Comics Sales Continue Year-to-Year Decline
Retailers Continue to Buy Batman/Events/Gimmick Covers
I look at the sales every month and for a while now it seems like it’s just “more of the same” every month. September 2017 vs. 2016 sales dropped by a few percentage points (same as we’ve been seeing). Cumulative 2017 vs 2016 continued down. I’m not trying to preach doom and gloom, but sales are not stellar, and I wonder if it has anything to do with what is at the “top” of the sales charts every single month.
Fans love Batman, so DC churns out Batman content. We get it. 4 of the top 10 are Batman books, add in Harley Quinn’s 25th Anniversary Special (who is from the “Batman Family”) and we have 5 of the top 10 . Fans SAY they don’t like events, but comic retailers buy the heck of of them. Are these event comics all sitting on the shelves or selling though? It’s some of both. When I go to comic shops fans are taking the event books home, but there are still plenty left on the racks. This month the top 3 books are all events:
- Marvel Legacy #1 – Not surprising this was #1. Marvel pulled out all the stops and there were marketing and retailer incentives to almost guarantee this would sell big, at least to comic shops. There were multiple covers, including a really lame(in my opinion) “lenticular” cover that lacked both depth and shifting image that the more stunning example of this gimmick generally offer. My local shop gave a copy of Legacy #1 away to every customer with a pull list, so there was something going on that put a lot of copies in their hands.
- Dark Nights Metal #2 – Another book that was a triple threat. It has Batman. It’s an event. It had multiple covers, including a shiny/foil main cover that really popped on the stands. People are buying this, but I’m still seeing plenty of copies on the rack.
- Venomverse #1 – Marvel’s “we’re not doing events for a while” pseudo-event. Not an official event book, but it is one of Marvel’s mini sort-of event contained within a family of titles (in this case the Spider-Man family, that seems to be running these things one after another until fans stop buying them) and also featuring fan favorite Venom.
So, 5 Batman books, 3 events, and the final 2 of the Top 10 rounded out with Walking Dead #171 (at spot 7) and the lenticular cover of Action Comics #987 at spot 10.
DC has been using these lenticular variants as the latest gimmick to juice up sales on crossover stories leading up to the Doomsday Clock event at the end of the year. Previously we had a 4-part “The Button” crossover between Batman & The Flash whose lenticular covers made the Top 10. Now we have a 4-part crossover between Action Comics and Superman with “The Oz Effect” where the mysterious “Mr. Oz” character who has been teased since the DC Rebirth one-shot is revealed. I think there’s at least a 50% chance that the character revealed in the 1st part of this is a red herring and it will ultimately turn out that it is not REALLY that character after all, but that is beside the point, these lenticular covers are selling. At least to retailers. Months later and I’m still seeing some of the lenticular Batman & Flash covers on racks at shops.
Overall Marvel came out as #1 again, but that’s hardly surprising: They shipped 130 items to DC’s 111 and have a higher average cover price. I’m waiting for the bubble to burst… The overall downward sales trend needs to be slowed or reversed and I don’t think that is going to happen from the continued short-term sales gains strategy of cranking out lots of Batman/events/gimmick covers.
– Bob Bretall (email@example.com)
Diamond’s Press Release:
(BALTIMORE, MD) — (October 6, 2017) — While an ancient secret is uncovered in South Africa, the Avengers battle Frost Giants in a secret government facility and an adamantium statue in Canada breaks open in Marvel Comics’ Marvel Legacy #1, the launch of the publisher’s new direction by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, and an all-star line-up of artists, and the best-selling comic book of September 2017 according to information provided by Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop culture merchandise.
Marvel Comics was September’s top publisher with a 37.97% dollar share and a 38.13% unit share. DC Entertainment was second with a 30.21% dollar share and a 36.68% unit share. In third was Image Comics with a 9.55% dollar share and a 8.81% unit share. In fourth was IDW Publishing with a 4.30% dollar share and a 3.67% unit share, followed by Dark Horse Comics with a 2.44% dollar share and a 1.70% unit share.
Marvel Comics had two titles in the top ten; in addition to Marvel Legacy #1, Cullen Bunn and Iban Coello’s Venomverse #1 ranked #3. DC Entertainment had seven titles in September’s top ten, led by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Dark Nights: Metal #2. Also in the top ten from DC, Tom King and Clay Mann’s Batman #30 ranked #4; King and Mikel Janin’s Batman #31 ranked #5; the Harley Quinn 25th-Anniversary Special from an all-star roster of writers and artists ranked #6; Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s Batman: The Red Death #1, a Metal tie-in, ranked #8; Frank Tieri and Ricardo Federici’s Batman: The Murder Machine #1, another Metal tie-in, ranked #9; and the lenticular edition of Dan Jurgens and Viktor Bogdanovic’s Action Comics #987, the first chapter in “The Oz Effect,” ranked #10. Also in the top ten, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead #171 from Image Comics ranked #7. Among the premier publishers, Star Wars Adventures #1 was IDW Publishing’s top book at #33, while Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Shadows #7 was Dark Horse Comics’ top-ranked book at #115.
Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard’s The Walking Dead Volume 28 was September’s best-selling graphic novel. Image Comics had four titles total among the top ten including East of West Volume 7 at #3, Sex Criminals Volume 4: Fourgy at #6, and Royal City Volume 1: Next of Kin at #8. DC Entertainment also had four titles in the top ten: Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson’s Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race at #2; DC Super Hero Girls Volume 4: Fast Times at Super Hero High at #5; All-Star Batman Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy at #7; and Harley Quinn Volume 3: Red Meat at #9. Marvel Comics rounded out the top ten with two titles: Star Wars: Darth Maul at #3 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Volume 5: Past Lives at #10.
BOOM! Studios’ Mouse Guard Alphabet Book, written by Mouse Guard creator David Peterson and painted by Serena Malyon, was September’s best-selling book. Dark Horse Comics had two titles in the top ten: The Art of Rick and Morty at #2 and the Star Trek: The Original Series Adult Coloring Book Volume 2 at #10. Random House had four DC Super Hero Girls titles in the top ten: Finders Keepers at #3, Harley Quinn Brain Squeezers at #4, Showdown in Space at #5, and Power Play at #6.
Batman and Harley Quinn tangle above the rooftops of Gotham City in DC Collectibles’ Batman Vs. Harley Quinn Battle Statue, designed by Alejandro Pereira and the best-selling toy product of September. In total, DC Collectibles had six products in the top ten including the DC Bombshells: Harley Quinn Deluxe Statue at #2, the Batman Animated: GCPD Rogues Gallery Figure 5-Pack Boxed Set at #5, the DC Designer Series: Wonder Woman by Frank Cho Statue at #6, the DC Icons: Robin & Superboy Action Figure 2-Pack at #8, and the DC Icons: Supergirl Action Figure at #10. Diamond Select Toys had two products among the top ten: the Marvel Gallery: Black Panther PVC Figure at #3 and the Marvel Gallery: Netflix: The Punisher PVC Figure at #7.
WizKids’ WizKids HeroClix: Undead, a horror-themed miniatures game, was September’s best-selling game product. Also among the top ten were two products from IDW Games: Outpost Siberia Gard Game at #6 and Seikatsu Game at #7.
TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS
|DARK HORSE COMICS||2.44%||1.70%|
|OTHER NON-TOP 10||7.94%||5.27%|
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS
|SEPTEMBER 2017 VS. AUGUST 2017|
|SEPTEMBER 2017 VS. SEPTEMBER 2016|
|YEAR-TO-DATE 2017 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2016|
NEW TITLES SHIPPED
|PUBLISHER||COMICS SHIPPED||GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED||MAGAZINES SHIPPED||TOTAL
|DARK HORSE COMICS||16||13||0||29|
|OTHER NON-TOP 10||123||154||17||294|
TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS
|1||MARVEL LEGACY #1||$5.99||JUL170990-M||MAR|
|2||DARK NIGHTS: METAL #2||$3.99||JUL170300-M||DC|
|6||HARLEY QUINN 25TH-ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL #1||$4.99||JUL170413-M||DC|
|7||THE WALKING DEAD #171 (MR)||$2.99||JUL170918-M||IMA|
|8||BATMAN: THE RED DEATH #1||$3.99||JUL170308||DC|
|9||BATMAN: THE MURDER MACHINE #1||$3.99||JUL170309||DC|
|10||ACTION COMICS #987 LENTICULAR EDITION||$3.99||JUL170323||DC|
TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS
|1||THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 28 TP (MR)||$16.99||JUL170919||IMA|
|2||BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT III: MASTER RACE HC||$29.99||JUN170390||DC|
|3||STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL TP||$16.99||MAY170950||MAR|
|4||EAST OF WEST VOLUME 7 TP (MR)||$16.99||APR170796||IMA|
|5||DC SUPER HERO GIRLS VOL. 4: PAST TIMES AT SUPER HERO HIGH TP||$9.99||JUN170333||DC|
|6||SEX CRIMINALS VOLUME 4: FOURGY TP (MR)||$16.99||JUL170876||IMA|
|7||ALL-STAR BATMAN VOL. 1: MY OWN WORST ENEMY TP||$16.99||JUN170378||DC|
|8||ROYAL CITY VOL. 1: NEXT OF KIN TP||$9.99||JUL170757-M||IMA|
|9||HARLEY QUINN VOL. 3: RED MEAT TP||$16.99||JUN170383||DC|
|10||WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 5: PAST LIVES TP||$17.99||JUL171218||MAR|
TOP 10 BOOKS
|1||MOUSE GUARD ALPHABET BOOK HC||$16.99||MAY171234||BOO|
|2||ART OF RICK & MORTY HC||$39.99||MAY170019||DAR|
|3||DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: FINDERS KEEPERS||$4.99||JUL172420||RAN|
|4||DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: HARLEY QUINN BRAIN SQUEEZERS||$5.99||JUL172421||RAN|
|5||DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: SHOWDOWN IN SPACE||$4.99||JUL172423||RAN|
|6||DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: POWER PLAY||$9.99||JUL172422||RAN|
|7||STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE OFFICIAL COLLECTOR EDITION SC||$10.99||MAY171880-M||TTN|
|8||POKEMON: LET’S FIND POKEMON SPECIAL EDITION HC||$16.99||AUG172181||VIZ|
|9||THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 121||$14.95||JUN172308||SAN|
|10||STAR TREK ADULT COLORING BOOK VOLUME 2 TP||$14.99||MAY170057||DAR|
TOP 10 TOYS
|1||BATMAN VS. HARLEY QUINN BATTLE STATUE||MAR170452||DC|
|2||DC BOMBSHELLS: HARLEY QUINN DELUXE STATUE||MAR170453||DC|
|3||MARVEL GALLERY: BLACK PANTHER PVC FIGURE||APR172656||DST|
|4||DRAGONBALL Z MASTER STARS PIECE MANGA DIMENSIONS: TRUNKS FIG||NOV168294||BAN|
|5||BATMAN ANIMATED: GCPD ROGUES GALLERY FIGURE 5-PACK||FEB170344||DC|
|6||DC DESIGNER SERIES: WONDER WOMAN BY FRANK CHO STATUE||MAR170457||DC|
|7||MARVEL GALLERY: NETFLIX THE PUNISHER PVC FIGURE||MAR172720||DST|
|8||DC ICONS: ROBIN & SUPERBOY ACTION FIGURE 2-PACK||MAR170456||DC|
|9||THOR LEGENDS 6-INCH ACTION FIGURES||JUN178405||HAS|
|10||DC ICONS: SUPERGIRL ACTION FIGURE||MAR170455||DC|
TOP 10 GAMES
|1||WIZKIDS HEROCLIX: UNDEAD||MAR173404||NEC|
|2||DRAGON BALL SUPER CCG BOOSTER 1||FEB178467||BAN|
|3||CLUE: LEGEND OF ZELDA BOARD GAME||JUL173383||USA|
|4||YU-GI-OH! TCG: LEGENDARY DUELISTS||JUL173370||KON|
|5||YU-GI-OH! TCG: MEGA TINS||JUN173366||KON|
|6||OUTPOST SIBERIA CARD GAME||MAY170588||IDW|
|8||WONDER WOMAN 1000-PIECE JIGSAW PUZZLE||JUL173357||NMR|
|9||MAGIC THE GATHERING TCG: ARCHENEMY NICOL BOLAS||APR173298||WIZ|
|10||MARVEL DICE MASTERS: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY||OCT168614||NEC|
How does Diamond calculate the charts? It all starts at the comic book shop.
Data for Diamond’s sales charts — which includes the monthly market shares and all top product charts — are compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors from sales made to thousands of comic book specialty shops located in North America and around the world. Additional sales made to online merchants and other specialty retailers may be included as well.
Unit and dollar market shares are calculated based upon orders for comic books, graphic novels, and magazines invoiced and shipped to Diamond customers during any given month, which comprises pre-orders, advance reorders, and reorders, minus any copies that are received back from a title marked as returnable. Please note that comics marked with an asterisk (*) have had their reported quantities reduced due to retailer returnability, and thus may rank lower on the charts than their actual sales would reflect.
The New Titles Count Chart includes all titles that were invoiced by Diamond to retailers for the first time during the month and is not the official solicited title count for the month. Variant edition comic books and graphic novels at the same price point count as a single SKU. Variant edition comic books, lenticular covers, digital combo packs, and graphic novels at different price points count as separate SKUs for each edition.
ABOUT DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS (DCD)—Diamond is at the nexus of comics and pop culture merchandise. Based in Baltimore, MD, DCD is the world’s largest distributor of English-language comic books and pop-culture related merchandise, servicing thousands of specialty retailers worldwide. For more information, visit Diamond on the web at www.diamondcomics.com.