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


Friday, August 12, 2016

Rebirth helps DC edge past Marvel in July 2016; Justice League tops charts in $50.5 million month

by John Jackson Miller
DC's Rebirth franchise allowed it to best Marvel in market share in July 2016 for the first time in nearly three years, according to new statistics released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. DC led Marvel in total orders of comics, graphic novels, and magazines in by a little over 1%, 35.36% to 34.20%.

That's in dollar terms; DC, aided greatly by the $2.99 price on many of its titles — including market topper Justice League #1 — led units by 40.96% to 35.69%. Orders for periodical comic books were up industry-wide by 4.32% this month over last July, a month that had one more shipping week. That week gave last July a 3% edge in overall dollar sales — but that missing week suggests this month's $50.51 million order performance should've been off by quite a bit more. So the market did pretty well against a tougher comparative. Last month, as we reported, was the best month for orders in the Direct Market in at least 20 years.

DC leading in market share is an uncommon occurrence, but it happens more than you might think. The most recent DC lead was October 2013, following a 12-point lead in September 2013, "Villains Month." It has happened 57 times since Diamond started reporting Final Sales Market Shares in August 1997 — reporting that began in part following the lobbying of DC, which generally did better in such shares than in those for preordered titles and which indeed led frequently in the years following that owing to its large jump on Marvel in the graphic novel department and the smaller number of titles being released in the period when Marvel came out of bankruptcy. (Marvel, by contrast, has led 170 different months. No other publisher has led any.)

Here are the July 2016 market shares:

Dollar Share Unit Share
DC 35.36% 40.96%
Marvel 34.20% 35.69%
Image 8.15% 7.56%
IDW 4.49% 3.00%
Dark Horse 2.83% 1.98%
Boom 2.05% 1.68%
Archie 1.36% 1.26%
Dynamite 1.19% 0.95%
Oni 1.14% 0.84%
Valiant 1.06% 1.03%
Other 8.18% 5.06%

More recent DC leads have come due to events or the DC 2011 relaunch. December 1999 had DC's largest lead over Marvel, more than doubling it at 41% to 18%. Notably, the combined Marvel and DC share this year has not much changed — it's in the high 60s, perhaps a little more than in the last couple of years. The other publishers seem to be holding their own.

Again, the market was off nearly $1.5 million from last July — meaning that the gap between 2016 and 2015 so far widened to $3.7 million, just around 1%.

Dollars Units
JULY 2016 VS. JUNE 2016
Comics -8.15% -3.24%
Graphic Novels -26.54% -35.83%
Total Comics/GNs -13.77% -6.16%
JULY 2016 VS. JULY 2015
Comics 4.32% 12.01%
Graphic Novels -19.12% -28.26%
Total Comics/GNs -3.01% 8.28%
Comics -2.59% -5.39%
Graphic Novels 2.42% 0.26%
Total Comics/GNs -1.08% -4.94%

"Rebirth" gave DC eight of the top 10 entries on the comics chart this month. All the DC books were returnable, so Diamond has adjusted their orders slightly downward to account for that; that's what the asterisk means. By year-end, we may see that many of these books rank higher relative to other books for the year than the current ranking suggest they might.

Comic Book Price Publisher
1 Justice League #1* $2.99 DC
2 Justice League Rebirth #1* $2.99 DC
3 Batman #2* $2.99 DC
4 Civil War II #3 $4.99 Marvel
5 Batman #3* $2.99 DC
6 Nightwing Rebirth #1* $2.99 DC
7 Civil War II #4 $4.99 Marvel
8 New Super Man #1* $2.99 DC
9 Nightwing #1* $2.99 DC
10 Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1* $2.99 DC

Graphic novels were off by a lot this month, more than 19%; the category is more sensitive to the length of the shipping calendar. Monstress Vol. 1 from Image led the list:

Graphic Novel PRICE VENDOR
1 Monstress Volume 1 $9.99 Image
2 Harley Quinn's Greatest Hits $9.99 DC
3 Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition HC $17.99 DC
4 Star Wars: Obi-Wan And Anakin $16.99 Marvel
5 Huck $14.99 Image
6 Southern Bastards Volume 3: Homecoming $14.99 Image
7 Saga Volume 6 $14.99 Image
8 Bone Coda 25th Anniversary $14.95 Cartoon Books
9 Wolverine: Old Man Logan Volume 1: Berzerker $16.99 Marvel
10 Agents of Shield Volume 1: Coulson Protocols $17.99 Marvel

Finally, we see that new comic release volume was down by 8% versus last July; Image shipped almost as many new comics as DC did. Nine percent fewer graphic novels were released.
Comics shipped Graphic novels shipped Magazines shipped Total shipped
Marvel 97 33 0 130
DC 63 31 0 94
Image 61 11 1 73
IDW 37 13 0 50
Dark Horse 21 18 0 39
Boom 21 10 0 31
Dynamite 19 7 0 26
Valiant 11 5 0 16
Oni 13 2 0 15
Archie 10 1 0 11
Other 102 144 23 269
TOTAL 455 275 24 754

The final order estimates for July will be along next week.

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, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. His trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, ships in consecutive months in September, October, and November.

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