A funny thing happened at C2E2, or at least it made me laugh when I found out. It seems the February Sales Band Charts became the public face of DC’s promotional efforts. I hadn’t really noticed until somebody sent me a picture of a slide from Dan DiDio’s presentation and sure enough, there was my graphic comparing DC and Marvel Sales. I asked Dan about it and he said he’d chosen a third party chart so it could be validated more quickly. Although I didn’t see any attribution under the photo of that slide and it isn’t clear from asking around that anyone in attendance was aware where the charts were coming from, so if you want to validate, click above. I’m still not sure quite what to make of all that.
I’ve been tied up on a project, so I originally wasn’t going to do a sales band report for March, but since these reports apparently have some sort of official status in the world of publishers, here’s a quick a rundown of the March market. The numbers are from Comichron. I’ve pulled the publishers who had at least one issue sell over 10K. Not all books selling under 10K made the chart, so some of the under 10K counts will be higher, depending on the publisher. Even with a few of the lower sellers missing, the basic gist is that the market is healthier when there are more issues on the left side of the chart. It’s a lot easier to retailers to order shelf copies when comic is regularly selling over, say, 60K. A lot of the titles selling 20K and under will be special order only in a lot of shops.
Just like last month, travelling about 59K sales is like taking a trip into the badlands. There just aren’t enough titles or issues achieving what we traditionally think of as “good sales” in a healthy market. And the big performance or recent years are lagging.
Marvel is the the company with the most controversy around them and they DO have some items in the higher sales bands. But there are caveats attached to those items. The #1 seller was just under 114K copies of the $9.99 priced Amazing Spider-Man #25, for which there seems to be some question how it sold through for all retailers. Similarly, the first issue of Iron Fist just missed hitting 90K on the Comichron charts and the first issue of X-Men Prime was 83.6K. All three are stunt issues and likely one-off orders that don’t necessarily reflect consumer sell-through. You need to wait until at least issue #3 to get a handle on what a new series is really going to be selling long(ish) term, so while it’s nice to see SOME better sales figures, what you’d really like to see is a regular, non-event, non-#1, non-variant cover issue selling 100K or even 80K at this point.
Marvel’s best “regular issue” sellers are Star Wars #29 at 72K and Darth Maul #2 at 60.4K. The best selling “regular issue” set in the Marvel universe (i.e., non-licensed) is Spider-Man/Deadpool #15 at ~50.6K. That’s also the only regular issue charting at over 50K in the estimates. Marvel’s pivoting to make changes, but things never should have gotten this far out of hand and their post populated sales band is still 10K-19K. We need to see the March numbers before we can even talk about whether Iron Fist or the X-Men revival are getting any traction. If they shed half their sales by #3, which is not uncommon, then you’re looking at low to mid-40Ks sales and while that’s near the top of the line for the current state of Marvel, they should be doing better. Actually, I think Marvel would take 40K sales on an Iron Fist title at any time in the last 15 years, but you’d really like to see X-Men selling better.
Over at DC, we’re seeing more fatigue setting in. Yes, a new issue of Dark Knight III shows up to give them a title selling over 100K, but Batman is still below 100K (97.5K and 98K), All-Star Batman is down to 71K and it wasn’t so long ago those numbers would have sounded highly unlikely. The Watchmen run-up will likely bump the Bat-numbers and Flash numbers, but that top level of sales isn’t quite what it used to be. In good(ish) news, some of DC’s new launches look like there’s potential for them to stick around. It’ll be more obvious after a couple more months, but JLA #2 and #3 are 53K and 45K respectively. Super Sons #2 is estimated at 47K. Big drops from the debuts, but sustainable. Which is not to say DC doesn’t need a new hit before too much longer, but it’s good to see mid-list numbers being achieved. That was not always the case with subsequent launch waves during the New 52 era. “Dark Matter” is currently on deck and we’ll see where orders fall for it in a few months.
The big surprise in March was X-O Manowar #1, which was estimated at 60.5K and Valiant is saying is up to 90K with reorders. As always, you want to see where #3 and #4 are, but that’s a HUGE number for an independent publisher and great news for Valiant.
Dark Horse also scores big with American Gods #1 orders coming in at just under 45K.
Image is slightly up in the bands, but with so many of their titles taking breaks when the collected edition comes out, Image varies in sales bands a bit more than most publishers.
That’s the short version of it, but you can check out our regular publisher-specific sales charts for more granular analysis. This is just the airplane view of the market. Here are the actual band breakdowns:
|DC Young Animal||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||4||0|
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.