Now it’s time for a look at Marvel’s sales distribution charts for October.
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 it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.
What’s a sales band? It’s 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.
That looks like a healthy and fully populated sales chart, you say. Hold up, I say. October was when Marvel’s Legacy lenticular promotion started. And let’s be generous and say not all retailers had great sell-through on those. I personally had a well-known retailer showing me how many shelf copies were left of October Legacy titles vs. the previous months. And it surely did look like that shop’s customers were looking at Legacy as a jumping off point. So not only can you not trust those variant cover numbers to be reflective of actual sales, there are indications that the consumer sales on those orders were even lower relative to how these things are ordered. Hopefully, I got all the lenticulars out of the #1s/Events/Variants chart. There were a LOT of them.
Let’s start out with what’s largely the lenticular chart up top. Those numbers are really low relative to some of Marvel’s previous line-wide initiatives. Only Mighty Thor and Amazing Spider-Man could crack 100K when Marvel was essentially trying to get retailers to order double? That tells you how many retailers just said “no” to lenticulars.
The high comedy of this is that two titles, America and Monsters Unleashed STILL couldn’t crack 30K in orders according to the Diamond estimates, even with this promotion. Not exactly sparkling examples of retailer confidence. We’ll have to see what sales are retained from those inflated promotional-ordering numbers in the following months.
Then we to the more familiar “No Events” (or #1s) chart. As usual, Star Wars is the sole occupant of the 60K-69K sales band and the best-selling ongoing, non-first issue title. Darth Vader is the #2 ongoing.
The highest selling Marvel Universe title with a “normal” cover is Amazing Spider-Man at ~52.8K. No other ongoing title with a normal cover cracked 50K. X-Men Gold is close to dropping below 40K. X-Men Blue already is. And those X-Men issues are the ones following the lenticular issues, so it would appear the retailers were not anticipating a surge of interest.
It could be worse. The most populated sales band is 20K-29K, not 10K-19K… for the non-event issues. 30K-39K is the overall most populated band, but I just don’t know how much stock a person should put in those Event orders for October.
We’ll see what the core numbers look like when the November estimates come out. Marvel’s single issue program needs a hit in the worst way and I see no evidence that October produced something that will continue to sell in big numbers without a special cover or minimum orders on said cover.
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Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.