More than 147,700 comic book and graphic novel sales figures online!
Welcome to Comichron, a resource for comic book circulation and other data gathered by
John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.
Just added! Comics sales estimates for September 2017!
October 9th, 2017
That makes it the top-seller of 2017 thus far, beating out last month's new leader, Dark Nights: Metal #1; the second issue of that came in second place with nearly 150,000 copies shipped. It seems positive that we're getting new entries atop the top-sellers for 2017 list; again, better than the alternative. It'll be interesting to see how Legacy shakes up that list in October once the event is fully underway.
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October 6th, 2017
Twitter earlier this week that while last September was a strong month for the Direct Market thanks to DC's Rebirth program, the month's sales levels offered a relatively reachable target. While information released today by Diamond Comic Distributors shows that September 2017 comics and graphic novel orders, at $43.52 million, fell six points short, that represents the smallest year-over-year drop since May.
Perhaps more significant, given the narrative we've seen in 2017, is that according to Comichron's analysis, orders for Marvel comics and graphic novels were up 14% in dollar terms over last September. That's an increase of about $2 million at retail, representing the publisher's best year-over-year performance since June 2016. The chart-topping Marvel Legacy #1 has something do with it, of course, and while there's always some level of deep-discounting on graphic novels, Marvel's unit and dollar shares were pretty close to one another -- right around 38% -- so there can't be too much of it involved. Marvel's 88 new comic books in September was also the smallest number of periodical releases for the publisher in any month this year.
Marvel's improvement relative to its past performance continues the reversal noted here last month of the trend seen earlier in 2017, in which the publisher was entirely responsible for the industry's decline in dollar terms; as of September it was DC, up against last year's Rebirth numbers, which accounts for the lion's share of the loss. But there, too, DC's rate of decline in September was nearly half what it was in August, thanks to the continuation of its Dark Multiverse event and the fact that Rebirth was starting to come down off its heights this time last year.
Does that mean that October, when DC's comparatives get easier and in which Marvel's Legacy event will be fully underway, will turn positive? Perhaps not a bet to take, as it will be a challenge: Marvel's October and November last year, while off from 2015, were relatively strong. An important question is whether graphic novels continue to under-perform: whereas periodicals pared their rate of loss for the year in September, graphic novels, led by Walking Dead Vol. 28, were down 13% in dollars. The number of new graphic novels in September was nearly the same as in August, which had an extra shipping week; new comics volume may seem high, but 365 new graphic novels is more than we've seen in a four-week month in three years.
The percentage changes:
|September 2017 Vs. August 2017|
|September 2017 Vs. September 2016|
|Year-to-Date 2017 Vs. Year-to-Date 2016|
While the rate of decrease, as noted, did improve in September, the overall quarter was off 16%, the largest quarterly drop since 2003, when final orders began being reported by Diamond. There aren't too many events like Rebirth to be found in previous years.
The market shares:
The top-selling comics:
|1||Marvel Legacy #1||5.99||Marvel|
|2||Dark Nights: Metal #2||$3.99||DC|
|6||Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special #1||$4.99||DC|
|7||The Walking Dead #171||$2.99||Image|
|8||Batman: The Red Death #1||$3.99||DC|
|9||Batman: The Murder Machine #1||$3.99||DC|
|10||Action Comics #987 Lenticular Edition||$3.99||DC|
The top-selling graphic novels:
|1||Walking Dead Vol. 28||$16.99||Image|
|2||Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race HC||$29.99||DC|
|3||Star Wars: Darth Maul||$16.99||Marvel|
|4||East of West Volume 7||$16.99||Image|
|5||DC Super Hero Girls Vol. 4: Past Times At Super Hero High||$9.99||DC|
|6||Sex Criminals Volume 4: Fourgy||$16.99||Image|
|7||All-Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy||$16.99||DC|
|8||Royal City Vol. 1: Next Of Kin||$9.99||Image|
|9||Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat||$16.99||DC|
|10||Wolverine: Old Man Logan Vol. 5: Past Lives||$17.99||Marvel|
And the volume of new releases:
I'm appearing this weekend at New York Comic-Con, so look for the estimates next week as soon as I can get to them. But in the meantime, if you missed it, check out our feature on legacy numbering across time; my thanks to Bradley Glynn for helping to double-check some of the data there.
Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. Read more about them at his fiction site.
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September 27th, 2017
So now that readers have had a look at Marvel Legacy #1, I offer an updated list of those titles here on the site in our FAQ section: "How Legacy Numbering Has Changed Over Time." In addition to adding data for 2010 and 2015, there's a new essay about the origins of whole numbering in comics and the reasons that publishers have restarted titles in the past, as well as some reasons why, as Marvel has, they sometimes seek to recover a series' original numbering.
Additionally, I have a graphic showing how legacy numbering has changed across time, which clearly depicts the trends involved. You can see when several of the older publishers went away at once; likewise, you can see the echoes of events like Crisis on Infinite Earths. And depending on how long Legacy's changes continue, there may be significant shifts in the 2020 table on the next update. Time will tell.
September 11th, 2017
After that first month, of course, Rebirth #1 would go on to multiple printings and top 300,000 copies in North America — but Dark Nights' second printing reached shops last week, and there's something else of note: Dark Nights cost $2 more, at $4.99. It's also marked by Diamond as the number one dollar title of the month, and if all copies sold at cover price, it's not just the top-selling comic book of the year in units, but also dollars, eclipsing the $10 Amazing Spider-Man #25 earlier this year. Click to see our running track of top sellers in 2017, along with our market shares for the year to date.
The internal benchmarks also showed something positive: the 300th place comic book, Jimmy's Bastards #3 from Aftershock, moved 5,621 copies in North America, which is more than any book in that position in a five-week month since December 2015. While it may not be particularly meaningful as wins go, it's surprising that any position on the chart could be higher against last August, a month in which far more comics moved overall.
Jack Kirby Fantastic Four Worlds Greatest Artist Edition hardcover, a $150 book on the shelves in advance of the King's 100th birthday.
The larger picture of this August versus last August has been previously elaborated here; the market year-to-date is off 10%. But 2017 has big events yet on the slate with Metal and Legacy yet to come, and while there remain strong comparative months to come, the potential for a changed dynamic is there. Sometimes retailer money's on the sidelines, waiting for the right event; sometimes it just isn't there. This fall should tell us which is the case.
The data sheet for the month follow at the bottom of this post, but before that, I would like to remember Len Wein, comics writer and editor, who passed away on Sunday. Len is a large part of the success comics found in the Direct Market era, from his reboot of the X-Men and his introduction of Wolverine to his hand in developing comics for more sophisticated audiences with Swamp Thing.
I had the good fortune to spend some time with him at a convention several years ago and he was generous with his knowledge and his advice. His works were and are a big part of so many comics readers' lives, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to know him. He is already missed.
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September 8th, 2017
So when I warned a few weeks ago that August 2017 would not be the month to look to for any kind of revival in the comic shop market's fortunes, there was good reason: August 2016 was the epicenter of the Rebirth sales earthquake, with more than 10 million comic books shipping. It was the first time that mark had been seen in two decades, thanks in part to the Rebirth titles being returnable. Consequently, sales for last month were way off the previous year's pace, according to this morning’s report from Diamond Comic Distributors.
Shipments were down 26% in new comic book units, and overall retail dollars spent on comics, graphic novels, and magazines dropped by nearly 21%. Comichron calculates that $45.7 million in product shipped, down from the previous August’s 21st century record of $57.7 million; we also have revised our July figure down slightly here on the site, to $40.76 million. (Both Augusts had five shipping weeks, so that's not a factor.) Overall sales stand at $347.67 million, down about $41 year to date, or about 10.5%.
These are, in historic terms, significant drops. The period from June to August was down 20.5% against those Rebirth/Civil War II months a year ago, the worst three-month year-over-year comparison since… well, we have to go back 20 years to September 1997 though November 1997, the first set of year-to-year comparatives I ever calculated. Marvel’s “Heroes Reborn” event in September 1996 and the wedding of Superman had been succeeded in 1997 by “Heroes Return,” which didn’t fare as well. Top 300 unit sales in that three-month stretch in 1997 were off 21.9%, and graphic novels, while growing, weren’t yet much of a factor. There are certainly worse year-over-year drops in the 1990s before that.
So once you catch your breath after reading those numbers, it’s worth looking at some things going on under the surface. It’s no surprise that DC’s August sales weren’t able to come remotely near comparing with its performance last year; the company had been tracking ahead of its 2016 performance earlier in the spring, but now accounts for about a third of the industry’s 2017 shortfall in the Direct Market.
On the other hand, August wasn't a bad month for DC, volume-wise, when compared with more normal recent months; its sales were actually higher than the last five-week pre-Rebirth month in 2016. DC had the top seller in Scott Snyder and Greg Capello’s Dark Nights: Metal #1, the launching point for DC’s fall event; the second printing of the issue went on sale this past Wednesday. Priced at $4.99, it stands a chance at being the publisher’s release of the year in dollar terms, given how the cheaper lenticular and non-lenticular Batman issues added up. The first issue of Rebirth was priced at $2.99; once we see the full numbers on Monday, we’ll have a better notion of the scope of what might be coming in September as the Metal event gets more fully underway.
Secret Empire came to an end with three releases; #10, the finale, outranked the previous two issues. Again, through the spring, Marvel had been responsible for 100% of the industry’s shortfall for the year, but as of August that’s down to only around half, now that DC’s facing its toughest comparatives from last year. Further, while Marvel’s shipments continued to be down, it’s pared back its losses — only off around 10% this month as compared with the 21% drop the whole market suffered. With "Legacy" launching, there’s a chance for some ground to be made up.
It should also be noted that after everything else that’s happened in 2017, Image, Dark Horse, and Dynamite remain ahead of where they were this time last year in terms of retail dollars ordered. Pockets of strength are good to see, because true recessionary times in comics tend to pull everything down. Image continues to be bolstered by strong graphic novel performances: Paper Girls Vol. 3 was the top-seller this month, and one of five Image GNs in the top 10.
The comparative statistics:
|August 2017 vs. July 2017|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||+12.16%||+10.12%|
|August 2017 vs. August 2016|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||-20.71%||-24.84%|
|Year-To-Date 2017 vs. Year-To-Date 2016|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||-10.47%||-6.76%|
The market shares:
|Publisher||Dollar Share||Unit Share|
The top-selling comics:
|1||Dark Nights: Metal #1||4.99||DC|
|4||Secret Empire #10||$4.99||Marvel|
|5||Generations: All-New Wolverine/Wolverine #1||$4.99||Marvel|
|6||Secret Empire #8||$4.99||Marvel|
|7||Secret Empire #9||$4.99||Marvel|
|8||Generations: The Mighty Thor/Unworthy Thor #1||$4.99||Marvel|
|9||Star Wars #34||$3.99||Marvel|
|10||Star Wars #35||$3.99||Marvel|
The top-selling graphic novels:
|1||Paper Girls Volume 3||12.99||Image|
|2||Batman Volume 3: I Am Bane||$16.99||DC|
|4||Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2||$16.99||Image|
|5||Wonder Woman Volume 3: The Truth||$16.99||DC|
|6||X-Men Gold Volume 1: Back To Basics||$15.99||Marvel|
|8||Superman Volume 3: Multiplicity||$16.99||DC|
|9||Old Guard Book 1: Opening Fire||$16.99||Image|
|10||X-Men Blue Volume 1: Strangest||$15.99||Marvel|
The number of new releases is below. It may look like a lot of new comic books came out, but it's actually slightly down from the other two five-week months of 2017. It's the graphic novel count that spiked, up to its highest level since November:
The full estimates will be published here Monday morning. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be alerted when they go online.
Lastly, we've added search and sorting mechanisms to all our end-of-year charts, beginning with 1991. Be sure to take a look.
Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, Star Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy. He has a new story in the 40th anniversary compendium, Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, releasing October 3. Read more about that and other stories at his fiction site.