State of the Industry – December 2015
The final month of 2015 had sales of comics settle down somewhat, as the Xmas shopping season drove to a conclusion. Comic titles with sales of 100k or more dropped from 13 in November to six for this month. DC and Marvel split the top six with three each, with Marvel taking six of the top ten to DC’s four (and one of those was a co-publisher agreement). One notable difference with sales settling in like this is the change in numbers at the lower end of the spectrum. Higher sales figures are seen between the top 200 and 300 compared to October or November. Sure, it’s interesting and great when the comics market jumps to heights not seen in years, but it’s much, much more interesting when sales are streamlined and hopefully seeing increases across the board.
The top ten:
- Secret Wars #8 (Marvel) – 170k
- Dark Knight III: Master Race #2 (DC) – 158k
- Star Wars #13 (Marvel) – 140k
- Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (DC/IDW) – 135k
- Batman #47 (DC) – 127k
- Guardians of Infinity #1 (Marvel) – 121k
- Darth Vader #14 (Marvel) – 97k
- Harley’s Little Black Book #1 (DC) – 92k
- Star Wars Annual #1 (Marvel) – 90k
- Darth Vader Annual #1 (Marvel) – 86k
It should be said again that none of the top ten were under $3.99 in cover price; with the second Dark Knight issue ran a cool $5.99. Secret Wars is, as has been for the title, late, and is not the final issue of the series as originally intended. Star Wars retains its hold on the market, with four books in the top ten, up one from November. The three new first issues (not including the Annuals) are a drop from six, but Batman continues to impress, steadily increasing since this column began at the FtHWordpress page. Three months over 100k and the numbers are going up. DC may have some issues within their business structure, but it doesn’t seem to matter to the readers of Batman.
For record’s sake, Secret Wars moved up three slots from November, but losing about 7000 copies in initial orders. The Dark Knight III dropped a slot and about two-thirds in sales, but part of that is due to the hideous amount of variant covers for the first issue. Star Wars jumped six spots to #3 (although it took two spots in the top ten last month with two issues released), increasing sales around 20k copies. Batman jumped up 8 slots and tacked on another 20k in copies sold, as well. Darth Vader also had two issues solicited for November, with the December issue at nine spots higher than the last. Vader’s book is all over the place when it comes to sales, but initial orders show a 7k increase over the last issue. Harley’s Little Black Book was a marketing gimmick that probably did nothing to further the character’s story, and Batman/TMNT shows that company crossover books still keep the doors open.
The rest of last month’s top ten fell off quite a bit, but that’s to be expected for second issues. Deadpool dropped about 20k in sales to #20 on the list, though November also had two issues solicited, like many other Marvel books that month. Extraordinary X-Men sloughed off another 11k in sales and ten spots to land at #34 (29 spots lower than #1), All-New, All-Different Avengers (who the hell is naming these titles?!?) dropped from #6 to #23, shedding 61k in sales, while All-New Wolverine suffered the worst drop out of the top ten, landing at #42 from #10 – although again, two issues were solicited in November. The drop in sales in more than half of issue one, which is considerable. Would this drop be character driven or creator driven? YOU DECIDE!
The best-selling title for less than $3.99 was Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, once again. It slid five spots to #26 but held just about even in sales. #100 for this month was Teen Titans #15, pushing 27k, 1000 more than the November title at the same spot. #200 was DC/Vertigo’s Sheriff of Babylon #1, selling over 10k copies. That’s about 1500 more than Ninjak #9, the previous title at #200.
And now for my favorite part, the bottom of the list:
- Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (Marvel) – 6,159
- Image Firsts Bitch Planet #1 (Image) – 6,059
- Joe Golem Occult Detective #2 (Dark Horse) – 6,047
- Spongebob Comics #51 (United Plankton Pictures) – 6,020
- Replica #1 (Aftershock) – 6,002
- Lobster Johnson: Glass Mantis One-Shot (Dark Horse) – 5,984
- Faster than Light #4 (Image) – 5,936
- Code Pru #1 (Avatar) – 5,935
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III #2 (Dark Horse) – 5,893
- The Massive: Ninth Wave #1 (Dark Horse) – 5,848
Not a single title from November held onto their spot in this section of the list, but sales this month are roughly 1500 to 2000 copies higher than the previous two. It can be extrapolated that the titles just moved further down the list, and if the market shifts again, we may see those titles come back up to this level. Topsy-turvy is the name of the game, North America. Dark Horse Comics dominates this bottom ten list, though they tend to dominate the 6k to 10k sales levels anyway. With three new #1’s on the list, it shrinks the need to look at a good portion of the comics here, but: MU Guardians of the Galaxy dropped about 800 copies and 69 slots. The Bitch Planet Image First is a $1.00 reprint. Joe Golem dropped over 2500 copies and 94 spots, a poor showing for what looks to be a great series. Spongebob slipped a small amount in sales and 51 spots on the list. Faster than Light drops 1300 in sales and 73 spots to become one of the lower-tier Image titles, while Call of Duty: Black Ops had a meteoric fall of 145 slots and a 7200 copy sales drop.
Trends remained the same for another month, with new Marvel books, Batman and Star Wars controlling the top ten. Non-Marvel or DC titles in the top 100 took another hit, with fewer represented again. Image Comics held the next highest amount of titles in the top 100, with Dark Horse representing the first independent company besides Image to place. Their Fight Club 2 #8 landed at the 81st spot with 32k in sales, about 2k less than the previous issue. Oni Press was the only other independent company to land in the top 100, sadly.
Looking at DC’s sales, there is little improvement, not that I’d expect it in a month’s time. With Superman and Green Lantern running in the 30-40k range, it doesn’t seem as if anything attempted since prior to the “New 52” has worked and stuck. Consistency and productivity might not be what they’re aiming for there, but they’re certainly missing those goals, so expecting anything less would be just too optimistic for this column.
Lastly, Constantine, the Hellblazer sales dropped another 700 issues and 18 spots to #141. It’s not fast enough. See you next month.
The legal proprieties must be followed! All sales numbers are extrapolated from the ICv2 website, which can be found at www.icv2.com. They themselves get the list from Diamond Comics Distributors, Inc., which must have credit for the information, understandably. It should be made clear that these figures are only for Diamond sales for North America and does not include sales through Diamond UK or copies purchased by Diamond for their own inventory. Some companies also self-distribute as well as through Diamond. Self-distributed copies are not unaccounted for on this list. Diamond has its own website which you can find HERE.