Led by Doomsday Clock #12 and the House of X/Powers of X hardcover, comics shop orders of comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors closed 2019 out strongly, up 9.2% year-over-year in dollars in December. That’s a better-than-expected total, due to a revision Diamond’s made since its end-of-year report came out last Friday. (The distributor’s December report, showing the new 2019 percentage change total, is here.)
When Diamond released its Top 500 Comics and Top 500 Graphic Novels lists earlier in the week (see our estimates for their sales here), that provided us with a partial list for December — 37 comic books released in the month made the overall charts. We temporarily posted those on our December 2019 page (where the final estimates will appear next week), but we also spotted that something was a bit amiss with a handful of those entries, as their dollar sales rankings in the overall 2019 chart suggested they hadn’t made any money.
That obviously wasn’t the case, and neither was there likely to have been any secret overship; rather, the fact that all the impacted books were Christmas Day releases points to an accounting issue. If those Christmas Day comics — including Venom #21, Incoming #1, Dr. Strange #1, and Spider-Ham #1 had their dollar earnings attributed to January 2020 rather than December 2019, where their units were rightfully counted, that would cover the difference in the percentage change statistics.
Diamond appears to have caught that in compiling its December charts. The units didn’t change in the end-of-year statistics. It meant the addition of about one and a half million dollars to 2019’s total sales overall, boosting the year-to-year increase from 2.23% to 2.54%. (End-of-year dollar market shares would also theoretically be impacted, although very slightly.)
To be clear, these aren’t comics that went on sale Jan. 1 that would have been affected — they’re December books, so nothing is being borrowed from 2020. And nothing else from the 2019 unit sales charts would be likely to change in this scenario: just the dollar rankings. This means that we’re able to provide, below, unit sales with the Top 10 when it comes to the comics. (And the rest of the Top 37 are, again, here, to be joined next week by the rest of the month.)
(EDIT: Shortly after this post, Diamond confirmed the above undercounts of invoiced dollars during the skip weeks, and issued revised end-of-year Top Sellers and Market Shares — which, as expected, only added the missing dollar rankings and fractions of percentage points, mostly to Marvel. You can see the revised 2019 charts with our estimates here.)
The percentage changes from December, with the new, revised totals year-to-year:
|December 2019 Vs. November 2019|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||-3.00%||-2.48%|
|December 2019 Vs. December 2018|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||+9.20%||+5.21%|
|Year 2019 Vs. Year 2018|
|Total Comics/Graphic Novels||+2.54%||-1.44%|
The market shares for December:
|Publisher||Dollar Share||Unit Share|
The top-selling comic books by units, with our estimates known from the 2019 Top 500:
|TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)||PRICE||PUBLISHER||UNITS|
|1||Doomsday Clock #12||5.99||DC||117,926|
|3||Batman: Last Knight On Earth #3||$5.99||DC||90,058|
|4||Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1||$5.99||DC||88,794|
|6||Harley Quinn: Villain Of The Year #1||$4.99||DC||73,146|
|7||Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1||$4.99||Marvel||71,341|
|9||Amazing Spider-Man #35||$3.99||Marvel||67,111|
The top-selling comic books by dollars:
|TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|1||Doomsday Clock #12||5.99||DC|
|3||Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3||$5.99||DC|
|4||Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child #1||$5.99||DC|
|5||Harley Quinn: Villain of the Year #1||$4.99||DC|
|6||Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100||$7.99||IDW|
|9||Symbiote Spider-Man: Alien Reality #1||$4.99||Marvel|
The top-selling graphic novels by units are here. We know from the yearly chart that House of X/Powers of X‘s sale was more than 10,000 copies; Watchmen‘s performance was enough to vault it into first place for the year.
|TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|1||House of X/Powers of X HC||$60.00||Marvel|
|2||Batman Vol 11 The Fall And The Fallen||$17.99||DC|
|4||Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition||$29.99||Marvel|
|5||Black Hammer Vol. 4 Age Of Doom Part II||$19.99||Dark Horse|
|6||Boys Omnibus Vol. 6||$29.99||Dynamite|
|7||Green Lantern Vol. 1 Intergalactic Lawman||$17.99||DC|
|8||Daredevil By Chip Zdarsky Vol. 2 No Devils Only God||$15.99||Marvel|
|9||My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies||$12.99||Image|
|10||Star Wars Doctor Aphra Vol. 6 Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon||$15.99||Marvel|
The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:
|TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|1||House of X/Powers of X HC||$60.00||Marvel|
|2||Annihilation Omnibus HC||$125.00||Marvel|
|3||Y The Last Man Omnibus HC||$150.00||DC|
|4||Injustice Gods Among Us Omnibus HC Vol. 01||$125.00||DC|
|5||Absolute Dark Knight III The Master Race HC||$125.00||DC|
|6||Animal Man By Jeff Lemire Omnibus HC||$99.99||DC|
|7||Silver Surfer Black Treasury Edition||$29.99||Marvel|
|8||Marvel Masterworks Fantastic Four HC Vol. 21||$75.00||Marvel|
|10||Boys Omnibus Vol. 6||$29.99||Dynamite|
And, finally, here’s what shipped in December:
The above completes the picture of comics released in 2019. As we can see below, the number of new comics released was down slightly, largely due to reduced lines from DC and Image; DC’s cutbacks are camouflaged by the fact that Diamond counts comics at different price tags as separate releases. Around 90 cardstock books fit that description. Variants with the same cover price are not counted separately.
Here’s the same chart, only with graphic novels:
Look for the full December charts here next week.
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his latest release, Star Trek: Discovery – Die Standing. Read more about them at his fiction site.
Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!