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More than 143,000 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.

Just added! Comics sales estimates for February 2017!

 

March 6th, 2017

February 2017 comics sales estimates now online

by John Jackson Miller

Diamond Comic Distributors has released its full comics sales report for February 2017, and the Comichron estimates based on those sales figures are now online. The estimates now appear on our master page for February 2017 Comic Book Sales, and are sortable and searchable.

As mentioned here Friday, February was another month in which a lot of comic books were shipped to the Direct Market at relatively little cost to retailers, although for a different reason than in January. That month, Marvel’s 10% minimum overship resulted in the largest number of comic books sent to market in any January since 1997. This time, it was Image’s 25th anniversary — and its promotionally priced comic books — that caused the largest number of new comic books to be shipped than in any February since 1997, according to Comichron’s analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.

More than 7.85 million comic books were shipped by Diamond to retailers in North America, and more than 750,000 of them were copies of Walking Dead #163, which retailers ordered at its 25-cent cost. Special no-cover-price variants were also offered for retailers who ordered 250 copies or more, and again for 500 copies or more.

Diamond does not include comics cover-priced under a dollar in its Top Sellers lists, a move made after Batman: The Ten-Cent Adventure, a nine-cent issue of Fantastic Four and a 13-cent Gen13 topped the charts in 2002, along with all the original Free Comic Book Day issues. (We removed those issues to the tops of their respective months, with asterisks rather than rankings, in the Comichron charts.) So while Diamond acknowledged the performance of the Walking Dead issue in its press release, it ranked Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 as the top-seller for February.

The 25-cent Image copies resulted in a lopsided market share reading for the company; its unit share was 18.13%, as compared with a 9.58% dollar share. While Diamond’s unit shares from month to month can be found on Comichron’s individual monthly pages, it isn’t something we keep a trendline file on (in part because of volatility like this) — so we can’t really say the last time its unit share hit such a level. The 9.58% dollar share is Image’s best since January 2016, so while it’s on the high end, it’s hit loftier marks relatively recently.

We see the absence of the Walking Dead issues from the charts when we add up the sales of the Top 300 comics. 6.33 million copies of the Top 300 comics were sold, but 7.85 million copies were sold overall. That's a larger than usual gap unaccounted for, and includes the Walking Deads.

Retailers ordered $39.77 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines across February’s four shipping weeks; that’s the first time the overall total has been below $40 million since February 2014. Comics dollar sales were off 4.47% and graphic novels off 3.3%, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 4.11%. The aggregate sales statistics appear below:
Read more »




March 3rd, 2017

Darth Maul, Marvel top February comics orders; more than 750,000 25-cent Walking Deads ship

by John Jackson Miller


February was another month in which a lot of comic books were shipped to the Direct Market at relatively little cost to retailers, although for a different reason than in January. That month, Marvel’s 10% minimum overship resulted in the largest number of comic books sent to market in any January since 1997. This time, it was Image’s 25th anniversary — and its promotionally priced comic books — that caused the largest number of new comic books to be shipped than in any February since 1997, according to Comichron’s analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.

More than 7.85 million comic books were shipped by Diamond to retailers in North America, and more than 750,000 of them were copies of Walking Dead #163, which retailers ordered at its 25-cent cost. Special no-cover-price variants were also offered for retailers who ordered 250 copies or more, and again for 500 copies or more.

Diamond does not include comics cover-priced under a dollar in its Top Sellers lists, a move made after Batman: The Ten-Cent Adventure, a nine-cent issue of Fantastic Four and a 13-cent Gen13 topped the charts in 2002, along with all the original Free Comic Book Day issues. (We removed those issues to the tops of their respective months, with asterisks rather than rankings, in the Comichron charts.) So while Diamond acknowledged the performance of the Walking Dead issue in its press release, it ranked Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 as the top-seller for February.

The 25-cent Image copies resulted in a lopsided market share reading for the company; its unit share was 18.13%, as compared with a 9.58% dollar share. While Diamond’s unit shares from month to month can be found on Comichron’s individual monthly pages, it isn’t something we keep a trendline file on (in part because of volatility like this) — so we can’t really say the last time its unit share hit such a level. The 9.58% dollar share is Image’s best since January 2016, so while it’s on the high end, it’s hit loftier marks relatively recently.

Retailers ordered $39.77 million in comics, graphic novels, and magazines across February’s four shipping weeks; that’s the first time the overall total has been below $40 million since February 2014. Comics dollar sales were off 4.47% and graphic novels off 3.3%, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 4.11%.

The comparative sales statistics:

DollarsUnits
February 2017 vs. January 2017
Comics-4.67%3.65%
Graphic Novels9.05%3.04%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.82%3.61%
Toys23.91%3.09%
February 2017 vs. February 2016
Comics-4.47%17.29%
Graphic Novels-3.30%-12.98%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-4.11%14.70%
Toys25.46%0.38%
Year-To-Date 2017 vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Comics-2.06%12.11%
Graphic Novels-7.60%-10.88%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-3.76%10.26%
Toys3.18%-0.94%

Marvel and DC’s unit market shares were nearly tied this month, though you can easily see from the dollar market shares the impact of the $3.99/$2.99 contrast between Marvel and DC’s cover prices. Marvel’s dollar market share is nearly four points higher than its unit share; DC’s more than three points lower.

Dollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel37.46%33.64%
DC30.23%33.47%
Image9.58%18.13%
IDW5.83%3.27%
Dark Horse2.57%1.45%
Boom2.08%1.84%
Dynamite1.52%2.06%
Titan1.16%0.92%
Viz1.10%0.35%
Oni0.86%0.60%
Other7.62%4.27%

The Top 10 comics included three DC titles whose sales were reduced by 10% due to returnability: Justice League of America #1, Super Sons #1, and Justice League of America: Rebirth #1.

COMIC BOOKPRICEPUBLISHER
1Star Wars Darth Maul #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman #16$2.99DC
3Batman #17$2.99DC
4Justice League of America #1*$2.99DC
5Super Sons #1*$2.99DC
6Walking Dead #164$2.99Image
7All Star Batman #7$4.99DC
8Star Wars #28$3.99Marvel
9Justice League of America Rebirth #1*$2.99DC
10Justice League #14$2.99DC

The regularly priced Walking Dead #164 also shipped in the month, and placed sixth.

On the graphic novel side of things, unit sales of graphic novels were down quite a bit against a February last year that had both a new Wicked & Divine and a new Lumberjanes volume. Seven to Eternity Vol. 1 led the chart:

GRAPHIC NOVELPRICEPUBLISHER
1Seven to Eternity Vol. 1$9.99Image
2Love Is Love$9.99IDW
3Batman Detective Vol. 1 Rise Ot Batmen (Rebirth)$16.99DC
4Snotgirl Vol. 1 Green Hair Dont Care$9.99Image
5Wonder Woman Vol. 1 The Lies (Rebirth)$16.99DC
6March Book 3$19.99IDW
7Superman Action Comics Vol. 1 Path of Doom (Rebirth)$16.99DC
8Hal Jordan & The GLC Vol. 1 Sinestro's Law (Rebirth)$17.99DC
9Outcast By Kirkman & Azaceta Vol. 4$14.99Image
10Civil War II HC$50.00Marvel

Low-priced comics aside, the number of different new comic books in February was off 7% versus the previous year, so this February’s releases punched their weight a little better. That said, Marvel’s 104 new comics was a higher figure than we usually see in the first quarter — and Titan’s 24 new comics is likely a new high for that company.

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic Novels
 shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel104360140
DC82331116
Image4614161
IDW3622058
Titan246030
Boom243027
Dark Horse1313026
Viz023023
Dynamite164020
Oni105015
Other9413820252
Total44929722768

Boom, which made headlines a year or so ago by directing its efforts away from periodicals toward more graphic novels, seems to have gone back the other direction; it shipped 24 new comic books in February versus only three new graphic novels, according to Diamond.

Thus far it’s a slightly off start to the year, if a highly idiosyncratic one in statistical terms; as with all winter months, Comichron recommends not reading too much into it. Many is the year in which even a slightly strong April or May erased an entire first-quarter’s deficit. The volumes in play are simply lower at this time of year.

What was selling in Feburary in years past? Check out of Flashback column for the month.

This month marks the start of Comichron’s tenth anniversary celebration; I’m doing an Ask-Me-Anything on Reddit’s Comic Books subreddit at 3 Eastern today, March 3. (UPDATE: And you can read the questions and answers here.)

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 Facebook.




March 1st, 2017

Comichron Ask-Me-Anything set for Reddit on Friday

by John Jackson Miller

March 2017 marks ten years that Comichron has been online, and we have some interesting additions planned for the site this month. To kick things off, this Friday at 3 p.m. EST I'll be doing an Ask Me Anything in the Reddit Comic Books section. Be sure to drop by with any questions you have about comic book circulation, comics cover price history, or the other things we cover on the site!

That's 3/3 at 3 EST. Suitable for a site about numbers! (UPDATE: You can read the questions and answers here.)




February 20th, 2017

January 2017 comics sales estimates online; overships visible in charts (without affecting much)

by John Jackson Miller

Comichron's estimates are now online for comics and graphic novels shipped in January by Diamond Comic Distributors, and while a number of elements make analyzing this month trickier than usual, the month's $40.1 million performance doesn't look too far out of line with what we've come to expect from winter months in the past when no blockbusters like Star Wars #1 were around. Click to see Comichron's comics sales estimates for January 2017.

As noted here Friday, U.S. Avengers #1 topped the charts in a month that saw Marvel offer retailers a free 10% overship on its titles, essentially sending extra copies for free matched to their existing orders. This is reflected when dollar rankings are compared with what we might expect those rankings to have been by multiplying unit sales by cover price; fully 84 of Marvel's 91 entries in the Top 300 have dollar rankings that are worse than we'd expect to see had all their copies all shipped at their regular discounts.

While overshipped copies for obvious reasons have no impact on the dollar market shares, they are counted toward the unit market shares and in the Top 300 lists, and that's readily apparent from looking at the data. Marvel's unit share was six points higher than its dollar share, and the gap was wider than the gap for DC; that is simply not possible given how many DC books are cheaper unless the effective wholesale price of Marvel's comics is somehow less. Overships are one way of making that happen.

The other real tipoff is in the dollar rankings, which you can now see alongside the unit sales rankings in Comichron's charts. In the era of $2.99 DC comics, Marvel's dollar rankings have tended to be a good deal better than its dollar rankings. In January, much of that advantage was gone. You can really see the impact, however, by an experiment: if you multiply the number of copies sold of each title by cover price, you can project "expected dollar rankings." The Diamond-reported dollar rankings of 84 of Marvel's 91 titles in the Top 300 were worse than their expected dollar rankings, which, again, can only mean that either Marvel's discount was much bigger last month, or that some of the copies were free.

For an example of the effect that removes cover-price from the equation, look to $3.99 Gwenpool #10, in 127th place; it sold about the same number of copies as the $3.99 DC book just above it and the $3.99 Image book just below it. Yet Gwenpool's dollar ranking was 133rd place, while the other two books were at 108th and 112th. Those books didn't have overships diluting their dollar rankings.


http://bit.ly/CCSaga41
For a much less complicated confirmation of how free copies can impact the charts, there's actually a unique example in Saga #41 in January. The Image comic book was produced in December with a cover printing error, and it appears from reports that most retailers received it; the book made the charts in December, and many of the error copies are now on eBay. In January, replacement copies were sent — evidently at no cost, because the dollar ranking of the issue was way up at 548th place. The fact that it appears in the rankings at all may attribute to retailers having paid regular wholesale price for a small fraction of those copies — reorders received after December issue's cutoff.

(Interestingly, the number of replacement copies Diamond shipped in January was slightly smaller than the number appearing in December's charts, even with reorders in play. One possible reason for this could be end-of-year churn in the retail base, a not uncommon time for it as a few operators always avoid going into a new tax year.)

Read more »




February 17th, 2017

More comics shipped in January 2017 than any January in 20 years; U.S. Avengers #1 leads pack

by John Jackson Miller

January comics and graphic novel orders got 2017 off to a slightly slower start than last year, according to Comichron's analysis of data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. But while the $40.1 million in orders — off 3% — was the lowest one-month total since February 2014, Marvel's overship promotion offering a free 10% match to retailers' orders helped create a situation in which more comics were shipped than in any first month of the year since January 1997, 20 years ago.

Diamond shipped 7.57 million comic books to retailers in the month, up 7.21% over January 2016 and even beating out 2015's massive Star Wars #1 month. Free comics obviously don't impact dollar sales, so comics dollar sales were only up 0.36%.

That disjoint suggests that while January's performance was off at the distributor level, it could easily have been an up month at the retail level, depending on how all that extra material sold. Diamond's comparative sales statistics charts and market share charts are based on wholesale prices and not retail, which is what that $40.1 million figure is; the real dollar value of comics and graphic novels retailers had to sell was probably several million higher.

This isn't new; every month there's some level of deep discounting of graphic novels or promotional pricing of comics, and so there's always a bit more — and some months, a lot more — potential sales out there for retailers than the overall sales number suggests. The comparative stats for the month:
Read more »












February 5th, 2017

February Comics Flashbacks: Some strong winters past


Top comics shop seller:
Justice League #6 (DC)
135,400 copies first month
145,200 copies sold by year-end

February 2012 was that rarest of beasts, as it had five Wednesdays; that helped the month end up considerably over the year before. It was the start of a very strong year for the Direct Market, as the DC relaunch was still young; Justice League #6 was the top title.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2012. You can also read my original preliminary and final analysis pieces for the month.



Top comics shop seller:
Civil War #7 (Marvel)
265,900 copies first month

Civil War wrapped up with an issue that helped give the Direct Market as strong a February in 2007 as January had been, a month with an additional shipping week. It was the best February since the Diamond Exclusive Era began, and with sales up 20% in the first two months of the year, it kicked off a very strong 2007.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2007. You can also read my original analysis.



Top comics shop seller:
Dark Knight Strikes Again #3 (DC)
184,300 copies sold first month

At $7.95, Dark Knight Strikes Again remains one of the most expensive comic books ever to top the sales charts. Issue #3 brought in more dollars for retailers than the next half-dozen comic books on the charts combined.

Click to see the sales charts for February 2002.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #343 (Marvel)
171,400 copies preordered first month
Around 300,700 copies sold overall

Uncanny X-Men #343 led the charts in a weak month for the Direct Market. In addition to being the dead of winter — with no "Age of Apocalypse" or "DC Versus Marvel" event as in the previous two years — changes in discount incentives at Diamond resulted in lower sales. Soon Diamond would offer products from all the industry's publishers again; on February 7, Marvel announced it would be shutting Heroes World Distribution down and returning to Diamond.

Click to see the sales charts for February 1997.



Top comics shop seller:
X-Men Vol. 2 #7 (Marvel)
535,200 copies sold to comics shops
645,400 copies sold overall

Marvel's "adjectiveless" X-Men series, launched the previous summer with the bestselling comic book to that time (or ever since!) was still going strong by this point in 1992. Internal Marvel records put the number of comics sold to the Direct Market at 535,200 copies; 150,600 of those went to Capital City.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #217 (Marvel)
270,000 copies sold to comics shops
431,400 copies sold overall

Preorders for January-shipping titles were found in the January issue of Capital City's Internal Correspondence magazine, where reports were slightly out of sync with the shipping schedule. Capital ranked Uncanny X-Men #217 at #1. Capital sold 55,400 copies out of the 267,300 copies that Marvel internal records report were shipped to the Direct Market. The total was 431,400 copies sold overall once subscriptions and other markets were accounted for.

 Marvel, which had just been sold by Cadence to New World, had a 48.3% market share at the end of 1986 at Capital. DC was at 26.8%.



Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #157 (Marvel)
Around 313,000 copies sold overall

One of the first of many Phoenix-is-back-from-the-dead tease covers, Uncanny X-Men #157 found Kitty Pryde pretending to be Jean Grey while aboard a Shi-ar ship. The comics series was riding high, selling around 313,000 copies per issue.

There were no indexed distributor sales charts before 1984, but we know from Statements of Ownership that Uncanny X-Men was by far the year's bestseller, beating out second-place Amazing Spider-Man by more than 20%.



Top comics shop seller:
Amazing Spider-Man #168 (Marvel)
Around 282,000 copies sold overall

Amazing Spider-Man did lead once you go five more years back; February's issue, #168, featured Will-o-the-Wisp and probably had close to a 45,000-copy lead on Superman. Supplementing this issue's sales were simultaneous printings for sale in three-pack bags from Whitman.



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #250 (DC)
Around 318,000 copies sold

Spider-Man was chasing Superman down in this era, but DC's flagship title still had a lead of about 30,000 copies per issue. The series by now was monthly after many years with two skip months, which impacts what months it was leading as we project backwards.



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #195 (DC)
Around 649,300 copies sold

The bestselling comics series in 1967 was Batman, boosted by the ABC TV series — but there was no Batman issue in February, so Superman took the top slot in this tale of the "Furty of the Kryptonian Killer."



Top comics shop seller:
Superman #152 (DC)
Around 740,000 copies sold

And it's Superman all the way to the end of our sales data, with the challenge of "The Robot Master" leading sales during the second month of 1962.