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


Friday, July 14, 2017

June 2017 sales down against giant Rebirth month from last year; Spectacular Spidey snags top spot

by John Jackson Miller

Last June was the biggest month in comics in 20+ years, thanks to Rebirth and Civil War II — and the fifth week giveth, the fifth week taketh away. Pick your explanation, but the totals were very definitely down in June 2017, according to a report issued this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. Comichron's analysis puts comic shop orders of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines at $46.09 million in the four-week month, down considerably from last year's record $58.59 million in a month with one additional shipping week. The comparative was always going to be extremely hard to beat, which is why we warned you about it early.

The news isn't all dire, so let's hit the brighter spots first: Under the hood, if you divide sales by the number of weeks in the month, the individual weeks in June were the strongest all year to date. That $46.09 million divides to $11.52 million per shipping week, the highest total since October. The second quarter beat the first quarter this year by 7.84% — as it should in any kind of normal situation — and 2017's new comics units so far, though infused with overship and 25-cent Image copies, are up from the year-to-date last year by 2.56%.

On the other hand, that's the only category that's up for the year. Comics dollars are slightly off, and combined comics, graphic novels, and magazines stand at $261.18 million for the year, off from $280.16 million in the more editorially front-loaded 2016. We were off even more, though, by this time in June 2011, and DC's New 52 relaunch brought the market almost to even by the end of the year.

(Update: Looking more closely, just three issues last June — Civil War II #1, Batman #1, and Batman Rebirth #1 — accounted for $3.72 million, or nearly a third of the margin last June had over this June. Blockbusters still matter — or at least, the absence of them does.)

The big laggard this year continues to be graphic novels, possibly in part a reflection of a weaker fall and winter last year for new releases, since now is when those comics are being collected. There may also be a dynamic of retailers keeping their powder dry, as July has a heavy release slate coming. Flying Colors' Joe Field tweeted yesterday about the challenges involved with ordering for July.

The aggregate sales:

June 2017 Vs. May 2017
Graphic Novels-13.01%-8.00%
Total Comics/GN-4.31%-6.08%
June 2017 Vs. June 2016
Graphic Novels-28.04%-30.14%
Total Comics/GN-21.34%-21.06%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-12.99%-13.50%
Total Comics/GN-6.77%1.15%
Second Quarter 2017 Vs. First Quarter 2017
Graphic Novels6.99%17.06%
Total Comics/GN7.84%2.47%
Second Quarter 2017 Vs. Second Quarter 2016
Graphic Novels-15.03%-13.50%
Total Comics/GN-10.01%-5.41%

The market shares found Marvel leading in both categories:

Dollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse3.46%2.47%

Marvel's Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1 led the new comics charts, a month in advance of the successful Spider-Man: Homecoming movie launch.

1Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #1$4.99 Marvel
2Dark Days: The Forge #1$4.99DC
3Star Wars: Darth Vader #1$4.99Mar
4Batman #24$2.99DC
5Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9$5.99DC
6Batman #25$3.99DC
7Edge of Venomverse #1$3.99Marvel
8Secret Empire #4$3.99Marvel
9Secret Empire #5$3.99Marvel
10The Walking Dead #168$2.99Image

And The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 5 led the graphic novel chart for the month:

1The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 5: Imperial Phase I$16.99 Image
2DC Super Hero Girls Vol. 3: Summer Olympus$9.99DC
3Motor Crush Volume 1$9.99Image
4Descender Volume 4: Orbital Mechanics$16.99Image
5Spider-Man/Deadpool Volume 2: Side Pieces$16.99Marvel
6Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best$16.99DC
7Harley Quinn Vol. 2: The Joker Loves Harley$16.99DC
8Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Volume 1: Aphra$17.99Marvel
9A.D.: After Death HC$24.99Image
10Nightwing Vol. 2: Back To Bludhaven$16.99DC

DC's number of new comic-book releases rose quite a lot over the Rebirth-shortened slate from last June, while Marvel's dropped.

PublisherComics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazines shippedTotal shipped
Dark Horse2220042

 See our end of year 2016 report!
So it's not a good report in comparison with last June, and that was completely expected — and in general, the first half of 2017 winds up looking a lot like the first half of 2011 before the New 52, or the first few months of 2016 before Rebirth.

It'll still be a while yet, however, before we see whether Marvel's Legacy initiative makes a difference.

We do know the market overall did well last year according to our just-released joint report with ICV2, with book channel up more than the Direct Market is off so far this year; it'll be interesting to see whether that market has been unaffected by the slowdown in graphic novels in comics shops.

Check back here Monday for the sales estimates for the month. It'll be my 250th consecutive monthly report — haven't missed a month yet!

Comichron founder 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 novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.
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Hans said...

Congrats John! 250 consecutive months... that's insane! ;) Thanks for providing these each month, very much appreciated and the comicbook industry never ceases to fascinate me!

John Jackson Miller said...

Much appreciated, Hans!

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