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by John Jackson Miller


Our full comics and graphic novel sales estimates for June 2019 are now online — and we see there's a lot of competition for the second-place comic book for the year overall.

In April, War of the Realms #1 became the second-bestselling comic book of the year so far; in May, DCeased #1 did the same thing. Now our analysis of comics sold by Diamond Comic Distributors shows that, in June, Black Cat #1 approached 256,000 copies in sales, giving it the second-place slot for the year. (Still nothing yet to challenge Detective Comics #1000 — though Marvel Comics #1000 is on the way.)

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!
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by John Jackson Miller


We can say two things for sure about the first half of 2019: DC released a lot fewer comic books, and Marvel came close to taking every shelf space its rival vacated. The result was that Marvel beat its own dollar sales performance from the first half of 2018, though not by as much as all those new releases would suggest — whereas DC's total dollar volume slipped during that period, but not by as much as its fewer new releases would suggest.

The upshot? A Direct Market almost completely flat at midyear, down less than one-half of one percent in dollars. It's a slight improvement from the trajectory seen in 2018, which was down a whole percentage point; that year's sales wound up being strongly up once channels outside comics shops were included. 

June's comics orders, as reported today by Diamond Comic Distributors, were slightly up; retailers ordered $42.3 million dollars of comics, graphic novels, and magazines in the month, an increase of 0.4%. The year-to-date total, $250.2 million, is down a little over a million dollars. The quarterly breakdowns this year are near inverses of one another, with the first quarter up year-over-year and the second quarter down. This is in some measure an anomaly: If Detective Comics #1000 had come out just a week later to land in the same quarter that Action Comics #1000 shipped in, both quarters' performance would be close to even with 2018.

Comics had a better month of June relative to 2018 than graphic novels did, with dollar sales for comics up 3.6%. Nearly 40 million comic books shipped to retailers in the first half of 2019, down about 2 million copies — but there's little doubt that DC's slimmer-offerings approach under AT&T's ownership was a contributor. Because while Marvel, on paper, replaced many of the missing DC releases, many of those books were reprints priced at a dollar, which neither sell as many copies nor for anywhere near the value of a regular Big Two release..

Comparing the release slates. DC's 374 new comics in the first half of 2019 was down 24%, or 115 comics, from the same period in 2018. Marvel's 615 new comics in the first half of the year represent a 20% increase, up 102 releases — not quite enough to cover DC's shortfall. Image published 301 new comics in the first half of the year, down from 376. The total number of new issues in the first half of the year stood at 2,704, down 3%.

The new-title austerity accelerated for DC in June, as it published just 50 new comic books in the month, a new 28-year low for the publisher. Marvel more than doubled its total, with 104. Marvel also more than doubled DC's total output of new graphic novels in the month, 43 to DC's 20. June also saw DC's smallest new graphic novel slate since March 2015, and that could be an echo of the smaller new comics slate: when there are fewer new titles out, logically there are fewer issues to collect into squarebound editions.

But, as mentioned above, there's a difference in what each of the titles published contributed to retailers' bottom lines. DC may have released 24% fewer new comics in the first half of the year, but retailers orders of DC publications in dollar terms were only down 5%, or about $4 million. It helps when there's a Detective #1000 in the mix; if there had been two, it'd be up for the year.

Meanwhile, Marvel — which saw its June dollar sales up 13%, aided by the top-selling Black Cat #1 — has moved 7% more dollars worth of material into comics shops in the first half of 2019, an increase of about $7 million over the same period in 2018. Why isn't it larger, given Marvel's increase in releases? Again, it's what many of them are. Marvel appears to have released 59 different True Believer comics in the first six months of 2019; they account for more than half of Marvel's slate increase, even though their $1 price tag means they don't add a lot to the dollar totals.

That's something to remember when looking at the stats below: not all releases are created equal.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
June 2019 Vs. May 2019
Comics-6.44%-6.55%
Graphic Novels-18.39%-15.92%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-10.09%-7.26%
Toys-2.86%-15.02%
June 2019 Vs. June 2018
Comics+3.56%-4.63%
Graphic Novels-7.11%-13.13%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.36%-5.27%
Toys+35.23%+14.34%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+0.21%-5.03%
Graphic Novels-2.25%-7.19%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.49%-5.19%
Toys+24.92%+27.33%
Second Quarter 2019 Vs. First Quarter 2019
Comics+3.15%+6.51%
Graphic Novels+3.01%-3.86%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+3.11%+5.72%
Toys-9.68%-11.18%
Second Quarter 2019 Vs. Second Quarter 2018
Comics-6.71%-7.62%
Graphic Novels-8.72%-16.49%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-7.28%-8.29%
Toys+30.69%+24.68%

We don't track the toy market here, but it's clear it's done very well for Diamond this year.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel43.38%48.93%
DC26.71%26.44%
Image7.58%8.01%
Dark Horse3.23%2.16%
IDW3.08%2.83%
Boom2.43%2.31%
Dynamite2.15%2.02%
Viz1.61%0.59%
Oni0.74%0.53%
Archie0.57%0.60%
Other8.52%5.59%

Dark Horse's sales  saw significant improvement in the first half of the year, up $2 million year-to-date. Umbrella Academy and Stranger Things are both factors.

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Black Cat #1$4.99Marvel
2DCeased #2$3.99DC
3Silver Surfer: Black #1$3.99Marvel
4Batman: Damned #3$6.99DC
5Batman Who Laughs #6$4.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #24$3.99Marvel
7Immortal Hulk #19$3.99Marvel
8Walking Dead #192$3.99Image
9Batman #73$3.99DC
10Batman #72$3.99DC

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Black Cat #1$4.99Marvel
2Batman: Damned #3$6.99DC
3Superman: Year One #1*$7.99DC
4Dceased #2$3.99DC
5Silver Surfer: Black #1$3.99Marvel
6Batman Who Laughs #6$4.99DC
7War of the Realms #6$5.99Marvel
8Immortal Hulk #19$3.99Marvel
9Amazing Spider-Man #24$3.99Marvel
10Walking Dead #192$3.99Image

The asterisk means that Superman: Year One #1 is returnable; its unit sales numbers would have been reduced slightly for purposes of the charts.

Image, which lately has a sizable portion of its line going to series with either "Die" or "Dead" in the title, saw Die Vol. 1 become the top graphic novel. The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker$9.99Image
2Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
3DC Poster Portfolio: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau$24.99DC
4DC Super Hero Girls: Search For Atlantis Tp$9.99DC
5Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 2$15.99Tokyopop
6Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 1$15.99Tokyopop
7Teen Titans: Raven$16.99DC
8Batman/The Flash: The Button$14.99DC
9Miraculous Tales: Ladybug and Cat Noir Season 2 Vol. 4$8.99Action Lab
10My Hero Academia Vol. 19$9.99Viz

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Blackest Night Omnibus: 10th Anniversary Edition HC$150.00DC
2Dc Poster Portfolio: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau$24.99DC
3Batman By Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$75.00DC
4Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition HC$19.99DC
5Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 7 HC$125.00DC
6Disney Descendants: Evie's Wicked Runway Vol. 2$15.99Tokyopop
7Marvel Masterworks: Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 HC$75.00Marvel
8Berserk Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC$49.99Dark Horse
9Die Vol. 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker$9.99Image
10Hulk By Loeb & Mcguinness Omnibus HC$100.00Marvel

Finally, the chart discussed so much this year, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel104430147
DC5020171
Image4611057
IDW3017047
Dark Horse1922041
Boom2011031
Dynamite187025
Viz023023
Archie112013
Oni55010
Other12118418323
TOTAL SHIPPED42434519788

July 2019 is going to present one of the more peculiar chart comparisons we've seen in a while. It has an extra New Comic Book Day (which we give back in August), so you'd expect it to be up — but last July had Batman #50 and Amazing Spider-Man #1.

But then on top of that, there's Walking Dead #193, the surprise of the year; unannounced as the final issue, it went on sale July 3. It's already been running above $20 in back issue sales (see eBay listings for the issue here), but since aftermarket sales aren't captured in Diamond's charts, that part of the dollar impact of the issue isn't likely to be seen. The snap reprint, landing July 31, will be counted in July's sales, and has already appeared in last week's advance reorder charts in second place, behind only Power of X #1.

For those who've asked what impact the end of the series would have on Image's market shares, it's important to remember that the monthly comic book was an increasingly smaller portion of both the franchise's revenue and the publisher's business as more and more graphic novel collections came out. Image has more than tripled — sometimes quadrupled — its Direct Market dollar share from a dozen years ago, largely on the building of its graphic novel library.

The estimated sales data will appear on this page early next week. In the meantime, check out the comparative months' data from five, 10, 20, and 30 years ago.

Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. 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!
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by John Jackson Miller


Reports began circulating the evening of July 3 regarding Mad magazine (the latest is that new content is ending and that the title is leaving newsstands), so I've responded by doing something that's been long overdue: I've posted the full postal-data sales history of the title since 1960 in our Title Spotlights section.

The main reason it hasn't happened before now is that — alone among all publications with a majority-comics content — Mad was the only publication still running circulation statements as required by the United States Postal Service. But it was worth doing in any case, because the numbers connected to it dwarf any other comics series: counting copies just of the main title beginning in 1960, Mad sold more than 400 million copies. The overall figure since 1952, reprints included, is probably past half a billion.

A part of American pop culture for more than half a century, William Gaines' humor periodical Mad began as a comic book in 1952, before switching to magazine format with #24. That act had the dual results of protecting the publication from the oversight of the Comics Code Authority, while also giving it a better position than the comics shelves, where newsstand sales of those books were declining.

Mad had already run several years' worth of Statement of Ownership filings when the U.S. Postal Service changed the rules in 1960, requiring actual sales data. On reading the form in issue #61, the world of comics readers discovered that Mad was selling in excess of a million copies an issue, just slightly more than the top-selling comic book, Uncle Scrooge. But the sales figures thereafter went in opposite directions, with no American comic book topping a million copies sold until Star Wars #1 in 1977 — whereas Mad's sales went upward, nearly steadily, through the 1960s.

An on-ramp to the counterculture for younger readers, the title became a staple of Baby Boomer life in the 1960s; it topped 100,000 subscribers in 1969, a number never seen for any other comics periodical. The title reached its peak circulation in 1974, the culminating year for Watergate, with average sales per issue of 2,132,655 copies. (Perhaps the title's most controversial cover, #166's upraised middle finger, thus landed at the absolute height of the magazine's popularity; many retailers refused to stock it.) Mad's imitators were many over the years, three of which — Cracked, Crazy, Sick — ran postal circulation statements, but none was in Mad's league when it came to sales.

But even though Mad's position on magazine racks gave it a relatively safer position than comic books had in the newsstand market, the channel was in overall decline. The last year the title had sales over 1 million copies was 1982, perhaps not coincidentally when coin-operated and home video games were dominating youth culture.

The growing comics shop market didn't do much business in Mad, which was largely seen still as a newsstand and subscriber-targeted product. Still, sales hovered near three quarters of a million copies through the second half of the 1980s, with a six-year peak of 784,206 copies in 1989. That year saw the title buoyed in part by an issue and a special parodying Batman, a property owned by its then-parent company, Warner.

A television show added to Mad's brand in the 1990s, and the publication moved from its longtime eight-a-year schedule to monthly. But the decade saw the magazine's circulation drop down below 300,000 copies, more than 100,000 of which were by subscription. Subscription sales would pass dealer copies in 2005, and they would continue to be the largest portion of sales until 2014.

By that time, sales of the now-bimonthly issues were below 140,000 copies, only slightly exceeding that number in 2018 when Mad moved its production from New York City to the West Coast and rebooted its numbering in 2018.

Mad is the last majority-comics periodical still publishing Statement of Ownership reports. It was also the only one to report, only occasionally, digital circulation in its forms. So it's very much the last publication standing among titles in our Postal Data Repository; cancellation or an end to Periodical Class subscriptions would bring to a close (possibly temporarily) a data source that had first become available in 1960.

Whatever happens, no postal record is longer than the one for Mad, so be sure to check the full data out.

Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. 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!
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by John Jackson Miller

Tim Burton's Batman movie came out 30 years ago this weekend, so we've just posted the June 1989 sales charts for both Diamond Comic Distributors and Capital City Distribution. See what was selling by clicking the links:

June 1989: Capital City Sales Charts

June 1989: Diamond Sales Charts


Capital was the second largest distributor, with 1,200 accounts at the time; its exact sales are known, due to its founders providing me with many records when it closed in 1996. Overall circulations would be about 4-5 times higher than what are seen in the Capital table.

These are now the earliest Direct Market charts on the site; reporting from this era is complicated by the existence of multiple distributors, with varying levels of sales reporting. But all bet heavily on Batman, offering multiple pages of related goods in their catalogs.

Diamond's charts don't have order indexes in that era, but we see that the regular Batman title leaps past Uncanny X-Men to the #1 slot. Shades of 1966, when the Batman TV show briefly propelled the DC series into the top position.

A big earner in comics shops associated with Batman was the adaptation, which released to distributors in a $4.95 "prestige" format June 20, 1989 from Ronald's Printing, and a $2.50 standard version June 22 from World Color Press. Distributors also sold a 25-copy prepack unit.

The top graphic novel for the month was Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, which sold 11,650 units just through Capital alone. No distributor ran separate tables for graphic novels back then, but we've created them by pulling them from the existing comics and dollar-ranking charts.

Readers of modern charts will see some peculiarities. Preorders were being reported, so books are listed that never came out, such as a June 1989 Punisher original graphic novel. Others came out later: after Dolph Lundgren's Punisher movie was yanked from the 1989 schedule, the comic adaptation limped out in 1990.


We've included the shipping dates from the distributor catalogs, which introduce even more oddities. Diamond listed mostly Tuesdays, which was when Ronald's released comics, whether Ronald's printed them or not; Capital went with Thursdays, when World Color released them.

And DC in the 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps due to a holdover from the newsstand era, ran solicitations in the distributor catalogs that straddled into the next month, so May's catalog has part of June in it. It would realign its schedule in March 1995.

Only Capital City published market shares back then, but you'll find them eerily similar to those from today:

JUNE 1989 UNIT SHARES
Marvel 51%
DC 32%
Dark Horse 2%

MAY 2019 UNIT SHARES (just Top 300, so we exclude Year of the Villain #1)
Marvel 50%
DC 33%
Dark Horse 2%

For the 20th anniversary, I wrote about the specific circumstances under which a comics movie can help comics sales — and Batman 1989 is one of the key examples. It found comics shops well-stocked, giving them a head-start on a mass market that'd soon be gripped with Batmania. It helped kick off the early 1990s comics boom — and solidified Batman's position in the top echelon of comics sales, where it remains today. Read more about it on the charts pages!

Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. 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!
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by John Jackson Miller

A month after War of the Realms #1 became the second-bestselling comic book of the year so far, DCeased #1 did the same thing, with retailers ordering more than 242,000 copies. Click to see our estimates for comics shipping in May 2019.

Several of the internal benchmarks showed growth year-over-year, with the 50th, 200th, 400th, and 500th place comics all seeing increases versus the books in the same slot in May 2018. Click to see the benchmark tables.

As mentioned here Friday, DC's 25-cent Year of the Villain #1 was counted toward its unit market share, which is part of why the unit gap between DC and Marvel was narrow. Our analysis shows the market share tables appear to been calculated based on a data set that included as many as a million copies that do not appear in the regular comics charts; the DC issue likely accounts for most of them.

All the year's bestsellers had reorders that charted in the month:




Detective Comics #1000 picked up a couple more thousand copies. Click to see the sales for the year to date.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel. You can also support us on Patreon!
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by John Jackson Miller


May's orders of comic books and graphic novels in the comics shop market were higher than in any month since last October, but not quite good enough to beat May 2018, which had Amazing Spider-Man #800 among other blockbusters in the mix. Retailers ordered almost exactly $47 million in comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors this May, including 7.27 million comic books; both of those figures were down 4% year-over-year versus last May.

DC's DCeased #1 led new comics periodicals; we'll report on its estimated sales on Monday, when you'll be able to click here to find estimated sales figures for May 2019.

The tale of two strategies we've seen in 2019 continued with Marvel publishing more different periodical titles, and DC and Image publishing fewer. Diamond reported that market-share leader Marvel shipped 118 new comic books to market, a figure that's higher than any since Diamond began reporting monthly release counts in 2013. We're not absolutely certain that figure represents only unique new comic books, with no second or later printings included; it depends on how Diamond is keeping track. But if that 118 number holds, it’s likely to be the highest figure this century. Marvel placed 119 comics in the Top 300 in June 2009, but several of those were previously listed books that had been reordered.

The month's total wouldn't be an all-time record, though. At the peak of the early 1990s comics boom, Marvel shipped 126 new comic books to retailers in August 1993, of which 123 issues made Diamond's Top 300. That appears to be the all-time record for it or any other American publisher.

Regardless, Marvel's May total was 26 more comics than it released in May 2018 — and necessary to allow the publisher to come close to its Spidey-fortified performance from that month. The total retail dollar value of Marvel's shipments to retailers was off single digits percentage-wise from that month. The publisher remains up 6% for the year.

DC's 60 comics released in May 2019 was 14 fewer than last May, yet the publisher does appear to be succeeding at its stated goal: releasing fewer comics while increasing the sales of the ones it releases. Taking four of the top five slots on the comics charts, DC's shipments to retailers were up 5% in dollar terms versus last May, and its year-to-date shortfall narrowed to 4%. DC also had the top graphic novel by units in Lauren Myracle'Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale.

Image, meanwhile, cut its offerings even more than DC did versus last May — releasing 38 new comic books in the month, the publisher's smallest slate since at least 2013. That's down from 65 comic books released in May 2018 — and the bottom line shows the impact, as Image's year-to-year sales to retailers for the month were greatly diminished. By this point in 2018, Image had shipped at least $4 million more in comics and graphic novels to retailers; that's twice the size of the industry's year-to-date shortfall.

Dark Horse, meanwhile, benefited from Umbrella Academy's Netflix show, placing fourth in dollar market share and landing three of the series' collections in the Top 10 Graphic Novels by units. The publisher's overall sales are up significantly year-over-year and also year-to-date.

May had one more shipping week than April (though the same number as last May), explaining part, but not all, of the boost in sales from that month; a 51% increase in graphic novel dollars over April is significant. We saw several hardcover-laden reorder charts in May, usually an indicator of sales and promotions. Graphic novel units are down versus last May by the same percentage that dollars are up, something explained partially by the fact that the $7.99 Tag & Bink Were Here #1 was classified as a graphic novel last May; it led the charts then with more than 16,000 units but didn't translate to as many dollars.

The year-to-date total slipped into the red for the first time in 2019, down less than 1%; orders through May 31 are $1.4 million shy of the total last year. That's less than a third of what Spidey #800 brought in last year, so the margin is fairly narrow.

The comparative sales statistics:



DollarsUnits
May 2019 Vs. April 2019
Comics+15.60%+14.51%
Graphic Novels+50.97%+44.63%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+24.51%+16.35%
Toys+27.91%+46.27%
May 2019 Vs. May 2018
Comics-7.81%-4.30%
Graphic Novels+5.36%-5.36%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-4.15%-4.38%
Toys+40.65%+40.25%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics-0.45%-5.12%
Graphic Novels-1.21%-5.94%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-0.66%-5.18%
Toys+23.04%+30.09%

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel40.46%39.75%
DC28.22%38.58%
Image6.88%5.53%
Dark Horse3.78%2.19%
IDW3.61%2.98%
Boom2.21%1.76%
Viz1.84%0.65%
Dynamite1.78%1.50%
Oni0.84%0.56%
Titan0.67%0.49%
Other9.72%9.72%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1DCeased #1$3.99DC
2Doomsday Clock #10$4.99DC
3Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1$5.99DC
4Savage Avengers #1$4.99Marvel
5The Batman Who Laughs #5$4.99DC
6Amazing Spider-Man #21$3.99Marvel
7The Immortal Hulk #17$3.99Marvel
8Batman #70$3.99DC
9Batman #71$3.99DC
10Amazing Spider-Man #22$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1DCeased #1$3.99DC
2Batman: Last Knight On Earth #1$5.99DC
3Doomsday Clock #10$4.99DC
4The Batman Who Laughs #5$4.99DC
5Savage Avengers #1$4.99Marvel
6The Immortal Hulk #17$3.99Marvel
7Amazing Spider-Man #21$3.99Marvel
8War Of Realms #3$4.99Marvel
9War Of Realms #4$4.99Marvel
10Batman #70$3.99DC

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale$16.99DC
2Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
3Middlewest Book 1$9.99Image
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
5East Of West Vol. 9$16.99Image
6DC Super Hero Girls: Spaced Out$9.99DC
7The Immortal Hulk Vol. 3: Hulk In Hell$15.99Marvel
8Legend Of Korra Part 1: Ruins Of Empire$10.99Dark Horse
9Rat Queens Vol. 6: Infernal Path$16.99Image
10Saga Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC$49.99Image

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus Vol. 4 HC$125.00Marvel
2Saga Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC$49.99Image
3Amazing Spider-Man By J. Michael Straczynski Omnibus Vol. 1  Hc$125.00Marvel
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: The Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
5Under The Moon: A Catwoman Tale DC Ink$16.99DC
6Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
7East Of West Vol. 9$16.99Image
8Six Days: The Incredible Story Of D-Day's Lost Chapter HC$24.99DC
9Absolute Batman: The Black Mirror HC$99.99DC
10Batman: White Knight HC$29.99DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazine
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel118360154
DC6033093
Image3823061
IDW3718055
Dark Horse2230052
Viz045045
Boom2213035
Dynamite194023
Titan106218
Oni95014
Other15119027368
Total48640329918

While April and May of 2018 were banner months for the business, last June represented a slight pause in that year's momentum, so getting back to even this month is at least possible. (Then July 2018's Batman #50 sales will presumably lend that year a boost, before August's Marvel Comics #1000 sends the pendulum back in 2019's direction.)

Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. 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!
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by John Jackson Miller

War of the Realms #1 became the #2 bestselling comic book of the year so far in April with sales over 187,000 copies, while the top book of 2019, Detective Comics #1000, racked up another 45,700 copies shipped, moving it into second place on the list of the bestselling comic books of the 21st Century so far. Click to see the sales estimates for April 2019, and the sales estimates for 2019 so far.

Immortal Hulk #16 showed significant improvement in sales over its previous issue, landing in fourth place with more than 90,000 copies sold. Second printings of many issues of the series made the Top 500.

The top comics of the century chart will be updated at the end of the year, but it appears that Detective has sailed past 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1, 2015's Secret Wars #1, and 2009's Amazing Spider-Man #583 into the second spot. Star Wars #1 appears unassailable, though the just-announced Marvel Comics #1 may make a run on it, depending on its cover price. (It's unclear whether there's enough money in the market to make a $10 or $12 book a million-copy seller, especially without blowing a hole in the month's other sales, so it'll be interesting to watch.)


Technically, something in the neighborhood of 400,000 of those Star Wars #1 copies were shipped to buyers through Loot Crate, and were not actual comics shop sales, so it's entirely possible more copies of Detective #1000 have already shipped to comics shops.

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by John Jackson Miller

There's a lot of things that make the aggregate numbers in the distributor sales charts swing up and down; the shipping calendar is the one we note here the most, as comparing five-shipping-week months with four-week ones always gives a distorted picture. Add to that list blockbuster anniversary issues, which, in the case of last year's Amazing Spider-Man #800 and last month's Detective Comics #1000, have dollar sales large enough to move the market on their own.

So, too, do we see swings later on when we compare months without such books — and that's a big part of what happened in April, as the month's $37.75 million in comics and graphic novel sales to comics shops represented a sharp drop from last April's Action Comics #1000-fortified total. The top sellers are below; the full estimates will appear here on Monday.

Action #1000 alone isn't enough to explain the difference, however, and the contributing factor there is one we've talked about a lot lately: DC just isn't publishing many comics. Back in December, DC released just 52 comic books, its lowest number in any month since 1991; the holiday-truncated month was partially the cause of that. Last month, DC matched that number with no holidays in the mix; its 52 new periodical releases were 29 fewer than April 2018. Marvel, meanwhile, took up the slack again, releasing 106 comic books, 20 more than last April and its highest number since June 2016, before the 2017 slowdown began.

That's right: Marvel released more than twice as many new comic books than DC did in April. That has never happened in the six years since Diamond's been publishing new release counts — nor does Marvel appear to have doubled DC's number of entries in the Top 300 charts at any point since at least 1996. The only time we can definitely say it happened before was in 1974, when DC's line had shrunk and Marvel was practically blowing it off the newsstands, publishing dozens more titles.

Interestingly, it has occurred in recent memory in the other direction: when Marvel reduced the size of its line after its bankruptcy, DC more than doubled Marvel's periodical output several times; March 2000 saw DC chart 98 new comic books versus Marvel's 41. (It was also a historically bad time for sales overall, though it appears that Marvel did not simply expand its way out of that crisis: per-release sales appear to have improved before line size increases took place.)

DC's number of new graphic novel offerings, 32, went up by two versus last April, while Marvel's remained the same; it's the other publishers whose output shrank considerably. Only 275 new graphic novels were offered to market, down 22% year-over-year. Image published 22 new graphic novels last April; 13 last month. IDW went from 19 to 9.

How do these differing strategies measure up? Marvel's overall dollar sales to the market, aided by the chart-topping War of the Realms #1, were almost exactly even year-over-year — significantly better than the overall market, but requiring more new releases to get there. DC, meanwhile, was down quite a lot, although again last year's Action #1000 accounts for a big chunk of the comparative shortfall. Excising that one title from the 2018 mix, DC is still behind year-over-year, but (as we saw before in February) not by as much as we might expect given the reduction in release slate size.

DC had announced it was going to be publishing fewer periodicals, and there's no doubt it's happened; in the last six months it's released 383 new comics, versus 517 from November 2017 to April 2018. That's a drop of more than 25%, and cannot be discounted when looking at overall unit sales; when the #2 bestselling publisher goes from releasing 20 books a week to 14 or 15 (or 13, as happened last month) that's bound to show up various places in the charts.

There was also an Avengers movie out in April; rumor is it did some business. Its impact can be seen in the comics charts via Thanos #1, which ranked sixth in dollars and seventh in units, but the greater effect was on graphic novels, where the Infinity War Omnibus, the Infinity by Starlin and Hickman Omnibus, and the $500 Avengers Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase all made the top five in dollars.

I was asked this week why movies don't seem to more obviously drive comics sales; I answered that they do, but what they seem to help most is the source-material graphic novels where retailers can more easily and lucratively focus newcomers' attention.

April's orders bring the year-to-date orders close to $161 million, just slightly better than even with the same period in 2018; May was one of the two best months of the year last year and part of a string of months topping $40 million, so the market will need to improve on its April pace to keep up. Last May saw the DC line reduction starting in earnest, so at least that publisher's comparatives should be somewhat closer.

The comparative sales statistics:


DollarsUnits
April 2019 Vs. March 2019
Comics-11.12%+0.07%
Graphic Novels-19.02%-27.69%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-13.26%-2.22%
Toys-11.38%-8.24%
April 2019 Vs. April 2018
Comics-14.67%-13.92%
Graphic Novels-25.37%-31.39%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels-17.65%-15.24%
Toys+15.41%+18.74%
Year To Date 2019 Vs. Year To Date 2018
Comics+1.83%-5.35%
Graphic Novels-3.18%-6.11%
Total Comics/Graphic Novels+0.41%-5.40%
Toys+19.14%+27.48%

Note that comics units were actually up a few thousand copies over March; that's likely because Detective #1000 soaked up a lot of purchasing dollars with its $9.99 price.

The market shares:

PublisherDollar ShareUnit Share
Marvel45.50%50.70%
DC25.73%25.89%
Image7.93%7.60%
IDW3.26%2.76%
Dark Horse2.89%1.92%
Boom2.46%2.75%
Dynamite1.71%1.53%
Viz1.07%0.40%
Valiant0.76%0.91%
Aftershock0.70%0.71%
Other7.99%4.83%

The top-selling comics by units:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
5Batman #69$3.99DC
6Batman #68$3.99DC
7Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
8Heroes In Crisis #8$3.99DC
9Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
10Amazing Spider-Man #20$3.99Marvel

The top-selling comics by dollars:

TOP COMIC BOOKS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1War of the Realms #1$5.99Marvel
2Symbiote Spider-Man #1$4.99Marvel
3Batman Who Laughs #4$4.99DC
4Detective Comics #1000$9.99DC
5Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage #1$4.99Marvel
6Thanos #1$4.99Marvel
7Immortal Hulk #16$3.99Marvel
8Batman #69$3.99DC
9Batman #68$3.99DC
10War of the Realms #2$4.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by units:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by units)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
2Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
3Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
4Umbrella Academy Vol. 1: Apocalypse Suite$17.99Dark Horse
5Catwoman Vol. 1: Copycats$16.99DC
6Star Wars Vol. 10: Escape$17.99Marvel
7Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface The Face$16.99DC
8The Umbrella Academy Vol. 2: Dallas$17.99Dark Horse
9Unnatural Vol. 2$16.99Image
10Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter$19.99Marvel

The top-selling graphic novels by dollars:

TOP GRAPHIC NOVELS (by dollars)PRICEPUBLISHER
1Infinity War Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
2Death & Return Of Superman Omnibus HC$150.00DC
3Magic Order Vol. 1$19.99Image
4Infinity By Starlin & Hickman Omnibus HC$125.00Marvel
5Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Box Set Slipcase$500.00Marvel
6Marvel Masterworks: Avengers Vol. 19 HC$75.00Marvel
7Venom By Donny Cates Vol. 2$17.99Marvel
8Paper Girls Deluxe Edition Vol. 2 HC$34.99Image
9Gideon Falls Vol. 2: Original Sins$16.99Image
10Batman/Superman Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC$99.99DC

Finally, the number of new items offered:

PublisherComics
shipped
Graphic
Novels
shipped
Magazines
shipped
Total
shipped
Marvel106370143
DC5232185
Image4713060
IDW329041
Boom2011031
Dark Horse197026
Yen024024
Dynamite164020
Aftershock114015
Valiant91010
Other10113318252
Total41327519707

Check in again for the full charts on Monday.

Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 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: KenobiStar Wars: A New Dawn, and the Star Trek: Prey trilogy — and, releasing on July 30, Star Trek: Discovery - The Enterprise War. 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!
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According to new estimate by ICV2 and Comichron

Comics and graphic novel sales hit a new high in 2018, according to a new joint estimate by ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller. Total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.095 billion in 2018, an $80 million increase over sales in 2017. The increase was due to gains in book channel and digital sales, and the inclusion of an estimate for U.S. and Canada sales through crowdfunding sites for the first time.


“After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year,” Miller said. “Popular releases helped right the ship in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains.”

“A historic shift is playing out as the market grew, primarily in the book channel, in 2018,” Griepp said. “While comics stores are still the largest channel, they represented less than half the market for comics and graphic novels in 2018 for the first time in at least three decades.”



Sales in the book channel, which includes chain bookstores, mass merchants, major online retailers, and Scholastic Book Fairs, were up by double digits, with sales of kids graphic novels the biggest factor. Digital sales were also up for the first time in several years, with increased title counts across multiple platforms a factor. Sales in comic stores were down very slightly versus the previous year.

Sales of all three formats, comics, graphic novels, and digital, grew in 2018, with graphic novels leading the way, followed at some distance by digital and comics.


As presented above and in the accompanying infographics, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription-based “all you can read” services.

A new category, “Other,” has been added to the channel breakdown. “Other” includes the Newsstand (periodical sales through specialty retail and mass merchant chains) and Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, etc.) channels. This year, those two channels each accounted for roughly half of the “Other” category.

Sources for the information include NPD BookScan, which collects weekly point-of-sale data on print books from over 16,000 locations including e-tailers, chains, mass merchandisers, independent bookstores, and more. NPD BookScan covers approximately 85% of the U.S. trade print book market. Some publishers classify titles that are primarily text, or art books, as graphic novels; we remove those titles from our analysis.

The analysis also incorporates information released by Diamond Comic Distributors, the largest distributor of English-language comics and graphic novels in the world, on sales to comic stores.

Information is also gathered from a variety of other sources, including publisher, distributor, and retailer interviews.

This is the sixth joint market size analysis from ICv2 and Comichron; the first four reports were for 201320142015, 2016, and 2017 sales. ICV2 and Comichron also previously collaborated on revised estimates for 2011 and 2012.


ICv2 is the #1 industry source on the business of geek culture, including comics and graphic novels, hobby games, and showbiz on its Website, www.ICv2.com, and in its magazine, Internal Correspondence. For the people on the front lines of the geek culture business, staying ahead of the trends isn't something that can be left to chance-it's a basic necessity for being successful. That's why ICv2 is the #1 source of news and information for the buyers, gatekeepers, and tastemakers on the front lines. ICv2 is where trend-watching is a science.


Comichron is the world’s largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, featuring data from the 1930s to today about comic book and graphic novel circulation, cover prices, and market shares on its website, www.comichron.com. With data and analysis on the distant past as well as the present, Comichron serves as a trusted resource for academics studying the historical reach of the medium and for collectors seeking accurate information about how many copies of a comic book originally circulated.

Original infographic design by Kate Willaert.
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by John Jackson Miller


With Avengers: Endgame setting box office records this past weekend, we also got news of a blockbuster comic book's sales in the comics shop market — as well as a couple of dubious records when it comes to pricing. Click to see our comics sales estimates for March 2019.

North American retailers ordered nearly 527,000 copies of Detective Comics #1000 in March, surpassing Action Comics #1000's figure from April 2018 — despite the fact that the Detective issue cost $2 more.

The issue easily became 2019's bestselling comic so far, according to our running totals. It immediately placed fifth on the list of top-selling comics of the century, before any reorders had been included; it will likely go higher. Orders for the comic book and its many variants were worth more than $5.25 million dollars; the supporting hardcover, Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, kicked in more than a quarter million dollars with its nearly 9,000 copies sold.

Such colossal unit sales for a $9.99 comic book drove the average price of comics drove the average weighted cost of comic books in the Top 300 — that is, total dollars divided by total units — to a record far surpassing the old one: $4.67. The average comic book in the Top 300 also set a new cover-price record (by one cent), $4.20. The median and most common cover price for comics remains at $3.99. March marked a full year since the weighted average had been below $4. (Click to see average prices across time and other record-setters.)

Amazing Spider-Man improved on its February numbers thanks to its "Hunted" arc. With its Captain Marvel movie in release in March, Marvel's bestseller from January, Captain Marvel #1, saw a second consecutive month with more than 10,000 copies reordered.

Be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook, and check out our Youtube channel.
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