January Comics Flashbacks: From Krypton to the War Zone

Top comics shop seller:
Justice League #5 (DC)
138,600 copies first month, at least 148,500 in 2012

January 2012 was the best January since 2008 for comics orders, thanks to the ongoing DC relaunch, which was in its fifth month.

Justice League #5
was the top seller, with nearly 138,600 copies sold in its first month;
another 6,100 copies of the Combo edition were sold. By the end of the
year, the total for the main edition was 148,500 copies.

The top-selling graphic novel was the Batman: Through the Looking Glass hardcover. It had initial orders of more than 6,400 copies; that would rise to 7,400 by the end of the year.

Click to read the original Comichron analysis for the month. And check out the sales
chart for the month here.

Top comics shop seller:
Civil War #6 (Marvel)
259,000 copies first month, at least 263,800 in 2007

There had been a number of strong winters in the mid 2000s, and January 2007 was part of one. Diamond’s sales overall increased by nearly a third — 32% year over
year, with the market posting its best January in dollar terms since 1997.

In addition to such events as Civil War — whose sixth issue would wind up being the 11th bestseller of the decade —and
strong year-over-year improvements for several titles, the calendar and
the climate played a role. January had five shipping weeks, versus
four in the previous year. And it actually may have had six, in a
sense, given the delays in shipping comics to the West Coast due to
inclement weather in the final week of 2006.

Click to read the original Comichron analysis for the month. The sales
chart for the month is here.

Top comics shop seller:
Wolverine: The Origin #6 (Marvel)
179,300 copies first month

The recovery started the previous year continued into January, with Wolverine: The Origin #6 wrapping up that series’ successful run. The issue would wind up being the 45th-place bestseller for the decade.

In Diamond’s original charts, however, a different title was #1: Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure #1, one of a number of stunt-pricing promotions, sold more than 700,000 copies. After Marvel tried the same thing with a nine-cent Fantastic Four, Diamond wisely excluded promotionally priced titles from its later charts. Comichron has always kept it off the chart, with an asterisk.

The sales
chart for the month is here.

Top comics shop seller:
X-Men Vol. 2, #62 (Marvel)
196,300 copies first month
Around 303,000 copies with newsstand and subscriptions

X-Men #62 was the top seller for what was a lackluster month. Previous Januaries had included major editorial events: The Age of Apocalypse had been published in the winter of 1995, while the big Marvel Versus DC crossover took place in the first quarter of 1996. January 1997 didn’t have as much to offer.

Top Cow returned to Image after a brief run as an independent, while Marvel began winding down its Heroes World Distribution firm.

The sales
chart for the month is here.

Top comics shop seller:
Punisher War Zone #1 (Marvel)
Likely more than 600,000 copies with newsstand and subscriptions

The comics market was continuing to heat up throughout the winter, with Marvel’s “Big Guns” promotion spinning off yet another Punisher title, the third. At a higher price of $2.25,  Punisher War Zone #1 easily was both the top dollar and unit title at both Diamond and Capital; Capital alone sold 175,000 copies.

This was also the month when Diamond revamped its Dialogue newsletter into a regular magazine, reporting sales figures in more detail than before. That meant including a trade paperback and graphic novel chart; the top seller this month was Marvel Universe Master Edition #16, which was priced at $4.50.

Top comics shop seller:
Uncanny X-Men #216 (Marvel)
267,300 copies sold to comics shops
430,800 copies sold overall

Preorders for January-shipping titles were found in the December issue of Capital City’s Internal Correspondence, where reports were slightly out of sync with the shipping schedule. Capital ranked Uncanny X-Men #216 at #1. Capital sold 56,800 copies out of the 267,300 copies that Marvel internal records report were shipped to the Direct Market. Another 113,000 copies went to the newsstand, with 430,800 copies sold overall once subscriptions and other markets were accounted for.

Marvel, which had just been sold by Cadence to New World, had a 48.3% market share at the end of 1986 at Capital. DC was at 26.8%.

Top seller:
Uncanny X-Men #156 (Marvel)
Around 313,000 copies sold monthly during year

The further back we go, the more we are into conjecture, as there were no indexed distributor sales charts before 1984. But we know from Statements of Ownership that Uncanny X-Men was by far the year’s bestseller, beating out second-place Amazing Spider-Man by more than 20%.

Top seller:
Amazing Spider-Man #167 (Marvel)
Around 282,000 copies sold monthly during year

Amazing Spider-Man had surpassed Superman to become the market’s top seller several years earlier; January’s issue, #167, probably had close to a 45,000-copy lead on Superman. Early days yet for the Direct Market; Amazing during this year would have also had its sales supplemented by simultaneous bagged-edition printings for Whitman.

 Top comics shop seller:
Superman #249 (DC)
Around 318,000 copies sold montlhy during year

Spider-Man was chasing Superman down in this era, but DC’s flagship title still had a lead of about 30,000 copies per issue.

The series by now was monthly after many years with two skip months, which you’ll see something that impacts what months it was leading as we project backwards.

Top comics shop seller:
Batman #190 (DC)
Around 805,000 copies sold montlhy during year

January 1967 was one of those months with no Superman issue — but it wouldn’t have mattered in 1967, when the ABC TV show had made Batman the top seller all the way.

Click to see our partial charts for the year.

Top comics shop seller:
Superboy #95 (DC)
 round 605,000 copies with newsstand and subscriptions

There was no Superman issue released in January in 1962 either, so the top seller honors would likely have gone to Superboy #95. The next Superboy #95 would be published almost 40 years later.

Click to see our partial charts for the year.

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