More than 146,400 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 July 2017!
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 $41 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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July 14th, 2017
the biggest month in comics in 20+ years, thanks to Rebirth and Civil War II — and the fifth week giveth, the fifth week taketh away. Pick your explanation, but the totals were very definitely down in June 2017, according to a report issued this morning by Diamond Comic Distributors. Comichron's analysis puts comic shop orders of comic books, graphic novels, and magazines at $46.09 million in the four-week month, down considerably from last year's record $58.59 million in a month with one additional shipping week. The comparative was always going to be extremely hard to beat, which is why we warned you about it early.
The news isn't all dire, so let's hit the brighter spots first: Under the hood, if you divide sales by the number of weeks in the month, the individual weeks in June were the strongest all year to date. That $46.09 million divides to $11.52 million per shipping week, the highest total since October. The second quarter beat the first quarter this year by 7.84% — as it should in any kind of normal situation — and 2017's new comics units so far, though infused with overship and 25-cent Image copies, are up from the year-to-date last year by 2.56%.
(Update: Looking more closely, just three issues last June — Civil War II #1, Batman #1, and Batman Rebirth #1 — accounted for $3.72 million, or nearly a third of the margin last June had over this June. Blockbusters still matter — or at least, the absence of them does.)
The big laggard this year continues to be graphic novels, possibly in part a reflection of a weaker fall and winter last year for new releases, since now is when those comics are being collected. There may also be a dynamic of retailers keeping their powder dry, as July has a heavy release slate coming. Flying Colors' Joe Field tweeted yesterday about the challenges involved with ordering for July.
The aggregate sales:
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July 12th, 2017
“It’s gratifying to see continued growth in the audience for graphic novels,” Griepp said. “This represents growth in the broadest part of the market, where increased variety of content is being found by new audiences for comics, including kids and women.”
“Marvel’s lucrative relaunch of the Star Wars line in 2015 set a high mark for the comics shop market to beat in 2016,” Miller said. “The fact that it pulled even, thanks in part to DC’s ‘Rebirth’ event, was remarkable—and the book channel’s strength was even more so.”
Graphic novels in the book channel were the only area of growth in 2016, as sales in comic stores, through download-to-own digital channels, and in newsstands remained flat. Sales of graphic novels through the book channel grew 16% to $405 million in 2016, after growing 23% in 2015 and 16% in 2014.
As presented above and in the accompanying infographics, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription or “all you can read” services.
This is the fourth joint market size analysis from ICv2 and Comichron; the first three were for 2013, 2014, and 2015 sales. ICV2 and Comichron also previously collaborated on revised estimates for 2011 and 2012.
www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.
www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence. For the people on the front lines of the geek culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance-it's a basic necessity for being successful. That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines. ICv2 is where trend-watching is a science.
Infographics designed by Kate Willaert.