2022 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops

Of the three major distributors of comic books to comics shops at the outset of 2022 — Diamond Comic Distributors, Penguin Random House, and Lunar DIstribution — only Diamond released any sales data during the year. It reported sales in January, February, March, and April, before pausing monthly reports altogether. (Read more about how Direct Market comics sales reporting has changed over time.)

Thereafter, all that Diamond released were reorder charts. They are seen at the links further below and added as they're released each week. They're also aggregated on these pages for 2022 reorders and 2022 advance reorders. Follow @Comichron on Facebook and Twitter to get the alert when new charts are added.

An industrywide indicator that does remain is new release slate size. Publishers express their view of the state of the market in several ways, including the number of releases that they send to the shelves, as well as the formats of those releases.

The above chart looks at everything that Diamond said it shipped in the year, plus all DC items released by Lunar. Penguin Random House is not included, as most everything it releases is also sold by Diamond, its wholesaler; there are some PRH-exclusive items and ones which Diamond was not able to acquire, and the table is short by those items.

Before April 2020, the counts are based on the number of items Diamond said it released each month during the year; Diamond made the decisions about what comics were originals and which were variants, as well as what constituted a comic book and what would be classified as a graphic novel. Following the fragmenting of distribution, Comichron examined the actual shipping lists and sorted "main editions" from variants, as well as comics from graphic novels. The figures are necessarily rough approximations, because judgment calls are involved to keep things consistent with Diamond's previously published data. (Magazine-sized publications, like Mad, aren't counted; it was always classsed in the magazine category.)

In 2022, the number of different comic-book periodical releases sent to market increased by 7% over 2021, continuing the rebound from the pandemic-related shutdown of much of the industry in 2020. The number of new releases is still off 15% from 2019, but Image surpassed its total from that year, and Dynamite matched its 2019 number.

Across time, the market saw periodical releases peaking both in November, June, August, and March, all months that had five New Comic Book Days.

Marvel had a lull for new comic-book releases in spring, and DC had more in April. Image, meanwhile, had the same or more new releases than DC in both May and June. At least in terms of the number of new projects shipped to market in comic-book form, publishers appeared to continue to have faith in the format.

Indeed, both formats — comics and graphic novels — saw more new editions in release to comics shops during 2022. The number of different new graphic novels sent to market by Diamond and DC was up nearly 20%, and stood at nearly double the level from four years earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of variant editions of comic books continued to explode. Where there had been one additional variant for every release in 2018, by 2022 there were, on average, 2.4 variants for every release.

The caution in this chart is, again, that there may have been graphic novels that were not offered by Diamond or Lunar—and our definitions for what constitutes a new graphic novel may not match anyone else's. Diamond's offerings in 2022 in particular included many light novels and art books that were weeded out, as well as a variety of other books whose content could not be determined from their listings.

The variant count is more solid, and includes reprint editions where there's a new cover.

Should Diamond or anyone else release official data for 2022, we'll include it here. In the meantime, ICV2 did an annual report which found comics and graphic novel sales for the year around $2.16 million, an increase of 4% over 2021. Find the ICV2 report here.

— John Jackson Miller


Our industrywide analyses covering orders from Diamond Comic Distributors for individual months can be found below. Covers for later months depict some of the top advance-reordered books for each month: