Periodically (pun intended), it’s useful to take a look at where the sales of a publisher’s titles are clustered. It helps widen the picture of how things are going. The idea is to break the sales chart into 10K slices. How many titles or issues sold 100K copies or more? How many sold 90K-99K? How many sold 40-49K? How many sold under 10K?
The conventional wisdom has been that when things are healthy, DC and Marvel will have a couple titles each selling over 100K and then the bands will fill out with a few titles in 90Ks, 80Ks, etc., etc. We’ll be having a look at that this week and today we’re looking at Marvel.
Now the numbers:
WOW. I’ve never seen Marvel’s numbers shifted so far down the chart. Please note: I left out the Disney theme park and Stephen King material. That’s “mainstream” Marvel material up there. To be perfectly frank, that looks like a sales band chart for DC as New 52 was unraveling, not a Marvel chart. The big difference being that DC would have Batman up in 100K category and it’s Darth Maul #1 selling over 100K for Marvel in February — you know there’s no way #2 sells like that.
When DC ran into trouble and so many of their books were dropping below 20K, Marvel didn’t really let titles drop too far below 20K before cancelling or relaunching. Let’s be clear – there were a few titles they have really supported and given plenty of rope to. And some of these titles clean up as collected editions over at the Scholastic Book Fairs, so their monthly numbers aren’t the primary concern. Still, you take a look at all these issues selling less than 20K in the DM and you start wonder what percentage of Marvel titles are pullbox/special order only?
Star Wars is down to ~74K. Amazing Spider-Man is down to ~61K as their best selling Marvel Universe title. Remember, when DC was crashing, Batman was moving well over 100K per issue, sometimes over 120K. Spidey, as the de facto flagship title for February is selling half of what the Synder/Capullo Batman was selling in it’s heyday.
Fortunately for Marvel, they’ve got some collected edition sales, particularly from that Scholastic market we keep talking about. That’s why nobody’s talking doomsday when they see a sales distribution like this. Marvel’s doing some kind of course correction as soon as Secret Empire is over. They get that they need to make some changes while they still have a Direct Market audience. Those changes can’t come quickly enough, though.
DC Comics Sales Band Report For February 2017
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.