The ICv2 charts same out yesterday, and for the second month in a row, things were down:
Comic and graphic novel dollar sales to comic stores dipped in February vs. the year ago period, the second time in just four months that such a drop has occurred. The 4% drop followed an anemic 1% rise in January, a 4% increase in December, and a 5% drop in November. Tough comparisons with the Civil War-fueled sales in the year ago period and a lack of significant new hits in were the primary reasons for the declines.
Prior to the last few months, May 2005 was the last month that comic and graphic novel sales to comic stores declined.
The graphic novel chart is here; top 300 comics here. The analysis of the periodical sales continued the dubious picture:
The bestselling comics in comic stores were an extraordinarily weak bunch in February, with the top title, X-Force #1 (featuring 2 covers), selling only around 105,000 copies. Only three titles, X-Force, New Avengers, and one of the Amazing Spider-Man issues, topped 100,000 copies, something that happened only once all last year, in October. Prior to October 2007, it had been over 18 months, in January of 2006, since as few as three titles were over 100,000 copies in sales to comic stores.
Declines in the top 25 titles heavily outnumbered increases; only four titles increased versus the previous issues, versus 20 decliners.
Is the still-blossoming recession to blame? Seasonal lulls? Has Paul and Marc-Oliver’s nefarious plan to kill North American comics sales finally taken hold? Is it event fatigue? Marvel fatigue? DC fatigue? Fatigue fatigue?
One of the oft-blamed culprits for the slide is DC which, not to kick a company when it is down, is really getting a full-on rollicking these days. A business piece in Crain’s has a typical headline: Marvel zaps DC in comics battle. Despite the title, it’s more of a paeon to Marvel:
To put it another way, Marvel Comics had a banner year in 2007. A combination of breakout comic book series and best-selling graphic novels allowed the creator of the Hulk, Spider-Man and Captain America to dominate comic-book shops and take market share away from Batman, Superman and other superhero stars of longtime rival DC Comics.
“It was neck and neck [a few years ago],” says Marvel Comics Publisher Dan Buckley of the competition with DC. “Now we’ve stretched out in front.”
We don’t really listen to blogosphere bitching, or, God forbid, message board comments, which are nothing but uninformed whining most of the time. However, we always said that the only way to back up complaints was to stop buying the books. Has this really taken hold? This post from Wednesday Is My Sabbath sums up the usual dissatisfaction with DC’s current output:
When it was first announced, DC Editor in Chief Dan DiDio said that Countdown was going to be the backbone of the DC Universe. The problem is that their backbone has a wicked case of scoliosis and has failed miserably in holding up the rest of the line. Quite the opposite in fact, it seems to have dragged the rest of the line down to its abysmal level. Apparently DiDio and company have learned from the mistakes of Countdown and their next weekly series (called Trinity and starring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman – pic is of the first cover) will be self contained, but after being subjected to 52 weeks of some of the worst comics I have read in a long time, taking them at their word is something I have no plans to do. Besides the fact that there are already more titles featuring Superman and Batman than you can shake a stick at that throwing one more out there hold absolutely no interest on my end. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong but after pre-paying for Countdown I will be perfectly content to have my money in my pocket and have missed a decent series rather than be out my money and have 52 22-paged turds clogging up my closet.
Will Marvel fall to the same problems as DC? They seem to be chugging along pretty well. While most industry observers are het-up over the impending FINAL CRISIS, the Grant Morrison-penned outing doesn’t have comedian Patton Oswalt stumping for it.
After COUNTDOWN and CIVIL WAR, I was going to take a break from these big summer crossover thingies. But this SECRET INVASION…holy shit. This is not a big, disposable, multi-issue donnybrook. This is a blitzkrieg from page one. Bendis basically worked out a remorseless, nothing-but-business tearing down of the Marvel Universe. And it’s clear the story has been set up…for…years. And the deaths are treated so off-handedly, with no appeal or remorse — and this is three issues in. So far, each issue has also ended with a shit-your-pants, ’Wait, what in the FUCK?!” moment…after, of course, about three or four what-the-fuck moments tossed off during the course of each story. As it stands right now, someone’s holding a possible key to stopping the Skrulls, and it’s the LAST person in the Marvel Universe you’d want with that info. And no, it’s not Dr. Doom.
Can DC compete by racing copies of the first four issues to FINAL CRISIS to Seth Rogen’s door? Well, perhaps, but according to recent interviews, they only have two issues finished.