They’re back — to a degree, anyway! This afternoon, Diamond Comics Distributors has released its first monthly comics Top Ten charts since March 2020, when the industry shut down due the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s also the first monthly Top 10 since DC Comics withdrew from Diamond at the end of June. Venom #27 by Donny Cates was the top-selling comic book Diamond shipped, with Cates’ Thor #6 in second in an Top 10 list that’s all Marvel. And Venom #25, a comic book from back in May, repeated in the Top 10.
As you may have seen, we’ve made our own interim projections for Diamond and for the two distributors DC uses, Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, going back to April 2020, covering the period of Diamond’s shutdown. They then progress through May and June to July 2020, the month after the DC/Diamond divorce finalized. Both sets of projections for August have been done here for a while, but on seeing the new release volume at Diamond during the month, we held off on posting on the chance that this might be the month that Diamond’s charts returned. And indeed, here it is, on the last day of September.
A couple of notes before diving in. First, on scheduling: while Diamond made no announcement that there would be full charts to come, we think it’s likely enough that we’re going to operate under that assumption. As noted, our DC charts are ready, and we’ll follow with them tomorrow; the timing of merged charts will depend on what else comes from Diamond and when. (It’s a very safe bet that Batman: Three Jokers #1 beat everything else in August, but the other parts of the charts may hold more suspense.)
Second, to temper expectations: Diamond did not release its usual comparative industrywide statistics and market shares. For reasons described in greater detail here, charting in the days of coronavirus is difficult, with impacts tracking for several categories. Cross-time comparisons are less useful given the smaller number of comics in release from several publishers: Marvel, at 65 new comics in August, is finally nearing three-quarters of its slate size from recent years, but it still has a ways to go.
(That said, Diamond reported sales were continuing their post-spring recovery. “We’re very encouraged by the strong performance we saw in many titles this month,” said Tim Lenaghan, chief purchasing officer of Geppi Family Enterprises, the parent company of Diamond, of August’s sales. “The market continues to rebound, and in many cases, we’re seeing new series debut from many of our publishers that are outperforming what we saw in the first quarter. Similarly, issues of established series are seeing increases in subsequent issues as well, and we believe this bodes well for the strength of the industry in third and fourth quarter.”)
Further compounding reporting issues is the fact that there’s a colossal number of returnable comics; Image Comics just recently advised Diamond shops that its comics would be returnable indefinitely. (“We’re in it as long as it takes, and it may take longer than just the end of the year for everyone to recover from the lasting repercussions” of the year’s events, said Eric Stephenson, chief creative officer and publisher at Image.)
So several factors make cross-time comparisons and market shares much less useful and reliable. Nonreturnable charts assume comics bought by retailers stay bought; in the current environment, that’s not guaranteed. So while we’ll be able to generate our own charts based on our projections for new comics orders, readers who care only about the horse race will need to wait until normalcy returns.
With all that in mind, let’s look at what was released. Here’s Diamond’s top-selling comic book list by units, as well as the top titles from several other publishers, which Diamond announced in its press release. Note, as mentioned above, that one of the comics, Venom #25, was projected by Comichron as the top-selling comic book for the month of May; it’s gone through many reprintings, as can be seen on our new page recording all the second- and later-printings from 2020. Later printings of a comic book charting in the Top 10 is incredibly rare — the Obama Spider-Man issue set the standard in February 2009, recurring in first place — and it demonstrates that while Diamond and Marvel resumed shipping at the end of May, it’s taken a lot longer to connect interested customers with copies.
|TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)||PRICE||ON SALE||PUBLISHER|
|5||Amazing Spider-Man #47||$3.99||8/26/20||Marvel|
|7||Amazing Spider-Man #46||$3.99||8/12/20||Marvel|
|11||Horizon: Zero Dawn||$3.99||8/5/20||Titan|
|46||Seven Secrets #1||$3.99||8/12/20||Boom|
|65||Locke & Key: In Pale Battalions Go #1||$3.99||8/26/20||IDW|
Note that we’ve added the on-sale dates, which helps in spotting older books like Venom #25.
And now here’s Diamond’s top-selling comic books by dollars retailers paid:
|TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|4||Amazing Spider-Man #47||$3.99||Marvel|
|6||Amazing Spider-Man #46||$3.99||Marvel|
The following are Diamond’s top-selling graphic novels by units. It’s worth noting right away that Marvel did a major sale of backlist graphic novels, boosting many titles; Gideon Falls Vol. 4 is the top graphic novel on the chart that’s actually from 2020:
|TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|1||Deadpool Classic Vol. 1||$29.99||Marvel|
|2||Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 0: Don’t Call It A Team Up||$34.99||Marvel|
|3||Inhumans by Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee||$34.99||Marvel|
|4||Gideon Falls Vol. 4||$16.99||Image|
|5||House of X/Powers of X||$44.99||Marvel|
|6||Deadpool Vs. Carnage||$16.99||Marvel|
|8||Return of the Living Deadpool||$16.99||Marvel|
|9||Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 1: Revival||$17.99||Marvel|
And next up is Diamond’s top-selling graphic novels by dollars retailers paid:
|TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)||PRICE||PUBLISHER|
|1||House Of X/Powers Of X||$44.99||Marvel|
|2||Solomon Kane: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus HC||$100.00||Marvel|
|3||Conan The Barbarian: The Original Marvel Years Omnibus Volume 1 HC||$125.00||Marvel|
|4||Cruel Summer HC||$34.99||Image|
|5||Marvel Masterworks: Fantastic Four Vol. 22 HC||$75.00||Marvel|
|6||Steranko Is Revolutionary King-Size HC||$125.00||Marvel|
|7||X-Men Epic Collection: Proteus TP||$39.99||Marvel|
|8||Uncanny X-Force By Remender Omnibus HC||$100.00||Marvel|
|10||World Of Cyberpunk 2077 HC||$39.99||Dark Horse|
Finally, Diamond released a chart reporting the number of releases. This generally matches our unofficial tally when it comes to comics that appeared in the distributors’ weekly shipping lists. (The graphic novel counts differ by more, but that’s due to how Diamond counts what constitutes a first-time appearance in its charts.)
|Publisher||Comics shipped||Graphic Novels shipped||Magazines||Total shipped|
Note that in August 2019, which likewise had four shipping weeks, Diamond’s new release total for comics was 431 issues, while it shipped 328 graphic novels. So new comics slates are growing, but still at around 70% of last year’s sizes (82%, once you remove DC from the mix).
As noted, DC for August is next for us here — and whatever else Diamond has in store. Stay tuned!
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.
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