Three Januaries and a September

Not an unseen Sandman tale, but four new (old) months added to the site: September 1996, January 2000, January 2001, and January 2002.

September is interesting as it’s got the oldest year-to-year comparatives available on the site; they’re off quite a lot, as we’re comparing the end of “Heroes Reborn” with its beginning. The Januaries really are the story of coming back from the brink of despair — exceptionally dead “dead-quarter” numbers transforming, by January 2002, into something much better, with Wolverine: The Origin and The Dark Knight Strikes Again leading the market.

We’re past the two-thirds mark on posting Diamond-era figures now; the bulk remaining are months from 2000-2002. One of the reasons these months were last to be posted, incidentally, can be seen in January 2002: The market leader on Diamond’s chart was actually Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure, with its 700,000 copies for (as you’d expect) a dime apiece. The issue was a big part of a wave of low-cost promotional comics in that era — and at the time, Diamond was still ranking them with everything else. That spring’s first Free Comic Book Day found the free comics ordered in the Diamond tables!

Mathematically, free comics, nine-cent Fantastic Fours and the like had the effect of distorting the top-sellers list, the market shares drawn from them, and overall aggregate sales figures. So The Comics Chronicles is revising earlier tables with these comics as they’re posted, segregating (but still recording) unit sales of promotional comics when Diamond reported them. The unit sales are not counted toward the parent publishers’ Top 300 market shares, but the dollar sales are: in the case of that Batman, we’re looking at $70,000, which would put it in the Top 300 dollar items for sure. This will also mean some revisions to comparatives in later years (when we can get to them) and another look at the average cover price calculations for these months.

Later on, Diamond also segregated the freebies and promo comics below a certain price from the lists; usually nothing below 99 cents appeared. These days, there are bundles of promotional comics with net pricing on the lists now and again — but the bundles make it less likely that the individual copies will distort the unit count.

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