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


Friday, March 4, 2016

Dark Knight III #3 tops comics market in another sluggish winter month

by John Jackson Miller

Preliminary reporting is available on comics and graphic novel sales in February 2016 from Diamond Comic Distributors, and we see in them another month that is just slightly off from the same month a year ago. But since reported sales that month were supercharged by nearly half a million copies of Orphan Black #1, the vast majority of which went to the repackager Loot Crate, the month may not have been off by that much.

Indeed, Comichron estimates that while total orders were at $41.48 million, down about $700,000 from last February, our retail total from last year was inflated by nearly $2 million by the Loot Crate book. We can also estimate that much of the drop in unit sales came from the Loot Crate issue: half a million copies would equate to about half of the reported 14.62% drop in comics unit sales. And remember that last February also had more Star Wars launches, including continued sales of the first issue from last January.

So the comparisons for the first quarter are the muddle we'd been expecting, and may not say much at all about the health of the market as 2016 began. The aggregate changes:

Dollars Units
Comics 0.14% -5.26%
Graphic Novels -0.63% 8.21%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -0.10% -4.24%
Comics -6.73% -14.62%
Graphic Novels 12.00% 18.12%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -1.69% -12.54%
Comics -5.32% -9.52%
Graphic Novels 1.13% 2.92%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -3.43% -8.63%

January's new comics sales suffered for the absence of a new issue of Dark Knight III, but when it did appear in February, it was the best-seller for the month. The top-selling comics:

Top-selling comic books
Title Price Publisher
1 Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3 $5.99 DC
2 Star Wars #16 $3.99 Marvel
3 Batman #49 $3.99 DC
4 Spider-Man #1 $3.99 Marvel
5 Deadpool: The Mercs For Money #1 $3.99 Marvel
6 Deadpool #7 $9.99 Marvel
7 Darth Vader #16 $3.99 Marvel
8 Power Man and Iron Fist #1 $3.99 Marvel
9 Amazing Spider-Man #7 $3.99 Marvel
10 Justice League #48 $3.99 DC

Graphic novel sales were the bright spot in the month, and while the split between graphic novel unit and dollar sales suggests that the average price paid wholesale was lower, that may not be due to deep discounting, since many of the top-sellers were low-priced. The third volume of The Wicked & The Divine from Image topped the graphic novel charts:

Top-selling graphic novels

Title Price Publisher
1 The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 3 $14.99 Image
2 Star Wars: Chewbacca $16.99 Marvel
3 Lumberjanes Vo. 3 $14.99 Boom
4 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns $19.99 DC
5 Batman: Harley and Ivy Deluxe Edition HC $24.99 DC
6 Sunstone Vol. 4 SC $14.99 Image
7 New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters $14.99 DC
8 The Fade-Out Vol. 3 $12.99 Image
9 Amazing Spider-Man: Edge of Spider-Verse $15.99 Marvel
10 Saga Vol. 5 $14.99 Image

The market shares:

Market shares
Dollar share Unit share
Marvel 40.78% 42.19%
DC 26.00% 29.01%
Image 9.18% 10.13%
IDW 4.78% 4.14%
Dark Horse 3.07% 2.59%
Boom 2.12% 1.94%
Dynamite 2.09% 1.68%
Oni 1.04% 0.85%
Viz 0.94% 0.38%
Titan 0.92% 0.82%
Other 9.09% 6.29%

The number of offerings by publisher grew significantly on the graphic novel side, which may have something to do with how much better graphic novels performed this month:

New titles released
New comics New graphic novels New magazines New items
Marvel 80 32 0 112
DC 78 28 1 107
Image 53 13 0 66
IDW 41 22 0 63
Dark Horse 27 16 0 43
Boom 23 13 0 36
Dynamite 20 6 0 26
Titan 14 6 1 21
Oni 7 3 0 10
Viz 0 2 0 2
Other 142 134 31 307
Total 485 275 33 793

Look for the full estimates for February here on Monday. 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 to learn more. And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.
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