August 2010 Flashbacks: Comic top-sellers from the past

Following the report on comics orders for August 2010, here’s a look back at what was going on in previous years…
August 2009‘s top seller was DC’s Blackest Night #2, with first-month orders of 145,600 copies. By the end of the year, it would have orders of more than 161,400, making it the fifth-best-selling comic book of 2009  Check out the detailed analysis of the month’s sales here — and sales chart here.

August 2005‘s top-seller was DC’s Justice #1, with Diamond first-month orders of more than 190,400 copies. Final orders including reorders brought the issue to 223,900 copies, making it the 14th best-selling comic book of the 2000s. (See the whole list here.) DC published six of the top ten titles in the month. Check out the sales chart for August 2005 here.

August 2000‘s top-seller was Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #385, with Diamond preorders of 109,800 copies; it didn’t make the Top 300 list for the decade. Marvel had gotten a lot of attention from the X-Men movie a couple of months earlier. Preorders for comic books were off, but trade paperbacks and hardcovers were incredibly robust – by dollars, the strongest since the release of the Crisis on Infinite Earths hardcover back in 1998. Check out the sales chart here.

August 1995‘s top seller at Diamond Comic Distributors and Canada’s Multi-Book and Periodical, Spawn #35, almost certainly wasn’t the top-seller in the industry. Again, Marvel had stopped distributing its comics through all other distributors but Heroes World Distribution beginning with July, and Heroes World’s sales are not publicly known before September 1996. This was the last month that Capital City Distribution had DC comics — and while it didn’t have Marvels either, it polled its accounts to see what quantities of Marvels they were selling. Thus, Capital’s sales chart this month reflected its actual sales of DC and other publishers — and estimates of where Marvels would rank. Capital’s reports put Marvel’s Wolverine #93 in first place, projecting Spawn in fifth. Known average annual sales for Wolverine that year were at nearly 335,000 copies.

Capital also tried to estimate what the dollar shares were for the business based on its reports from retailers: they found Marvel with a 39% market share, versus 15% for DC and 14% for Image. It was only the second month for Marvel to self-distribute, and growing pains were already in evidence. “Is it possible,” asked Gerry Mattson of Comic Encounters in British Columbia, “to actually order from Heroes World without waiting on hold for two hours?” It would become an often-repeated refrain as 1995 turned to 1996.

Diamond’s top trade paperback was the Star Wars: Dark Empire II collection from Dark Horse. The average price of comics in Diamond’s Top 300 was $2.50, and the average comic book ordered within Diamond’s Top 300 cost $2.54. The most common cost of comics was $2.50.

August 1990‘s top seller at Diamond and Capital City was Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #3. Marvel sold 756,600 copies of the issue through all channels, including 98,300 copies on the newsstand and 642,000 copies in the Direct Market (including 151,900 through Capital). It’s almost certainly the best performance ever for a comic book with an upside-down logo!

August 1985‘s top seller at Capital City was Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #200, breaking the chain of Secret Wars II wins. Overall, Marvel sold 410,300 copies of the anniversary issue through all channels, including 127,200 copies through the newsstand and 237,300 copies through the Direct Market (including 57,000 copies through Capital). The month’s biggest moneymaker, however, was probably the $1.50 X-Men/Alpha Flight #2.
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