Continuing our look at how the Comixology sales ranks relate to the Diamond print estimates, here’s how things looked last week.
The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 3/11) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for, usually this is from the Comichron January chart, but the last issues of The Wicked & the Divine and East of West were released in November, so those numbers are in a different context from the rest.
The conventional wisdom that’s been handed down over the last few years is that the digital audience has more of less the same reading habits as the Direct Market Print audience. I’ve had multiple publishers tell me that digital sales of new issues are roughly 10-15% of print sales and the titles more or less have the same proportional popularity in digital as in print. Maybe a couple titles switch places on the sales ranking list, but largely the same. The bestsellers on the newsstand were not always the same bestsellers as in the Direct Market, so it doesn’t seem like that should necessarily be the case with digital. There will be a little bit of mismatch because these are more weekly than monthly ranks and it isn’t clear exactly how Comixology defines the reporting periods, but if you look at comics sales, you learn to live with the data available.
|Comixology Rank||Issue||Previous Issue Print Sales Est.||Previous Issue Diamond Rank|
|1||The Walking Dead Issue #177||82,361||5|
|2||Batman (2016-) Issue #42||94,325||4|
|3||Critical Role: Vox Machina Origins Issue #5||Digital First||Digital First|
|4||Batman: White Knight (2017-) Issue #6||73,043||7|
|5||Justice League (2016-) Issue #40||45,313||26|
|6||Superman (2016-) Issue #42||44,402||29|
|7||Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #48||Digital First||Digital First|
|8||Star Wars (2015-) Issue #44||53,710||12|
|9||X-Men Red (2018-) Issue #2|
|10||The Wicked + The Divine Issue #34||11,003||181 in Nov.|
|11||Amazing Spider-Man (2015-) Issue #797||51,412||16|
|12||Infinity Countdown (2018-) Issue #1 (of 5)|
|13||Avengers (2016-) Issue #683||37,403||42|
|14||The Wild Storm (2017-) Issue #12||17,152||125|
|15||East Of West Issue #36||13,478||145 in Nov.|
|16||X-Men Gold (2017-) Issue #23||36,471||47|
|17||Captain America (2017-) Issue #699||37,030||43|
|18||Nightwing (2016-) Issue #40||28,873||68|
|19||Spider-Man (2016-) Issue #238||26,409||80|
|20||Oblivion Song By Kirkman & De Felici Issue #1|
Walking Dead rules the week, outselling Batman. We’ll have to wait a month to see if the print orders were as close together this time around, but in general it isn’t a surprise that an A-list Image book sells at a higher percentage of print than a DC, plus the TV exposure probably helps.
Coming in the third spot is the new issue of Critical Role, which is the current breakout digital first title. This gives us a little better context for it’s popularity, sandwiching it in between Batman and Batman: White Knight. Which, broadly speaking, would have this title selling as the equivalent of a 75K-90K title, but let’s wait to what the actual estimates are before putting a digital sales number to it. It will be interesting to see if Critical Role can crack the top 20 next week, because sometimes it makes a second appearance.
While Justice League and Superman follow in the order you’d expect, we once more find ourselves asking whether they’re just selling at a higher percentage of print or if Star Wars is less popular in digital than it is in print. (Or variants really skew the print numbers.) Amazing Spider-Man is roughly where you’d expect it in relation to Star Wars and that’s circumstantial evidence that it might be variants at work across the board.
Two more things of interest for the Marvel cluster right here:
- X-Men Red #2 is sitting between Star Wars and Amazing Spider-Man. Not a #1, no variants, just digital readers. Amazing is usually Marvel’s best selling ongoing superhero title, so this suggests the most successful launch they’ve had in a while. We’ll need to see the March estimates in a month, but that sounds like a much needed win for Marvel.
- There’s some chatter about the recent issues of Amazing selling better at the retail level than they have recently. The digital numbers do not necessarily reflect a major bump in readers, so it’s possible that the majority of the retailer chatter is speculators buying, not new readers. The data isn’t conclusive, but if I had to place a bet, that’s where I’d place it.
In the middle of all that is the new issue of The Wicked & the Divine, punching way above it’s print weight class in digital. Please note that East of West sold a couple thousand more copies in print, the last time they both came out, yet is noticeably lower on the list, so unless the ordering has changed during the break both titles were on, W&D is an especially good digital performer.
Infinity Countdown is performing between the sales levels of Amazing and Avengers. That is not exactly an enthusiastic response to what Marvel was trying to frame as the next big crossover (even if it did just sound like a Guardians of the Galaxy story repackaged for extra hype). That’s ~40K-50K print equivalent for readership, although I’m sure variant covers will give it a higher print total. In terms of digital reader interest, it’s no runaway train the first week. Still good for Marvel in general, but not what their events used to pull in.
Once more, nobody is particular shocked that Warren Ellis has a proportionally higher digital following for The Wild Storm.
Spider-Man is probably roughly where it ought to be on the list, although some other Bendis titles have been appearing to get a bit of a bump since the announcement of his departure for DC.
We end up the top 20 with Oblivion Song. This is the new Kirkman title and I was expecting it to be a little higher on the list. It’s been lapped by W&D and East of West on this list, which are normally in the 11-13K range in print. I’d have guessed this one would be more like 20K+ in print. And maybe it is, but the initial digital interest doesn’t seem to be as high. We’ll see if subsequent issues make the top 20 and/or pick up a little, but that was a bit of a surprise. Especially with Walking Dead taking the top spot. Perhaps digital readers were not as aware it was a Kirkman title as print readers?
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics
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.