69
IDW 41 22 0 63
Dark Horse 36 25 0 61
Boom 29 12 0 41
Titan 12 9 4 25
Dynamite 18 6 0 24
Viz 0 19 0 19
Valiant 10 5 0 15
Other 98 99 15 212
Total 445 278 20 743

There is more to come for the Marvel relaunch, but at least for the moment, the market has burnt off more than half of the year-to-year increase it had banked in the first six months. 2015 so far is somewhat resembling 2008, which was when the momentum behind the Civil War-era early 2000 boomlet started to wane, but a strong holiday season could easily break that pattern. 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, now available. 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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