November 13th, 2017

October 2017 comics sales estimates: Metal #3 near 159k copies, four over 100k

by John Jackson Miller

October brought the restoration of many Marvel titles' legacy numberings (as well as the creation of several legacy titles through the cobbling-together of multiple miniseries) as part of its Legacy event. The promotion, which required retailers to meet certain thresholds to order special lenticular covers, helped Marvel and the Direct Market's orders increase 5% over September, but paled in comparison to sales from the previous October, the Rebirth-driven second-strongest month of 2016. Click to see comics order estimates for October 2017.

Many fewer new comics were released this October versus the year before, however: 484, down 8% or 52 comics from the year previous. Perhaps owing to Legacy, Marvel's release slate was its smallest in a long time; Marvel released 81 new comic books, its fewest since February 2016 and eight fewer than it released last October. The 7.62 million comic books retailers ordered, while nearly identical to orders from the previous two months, was off 21% from 2016's overstuffed October; that shortfall likely drops to 18% with the Loot Crate book from that month removed. Marvel's Thor #700 was its top seller, in advance of the release of the popular film, Thor: Ragnarok.

Click to see listings for this issue on eBay
The Dark Multiverse event at DC — including Dark Nights: Metal #3 (with North American shipments of 158,700 copies) and various Batman specials — dominated the top 10; orders continued to come in for Dark Nights: Metal #1, bringing it above 271,000 copies. It remains second on the list of top-sellers for 2017. While the Marvel Legacy lenticular covers were priced identically with their normal counterparts and thus combined in rankings by Diamond, two DC issues had different prices and were not. With orders fused, Action Comics #989 and #990 would have placed 9th and 12th respectively.

Mister Miracle, one of September's most heavily reordered books, saw orders off very slightly from its second to third issue.

Image saw its dollar market share climb above 11% thanks to strong performances in the graphic novel category; the Here's Negan hardcover alone had first-month North American orders above 19,300 copies, with a full retail dollar value of nearly $400,000. (Edit: An errant decimal point resulted in an earlier incorrect headline.) Trade paperback and hardcover sales to retailers overall were up slightly over the previous year.

The vital statistics for the month:
Read more »

November 10th, 2017

Metal, Legacy dominate October sales to comic shops; Here's Negan pushes DM graphic novel category to first win in months

by John Jackson Miller

Earlier this week in advance of the release of the Diamond Comic Distributors preliminary sales report for October 2017, I tweeted that the same month last year would be very hard to beat, even with Marvel's Legacy event and DC's Dark Multiverse storyline underway. The second best month of 2016 in the Direct Market, October 2016 had a huge number of new releases: 536 new comics, the most all year, many of which were double-shipped Rebirth issues. And it was further assisted on the unit sales side by several hundred thousand copies of Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 which went to Loot Crate; it was the largest number of copies Diamond shipped of any comic book all year.

See Dark Nights Metal #3 at TFAW
But while beating last October seemed unlikely, I noted that trajectory mattered — and while Diamond today reported that orders for comics, graphic novels, and magazines were down 11% versus last October, they were up 5% over September 2017, a month which also had four shipping weeks. The month's top seller was Dark Nights: Metal #3, with six other Batman releases making the Top 10; three Marvel Legacy issues rounded out the top 10, including the second-place Thor #700.

calculates that retailers ordered $45.58 million in print material at full retail, $2 million more than September and almost tying the total from this August, which had an extra shipping week. While both were down versus last October, Marvel and DC sold retailers more dollars worth of merchandise this October than they did in September — and Image continued to outpace the market, beating its year-ago total by 8% and climbing to an 11.46% market share.

Order Here's Negan from TFAWSpeaking of Image, a positive sign was to be found in Diamond's graphic novel sales to comics shops, which managed to beat their pace from the same month a year ago by more than 2%. That's the first graphic novel year-over-year win since May, the only other month this year in which that happened. Image had six of the top ten graphic novels, including the top-selling Walking Dead: Here's Negan hardcover. The number of new graphic novels that shipped this October is the same as last October: 345.

Meanwhile, many fewer new comics were released this October: 484, down 8% or 52 comics from last October. Perhaps owing to Legacy, Marvel's release slate was its smallest in a long time; Marvel released 81 new comic books, its fewest since February 2016 and eight fewer than it released last October. The 7.62 million comic books retailers ordered, while nearly identical to orders from the previous two months, was off 21% from 2016's overstuffed October; that shortfall likely drops to 18% with the Loot Crate book removed.

The aggregate sales statistics:

October 2017 Vs. September 2017
Graphic Novels9.60%0.08%
Total Comics/GNs4.74%-1.02%
October 2017 Vs. October 2016
Graphic Novels2.37%-8.02%
Total Comics/GNs-11.12%-20.27%
Year-To-Date 2017 Vs. Year-To-Date 2016
Graphic Novels-10.55%-12.76%
Total Comics/GNs-10.12%-8.27%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Dark Horse2.82%1.74%

The top-selling comics:

1Dark Nights: Metal #3$3.99DC
2The Mighty Thor #700$5.99Marvel
3Amazing Spider-Man #789$3.99Marvel
4Batman #32$2.99DC
5Batman #33$2.99DC
6The Despicable Deadpool #287$3.99Marvel
7Batman: The Drowned #1$3.99DC
8Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1$3.99DC
9Batman: The Merciless #1$3.99DC
10Batman: White Knight #1$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels:

1The Walking Dead: Here's Negan HC19.99Image
2Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
3Seven To Eternity Volume 2$16.99Image
4Rat Queens Volume 4: High Fantasies$14.99Image
5Super Sons Volume 1: When I Grow Up$12.99DC
6I Hate Fairyland Volume 3: Good Girl$16.99Image
7Redneck Vol 01 Deep In The Heart$16.99Image
8Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel$17.99Marvel
9Batman: Detective Comics Volume 3: League$19.99DC
10Low Vol. 4: Outer Aspects Of Inner Attitudes$16.99Image

The number of new releases per publisher:

PublisherComics shippedGraphic Novels shippedMagazinesTotal shipped
Dark Horse1518033
Archie Comics114015
TOTAL SHIPPED48434528857

While October starts the fourth quarter out behind the same period last year, last October was the market's last peak month, in a sense; eleven out of the next twelve months would see declines. The comparatives get easier from here; there's a good chance that the overall year could end up only off in the single digits. That's not great news, but it would represent a boost over the worst point of the year, and would keep the Direct market ahead of the recession-year 10% drop seen in 2009.

As I noted in the Off Panel podcast which released earlier this week, perspective means a great deal to interpreting the market's position; while Star Wars' return to Marvel and Rebirth posed tough comparatives for 2016 and 2017 respectively, it's worth remembering that through October, the Direct Market is up 29.2%, or nearly $100 million, over its position at the same point of 2011, the year the New 52 helped re-energize sales. Dollar volumes this September and October, in fact, roundly beat those from the first two New 52 months — and while inflation plays a role, it does not account for all of the increases. 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. His new Last Jedi prequel hardcover, Star Wars: Canto Bight, releases December 5. Read more at his fiction site.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.

November 7th, 2017

Where Bendis' Marvel successes began: Ultimate Spider-Man, the complete postal sales record

With news everywhere today about writer Brian Michael Bendis's departure from Marvel to an exclusive multi-year contract with DC, Comichron presents a look back to the beginning of his run with the publisher. 

See eBay listings for this issue All the filings Marvel made with the United States Postal Service about Bendis's flagship title can now be found here at Ultimate Spider-Man: The Postal Sales Record.

It's a bit of a complicated series to report on because it's actually under two different postal licenses: the 2000-2009 series was rebooted with a new #1 and a new license. But the rebooted series resumed the original's numbering with #150. There don't seem to be any reports on the third series by that name, nor the Marvel Universe-branded title.

Another unusual element is that Ultimate Spider-Man #1 has many reprints, and those appear to have impacted the first year's report; Marvel's reported sales for average issues in the year are far, far higher than anything anyone else was doing in comics at the time. It's possible to compare those sales, which include most channels, with just the sales to the Direct Market beginning with the first issue in September 2000; remember, however, that in that era reorders were not reported, so you won't see the very large traffic in reprints that followed.

November 6th, 2017

Comichron visits the Off Panel podcast: A look at the numbers game

by John Jackson Miller
This month begins my twenty-fifth year of covering the comics industry professionally (for those counting, that means the actual anniversary is November 2018), and I speak about a number of the datasets that I've been developing over the years on the new Off Panel podcast with David Harper of SKTCHD.

It's a wide-ranging discussion, looking at the difference between distributor shipment figures and overall sales, touching on comic book variants and how they've changed over the years, and getting into the importance of having circulation figures to both retailers and the aftermarket. There's also some discussion of current market conditions — and many references to baseball statistics!

October 9th, 2017

Marvel Legacy #1 ships 298k copies, top comic of 2017; DC's Dark Nights stays strong with #2 near 150k

by John Jackson Miller
 Marvel Legacy #1
Just back from New York Comic-Con, an amazingly busy event — and while attendance numbers have not been released, the outside observer certainly wouldn't have suspected it was taking place in a year in which comics and graphic novel orders had been, through September, down 10% in the Direct Market, as was reported here Friday. Of course, we don't know how independent the variables of convention attendance and comics sales are, but a strongly attended event is still likely to be a much better sign than the opposite. And on the print side, there's at least a change in trajectory because, again as noted Friday, this summer's losses have been pared somewhat, and Marvel's September beat its previous September by 14%, thanks in part to Marvel Legacy #1 moving more than 298,000 copies. Click to see our comics order estimates for September 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.
Read more »