The 2018 Two Thousand: A look at the 1,000 top-selling comics and graphic novels ordered by comic shops

With the release of 2018 end-of-year comics orders from Diamond Comic Distributors, Comichron has drawn upon that information to project estimates for the Top Thousand Comics and the Top Thousand Graphic Novels for 2018. The tables are on the page just beneath the image links to individual months.

This year’s charts have our sorting and searching features implemented, as now do our previous 27 years of annual charts, going back to 1991. You can find the links to them, along with updated comparatives for how the market as a whole did across that time, by viewing our Yearly Comics Sales page.

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Led by Action Comics #1000, the Top Thousand Comics
accounted for around 50.43 million copies; we don’t yet know how many copies Diamond sold altogether. (We’ll see that when the December data comes out.) This is an increase of 1.5% in units over what the Top Thousand sold in 2017.

Here are the totals for the Top Thousand Comics from the past few years. Diamond did not release figures for 2016, but we calculated minimum values for the Top Thousand based on known orders and reorders from that year:

2010: 45.3 million copies
2011: 47 million copies
2012: 53.43 million copies
2013: 52.21 million copies
2014: 52.07 million copies
2015: 58.59 million copies
2016: 59.8 million (minimum, probably slightly higher)
2017: 49.68 million copies
2018: 50.43 million copies

As you can see, 2018’s figure comes in under 2012’s — but we know that Diamond sold more comics in 2017 than in 2012, so it may have done so in 2018, too. This is a consequence of the Top Thousand representing a smaller portion of the distributor’s volume. In full retail
dollars, the Top Thousand Comics likely sold for $213.3 million, a big 11% leap over 2017’s $190.6 million. That’s a consequence of the top sellers being so much more expensive; $8 and $10 were not impediments to sales, in many cases.

Almost everything in the Top 100 had “multiple order codes” at Diamond,
meaning there were variant covers or reprints combined into one entry;
sometimes it’s not a simultaneous variant, but rather a reprint with a different cover.

Breaking down unit sales — and again employing our estimated minimums for 2016 — we see a rebound in the higher tiers in 2018, but declines in the midrange and lower-tier sellers, in part a consequence of so many fewer comics (not variants, but unique interiors) being released in the year. The first chart shows what’s in each bracket; the second is a cumulative measure:

NUMBER OF COMIC BOOK ISSUES SELLING THIS MANY COPIES DURING YEAR



200,000+ 100,000+ 75k-100k 50k-75k 25k-50k 10k-25k
2009 2 39 80 260
2010 0 26 68 209 652
2011 3 42 44 257 641
2012 5 63 66 274 697 1150
2013 6 64 114 212 738 1302
2014 4 36 68 293 794 1158
2015 21 74 72 200 799 1114
2016* 11 83 111 261 n.a. n.a.
2017 3 46 50 233 834 1200
2018 11 44 77 179 763 1104
NUMBER OF COMIC BOOK ISSUES SELLING
AT LEAST THIS MANY COPIES DURING YEAR
200,000+ 100,000+ 75,000+ 50,000+ 25,000+ 10,000+
2009 2 39 119 379 n.a.
2010 0 26 94 303 955
2011 3 42 86 343 984
2012 5 63 129 403 1100 2250
2013 6 64 178 390 1128 2430
2014 4 40 108 401 1195 2353
2015 21 95 167 367 1166 2280
2016* 11 94 205 466 n.a. n.a.
2017 3 49 99 332 1166 2366
2018 11 55 132 311 1074 2178

2018 actually wound up better than 2014 when it came to the number of comics moving more than 100,000 copies. But the number selling between 50,000 and 75,000 copies is the lowest it’s been this decade.

(Update: I was asked about variants. Fully 870 of the 1,000 bestselling issues in 2018 had multiple covers; 464 of the top 500, and 97 out of the top 100. That’s 87%, 93%, and 97%. It’s not localized to any one publisher; every single one with issues in the Top 1000 had some with variants. In 2018, it was standard.)

Every year we also add a number of items to the Top Comics of the Decade and the Top Comics of the Century (So Far, in each case) lists. A large number of new entrants, this time: The year 2018 added 21 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 2010s, with Action #1000 placing fifth, behind 2015’s Star Wars #1, 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man #1, 2015’s Secret Wars #1, and 2009’s Amazing Spider-Man #583. It also added 34 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 21st Century, with Action #1000 placing fourth.

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The
Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Infinity Gauntlet, went for $58.2 million. This is a major 20% drop from 2017’s $73.19 million.

2011: $58.4 million
2012: $71.4 million
2013: $79.03 million
2014: $81.19 million
2015: $81.46 million
2016: $69.48 million (minimum, likely a good deal higher)
2017: $73.19 million
2018: $58.2 million

That brings the year down just below what it was in 2011. Accounting for the difference: a lot of money was tied up in comics this year, which beat their 2017 performance, and the Walking Dead factor appears to have faded from what it was in previous years. It’s also likely many of the graphic novels are still being sold to retailers, just not necessarily by Diamond.

Overall graphic novel sales were reported by Diamond to be down only 6.6%, which tells us that the long tail is where more of the business is being done. It’s just that the bestsellers of 2018 weren’t as popular; more of the sales went to a wider variety of books.

Combined,
the Top
Thousand Comics and Top Thousand Graphic Novel lists account for more than half of all the orders by dollars Diamond received for print products in
2018, a slight increase.

Who published the Top Thousand Comics this year? Here’s the breakdown:

Marvel: 535 (+33)
DC: 399 (-60)
Image: 52 (+23)
Boom: 3 (+3)
Dark Horse: 3 (unchanged)
IDW: 3 (+1)

Valiant: 2 (-1)
Archie: 1 (+1)
Dynamite: 1 (unchanged)

Oni: 1 (+1)



DC, which published many fewer comics in 2018, saw the biggest drop, with gains to Marvel and Image. Titan dropped out of the list.
And here’s the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels. Those with 10 or more entries:
Marvel: 312 (+8)

DC: 277 (-29)

Image: 190 (+2)
 Viz: 58 (+17)
Dark Horse: 50 (unchanged)

Boom: 30 (+8)

IDW: 14 (-4)

Oni: 14 (unchanged)
Big move for Viz, moving into fourth, with Marvel passing DC.
So that’s the year that was. December data will be on the way later.

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