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


Friday, August 10, 2018

DC, Marvel comics sales up strongly in July; combined market share hits seven-year high

by John Jackson Miller
 See July's comics sales estimates

 Find this issue at TFAW
I've said before that the month of July presented the best opportunity this summer for the Direct Market to make up ground lost in the winter — and that is what happened, according to Comichron's analysis of preliminary data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. Retailers ordered $44.64 million worth of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines in the month, nearly 10% more than July 2017, which was the second weakest month of that year. The year-to-date deficit, piled up in winter, was cut in half; shipments stand at $296.09 million after seven months, off around $6 million, or less than 2%. Click to visit our page for July 2018 comics sales estimates; the figures will be posted on Monday. (8/13 UPDATE: And now they are online!)

Both of the Big Two publishers contributed market leadership, splitting the Top 10 evenly and combining for a dual market share of 70.69%, the highest seen since October 2011, right after the debut of the New 52. Market share leader Marvel beat its July 2017 dollar sales by 16%, aided by Amazing Spider-Man #1 and Captain America #1, among other launches.

Our walkthrough video on the month's sales is here:

did even better relative to its results a year earlier, with Batman #50 leading the comics list and Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar leading the graphic novels. Doomsday Clock #6 and Superman #1 placed fourth and fifth.

 Find this book at TFAW
DC's dollar sales were up 29% year over year, a figure exactly matched by IDW, which followed up a June in which it had a recent-record-low number of new comic books on the shelves (19) with nearly three times as many, 56.

's top title, Die Die Die #1, which shipped without being solicited and went on sale July 11, did not make the Top 10, but it couldn't have missed by much . The number of copies shipped was reportedly equal to orders on Robert Kirkman' s previous launch, Oblivion Song #1, from March; that would put it above 80,000 copies, and the issue did lead reorders in intervening weeks. So the Top 10 will have sales somewhere above that.

Discordant notes came again from graphic novels, down 9% in dollars — but only 5% in units, suggesting we're seeing the effects of a number of books being deep-discounted. Graphic novel drops in the single digits are an improvement over 2017's average rate of decline; strong graphic novel months tend to echo ones for comic books some months later because of the collection dynamic, so we'll see whether things pick up as the holidays approach.

The comparative sales statistics:

July 2018 Vs. June 2018
Graphic Novels-13.07%-9.36%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+6.01%+6.55%
July 2018 Vs. July 2017
Graphic Novels-9.11%-4.96%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+9.53%+9.27%
Year-To-Date 2018 Vs. Year-To-Date 2017
Graphic Novels-8.26%-10.42%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-1.93%-7.28%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit SharePublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel39.07%41.05%   Boom1.89%1.74%
Dark Horse2.82%1.91%Archie0.64%0.60%

The top-selling comics by units:

1Batman #50$4.99DC
2Amazing Spider-Man #1$5.99Marvel
3Captain America #1$4.99Marvel
4Doomsday Clock #6$4.99DC
5Superman #1$3.99DC
6Catwoman #1$3.99DC
7Amazing Spider-Man #2$3.99Marvel
8Batman #51$3.99DC
9X-23 #1$4.99Marvel
10Cosmic Ghost Rider #1$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

1Batman #50$4.99DC
2Amazing Spider-Man #1$5.99Marvel
3Captain America #1$4.99Marvel
4Doomsday Clock #6$4.99DC
5Superman #1$3.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #2$3.99Marvel
7X-23 #1$4.99Marvel
8Catwoman #1$3.99DC
9Batman #51$3.99DC
10Cosmic Ghost Rider #1$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

1Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar$16.99DC
2Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
4Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 3: Remastered$17.99Marvel
5Marvel Two-In-One Vol. 1: Fate of the Four$17.99Marvel
6One-Punch Man Volume 14$9.99Viz
7Dragon Ball Super Volume 3$9.99Viz
8Ms. Marvel Vol. 9: Teenage Wasteland$17.99Marvel
9Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 7: Scarlet Samurai$15.99Marvel
10Rocket Raccoon and Groot Complete Collection$29.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

1Avengers By Jonathan Hickman Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$125.00Marvel
2Batman By Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1 HC$75.00DC
3Ex Machina: The Complete Series Omnibus HC$150.00DC
4Batman Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar$16.99DC
5Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme Omnibus Volume 2 HC$125.00Marvel
6Marvel Masterworks: Captain America Vol. 10 HC$75.00Marvel
7Infinity Gauntlet$24.99Marvel
8Doctor Strange: Damnation$34.99Marvel
9Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus Volume 3 HC$99.99DC
10Prisoner By Kirby & Kane Artist Edition HC$79.99Titan

Finally, the number of new items offered:

Graphic Novels
Dark Horse2119040
TOTAL SHIPPED47832112811

[Edit: While a normal month for Marvel as new releases go, DC's 63 was its smallest number of new comics since Rebirth launched in 2016.]
It's certainly the case that a month seeing relaunches of so many titles from the two largest publishers ought to be a good one; the fact that it was may show a return to some level of normalcy, after a year in which very little was working as it was supposed to.

August is a five shipping week month, up against a $45.72 million month from 2017, which had an equal number of weeks. This July just nearly beat that figure, so decent prospects for making up ground continue; launches for Infinity Wars and Fantastic Four are also in the mix. Click to see what we know about August so far.

I took a look at year-to-date percentage changes across time for selected years in the chart seen at right; click to enlarge it. You can see in it years that started off okay relative to their previous years and got worse, like 2017 — and years where a bad start was nearly erased by a strong finish, like 2011 when New 52 helped the market nearly catch up with the previous year by the end.

To date, 2018 is looking a little more like 2014 and 2016, if starting from a lower point; those were two more normal years, where a slow winter was erased by a stronger spring, summer, and fall. The big dip in March is because the fifth week this winter went to January instead, which is something that undermines this kind of analysis. But it is interesting to see the progression generally.

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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.

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