The 2019 Two Thousand: A look at the 1,000 top-selling comics and graphic novels ordered by comics shops

With the release of the December sales charts 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 2019. 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 28 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 Detective 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
2019: 49.88 million copies

As you can see, 2019’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 2019, 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 $225.54 million, a 6% jump over the previous year, when the 2018’s Top 1000 sold for $213.3 million. That total was itself a big 11% leap over 2017’s $190.6 million, so the trend is continuing: the top sellers are more expensive, and $8 and $10 price tags are not seemingly impediments to big sales.

Almost everything in the Top 1000 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 little movement in the higher tiers in 2019, but significant declines in the 25,000 to 50,000 tier; that’s likely a response to smaller slates from DC and Image, as well as the fact that DC’s cardstock program broke up many of its midrange sellers into multiple entries in Diamond’s Top Thousand chart.

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
2019 8 47 71 192 686 1272
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
2019
8
55
126
318
1004
2276

Every year we also add a number of items to our lists for the Top Comics of the Decade and the Top Comics of the Century (…So Far, in the latter case). The final year of the decade added a large number of new entrants, 33, to the Top 300. That’s one more than the previous year, and the fourth most all decade.

The decade’s bestsellers break down by year as follows:

2010: 8
2011: 23
2012: 40
2013: 27
2014: 15
2015: 55
2016: 44
2017: 24
2018: 32
2019: 33

Detective Comics #1000 was the big one, of course, placing second in both the decade and century behind 2015’s Star Wars #1. The best performance by another comic was Spawn #300, which landed at 34th in the decade and 42nd in the century.

2019 overall added 17 comics to the 300 bestselling comics of the 21st Century.

The Top Thousand Graphic Novels, led by Watchmen (for the third time in the last 30 years!) went for $58.2 million. This is a small drop from 2018’s total, less than half a percent. It’s a far cry from 2018’s major 20% drop.

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
2019: $57.94 million

Accounting for the difference once again this year: a lot of money was tied up in comics, and the Walking Dead factor appears to have faded from what it was in previous years. It’s also more the case that retailers today are buying graphic novels from more sources than Diamond.

Overall graphic novel sales were reported by Diamond to be down 2.1%, so the Top Thousand fared relatively better than the long tail.

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 2019.

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

Marvel: 597 (+62)
DC: 351 (-48)
Image: 27 (-25)
Boom: 8 (+5)
Dynamite: 6 (+5)
IDW: 6 (+3)

Dark Horse: 3 (unchanged)
Valiant: 1 (-1)
Archie: 1 (unchanged)

 
DC‘s line cutbacks in the first half of the year impacted it, as did the fact that its cardstock cover program meant many of its titles were broken up into multiple entries. Image published many fewer comics in 2019 and saw a significant, with gains to Marvel and Boom. Dynamite owed four of its newly gained spots to Vampirella. Oni dropped out of the list.
And here’s the publisher breakdown of the Top Thousand Graphic Novels. Those with 10 or more entries:
Marvel: 292 (-20)

DC: 248 (-29)

Image: 199 (+9)
 Viz: 79 (+21)
Dark Horse: 70 (+20)

Boom: 23 (+7)

IDW: 18 (+4)

Oni/Lion Forge: 13 (-1)
Another big move this year for Viz — and a significant one as well for Dark Horse. Marvel lost entries but stayed ahead of DC, which lost 29 entries for the second year in a row.
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