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Friday, May 4, 2018

Action #1000, Infinity War tie-ins power comics shops to big win in $46 million April

by John Jackson Miller

 Find this issue on TFAW
If Diamond Comic Distributors doesn't mind getting good news out in front of Free Comic Book Day, April's sales charts should certainly satisfy. Thanks to DC's Action Comics #1000, the Action: 80 Years of Superman hardcover, and Marvel's several new series launches, Infinity War tie-ins, and Dan Slott's final Amazing Spider-Man arc, April's Direct Market orders were at their highest level since last May, posting the best four-week month since October 2016.

Retailers ordered $45.84 million in comics and graphic novels, 11% more than last April. I've often said winter volumes are such that a good April can wipe out a poor winter; this April didn't quite accomplish that, but it did bring the year-to-date shortfall below 4%. The final estimates will appear on this page on Monday; bookmark now to have it handy when they appear.

We have a video walkthrough of last month's preliminary sales report here:

I've observed before that 2018's trajectory was improving despite being down year-over-year; I'd also noted that April 2017 was a relatively reachable target, which Action could get the market some distance toward. While it's not yet clear whether all of the reported 500,000 copies of Action #1000 were shipped to North America, anywhere close to that would yield $4 million at full retail, almost the full value of April's increase.

 Find this book on TFAWAvoid, however, the temptation to write this month's win as being all about one comic book. It's a bad practice, to begin with; there are almost always outlier titles, and while they may not promise repeat business, they do demonstrate that the dollars were in the business to be had in the first place for the right product. Last April's sales winners the "Button" issues and the launch of Secret Empire; this April, the mix appears to have offered a better sales story. April's improvement further appears to be spread around some: Comichron finds Marvel's and DC's dollar sales for the month at full retail up 19% and 18% respectively year-over-year, while OniIDW, and Dynamite's April-versus-April beats were even larger.

While the number of new comic books released was basically identical to last April, new graphic novel releases were up significantly in number; 65 more were offered to market, an increase of 23%. In part, that's because the previous April's slate was unusually light. The upshot is that the graphic novel category was up slightly last month in dollar terms after a series of disappointing results: around 610,000 units shipped. You have to go back to August 2016, during the DC Rebirth launch, to find a month where both comics and graphic novel dollar sales were up. April did the trick, if just barely.

The aggregate sales charts for April:

April 2018 Vs. March 2018
Graphic Novels+15.40%+24.13%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+19.13%+13.20%
April 2018 Vs. April 2017
Graphic Novels+0.72%-1.79%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+11.08%+3.64%
Year-To-Date 2018 Vs. Year-To-Date 2017
Graphic Novels-9.68%-9.53%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.97%-10.08%

The market shares find DC much closer to Marvel in dollars than units, thanks to Action #1000:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.36%1.79%

Among the top-sellers for comics, Amazing Spider-Man's march to another milestone issue, #800, granted it the top two spots after Action #1000, while Captain America #700 placed ninth. Marvel had three launches in the top 10, including Hunt for Wolverine #1, Venomized #1, and Domino #1.

The top-selling comic books by UNITS:

1Action Comics #10007.99DC
2Amazing Spider-Man #798$3.99Marvel
3Amazing Spider-Man #799$3.99Marvel
4Hunt For Wolverine #1$5.99Marvel
5Batman #44$2.99DC
6Venomized #1$4.99Marvel
7Batman #45$2.99DC
8Domino #1$3.99Marvel
9Captain America #700$5.99Marvel
10Walking Dead #178$3.99Image

The top-selling comic books by DOLLARS:

1Action Comics #1000$7.99DC
2Amazing Spider-Man #798$3.99Marvel
3Hunt For Wolverine #1$5.99Marvel
4Amazing Spider-Man #799$3.99Marvel
5Venomized #1$4.99Marvel
6Captain America #700$5.99Marvel
7Domino #1$3.99Marvel
8Batman #44$2.99DC
9Infinity Countdown #2$4.99Marvel
10Walking Dead #178$3.99Image

Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman was the top-selling graphic novel in both units and dollars, followed by the Paper Girls Vol. 4 trade paperback from Image. The Thanos: The Infinity Siblings original graphic novel, the subject of April controversy involving a sale run by Amazon on its digital platforms, placed third in both units and dollars. Diamond had a promotion on Saga volumes, and two made the Top 10.

The top selling graphic novels by UNITS:

1Action Comics: 80 Years Of Superman HC$29.99DC
2Paper Girls Vol. 4$14.99Image
3Thanos: The Infinity Siblings HC$24.99Marvel
4Saga Vol. 1$9.99Image
5Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement$16.99DC
6The Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
7Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 2: Legacy's End$17.99Marvel
8Saga Vol. 8$14.99Image
9Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey$17.99Marvel
10Paper Girls Vol. 1$9.99Image

The top sellers by DOLLARS:

1Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman HC$29.99DC
2Paper Girls Vol. 4$14.99Image
3Thanos: The Infinity Siblings HC$24.99Marvel
4Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
5X-Men: Grand Design$29.99Marvel
6Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement$16.99DC
7Harley Quinn & The Gotham City Sirens Omnibus HC$75.00DC
8Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol. 18 HC$75.00Marvel
9Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 2: Legacy's End$17.99Marvel
10Superman: Exile And Other Stories Omnibus HC$125.00DC

And the number of new items released:

PublisherComics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazinesTotal shipped
Dark Horse1610026
TOTAL SHIPPED47835121850

May was the best month of 2017, and its comparatives will be tough to beat. But April's dollar volume was nearly there, even with one less shipping week — and this May has a number of things going for it. See what we know about May 2018 sales so far.

As noted, the final estimates will be along here Monday. In the meantime, enjoy Free Comic Book Day — and be sure to check out both our FAQ about the beginnings of the event and founder Joe Field's video about it. In my comics-creator-and-novelist identity, I'll be making two stops, signing from 9-11 at Powers Comics in Green Bay, Wis., and then from 12-2 at House of Heroes in Oshkosh. I've done many FCBD signings, but never two in one day. See you in the comic shop!

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 FacebookAnd check out our YouTube channel!
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