Another year has passed into the record books, and once again, October 10th rolls around. Why should you care? Because, in 2011, Heidi created a new holiday: Torsten Day! While others celebrate Columbus, we will celebrate Torsten Adair, who’s become our regular weekend poster, keeper of the Coming Attractions, and master of the roundup. Torsten has […]
by Jason Enright
September is always an interesting month because DC does its big line-wide event with crazy covers and Marvel has to find a way to compete. The answer this year was Death of Wolverine, which shipped two issues this month and landed the number 1 and number 2 spots. DC still won overall market share, but Marvel still managed to make a few headlines themselves and capture those top two spots. Beyond those books, there is a lot of standard attrition this month and a lot of books ramping up for AXIS which is likely to lead into several new series and rebooted series over the next few months. Below is a breakdown of some of this month’s stats which includes a rise in the number of $4.99 books, which is very interesting.
While Marvel keeps rolling out its latest round of relaunches, DC is sticking to its guns in November. There’s the “Death of the Family” crossover that continues running through various Batman titles. There’s the “Rise of the Third Army” crossover that continues running through the Green Lantern books. There are three minor crossover storylines running through various other titles. And there are, finally, the Before Watchmen and “digital-first” lines of books, both of which continue to expand in November.
With FEAR ITSELF wrapping up, Marvel had several major releases in November – the POINT ONE one-shot, the relaunches of UNCANNY X-MEN and FANTASTIC FOUR, and the first issue of new ongoing title AVENGING SPIDER-MAN.
We’ve also got the epilogue of FEAR ITSELF, the start of BATTLE SCARS, and a bunch of other “Regenesis” tie-ins from the X-books.
Marvel found itself behind DC for the third straight month in November, though the gap is growing closer. DC led by 40% to 38% in unit share, and 35% to 33% in dollars. And of course, it should be remembered that DC’s extra sales don’t appear to have come at Marvel’s expense; if DC’s relaunch has brought any new or lapsed readers into the market, then in theory, that’s good for other publishers too – it brings them into everyone’s potential market.
Thanks as always to ICV2.com for permission to use these figures.
5. POINT ONE 11/11 One-shot - 113,352
Marvel’s top selling comic of the month! Or is it? This book was massively overshipped, with retailers receiving twice the number of copies they’d actually ordered, at no extra cost. Those copies are presumably included in this number – that certainly appears to be Diamond’s standard practice, given the odd sales spikes that we’ve seen when this strategy has been used before.
If that’s the case, then the actual orders of this book would be 56,676 – which would have placed the book at number 29 between AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and AVENGERS. Considering the solicitation (“You CANNOT miss this. Catch a tease of the biggest change to the Marvel Universe in over 35 years!”) that number would surely have been disappointing, even allowing for the six dollar price tag. The wisdom of pricing a teaser book that high must also be open to question.
September was business as usual for DC Comics’ periodical sales, as… oh, wait.
The “New 52” project, a relaunch of its complete superhero line via 52 #1 issues, made September 2011 a record-breaking month for DC Comics — and a joyously eventful one for the people watching their sales. It’s not often that publishers attempt something on this scale, unfortunately, so it’s nice not to come up with 52 different ways of expressing that sales have mostly been going down, for a change. It’s a little bit like that myth about Eskimos and the words they have for snow.
Anyway: The average DC comic book sold an estimated 57,224 units in September, the average DC Universe comic book a whopping 67,411 units. That’s more than double what it was in August for both, as well as more than in any previous month since sole distributor Diamond started releasing information on actual sales to specialty retailers in March 2003. The month that comes closest is May 2006, when DC’s line-wide “One Year Later” initiative kicked off, with 44,554 (DC total) and 59,505 (DC Universe) units, respectively.
And, while we’re breaking records: May 2006 was also the only previous time when the total dollar value of DC’s periodical comic books exceeded 10 million, with an estimated $10,157,965. In September 2011, the amount was $10.9 million for DC total and $10.5 million for the DC Universe line, which never broke the 10-million mark on its own before. (Average cover prices were about the same, by the way: $3.05 for DC total and $3.04 for DC Universe in 2006, and vice versa in 2011.)
As you may have heard, DC had this relaunch thing going on in September, ending several months of deck-clearing and water-treading in the company’s superhero line. The kick-off came in the last week of August, with the release of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League #1, which — to nobody’s surprise — leads the August charts by quite a margin. To gauge what this means in the broader context of the comic-book direct market, though, we’ll have to go back a few years.
While others celebrate Columbus, we will celebrate Torsten Adair, who’s become our regular weekend poster, keeper of the Coming Attractions, and master of the roundup.
Torsten has been commenting at the Beat as long as there’s been a Beat, and somewhere back in the mists of the Mesozoic Era we said “Hey, if you’re going to write all that you might as well post it.”
by Marc-Oliver Frisch
The countdown to DC’s big relaunch continued in June with a whole lot of Flashpoint tie-in books — few of which seem to have stood out in any way to retailers, if the sales figures are any indication. Given that the upcoming relaunch titles are drawing on the same pool of creators, characters and concepts, that’s not ideal for DC. If it’s asking too much of readers and retailers to pick and choose among 16 titles of a certain mold, putting out 52 of them at once seems ill-advised.
Over at the publisher’s Vertigo imprint, meanwhile, almost half the current ongoing series are about to end within the next year. There’s still plenty of time for Vertigo to announce replacements, certainly. But in combination with the recent WildStorm shutdown and the re-absorption of a number of key Vertigo properties into the DC Universe line, there seems to be a lot less patience than there used to be at DC for material that’s not expected to immediately do well in the direct market.
Despite the debut of this year’s big blockbuster series Flashpoint, average DC comic-book sales were down in May. In part, that’s because Flashpoint itself came in 13,000 units below the magical 100K mark and ended up charting second after Marvel’s Fear Itself #2, which has to be quite a disappointment for DC. On the other hand, most of the rest of DC’s line didn’t join in the crossover until June, so the overall numbers may still pick up.
The other notable thing about DC’s May output is that there wasn’t a lot of it. The number of new comic books released by DC in May was 59, which, along with January 2004, holds the record for the fewest number of books released by the company since Diamond started publishing data on actual sales. Looking at the solicitations, it’s not hard to find the reason: None of the five Green Lantern film tie-in books scheduled for May came out (one of them still hasn’t been published as I’m writing this), while the launch dates of Static Shock and Batwoman were pushed back to September.
And, while we’re at it, the David Finch vehicle Batman: The Dark Knight remained in limbo in May. DC’s Web site currently lists issue #3 for July 13 and issue #5 for August, with no information on #4. So not even DC seems entirely sure what’s going on with the book.