August 2005: Justice powers market to 18% gain

by John Jackson Miller

Powered by a strong launch for Justice by Alex Ross, the August comics market posted solid double-digit gains over the same month in 2004, according to my analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on Sept. 16.

August shows it doesn’t take a comic book topping 200,000 copies for the market to wind up ahead. While there wasn’t an All-Star
brightening the scene, the large number of offerings from the five
largest periodical publishers combined to put this August ahead by low
double digits over last August. Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW
combined to take 246 spots — meaning last place in the Diamond Top 300
was around 2,100 copies, higher than we’ve seen it in a while.

Combined sales of comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines by Diamond are estimated to be $32.6 million, up 18% over last August. See the full list of August 2005 comics estimates here.

Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had
retailer orders of 7.13 million copies in August, 12% more than August
2004, which had one less shipping week.

August was the second five-week month in three months,
a quirk of the calendar that’s provided this summer with an additional
week of sales. While some contend that publishers spread their monthly
offerings out such that the number of shipping weeks don’t matter,
obviously when it comes to late product, five-week months have a 25%
better chance of catching sales for products not originally scheduled
for them.

Two issues each of New Avengers and Green Lantern helped power the strong month.

The highest (and only) debut publisher in the Top 300 was Red Eagle. Its Robert Jordan’s New Spring placed 215th, with approximately 5,500 copies sold.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each
month have sold a combined 50.23 million copies, an increase of 4% over
the same period in the previous year.

Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $20.83 million in August, 14% more than August 2004.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics from each
month have sold a combined $144.78 million, an increase of 5% over the
same period in the previous year.

Trade paperbacks : The Top 100 trade paperbacks and
graphic novels reported by Diamond had orders worth $3.66 million at
full retail in August. Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month
yields $24.5 million, an increase of 11% over August 2004.

For the first eight months of 2005, the Top 300 comics and the Top
100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $174.39 million,
an increase of 7% over the same period in 2004.

Overall sales: The August 2005 total was $32.58 million, which increases to $36.03
million, when Diamond’s United Kingdom orders are added. The U.S. figure
is a whopping 18% over that for August 2005. Overall, in the last eight
months the U.S. industry stands at $230 million, up 9% over the same
period in 2004.

Market shares: Marvel led both unit and dollar
categories in Diamond’s reported overall unit and dollar market shares,
but each had well over a third of the market to themselves. DC had 97
comics in the Top 300 versus Marvel’s 85. Image, with 37 titles in the
Top 300, posted one of its better months in a while — though Dark Horse
still surpassed it in the overall categories. 

Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond’s Top 300 list cost $3.17, unchanged from the same month in 2004.

The weighted average price — that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold was $2.92, up from $2.75 last year.

The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.82, up from $2.57 last in August 2004.

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