Sunday, March 11, 2018

Weekend Headlines - Comic Book Sales Down

Total comic book and graphic novel Direct Market sales in February 2018 took at nearly 8% dip in dollars and a nearly 20% dip in units compared to February 2017, but those seemingly stark negative figures come with a big honking caveat.

According to figures released by Diamond Comic Distributors Friday morning, the Dark Nights: Metal tie-in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1 from DC was February's Doomsday-Clock-free best-selling comic book title by units, which up until last month was the only category leader Diamond reported. New for 2018, however, Diamond is reporting category leaders in units and dollars and February's dollar leader was Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300 at $5.99, which ranked #7 by units.

Marvel Comics had five titles in the unit Top 10 (compared to DC's 4), led by Tom Taylor and Mahmud A. Asrar's X-Men: Red #1 as the #2 selling title. Image's The Walking Dead #176 was the lone non-Marvel/DC title in the either Top 10 and was ranked #5 in units, and #4 in dollars.

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga Volume 8 from Image Comics was February's best-selling graphic novel in units. Marvel was February's top publisher in both categories with a 34.86% retailer dollar share and a 36.94% unit share. DC was second of course with a 31.79% dollar share and a 36.61% unit share. Image Comics was third with a 10.49% dollar share and an 10.82% unit share.

Overall, Direct Market dollars were down 7.81% compared to the same month last year and 19.31% in units, which may partially be explained (and stay tuned) by a seeming significant dip in Marvel's title count. Last February Diamond reported Marvel Comics shipped 140 new titles to stores, including 104 new comic book titles. This February Diamond reports Marvel shipped just 112 new titles to Direct Market stores, including 81 new comic book titles, an over 20% dip.

DC's 122 new titles shipped was 6 more than their February 2017 figure.  That, however, is not the real story. According to John Jackson Miller at Comichron, last February's $0.25-cent The Walking Dead #163, greatly skews unit sales comparisons.

"An important thing to remember when looking at the February 2018 data is to ignore the comics units sales, because the year-to-year comparisons are impacted by last February's 25th anniversary Image event, which included a reported 750,000 copies of a 25¢ issue of Walking Dead. (Walking Dead #163 will not be found in our charts for that month, because Diamond reports nothing with a cover price below $1.)," writes Miler. "Combine that with January 2017's 10% over ship on Marvel's entire line, and the comics unit year-to-date comparisons are a total wreck."