It seems August’s sales numbers are the month when people finally roused themselves from their busy deck chair arranging schedule and cried out in terror that there was a big hole in the USS Comics Sales. I guess it was the 25% drop from August 2016 that did it.
My own take was more measured, maybe because I saw the iceberg month ago and the hole and have been commenting on how worrying this year’s overall sales slide has been. One more crap month in a series of crap months. True, it was a hellish drop, but August 2016 was one of the biggest comics months of recent times due to the full flower of Rebirth ongoing sales. So the deck (not chairs) was stacked in this particularly comparison.
Still it’s not clear when the hole will be patched up and we’ll be jauntily motoring forward again. However August sales numbers, as shown by ICv2, have some interesting portents.
You can read the Top 300 Comics sales at ICv2 here: Top 300 Comics Actual–August 2017.
Graphic novel numbers are here: Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–August 2017.
Dollar trends are here: “Ouch! Comics Down Over 20% in Comic Stores in August.”
And there’s some good news: Dark Nights #1 shipped an estimated 262,000 copies to stores North America. That’s MORE than the 235,800 copies that DC Universe Rebirth #1 shipped. That makes Metal #1 easily the biggest comic of 2017 thus far, in both dollars and units – in fact the book cost $2 more than Rebirth #1, John Jackson Miller points out. meaning people are willing to pay for quality.
Miller also looks at the big picture and sees some strength…at the BOTTOM of the chart:
Also, the 300th place book saw the highest numbers of any five-week month since December 2015, beating out even the monster August 2016. There’s been erosion at the top but the base is still hanging in there.
“Erosion at the top” is really the issue we’re dealing with here. The final issue of Secret Empire sold a mere 86,123 copies, pretty modest for a storyline that cost Marvel all of it’s meagre store of good will among fans.
On the other hand, just to show how low the bar for a “hit” is these days, Mister Miracle #1, the hottest comic of the month sold a mere 33,493, to come in at #60 for the month. Although it sold out quite a bit and was clearly underordered, it will be interesting to see if it undergoes standard attrition or picks up steam.
Obviously, DC readers were ready for something a little wilder and crazier like Metal. Maybe The DC New Age of Heroes (announced all the way back in April and delayed since then) will inspire similar retail excitement.
Or maybe someone will just adapt Stephen King’s IT into comics.
Either way, despite my use of the Titanic metaphor, comics will survive one way or another. Publishers are adapting and changing and so are readers.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.