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Number of Comics in the Top 300, by publisher
Total number of titles in the Diamond Comics Distributors Top 300 by publisher, 1997-present

Diamond Comic Distributors, the sales agent for most North American comics publishers serving the comics shop "direct market," reports its top-selling comic books by unit sales each month. One means of measuring both publisher output and performance in the comic book shop market is by counting the number of items the publisher has placed across time in Diamond's Top Seller list. The following charts cover everything from the beginning of the Diamond exclusive era, in April 1997, to the present:

Recent Market Shares


The component data making up the graphic above is summarized here, in a table showing the average number of monthly items each year per publisher:

Average Number of Comic Books Ranking in the Top 300 Each Month as reported by Diamond Comic Distributors


MARVEL

DC

IMAGE

DARK HORSE

IDW

1997

49.9

82.4

38.6

24.3


1998

52.0

76.3

34.7

22.8


1999

46.0

83.4

31.8

24.3


2000

48.8

87.3

33.3

22.9


2001

45.8

71.9

26.1

16.9


2002

53.6

71.1

20.5

14.3

1.0

2003

58.3

86.8

34.9

18.2

2.9

2004

71.2

89.3

24.8

17.1

7.6

2005

80.6

95.1

30.7

14.5

9.4

2006

88.3

91.8

27.6

11.9

12.8

2007

89.0

91.9

26.8

16.5

13.4

2008

99.3

90.3

23.9

16.2

19.8

2009

104.1

87.7

18.8

13.8

20.0

2010

101.6

89.0

18.5

14.0

21.8


Tallies before April 1997 are problematic for Diamond, as Marvel Comics was self-distributing from July 1995 to March 1997. Before July 1995, counts are again possible. December 1993, for example, finds Marvel with 103 items in the Diamond Top 300, DC with 65, Image with 12, and Dark Horse with 17.
 
There are several reasons that the number of entries in the Top 300 is not an ideal measure of publisher performance. The average unit and dollar sales of comics on this table changes from year to year — and of course, it's financially better to have publish Top-10 comic book than two comics near 300th place.

On top of that, comics publishing has evolved. With the rise in importance of trade paperback collections and manga, some publishers maintained — or grew — market share while their item count in the comics list was the same or decreasing.

The Top 300 is also not a perfect indicator of publisher output, particularly in times when high outputs from all publishers cause a number of their releases to place past the 300th place item. In the December 1993 example, Marvel may have had 103 items in the Diamond Top 300 — but at Capital, which ranked every single one of the 681 comics released that month, we see that Marvel released 133 comics that month.

Furthermore, the Diamond lists are not entirely consistent from month to month and year to year when it comes to the treatment of multiple printings of the same item. Diamond generally tries to combine order codes so that like items have their orders combined — but some items slip past. And since 2003, reorders for a comic book can cause it to reappear in the following month or months on the list. The number of entries for all publishers above are, thus, slightly inflated beyond the number of new items that came out. Only consulting shipping lists — or reconciling monthly sales charts to omit repeat appearances — can really insure what items really shipped in which month.

Still, it does show some interesting general trends in publishing.
Immediately apparent are two more consistent trends observable at this level: the continuous increase of copies ranking in the Top 300 by Marvel from 2001 to 2009 and IDW from 2001 to 2010. In Marvel's case, the publisher's line had been much larger in the boom of the early 1990s, collapsing in size during the comics recession (and its own bankruptcy) that followed.

The specific month-to-month counts appear here below. Click here to see the Top 300 Charts that make them up:

Number of Comic Books Ranking in the Top 300 Each Month
as reported by Diamond Comic Distributors

  MARVEL DC IMAGE DARK HORSE IDW
Apr-97 55 79 39 23 0
May-97 45 80 37 22 0
Jun-97 45 76 39 24 0
Jul-97 51 82 38 28 0
Aug-97 49 84 45 21 0
Sep-97 45 83 38 23 0
Oct-97 51 82 38 28 0
Nov-97 51 82 38 26 0
Dec-97 57 94 35 24 0
           
Jan-98 50 77 35 23 0
Feb-98 48 74 39 25 0
Mar-98 54 76 34 23 0
Apr-98 51 71 37 27 0
May-98 51 80 35 21 0
Jun-98 45 75 42 22 0
Jul-98 49 87 30 26 0
Aug-98 55 85 38 23 0
Sep-98 56 75 30 23 0
Oct-98 61 72 35 21 0
Nov-98 49 69 35 20 0
Dec-98 55 74 26 19 0
           
Jan-99 41 73 20 21 0
Feb-99 37 79 25 22 0
Mar-99 41 86 27 24 0
Apr-99 43 76 29 25 0
May-99 43 75 28 25 0
Jun-99 39 82 33 22 0
Jul-99 48 82 30 25 0
Aug-99 49 85 36 24 0
Sep-99 51 94 43 24 0
Oct-99 49 86 37 25 0
Nov-99 56 89 37 26 0
Dec-99 55 94 36 28 0
           
Jan-00 45 84 33 25 0
Feb-00 46 84 31 26 0
Mar-00 41 98 38 24 0
Apr-00 46 80 46 25 0
May-00 49 99 36 21 0
Jun-00 48 89 37 23 0
Jul-00 50 87 40 23 0
Aug-00 49 98 30 23 0
Sep-00 57 87 29 25 0
Oct-00 50 85 27 23 0
Nov-00 50 80 25 20 0
Dec-00 54 76 28 17 0
           
Jan-01 50 71 28 17 0
Feb-01 42 73 25 20 0
Mar-01 39 70 29 14 0
Apr-01 36 69 35 20 0
May-01 33 69 30 16 0
Jun-01 38 70 22 19 0
Jul-01 46 69 25 17 0
Aug-01 41 80 21 16 0
Sep-01 50 69 25 14 0
Oct-01 61 78 22 18 0
Nov-01 63 76 25 17 0
Dec-01 50 69 26 15 0
           
Jan-02 53 74 22 14 1
Feb-02 44 69 21 15 0
Mar-02 49 65 18 18 0
Apr-02 53 65 18 12 1
May-02 52 69 20 15 0
Jun-02 60 68 18 13 1
Jul-02 60 69 17 15 0
Aug-02 61 79 25 12 2
Sep-02 56 73 20 15 2
Oct-02 52 67 22 13 2
Nov-02 54 76 24 15 2
Dec-02 49 79 21 15 1
           
Jan-03 49 76 23 15 2
Feb-03 53 90 35 17 3
Mar-03 57 87 35 17 4
Apr-03 68 80 40 20 1
May-03 56 83 31 16 1
Jun-03 61 87 26 19 4
Jul-03 67 90 32 21 1
Aug-03 54 95 35 19 2
Sep-03 58 91 56 16 3
Oct-03 64 86 42 21 5
Nov-03 57 92 29 14 4
Dec-03 56 84 35 23 5
           
Jan-04 62 78 25 14 6
Feb-04 61 88 17 18 5
Mar-04 66 83 29 23 8
Apr-04 68 82 26 21 8
May-04 63 88 23 20 10
Jun-04 71 85 29 18 10
Jul-04 71 95 22 17 7
Aug-04 72 96 27 18 7
Sep-04 83 93 32 12 7
Oct-04 72 96 18 17 8
Nov-04 78 93 29 10 7
Dec-04 87 94 20 17 8
           
Jan-05 71 99 25 11 6
Feb-05 72 96 30 16 8
Mar-05 84 90 30 14 12
Apr-05 75 100 29 13 11
May-05 77 104 31 19 9
Jun-05 86 98 35 13 12
Jul-05 80 98 31 14 6
Aug-05 85 97 37 13 14
Sep-05 82 100 26 14 8
Oct-05 78 91 35 16 8
Nov-05 87 93 27 15 7
Dec-05 90 75 32 16 12
           
Jan-06 86 86 25 11 12
Feb-06 96 91 24 12 11
Mar-06 100 83 40 10 15
Apr-06 85 100 22 13 13
May-06 89 102 26 9 16
Jun-06 85 92 29 10 10
Jul-06 87 88 29 12 11
Aug-06 86 86 33 10 18
Sep-06 76 95 26 13 11
Oct-06 85 85 30 11 10
Nov-06 94 97 24 19 14
Dec-06 91 97 23 13 12
           
Jan-07 88 98 26 15 16
Feb-07 87 91 25 14 16
Mar-07 86 91 27 11 11
Apr-07 93 91 17 11 15
May-07 92 85 32 20 11
Jun-07 86 75 33 15 11
Jul-07 94 82 28 20 15
Aug-07 98 94 22 12 9
Sep-07 82 93 30 21 10
Oct-07 80 107 24 18 21
Nov-07 83 100 29 26 10
Dec-07 99 96 28 15 16
           
Jan-08 82 97 25 24 18
Feb-08 83 88 26 17 18
Mar-08 94 86 28 15 23
Apr-08 92 86 26 24 24
May-08 96 89 24 20 20
Jun-08 105 85 23 15 22
Jul-08 99 97 26 12 21
Aug-08 107 88 16 12 22
Sep-08 116 87 27 14 15
Oct-08 105 94 19 11 18
Nov-08 93 92 27 13 20
Dec-08 119 95 20 17 16
           
Jan-09 92 93 19 12 21
Feb-09 110 78 27 16 20
Mar-09 99 79 20 13 26
Apr-09 111 89 17 10 22
May-09 105 83 18 13 20
Jun-09 119 81 18 13 21
Jul-09 98 89 17 14 22
Aug-09 97 100 20 16 18
Sep-09 111 97 16 12 14
Oct-09 98 96 17 14 22
Nov-09 98 82 18 21 17
Dec-09 111 85 18 11 17
           
Jan-10 89 88 17 15 22
Feb-10 104 79 24 11 18
Mar-10 106 85 13 11 26
Apr-10 95 87 20 13 24
May-10 108 90 17 9 20
Jun-10 112 95 16 13 19
Jul-10 102 93 18 12 22
Aug-10 104 81 24 17 21
Sep-10 106 84 21 19 25
Oct-10 93 102 17 17 23
Nov-10 97 91 20 13 21
Dec-10 103 93 15 18 20
           
Jan-11 82 76 30 11 30
Feb-11 99 78 26 14 25
Mar-11 114 85 23 12 20
Apr-11 104 73 30 18 28
May-11 96 68 35 15 24
Jun-11 100 87 23 15 21
Jul-11 92 90 27 11 22
Aug-11 103 94 19 14 20
Sep-11 104 68 27 18 20
Oct-11 84 129 16 17 18


To see market shares representing actual dollar sales, click here:




Find out more about comics and fiction from writer John Jackson Miller!