The official sales estimates are out and it turns out that February 2012 was a legit strong month for comics, and it wasn’t just those five Wednesdays, ICv2 writes:
So far 2012 is looking like a banner year for comics and graphic novels according to sell-in data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors. Sales of periodical comics were up 22.26% versus sales in February of 2011, while graphic novels gained 15.6% versus sales during the same time frame a year ago. Year-over-year combined sales of comics and graphic novels were up a solid 20.11% in February. Of course it’s all “compared to what” and there is no denying that Q1 of 2011 was a down period for comic sales (especially for top-tier titles—the bestselling book in February of 2011, Green Lantern #62, sold just 71,517 copies), but there is also no denying that the market is considerably more robust now than it was a year ago.
February 2011 now looks like the bottom of the trough for comics sales…and DC’s breaking the glass on the reboot was a good move, with growth throughout the charts:
While the sales of the top tier titles continued to slowly erode in February, overall comic sales were up sharply especially when compared with February of 2011, when the top comic sold just over 71,000 copies. Six titles posted far larger totals than that last month, and while there were 17 comics that sold over 50K in February of 2011, there were 27 in February of 2012. February comic sales were strong in spite of the lack of potent new debuting titles–Ed Brubaker’s Captain America spin-off, Winter Soldier #1 was the only #1 that made it into the “Top 25” (at #24).
John Jackson Miller has similar thoughts and notes a lot of strength even in the non-Big Two segment of the chart:
It may be that the successful model for a middle-tier publisher is no longer keeping to a small-sized line — the "Rule of Eight" observed by market analyst Marc Patten many years ago, who found a high mortality rate for publishers that extended past eight monthly titles in the post-Image era. IDW (which had its highest market share ever this month), Dynamic Forces, and to an extent Boom have joined Image and Dark Horse on what would appear to be a tier where trade paperbacks are making the economies of scale make sense. Is eight titles is no longer the barrier, but the lower entry point to a Periodic Table-like island of stability? And how many publishers can inhabit that region? It's something worth more research.
This may be the most obvious observation ever, but this sales improvement comes despite vastly increased availability of digital comics in every segment. A year ago, day and date was on the rise but still about as welcome as your paroled cousin at the family picnic. Now more than half of all comics are available day and date, with more and more joining every day.
DC’s New 52, widely viewed as the savior in this scenario, has also been available digitally from the very first minute. Hasn’t hurt a bit.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.