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


Friday, December 15, 2017

DC's Doomsday Clock helps make November 2017 second best month of year; GN orders grow

by John Jackson Miller

 See eBay listings for this issueDoomsday Clock and its continuing Batman-related event during the Justice League movie's release month combined to give DC its strongest month of 2017 by far in November 2017, outstripping its previous November (which also had five shipping weeks) by 21%. That's a major beat, and a reversal after a long string of comparatives against Rebirth months; we're now into comparisons with the 2016 months where Rebirth issues weren't returnable.

It was enough to give the Direct Market its second-best month of 2017, as retailers ordered almost exactly $47 million in comic books, graphic novels, and magazines from Diamond in the month. It would have been better had DC's strength been matched elsewhere — but orders for the market minus DC were down 15% year-over-year, including, unusually, Image, which had been pacing ahead of its 2016 performance all year. So the overall market was down 5.8% versus the previous November, but that's the lowest decline since we got into the Rebirth comparative months.

It was the first month with no Image graphic novels in the Top 10 since January 2016. It's something that's happened a few times this decade, but not very often. Only 14 new Image GNs were released, against even fewer (9) last November; Image appears to do the bulk of its holiday graphic novel releases earlier in the fall. Still, graphic novels had a good month, up 2.21% over the previous November. With Star Wars: The Last Jedi releasing, the franchise again topped the graphic novel charts with Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Imperial Machine.

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So we now have one positive category, with the others down only in single-digits percentage-wise — with the exception of comic book unit sales, which were off 13.28%. Recall, however, that November 2016 was a significant month for Marvel overship volume. We're going to get into some more months like as the winter progresses.

To get back to another five-week November to compare with before 2016, you have to go to November 2011, the strongest autumn month following the New 52 relaunch. November 2017's sales beat those from that month easily, $47 million to $41.28 million. That's an increase of 14% and demonstrates that, while 2017 has been a definite rough patch, major growth took place in the market following the last market lull, and we're still at a higher plateau.

We're looking now at a year between $525 and $530 million in overall comics, graphic novels, and magazines ordered, likely down 9%; comic book units are looking at around 90 million copies for the year, off around 9%. The latter is lower than recent levels, but, again, higher than 2013 and previous years of the decade.

The comparatives:

November 2017 Vs. October 2017
Graphic Novels19.29%27.04%
Total Comics/GNs3.11%-2.54%
November 2017 Vs. November 2016
Graphic Novels2.21%-1.73%
Total Comics/GNs-5.80%-12.36%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-9.32%-11.72%
Total Comics/GNs-9.72%-8.65%

Among the bright spots, Dynamite's orders were up nearly 50% over the same month in the previous year. That was enough to vault the publisher into fifth place. The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.08%1.53%

Doomsday Clock's regular and lenticular versions ended 1-2 in the rankings; it's already been reprinted. The promo button appears to have helped, and many of the eBay auctions for the book seem to be going with the button as a package deal. The top-selling comics:

1Doomsday Clock #1$4.99DC
2Doomsday Clock #1 Lenticular Edition$5.99DC
3The Batman Who Laughs #1$3.99DC
4Batman Lost #1$4.99DC
5Batman #35$2.99DC
6Batman #34$2.99DC
7Batman: The Devastator #1$3.99DC
8Captain America #695$3.99Marvel
9Batman Annual #2$4.99DC
10Star Wars #38$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels:

1Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Imperial Machine17.99Marvel
2Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe... Again$15.99Marvel
3The Flash Vol. 4: Running Scared$14.99DC
4Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Godwatch$16.99DC
5Rick And Morty Volume 1$19.99Oni
6Star Wars: Rogue One Adaptation$19.99Marvel
7Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma$16.99Marvel
8Superman Volume 4: Black Dawn$16.99DC
9Star Wars: Darth Maul: Son Of Dathomir$15.99Marvel
10Justice League Vol. 4: Endless$16.99DC

And the total number of new items shipped:

Total shipped
Dark Horse1412026
TOTAL SHIPPED542455381035

The final estimates will be online here Monday. In the meantime, don't spoil the movie for anyone! 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: KenobiOverdraft: The Orion OffensiveStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. His new Last Jedi prequel hardcover, Star Wars: Canto Bight, releases December 5. Read more at his fiction site.

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