State of the Industry – March 2016

April 23, 2016 Author: Jon Johnson (Sir)

Mar19

2016 continues to show that successful comic book movies do not necessarily spark any interest in the comic books they are derived from, as the third month of the year continued a downward trend in sales figures. Only three titles rose above that all-so-important 100k mark in March, with Marvel maintaining dominance. Of the top ten this month, Marvel once again held seven titles, DC fell to two and Boom! Studios surprised everyone with a major licensed hit. Marvel’s crushing of the competition in March spread out further, with 19 of the top 25, and second-place DC taking 4. I don’t know what it is about DC right now, but I keep envisioning Charlton Comics and major flooding. The top ten, as reported:

  1. Batman #50 (DC) – 163k

  2. Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #1 (Boom!) – 120k

  3. Star Wars #17 (Marvel) -107k

  4. Superman #50 (DC) – 91k

  5. Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel) – 88k

  6. Darth Vader #17 (Marvel) – 80k

  7. Darth Vader #18 (Marvel) – 78k

  8. Deadpool #8 (Marvel) – 73k

  9. International Iron Man #1 (Marvel) – 71k

  10. Avengers Standoff: Assault on Pleasant Hill Alpha #1 (Marvel) – 68k

The “landmark” 50th issue of the rebooted Batman title hit paydirt for March, jumping up from #3 in February and gaining 61k in sales. DC cashed in with the issue as well, increasing the page count and cover price to $5.99, a situation that might come to an end with the upcoming ‘Rebirth’. Star Wars dropped a spot to #3, being deposed by the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, shedding an additional 3k in sales, similar to February. Is this how Star Wars slides off the shelf, 3000 copies at a time? Unlikely. But how many Star Wars titles are too many?

Superman’s 50th issue post-Flashpoint also spiked sales, nearly tripling the numbers from February. Superman hopped up 40 spots to land in the top ten for the first time in many, many moons. Amazing Spider-Man rose up at least two spots from last month and gained an average of 1500 copies in the process. With two issues released in February, that’s not a bad average for a title that should typically be selling higher. Taking two spots again this month, Darth Vader continues to grip #7 on the list, along with #6 for good measure. Deadpool dropped two spots and 1500 copies, likely showing that the “Merc with a Mouth” is a bigger draw on screen than in print, at least now.

Once again, nothing in the top ten was less than $3.99, and both Superman and Batman’s issue #50s had a higher cover price than usual. I’d imagine that with DC having so many sales difficulties at present, the penny counters demanded a price hike to celebrate with buyers. The cheapest title with the most sales continued to be Walking Dead at $2.99, jumping up one spot to #12 but shedding about 150 copies from February.

The strangest thing of Boom! Studio’s top seller is that an issue zero was solicited in February, charting only 4800 is sales. Additionally, the zero issue charted again this month, adding another 13k in sales. Did retailers get caught with their britches down? Were readers unaware that the story began there? Ah, comics. You’ve just got to love the ups and downs.

Fluctuation in sales of top selling titles from the previous month extended into March as Spider-Man fell from #4 to #16 for its second issue, losing about 39k in copies in the process. Deadpool: Mercs for Money fell from #5 to #25 and shed 38k in sales for its second issue. Power Man and Iron Fist #2 dropped from the eighth spot to the forty-first spot, also shedding 38k in sales. I see a pattern forming. Dark Knight III and Justice League didn’t have an issue solicited for March, a pattern for DC that’s also been forming. I wonder which is worse.

As fluctuations progressed and sales continued to dip, titles shifted all over the place. Charting at #100 for March was the fifth issue of the Image series Huck, which rose eight spots from February and selling about 20k. Huck moved around 1000 less than the previous title charting here, We are Robin, which fell to #122 with its tenth issue. At #200 this month is Titan Publishing’s Doctor Who: 10th Doctor Year Two #7, with about 8k in sales. It slid back from February, with sales reaching 9600 and reaching #183 on the chart. IDW’s Star Trek Ongoing title charted at #200 last month and jumped up to #183 this month, in an odd circumstance. It also gained about 400 copies in sales, a second monthly gain of note, to sell around 8800 copies. With that little positive note, let’s look at my favorite part of the list, the bottom ten.

291. Street Fighter V: The Life and Deaths of Charlie Nash #1 (Udon) – 4,563

292. Dragon Age: Magekiller #4 (Dark Horse) – 4,521

293. Red Thorn #5 (DC) – 4,482

294. Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – 4,474

295. Prophet Earth War #2 (Image) – 4,426

296. Superzero #4 (Aftershock) – 4,394

297. Will Eisner’s Spirit #9 (Dynamite) – 4,364

298. Walt Disney Comics and Stories #729 (IDW) – 4,326

299. 13th Artifact One-Shot (Image) – 4,325

300. Usagi Yojimbo #153 (Dark Horse) – 4,269

Titles that charted in previous months were: Dragon Age: Magekiller, which had its 3rd issue at #272 in February, losing around 125 in sales for March. Red Thorn also fell, losing about 400 in sales between February’s issue 4 and its spot at #266. Spider-Man #1 is a reorder, adding to last month’s figures of 100k. Traditionally on this chart more reorder titles would be found, though with publish-to-order from the Big Two being the norm, this doesn’t happen all that often now. Prophet Earth War was last solicited in January, with #1 charting at #233. It slid hard and fast, shedding around 1600 in sales. Superzero slid from #269 last month, losing about 400 in sales. Will Eisner’s Spirit slipped 20 spots but virtually remained the same, sales-wise. Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories dropped from #275 and shed around 300 in sales, while the venerable Usagi Yojimbo, though dropping from #282, remained about the same as last month.

Nothing of the bottom ten charted this month in the Top 300. With so many new titles pushing the chart around again, it just goes to show the buying trends of retailers, particularly with books fewer than 20k in sales. Though the upcoming DC Rebirth has yet to throw the Top 300 into chaos, we can still look at the sole title that puts a smile to my face as it fades each month. With DC/Vertigo Executive Editor Shelly Bond getting pushed out the door, watching Constantine: The Hellblazer slough off another 400 in sales, regardless of shooting up 13 spots on the chart, just makes me giddy. Next month, the start of “Rebirth” and all that nonsense.

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.

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