It’s been a couple months since we last visited the sales band charts, so let’s see where things are standing with DC for May.
Standard disclaimers: The numbers are based on the Diamond sales charts as estimated by the very reliable John Jackson Miller. These charts are pretty accurate for U.S. Direct Market sales with the following caveats: 1) you can add ~10% for UK sales, which are not reflected in these charts; 2) everyone’s best guess is you can add ~10% for digital sale – while some titles do sell significantly better in digital (*cough* Ms. Marvel *cough*), that’s the average rule of thumb; 3) it’s not going to include reorders from subsequent months, although reorders will show up in subsequent months if they’re high enough. So if you’re a monster seller in Southampton and the it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.
What’s a sales band? Its another way to have a higher level view of the market. The general idea is to divide the market into bands of 10K copies sold and see how many issues are in each band. How many issues sold between 90-99K copies, 80-89K copies, etc. etc. In very broad terms, the market is healthier when there are several titles selling in the 70K-100K+ range because titles that move a lot of copies give the retailers some margin of error on their ordering. When you see titles selling in the 20-29K band and especially below, there’s a pretty good chance a lot of retailers aren’t ordering those titles for the shelf (pull box/pre-order only) or minimal shelf copies at best.
So how’s DC doing? Gently sliding to the right. They’re not collapsing and the DCU sales aren’t piling up in the dreaded 10K-19K category, but that upper list keeps shrinking.
The overall chart doesn’t look that bad. You’ve got a couple issues selling over 100K. Nothing in the 80Ks band, but a hit in the 70Ks and 60Ks bands and then it starts filling in. Except a lot of that top list is activity from their VERY successful “The Button” event in Batman and Flash. Since I sometimes like to look at Marvel without the events/stunts, let’s see what happens to the DCU if we pull out “The Button” issues. Including a couple reorders (I did mention it was successful).
You’ve still got Batman selling up in the 90s (and you’d normally have a second issue there, which was part of the Event), but then you go all the way down to 66K for All-Star Batman, which is 40-50% lower than Scott Snyder was selling as “regular” Batman scribe. (I gather that’s wrapping up and Snyder is going to be part of a DC experiment in some sort of different publishing format. Is the euro album arriving soon?)
What we’ve been seeing is still largely the effect of double shipping meaning twice the standard attrition each month. Tom King’s Batman is still the best selling ongoing title by a 20-30K copy/issue margin, but he’s proving to be slightly less of a seller in single issues than Scott Snyder was. Snyder’s All-Star has definitely dipped a bit, but it’s also a $4.99 title and the conventional wisdom of the last year or so is that the readers can start to get a little grumpy when the price goes over $3.99. The thing that’s missing from the last few years is that Justice League isn’t selling as well. That used to be a 70K+ seller and the current incarnation did 56K and 55K in May.
DC has been launching some new titles, but they’re launching midlist titles and they really could use another couple hits at the 60K+ level. Or a bit of heat returning to a few of the existing titles.
Will the “Dark Metal” event and its many one-shots be hitting above 60K? Time will tell. They certainly moved plenty of copies of “The Button.” Still, it’s better for the industry if the regular ongoing titles were selling a little better. And who knows? Maybe the tpbs are selling a little better outside the DM. We don’t always hear about all those venues.
DC’s not in trouble, but those charts, particularly minus “The Button,” are starting to slide towards Marvel territory. Hopefully that doesn’t happen.
As for the other imprints, the print editions of Digital First comics seem solid enough, with a bump in the 20K band for the return of Tom Taylor to Injustice. Young Animal continues to have the sales you’d expect Vertigo to have and Vertigo… oh boy. I don’t think everything charted. There’s been a management change and perhaps we’ll hear some news at SDCC. Vertigo, at least sales wise, is really looking like a small press indie these days. At least in terms of monthly sales.