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More than 162,700 comic book and graphic novel circulation figures online!
Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation data and other information gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.

 

Monday, May 13, 2019

April estimates: War of the Realms #1 tops 187k copies, Detective #1000 now #2 bestseller of 21st century

by John Jackson Miller

War of the Realms #1 became the #2 bestselling comic book of the year so far in April with sales over 187,000 copies, while the top book of 2019, Detective Comics #1000, racked up another 45,700 copies shipped, moving it into second place on the list of the bestselling comic books of the 21st Century so far. Click to see the sales estimates for April 2019, and the sales estimates for 2019 so far.

Immortal Hulk #16 showed significant improvement in sales over its previous issue, landing in fourth place with more than 90,000 copies sold. Second printings of many issues of the series made the Top 500.

The top comics of the century chart will be updated at the end of the year, but it appears that Detective has sailed past 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1, 2015's Secret Wars #1, and 2009's Amazing Spider-Man #583 into the second spot. Star Wars #1 appears unassailable, though the just-announced Marvel Comics #1 may make a run on it, depending on its cover price. (It's unclear whether there's enough money in the market to make a $10 or $12 book a million-copy seller, especially without blowing a hole in the month's other sales, so it'll be interesting to watch.)


Technically, something in the neighborhood of 400,000 of those Star Wars #1 copies were shipped to buyers through Loot Crate, and were not actual comics shop sales, so it's entirely possible more copies of Detective #1000 have already shipped to comics shops.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

April sales down in a month with no Action #1000; Marvel releases twice as many comics as DC

by John Jackson Miller

 See eBay listings for this issue
There's a lot of things that make the aggregate numbers in the distributor sales charts swing up and down; the shipping calendar is the one we note here the most, as comparing five-shipping-week months with four-week ones always gives a distorted picture. Add to that list blockbuster anniversary issues, which, in the case of last year's Amazing Spider-Man #800 and last month's Detective Comics #1000, have dollar sales large enough to move the market on their own. (EDIT: Before the day was out, that list grew with the announcement of Marvel Comics #1000 in August.)

So, too, do we see swings later on when we compare months without such books — and that's a big part of what happened in April, as the month's $37.75 million in comics and graphic novel sales to comics shops represented a sharp drop from last April's Action Comics #1000-fortified total. The top sellers are below; the full estimates will appear here on Monday.

Action #1000 alone isn't enough to explain the difference, however, and the contributing factor there is one we've talked about a lot lately: DC just isn't publishing many comics. Back in December, DC released just 52 comic books, its lowest number in any month since 1991; the holiday-truncated month was partially the cause of that. Last month, DC matched that number with no holidays in the mix; its 52 new periodical releases were 29 fewer than April 2018. Marvel, meanwhile, took up the slack again, releasing 106 comic books, 20 more than last April and its highest number since June 2016, before the 2017 slowdown began.

That's right: Marvel released more than twice as many new comic books than DC did in April. That has never happened in the six years since Diamond's been publishing new release counts — nor does Marvel appear to have doubled DC's number of entries in the Top 300 charts at any point since at least 1996. The only time we can definitely say it happened before was in 1974, when DC's line had shrunk and Marvel was practically blowing it off the newsstands, publishing dozens more titles (including more than 20 monthly comics featuring just reprints, mostly horror).

Interestingly, it has occurred in recent memory in the other direction: when Marvel reduced the size of its line after its bankruptcy, DC more than doubled Marvel's periodical output several times; March 2000 saw DC chart 98 new comic books versus Marvel's 41. (It was also a historically bad time for sales overall, though it appears that Marvel did not simply expand its way out of that crisis: per-release sales appear to have improved before line size increases took place.)

 Find this book at TFAW
DC's number of new graphic novel offerings, 32, went up by two versus last April, while Marvel's remained the same; it's the other publishers whose output shrank considerably. Only 275 new graphic novels were offered to market, down 22% year-over-year. Image published 22 new graphic novels last April; 13 last month. IDW went from 19 to 9.

How do these differing strategies measure up? Marvel's overall dollar sales to the market, aided by the chart-topping War of the Realms #1, were almost exactly even year-over-year — significantly better than the overall market, but requiring more new releases to get there. DC, meanwhile, was down quite a lot, although again last year's Action #1000 accounts for a big chunk of the comparative shortfall. Excising that one title from the 2018 mix, DC is still behind year-over-year, but (as we saw before in February) not by as much as we might expect given the reduction in release slate size.

DC had announced it was going to be publishing fewer periodicals, and there's no doubt it's happened; in the last six months it's released 383 new comics, versus 517 from November 2017 to April 2018. That's a drop of more than 25%, and cannot be discounted when looking at overall unit sales; when the #2 bestselling publisher goes from releasing 20 books a week to 14 or 15 (or 13, as happened last month) that's bound to show up various places in the charts.

See listings for this set on eBay
There was also an Avengers movie out in April; rumor is it did some business. Its impact can be seen in the comics charts via Thanos #1, which ranked sixth in dollars and seventh in units, but the greater effect was on graphic novels, where the Infinity War Omnibus, the Infinity by Starlin and Hickman Omnibus, and the $500 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase all made the top five in dollars.

I was asked this week why movies don't seem to more obviously drive comics sales; I answered that they do, but what they seem to help most is the source-material graphic novels where retailers can more easily and lucratively focus newcomers' attention.

April's orders bring the year-to-date orders close to $161 million, just slightly better than even with the same period in 2018; May was one of the two best months of the year last year and part of a string of months topping $40 million, so the market will need to improve on its April pace to keep up. Last May saw the DC line reduction starting in earnest, so at least that publisher's comparatives should be somewhat closer.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
April 2019 Vs. March 2019
Comics-11.12%+0.07%
Graphic Novels-19.02%-27.69%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-13.26%-2.22%
Toys-11.38%-8.24%
April 2019 Vs. April 2018
Comics-14.67%-13.92%
Graphic Novels-25.37%-31.39%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-17.65%-15.24%
Toys+15.41%+18.74%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+1.83%-5.35%
Graphic Novels-3.18%-6.11%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.41%-5.40%
Toys+19.14%+27.48%

Note that comics units were actually up a few thousand copies over March; that's likely because Detective #1000 soaked up a lot of purchasing dollars with its $9.99 price.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel45.50%50.70%
DC25.73%25.89%
Image7.93%7.60%
IDW3.26%2.76%
Dark Horse2.89%1.92%
Boom2.46%2.75%
Dynamite1.71%1.53%
Viz1.07%0.40%
Valiant0.76%0.91%
Aftershock0.70%0.71%
Other7.99%4.83%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
5Batman #69$3.99DC
6Batman #68$3.99DC
7Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
8Heroes In Crisis #8$3.99DC
9Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man #20$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
5Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
6Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
7Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
8Batman #69$3.99DC
9Batman #68$3.99DC
10War of the Realms #2$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
2Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
3Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
5Catwoman Vol. 1: Copycats$16.99DC
6Star Wars Vol. 10: Escape$17.99Marvel
7Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface The Face$16.99DC
8The Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
9Unnatural Vol. 2$16.99Image
10Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter$19.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Infinity War Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
2Death & Return Of Superman Omnibus HC$150.00DC
3Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
4Infinity By Starlin & Hickman Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
5Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase$500.00Marvel
6Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol. 19 HC$75.00Marvel
7Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
8Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC$34.99Image
9Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
10Batman/Superman Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$99.99DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel106370143
DC5232185
Image4713060
IDW329041
Boom2011031
Dark Horse197026
Yen024024
Dynamite164020
Aftershock114015
Valiant91010
Other10113318252
Total41327519707

Check in again for the full charts on Monday.

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 — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. Read more about them at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Comics and graphic novel sales hit new high in 2018

According to new estimate by ICV2 and Comichron

Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.095 billion in 2018, an $80 million increase over sales in 2017. The increase was due to gains in book channel and digital sales, and the inclusion of an estimate for U.S. and Canada sales through crowdfunding sites for the first time.


“After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year,” Miller said. “Popular releases helped right the ship in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains.”

“A historic shift is playing out as the market grew, primarily in the book channel, in 2018,” Griepp said. “While comics stores are still the largest channel, they represented less than half the market for comics and graphic novels in 2018 for the first time in at least three decades.”



Sales in the book channel, which includes chain bookstores, mass merchants, major online retailers, and Scholastic Book Fairs, were up by double digits, with sales of kids graphic novels the biggest factor. Digital sales were also up for the first time in several years, with increased title counts across multiple platforms a factor. Sales in comic stores were down very slightly versus the previous year.

Sales of all three formats, comics, graphic novels, and digital, grew in 2018, with graphic novels leading the way, followed at some distance by digital and comics.


As presented above and in the accompanying infographics, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription-based “all you can read” services.

A new category, “Other,” has been added to the channel breakdown. “Other” includes the Newsstand (periodical sales through specialty retail and mass merchant chains) and Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, etc.) channels. This year, those two channels each accounted for roughly half of the “Other” category.

Sources for the information include NPD BookScan, which collects weekly point-of-sale data on print books from over 16,000 locations including e-tailers, chains, mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, and more. NPD BookScan covers approximately 85% of the U.S. trade print book market. Some publishers classify titles that are primarily text, or art books, as graphic novels; we remove those titles from our analysis.

The analysis also incorporates information released by Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of English-language comics and graphic novels in the world, on sales to comic stores.

Information is also gathered from a variety of other sources, including publisher, distributor, and retailer interviews.

This is the sixth joint market size analysis from ICv2 and Comichron; the first four reports were for 201320142015, 2016, and 2017 sales. ICV2 and Comichron also previously collaborated on revised estimates for 2011 and 2012.

A video version of this report is here.


ICv2 is the #1 industry source on the business of geek culture, including comics and graphic novels, hobby games, and showbiz on its Website, www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence. For the people on the front lines of the geek culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance-it's a basic necessity for being successful. That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines. ICv2 is where trend-watching is a science.


Comichron is the world’s largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, featuring data from the 1930s to today about comic book and graphic novel circulation, cover prices, and market shares on its website, www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.

Original infographic design by Kate Willaert.
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