For those of you who haven’t been glued to the computer, there has been a bit of a comment war raging here on the Beat in the wake of Eric Reynolds’ report of a less-than-up to date comics shop. A frequent argument posited by those outraged is that folks like Reynolds are being completely irrational in their demands that struggling comics shops carry material that no one wants to read like Chris Ware and Peanuts. While this argument seems logical on the face of it, is it really true that all people want to read is Marvel and DC?
We noticed that CBR’s John Mayo just posted his monthly sales analysis of the Diamond figures. While not as chatty as the sales charts supplied by Marc Oliver Frisch and Paul O’Brien here at the Beat, these charts are worth looking at for another take on the raw data. Mayo also supplied estimated sales figures for all 100 graphic novels on the Diamond charts, and he also keeps a running total of sales to date. We thought it would be interesting to look at the top 20 books on the charts based on their sales to date. It’s completely unscientific (these are not the top 20 books for the year just the ones that charted in July) but no more so than all the anecdotal evidence everyone has been throwing around in the comments. We’ve made a cunning little table, calculated the dollar totals, and highlighted the superhero books in yellow. (Click for a readable version.)
What’s immediately interesting is that only 8 of the books on the chart are superhero books. Transformers are a gray area, admittedly, but if you include them, it’s still only 10 or 50%. (And, honestly, The Boys is about as much a superhero book as BLADES OF GLORY is a sequel to ICE CASTLES, but it certainly trades on the superhero audience so it stays in the yellow.)
Far from being dominated by Marvel and DC, the chart includes titles from Image, Tokyopop, IDW, Dynamite and even Gemstone. One of DC’s books isn’t even superhero — it’s manga. And the titles that dominate the chart? WALKING DEAD and FABLES. Marvel’s tally includes ANITA BLAKE, which is already closing on six figures in print (through both channels.)
Like we said, this isn’t completely scientific. These are total estimated sales, and NOT, as far as we can make out, the 2007 sales to date. But we look at the charts enough to know that a list of actual year-to-date bestsellers would be just as diverse.
Say it with us.
We are quite sympathetic to the very real plight of underfunded comics shops that live on tiny margins. They cannot afford to take a flyer on ordering 20 copies of the Comics Journal. They need to move books. But if this chart is any indication, diversification is a way to do just that.
Okay, let the comment storm begin.
UPDATE: John Mayo of ComicBookPage.net was kind enough to supply the ACTUAL best sellers for 2007 through July which I’ve included as a clipping once again. (Sorry my html isn’t good enough to post it as a table.)
OOPS LIST DELETED PENDING NEGOTIATIONS
This list is MUCH more Marvel-centric than the inaccurate one posted above — only 7 books are non-superhero. It’s still a not insignificant showing, however. At least from where I sit.
Aside: I just don’t get all the Fantagraphics hate in the comments. Maybe it’s just because I see all their books at the office, but stuff like I SHALL DESTROY ALL CIVILIZED PLANETS, Krazy Kat, Popeye, HOUSE, PERCY GLOOM, Love and Rockets repackaging, the Ignatz Line, BLAB!, Monte Beachamps new Devil postcard book — it’s not for everyone, but the quality speaks for itself and hardly “drivel.”
ALSO OF NOTE: PW’s monthly graphic novel bestseller listing, which takes into account BOTH Bookscan and DM numbers is also out this week.