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


Friday, January 17, 2020

December 2019 comics and graphic orders up 9%; House of X/Powers of X top dollar GN

by John Jackson Miller

Led by Doomsday Clock #12 and the House of X/Powers of X hardcover, comics shop orders of comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors closed 2019 out strongly, up 9.2% year-over-year in dollars in December. That's a better-than-expected total, due to a revision Diamond's made since its end-of-year report came out last Friday. (The distributor's December report, showing the new 2019 percentage change total, is here.)

 Find this book at TFAWWhen Diamond released its Top 500 Comics and Top 500 Graphic Novels lists earlier in the week (see our estimates for their sales here), that provided us with a partial list for December — 37 comic books released in the month made the overall charts. We temporarily posted those on our December 2019 page (where the final estimates will appear next week), but we also spotted that something was a bit amiss with a handful of those entries, as their dollar sales rankings in the overall 2019 chart suggested they hadn't made any money.

That obviously wasn't the case, and neither was there likely to have been any secret overship; rather, the fact that all the impacted books were Christmas Day releases points to an accounting issue. If those Christmas Day comics — including Venom #21, Incoming #1, Dr. Strange #1, and Spider-Ham #1 had their dollar earnings attributed to January 2020 rather than December 2019, where their units were rightfully counted, that would cover the difference in the percentage change statistics.

Diamond appears to have caught that in compiling its December charts. The units didn't change in the end-of-year statistics. It meant the addition of about one and a half million dollars to 2019's total sales overall, boosting the year-to-year increase from 2.23% to 2.54%. (End-of-year dollar market shares would also theoretically be impacted, although very slightly.)

To be clear, these aren't comics that went on sale Jan. 1 that would have been affected — they're December books, so nothing is being borrowed from 2020. And nothing else from the 2019 unit sales charts would be likely to change in this scenario: just the dollar rankings. This means that we're able to provide, below, unit sales with the Top 10 when it comes to the comics. (And the rest of the Top 37 are, again, here, to be joined next week by the rest of the month.)

(EDIT: Shortly after this post, Diamond confirmed the above undercounts of invoiced dollars during the skip weeks, and issued revised end-of-year Top Sellers and Market Shares — which, as expected, only added the missing dollar rankings and fractions of percentage points, mostly to Marvel. You can see the revised 2019 charts with our estimates here.)

The percentage changes from December, with the new, revised totals year-to-year:

December 2019 Vs. November 2019
Graphic Novels-11.06%-18.03%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.00%-2.48%
December 2019 Vs. December 2018
Graphic Novels+15.77%+2.87%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+9.20%+5.21%
Year 2019 Vs. Year 2018
Graphic Novels-2.01%-7.95%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+2.54%-1.44%

The market shares for December:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.67%1.87%
Random House0.48%0.13%

The top-selling comic books by units, with our estimates known from the 2019 Top 500:

1Doomsday Clock #125.99DC117,926
2X-Men #3$3.99Marvel105,708
3Batman: Last Knight On Earth #3$5.99DC90,058
4Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1$5.99DC88,794
5Venom #21$3.99Marvel74,071
6Harley Quinn: Villain Of The Year #1$4.99DC73,146
7Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1$4.99Marvel71,341
8Incoming #1$9.99Marvel69,025
9Amazing Spider-Man #35$3.99Marvel67,111
10Superman #18$3.99DC66,684

The top-selling comic books by dollars:

1Doomsday Clock #125.99DC
2Incoming #1$9.99Marvel
3Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3$5.99DC
4Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1$5.99DC
5Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1$4.99DC
6Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100$7.99IDW
7Harleen #3$7.99DC
8X-Men #3$3.99Marvel
9Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1$4.99Marvel
10Venom #21$3.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units are here. We know from the yearly chart that House of X/Powers of X's sale was more than 10,000 copies; Watchmen's performance was enough to vault it into first place for the year.

1House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
2Batman Vol 11 The Fall And The Fallen$17.99DC
4Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition$29.99Marvel
5Black Hammer Vol. 4 Age Of Doom Part II$19.99Dark Horse
6Boys Omnibus Vol. 6 $29.99Dynamite
7Green Lantern Vol. 1 Intergalactic Lawman$17.99DC
8Daredevil By Chip Zdarsky Vol. 2 No Devils Only God$15.99Marvel
9My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies$12.99Image
10Star Wars Doctor Aphra Vol. 6 Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon$15.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

1House of X/Powers of X HC$60.00Marvel
2Annihilation Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
3Y The Last Man Omnibus HC$150.00DC
4Injustice Gods Among Us Omnibus HC Vol. 01$125.00DC
5Absolute Dark Knight III The Master Race HC$125.00DC
6Animal Man By Jeff Lemire Omnibus HC$99.99DC
7Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition$29.99Marvel
8Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four HC Vol. 21$75.00Marvel
10Boys Omnibus Vol. 6$29.99Dynamite

And, finally, here's what shipped in December:

Dark Horse229031
TOTAL SHIPPED40923514658

The above completes the picture of comics released in 2019. As we can see below, the number of new comics released was down slightly, largely due to reduced lines from DC and Image; DC's cutbacks are camouflaged by the fact that Diamond counts comics at different price tags as separate releases. Around 90 cardstock books fit that description. Variants with the same cover price are not counted separately.
Here's the same chart, only with graphic novels:

Look for the full December charts here next week.

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 Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. Read more about them at his fiction site.

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