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More than 145,000 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 May 2017!

 

June 19th, 2017

May 2017 comics sales estimates online; combining orders again gives Batman top slot

by John Jackson Miller

 See listings for Batman #22 on eBay
I mentioned here on Friday that, as in April, orders for DC's two "Button" issues of Batman and Flash would likely be split in reporting between the $3.99 lenticular and $2.99 standard-edition covers — and that posed the prospect that one or both of those issues would again edge past the reported top-seller, Marvel's Secret Empire, once orders were combined. That proved to be the case; click to see the comics order estimates for May 2017.

The original breakdowns are preserved in that list, but we can see that shipments of both versions of Batman #22 to comics shops in North America totaled nearly 186,900 copies (Edited: we'd initially used the numbers from #21), well over Secret Empire #1's total of more than 157,500. And Flash #22 hops up to second place, with a combined total of more than 163,700 copies. Again, the division of differently-priced variants is a long-standing practice in the charts; retailers, whom these charts are for, find knowing the breakdown of differently priced covers useful to know.

That said, Comichron has launched a running top-seller list for the year to date, combining the data from individual months; this can be found on the main 2017 page. There, we do fuse the entries, as we've done for years on our Comics of the Century and other pages.

The top dollar book on Diamond's charts, Venom #150, at nearly $6, would keep that status even if the Batman dollar orders were merged; Secret Empire #1 would remain the second-place dollar book. There's evidence of overshipping on the first two issues of All New Guardians of the Galaxy, which saw splits between their dollar and unit sales rankings. Meanwhile, the $9.99 Deadpool #30 is the seventh-highest dollar earner, while being only the 58th bestselling issue.

Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 3 at TFAW
As noted in the preliminary report, May's orders represented an improvement over the previous year, thanks in part to a fifth shipping week — but we also see that lower tiers on the chart — 200th place and below — set some better-than-expected sales levels even for five-week months. (Be sure to check out our new sales charts for these sales levels: 1st, 50th, 100th, 150th, 200th, and 300th place.)

On the graphic novel side, Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 3 hardcover, at $100, was the top book in dollar terms. The dollar top-ten is populated by several other big-ticket books.

There was some deep-discounting of older hardcovers evident in the charts, but not a whole lot; enough to contribute to the ten-point split in units versus dollars on Diamond's percentage change charts for the month. Diamond shipped 14% more graphic novels this May versus last, but only earned 4% more dollars.

The vital statistics for the month:


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June 16th, 2017

Comics orders rebound in five-week May; Secret Empire tops list, Liefeld has #1 graphic novel

by John Jackson Miller

See current auctions for Secret Empire #1 on eBay
May 2017 was a win for the comic-book direct market, if a qualified one; comics shops ordered $48.16 million worth of comic books, trade paperbacks, and magazines in the month, an increase of more than 8% over the same month in the previous year. That month, however, had only four Wednesdays, while this May had five New Comic Book Days. Last May was also one of the weakest months of the year, a "holding pattern" month in advance of Civil War II and DC's Rebirth. But it's the first up month since October 2016, so we'll take it.

Marvel's performance, about which much was written this winter, improved year-over-year — although, following a pattern we've seen in 2017, the rest of the market improved by more. The overall market was up around $3.7 million; $700,000 of the addition came from Marvel and $3 million from everyone else. That said, Marvel's last year-over-year beat was back in August 2016, so positive movement is noteworthy. The market without Marvel is up 4.2% for 2017, so a few more good months for the publisher could turn the industry's year positive overall.

The challenge is going to be that, just as much of 2016 was up against big comparative months during Star Wars' launch year at Marvel, last summer was ginormous in dollar terms. June 2016 was the biggest month in the Direct Market this century, at $58.6 million; it also had an extra Wednesday. August 2016 was almost as big. More of DC's books are at $3.99 this time around, so we'll see what difference that makes.

The aggregate changes:


DollarsUnits
May 2017 Vs. April 2017
Comics16.49%17.36%
Graphic Novels17.13%19.52%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels16.69%17.53%
Toys52.15%52.94%
May 2017 Vs. May 2016
Comics10.58%16.74%
Graphic Novels3.54%13.65%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels8.31%16.49%
Toys40.46%29.34%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Comics0.11%8.89%
Graphic Novels-9.23%-8.72%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-2.92%7.35%
Toys1.14%1.10%

We don't cover toys, but Diamond provides that data and they look to have bounced back by a lot.

Marvel topped both market shares categories, and improved its position in our projected annual dollar market shares, which through May are expected to wind up at Marvel 36.6%, DC 29.2%, Image 10.2%, IDW 5%, and Dark Horse 3.5%. Here's just the month of May:
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June 1st, 2017

The complete sales history of Wonder Woman according to postal records, 1960-1987

by John Jackson Miller

Wonder Woman arrives in theaters this week, seventy-five years after she got her own comic book — and Comichron commemorates that moment with the publication (all in one place for the first time anywhere!) of the complete postal record sales history for both Wonder Woman titles for which DC filed Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation with the United States Postal Service. Click to see the postal filings for Wonder Woman Vol. 1, which run from 1960 (when circulation figures started being required) to 1984, and for Wonder Woman Vol. 2, which got just one year in before DC stopped filing reports.

Created by William Moulton Marston in All Star Comics #8, Wonder Woman got her own series in 1942 with #1— a title that would run for more than four decades. The title's first postal circulation data appears in 1960, when the book was shipping eight issues a year; 210,000 copies of each issue sold on average. That number makes it a lower-tier superhero book at DC in 1960, but a mid-range seller for the industry overall.
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May 25th, 2017

Star Wars comics sales history: A 40th anniversary look back

by John Jackson Miller


It's the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: A New Hope — known to those of us who saw it then as just-plain Star Wars — so here's an update of a post from a couple of years ago on what the movie meant to comics in the 1970s.

Given that much of my professional comics and fiction output has been associated with Star Wars, it's perhaps surprising that I haven't gotten around to doing a circulation spotlight on the original 1977 Marvel series — especially since I've had all the Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation postal forms from the title on hand for years. With Star Wars back in the news for some reason, it seems like a good time to remedy that. Click to see the detailed circulation history of the original 1977 Marvel Star Wars series, according to the company's postal reports.

When the first Star Wars movie was adapted by Marvel in 1977, early issues of the comic book were released before the movie came out. The first issue appeared in two different first printings, both newsstand editions for Curtis Circulation; one was a special rare (and now valuable) variant with a test-marketed price. Beginning with the second issue, first printings of #2-4 were also included in one of the bagged releases for Western Publishing's Whitman three-pack program. (Nick Pope's excellent site catalogs the bagged Whitman Star Wars configurations found in the wild.)

Star Wars bagged editionOnce the movie was released and retailers knew they had a blockbuster on their hands, multiple printings of the early issues were ordered, both by Curtis Circulation — and, most consequentially, by Whitman for use in special Star Wars three-packs. The result was that the early issues of the title were the first comics to exceed 1 million copies per issue in sales since Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics & Stories in 1960. According to Jim Shooter, later Marvel's Editor-in-Chief, "Star Wars saved Marvel" in the late 1970s.

Demand was so high for the reprints of the adaptation that Whitman only ordered Star Wars three-packs from Marvel for several months, perhaps explaining why there are no Whitman variants of other Marvel titles for a period in late 1977, corresponding to early 1978 cover dates. (That fact also helps explain why the "fat-diamond" versions of Marvel's comics in 1977-78 are better referred to as Whitman or special-market editions rather than Direct Market editions. Regardless of whether comics retailers got shipped copies from those print runs — and some reportedly did — those variant printings only existed because of the arrangement with Whitman, something Shooter confirmed to Comichron here.)
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May 18th, 2017

How comics sales have changed across time; new pages tracking benchmark levels added

by John Jackson Miller

For years, we've had pages on Comichron collecting not just the #1 comic books ordered each month from Diamond Comic Distributors, but also the 300th-place titles, at the far end of the charts. The latter have always been a useful indicator when it comes to evaluating how much depth there is to sales; while volumes at the very top of the list are erratic due to first issue promotions and editorial events, there's much less volatility further down the charts.

We've always had the ability to report levels at other points on the chart, of course, and so with Diamond now having just passed 20 years of being the exclusive sales agent Marvel in the Direct market, we now present our expanded collection of sortable, searchable charts for the following sales levels:


There are good reasons to look at each of the new benchmarks. At 50th place, we're generally past the larger events and bigger first issue launches, and getting into the meat-and-potatoes books, the regular stalwarts on the charts. At 100th, we're at a level that is useful historically, since in the very early days, the Top 100 lists were all you saw from the distributors. Slot 150 is, of course, dead center of the list each month (well, it's actually between 150 and 151, but never mind) — though the real middle of the list may be closer to 200th place, given the fact that Diamond's slate of comics releases regularly reaches into the 400s.

When considered together — and removing the first-place books, which hop around wildly whether there's a Loot Crate situation involved or not — we clearly see a number of trends that have been mentioned on Comichron for years:


The above graph looks at the average number of copies ordered at each level annually on the chart across the last 20 years, which is a better way to look at it than a graph that tracks orders month-by-month; that graph would be frenetic and noisy due to the fact that there's four-shipping-week and five-week month data being mixed together. The fifth week results in higher sales levels, because there are more potential bestselling titles being offered and more time for the bestselling books to rack up sales. The averages shown above aren't a perfect solution — some years had more five week months than others — but it's pretty close. (We do provide the number of shipping weeks for each month on the destination pages linked above.)


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