More than 147,000 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 August 2017!
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.
August 14th, 2017
Much information is in that Friday article, including a look at where the industry is relative to previous years, with an eye to the odds for a recovery in the months remaining; it is worth a look. The estimates provide some additional insights. Top 300 comics sales, led by DC's Dark Days: The Casting #1 with more than 128,000 copies shipped to North America, were off almost exactly the same percentage in units and dollars as all comics were off, suggesting that the losses were evenly distributed between the better sellers and the "long tail."
Graphic novels, while also down, performed relatively better than they had in recent months, and Image's Monstress Vol. 2 was the first graphic novel to top 10,000 in orders since winter, and only the third all year.
The rise in cover prices in June to record levels abated, with the average price for new comics dropping down to $3.87; it had been up above $4.
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August 11th, 2017
by John Jackson Miller
Diamond Comic Distributors. Shipments for comic books, graphic novels, and magazines only reached a little over $40.76 million. That's down more than 19% from last year's blockbuster month for DC, when the publisher launched most of its Rebirth titles — but it's also down more than 11% from this June. All three of the months mentioned had the same number of shipping weeks.
While DC still had the most-ordered comic book in July with Dark Days: The Casting #1, the absence of Rebirth-launch-sized numbers meant the publisher joined Marvel as being behind for the year in North American orders, as measured by retail dollars. Marvel, which has been behind all year long, had accounted for all of the overall Direct Market shortfall in dollar terms up until June; now, with the market down $28.5 million for the year, Marvel represents only 70% of the drop. Marvel pared back its year-over-year losses some in July; while dollar orders were still off, they were off only half what they were in June.
Retailers ordered 6.95 million comic books in July, two and a half million copies fewer than last July, when the Rebirth comics were returnable. On the other hand, the year-to-date total remains at a competitive 53.05 million copies, off just 2.52%. And, yes, that figure includes a lot of 25¢ and free overship issues from early in the year, but on the other hand there's been no Loot Crate books to factor in so far.
Publishers also crammed a lot of new material into the comics shop channel, an event documented as it was happening by retailer Joe Field, who tweeted that shipments for the week of Comic-Con International had ballooned. We find that the number of new comics released in the month was up 7% over last July, and the number of new graphic novels released was up 13%. While the number of new items isn't that unusual in historical terms, retailers saw 45 more comics and 110 more new graphic novels over the last three months than they got in the corresponding months of 2016. Dollar sales for comics and graphic novels are off 12% in that period.
Monstress Vol. 2, were off only 8.33%; even with a loss, it was the strongest category in July.
Percentage change figures for graphic novel dollars and units suggest that very little deep discounting is going on at the publisher level, a method that has often made the market look more robust than it actually is. What we're seeing now, thusly, is not inflated by a bunch of hardcovers shipped nearly for free, but is close to the actual retail demand.
The overall Direct Market stands at $302.21 million, which is around where it was in 2014 at this time, before Star Wars returned to Marvel. It is also off 8.69% year to date, which (as you'll see in the graphic much further below) puts it at the lowest position it’s been at in the month of July relative to the previous year since we got the data necessary to calculate changes in overall comics and graphic novel sales in 2003 and 2004. That said, it’s relative: July’s orders were larger than they were five years ago — a really good year! — and 65% higher than the same month in 2003. That’s not all coming from inflation. More periodical comics have been ordered through July in 2017 than in the year to date for every year of this century up to and including 2014. It's also worth remembering that comics shops buy graphic novels from more vendors than just Diamond, so their overall picture may be different.
The charts follow, after which there are some thoughts about where we find ourselves at this point in the year:
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July 17th, 2017
The issue was a needed bright spot, in a month we first reported on Friday: after a calendar-assisted rebound in the month of May, Marvel finished the first half of 2017 off $17.8 million at full retail in the Direct Market versus its performance in the same period in 2016, accounting for 94% of the market's $19 million shortfall. Up until June, the market minus Marvel was still in positive territory for the year, but as the above figure suggests, it turned slightly negative.
Marvel's share of June's smaller month was large enough to boost its market share for all of 2017 by a third of a percentage point; look for our exclusive Year-to-Date market shares in the left column of our 2017 page, beside our aggregated Top 40 Comics for the year so far.
An important mark was crossed, for better or worse, in June: the average comic book offered in the Top 300 topped $4 for the first time, landing at $4.03 and setting a new record. Removing the Dark Knight III Master Race #9 Collector's Edition, at $12.99, subtracts only two cents from the total; the median cover price offered was $3.99. Previously, the weighted comics average — all Top 300 comics dollars divided by units — had crossed the $4 mark several times, only to return; the weighted average in June was actually the lower of the two measures, at $4.01.
Graphic novels, led by The Wicked & The Divine Vol. 5, were off considerably, although we don't note here nearly enough that Diamond isn't the only distributor comics shops order from; while, for example, we showed $405 million in graphic novels moving through book channel distributors in our annual 2016 report, a small portion of that was sold to comics shops, augmenting what retailers bought from Diamond.
(Update: Peter Parker #1 was in the Marvel Collector Corps box for the month; we don't know how many copies that kicked in, but it's likely far fewer than Loot Crate.)
The vitals for the month:
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