State of the Industry – January 2016
A topsy-turvy tail end of 2015 showed that comic books are an extremely volatile medium, nearly as much as the commodities market. Hoping for a strong opening to the New Year, the top 300 list from Diamond Comics gave the impression of increases, though sales dipped overall. The top ten saw an increase to eight titles over 100k from six in December, but sales numbers dropped dramatically from there. Marvel dominated the top ten, taking eight of the top spots, with DC and Image sharing one each to complete the list. With more titles shifting around the entire list, it’s once again caused chaos amongst the lower-tier titles, which will be noted further in State of the Industry. The Top Ten:
- The Walking Dead #150 (Image) – 156k
- Secret Wars #9 (Marvel) – 149k
- Spider-Man/Deadpool #1 (Marvel) – 134k
- Star Wars #14 (Marvel) – 118k
- Star Wars #15 (Marvel) – 108k
- Old Man Logan #1 (Marvel) – 104k
- Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 (Marvel) – 103k
- Batman #48 (DC) – 101k
- Darth Vader #15 (Marvel) – 98k
- Uncanny X-Men #1 (Marvel) – 93k
Walking Dead shot way up to #1 with the aid of multiple covers and a milestone issue, becoming the cheapest title in the top spot since long before this column began, at $2.99. None of the other titles in the top ten were less than $3.99, though only Old Man Logan and Secret Wars were over that. The four new first issues from Marvel are an increase from three last month, but the total amount of new series is down by one. Star Wars maintains its hold of four comics in the top ten, continuing to hold a major percentage of Marvel’s best-selling titles.
While moving up 25 spots to #1, Walking Dead moved an additional 91k in copies to push Secret Wars down a slot and 18k from December. The main Star Wars title shed 22k and 36k in copies to take down spot 4 and 5, dropping one and two from last month. DC’s top-selling title again, Batman, shed 26k in sales, its first drop in three months. That loss also moved the title down three spots in the top ten. On the opposite side of things, Darth Vader increased about 1000 in sales, yet still dropped two slots in the top ten.
Of last month’s top ten that charted for this month, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 dropped a staggering 83k copies, landing at #24, twenty spots lower than December. Not without their own losses, Marvel showed all newcomers how it’s done. Guardians of Infinity #2 dropped to #73 from #6, losing 94k in sales. Has the bubble burst on the Guardians property here, or are multiple titles too much for the market? Next month may prove which thought is more accurate.
Following through the rest of the chart and the usual focus features of State of the Industry, hitting the #100 spot is Outcast #15 from Image, selling 22k copies. Last month, this title was at #116 and sold 1000 more. December’s #100, Teen Titans, moved up to #88, selling 3000 copies less for its #16. Just between these two titles, the numbers definitively show how far sales dropped. #200 on the list for January was GI Joe: A Real American Hero #224 from IDW, with 7,468 in sales. In December it was at #198 with over 10k, while that month’s #200, DC’s Sheriff of Babylon also slid about 3k in sales to #211 for January. Slip sliding, slip sliding numbers all over the place. How did the bottom ten fare? Let’s look:
- Lone Wolf 2100 #1 (Dark Horse) – 4,316
- Usagi Yojimbo #151 (Dark Horse) – 4,249
- Grimm Fairy Tales #118 (Zenescope) – 4,207
- Limbo #3 (Image) – 4,160
- Grimm Fairy Tales: Van Helsing Vs. Dracula #4 (Zenescope) 4,155
- The Massive: Ninth Wave #2 (Dark Horse) – 4,133
- Luna the Vampire #1 (IDW) – 4,065
- Codename Baboushka: Conclave of Death #4 (Image) – 4,056
- Black Jack Ketchum #2 (Image) – 4,038
- Marvel Universe: Avengers Assemble Season Two #15 (Marvel) – 4,028
Considering the back-and-forth of the sales figures over the last two months, it shouldn’t be a surprise to any regular readers that titles usually seen in this section have returned for a showing. The only book returning to this section from December is The Massive: Ninth Wave, jumping up four spaces from a previous hold on #300, but losing about 1700 in sales. The venerable Usagi Yojimbo, last solicited in November, dropped three spots and lost about 300 in sales. Grimm Fairy Tales, last charting on the top 300 in November as well with their #116, rose back up, but is still down 200 copies from last note. Limbo #2 either failed to chart on the top 300 for December as well, or just disappeared from Diamond’s numbers for the month. Either way, it’s a far cry from its opening issue 1, which sold almost 11k – way above this month’s 4k. Zenescope’s Van Helsing vs. Dracula hasn’t been solicited since October, where it charted at #299. It’s held tight to sales figures though, losing only around 125 from issue #3. Codename Baboushka likely also fell of the chart for December, rising again only due to the entire spectrum of comics shifting again. From issue #2, which hit the list at #239 and over 6500 in sales, this mini-series is hanging tough. Black Jack Ketchum fell from last month’s #239 and sloughed off about 4k in sales to plop at the bottom ten, another Image mini-series trying to find its way through the mire of Marvel muck. The last of the bottom ten is a TV/Movie tie-in series from Marvel that no one seems to care about, which is fine by me. It hasn’t charted since November either, where it landed at #290 with 4500 in sales.
Other titles from last month that charted in the bottom ten that weren’t ending or one-shots fared much better than The Massive: Ninth Wave. Joe Golem Occult Detective, also a Dark Horse book, rose to #266, though it lost around 1000 in sales. Spongebob Comics also rose up on the chart again, to #245. It lost around 400 in sales. Replica #2 didn’t hit the top 300 for January, but Image Comics’ Faster than Light moved up 37 spots to #260, shedding around 800 in sales. Neither Code Pru from Avatar or Call of Duty III: Black Ops from Dark Horse charted this month, likely driving their sales down more than 1000 copies each.
Looking at the chart with a wider scope, DC continued to take a slide backwards, with their next best-selling title that isn’t a co-publishing venture being Justice League of America at #30 with sales around 47k. In comparison, Saga, Image’s other big hit, moved up 15 spots to #26 with sales over 50k. Image made a good showing in January, with six titles in the top 100, one more than in December. Boom! struck hard with Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0 at #39, with about 41k. Two other companies listed in the top 100 were Oni Press and IDW, with one title each.
To strike another blow at DC, Constantine the Hellblazer rose 14 spots to #127 and shed another 800 readers, an average for the last few months. Again, it’s not fast enough.
As in previous months, the top ten trends remained the same with new Marvel titles, Star Wars and Batman controlling there. Although little interests this writer there, with Secret Wars ending and Walking Dead likely dropping back out of the top ten for February, look for more interesting changes as 2016 continues.
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.
Read State of the Industry from December, 2015!