Sales Charts: The Best selling graphic novels on Amazon in 2014

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By David Carter

[David Carter is the author of our monthly DC sales charts but he also hosts his own site, Yet Another Comics Blog, where he catalogs Amazon’s graphic novel sales each week. Although these are a rolling average, They do provide some clues to what were the best selling books of the year. Take it away, David!]

Here are the top 50 comics from the YACB weekly Amazon Top 50 posts of 2014:

  1. Hyperbole and a Half (paperback)
  2. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
  3. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2
  4. Saga Volume 1
  5. Saga Volume 3
  6. Darth Vader and Son
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  8. Vader’s Little Princess
  9. The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1
  10. The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2
  11. Can’t We Walk About Something More Pleasant?
  12. Saga Volume 2
  13. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
  14. Hyperbole and a Half (Kindle)
  15. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  16. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
  17. Watchmen
  18. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History
  19. Star Wars: Jedi Academy vol. 2: Return of the Padawan
  20. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel
  21. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
  22. The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War
  23. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes (paperback)
  24. Goodnight Darth Vader
  25. Marvel Encyclopedia
  26. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)
  27. The Sword Sword: The Graphic Novel
  28. Batman: Year One
  29. Attack on Titan 1
  30. Star Wars: Jedi Academy
  31. The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning
  32. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)
  33. Seconds: A Graphic Novel
  34. Saga Volume 4
  35. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  36. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52)
  37. The Walking Dead Book 10
  38. The Complete Persepolis
  39. Sex Criminals Volume 1
  40. The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After
  41. Attack on Titan 2
  42. V for Vendetta
  43. Understanding Comics
  44. Batman: Death of the Family Book and Joker Mask Set
  45. Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City (The New 52)
  46. Dilbert 2015 Day-to-Day Calendar
  47. American Born Chinese
  48. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye (Kindle)
  49. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
  50. The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Methodology: I took my weekly (compiled on Fridays over at Yet Another Comics Blog) lists of Amazon Top 50 Comics & Graphic Novels, and for each week assigned a comic a numerical score equal to 51 minus its ranking; e.g. the #1 book got 50 points, the #2 book got 49 points, the #3 book got 48 points, etc., all the way down to the #50 book getting 1 point. I poured everything into a spreadsheet, and voila. You can download a spreadsheet with all of the data here.

Commentary:

  • As has happened for every year but one since I’ve started tracking these Amazon charts, the book that was #1 during the first week of the year ends up being the #1 item for the entire year. In this case it is Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half. (Note that’s just for the paperback edition; the Kindle edition came in at #14 for the year.) And that’s after having placed #9 in 2013. Hyperbole and a Half is a massive mainstream hit.
  • The Walking Dead places four collections in the Top Ten. The two Compendia, placing #2 & #3 in 2014, were #1 & #2 back in 2013. Again, a massive sales success, which is something that can be achieved when the TV show based on the comic is a top drama on television.
  • Without the benefit of any media tie-ins, two Saga collections take up the #4 & #5 spots for the year. Another collection comes in at #12, and Volume 4, not released until near the end of the year, charts at #34. Another mainstream sales success, all the more remarkable for there not being a movie or television show, just comics that people want to read because they’ve heard they’re good comics.
  • In all, 357 different items made the Amazon Top 50 chart for one or more weeks. Of those, six were on the chart for all 52 weeks in 2014: Hyperbole and a Half, The Walking Dead Compendia 1 & 2, Saga vols. 1 & 3, and Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition. Another five were on the chart for all but one of those weeks.
  • A whopping 227 items only showed up on the chart for just one week, including four items who spent their only week in the #1 position (all four were sale-priced Kindle editions).
  • DC’s presence on the 2014 top 50 is basically Batman titles, plus two Alan Moore works: Watchmen & V for Vendetta. Their top seller, Batman: The Killing Joke, is the perfect storm of a Batman comic written by Alan Moore.
  • Marvel doesn’t place any items in the 2014 Top 50 (note that the Marvel Encyclopedia is put out by DK, not Marvel). Their top book is the Kindle edition of Marvel 1602 (on sale price for several weeks in April & May) at #54, followed closely by the first Ms. Marvel collection at #56. Ms. Marvel didn’t come out until late in the year, and early indications in 2015 are that it will be a strong seller, perhaps finally giving Marvel a strong mainstream success in the book market.
  • The best-selling Manga title for 2014 was Attack on Titan, with two volumes ending the year in the top 50.

Publisher Count for the Top 50:

Image Comics: 16
DC Comics: 10
Andrews McMeel: 4
Touchstone Books: 2
Chronicle Books: 3
Pantheon: 3
Jet City Comics: 2
Kodansha: 2
Scholastic: 2
Ballantine: 1
Bloomsbury: 1
DK: 1
Mariner Books: 1
Square Fish: 1
William Morrow: 1

A few notes on the validity of all this: There’s very little. Amazon doesn’t release actual sales data, so we’re stuck with their relative sales rankings. I’ve written a somewhat lengthy missive on the gathering of the data and its meaning (or lack thereof) over at my regular blog here. But in short, this annual compilation is an abstraction of an abstraction of a surrogate for sales and should be taken with a sizable grain of salt.

Bonus to The Beat! Here are the next 50 items in the 2014 annual accounting:

  1. The Harlem Hellfighters
  2. The Walking Dead Book 1
  3. Attack on Titan 3
  4. Marvel 1602 (Kindle)
  5. NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette
  6. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
  7. Civil War
  8. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Trouble Began
  9. How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons
  10. Big Nate: I Smell a Pop Quiz (Kindle)
  11. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  12. Dilbert 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 1: Legacy (Kindle)
  14. Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega
  15. Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1
  16. xkcd: volume 0
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Col. Vol 1
  18. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (Kindle)
  19. The Walking Dead Book 9
  20. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
  21. Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City (The New 52)
  22. Infinity Gauntlet
  23. Attack on Titan 12
  24. Stephen King’s N. (Kindle)
  25. Godzilla: Awakening
  26. The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1 (Kindle)
  27. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers
  28. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
  29. The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Vol. 1: The Curse of Herobrine
  30. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Kindle)
  31. Forever Evil (The New 52)
  32. Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Verse
  33. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Kindle)
  34. Snoopy: Cowabunga! (Kindle)
  35. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 1
  36. The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition
  37. The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  38. Maxine Boxed Calendar (2015)
  39. Injustice Year Two #3 (Kindle)
  40. Attack on Titan 13
  41. Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape
  42. Attack on Titan 14
  43. The Complete Far Side (paperback)
  44. Attack on Titan 11
  45. My Dog, the Paradox
  46. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery
  47. The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us (Kindle)
  48. Injustice Year Two #2 (Kindle)
  49. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 3
  50. Injustice Year Two #4 (Kindle)

(A version of this article previously appeared on Yet Another Comics Blog.)

Allie Brosh is probably the best selling cartoonist of the year

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Allie Brosh’s debut book Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened came out earlier this week, and it’s selling very well. I took a snapshot of Amazon sales on Wednesday and just now. On Wednesday it was the #5 book over all, and it’s still the #8 book over all, indicating a steady stream of sales. (Amazon tagged it as the best book of the month.)

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I’m told that at a Wednesday night signing, Brosh signed for more than three hours, in front of a packed, SRO room, sketching in everyone’s book. Already a huge internet phenomenon, Brosh’s highly personal and hilarious stories speak directly to a huge audience of women and men who are still trying to figure things out—unlike Beat commenters who have EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT IN DETAIL AND AREN’T AFRAID TO LET EVERYONE ELSE KNOW IT.

I’ve already seen some traditional comics outlets questioning whether this is a book of “comics” or not—and of course there are long stretches of prose, accompanied by what are definitely cartoons. (I asked a Brosh fan of my acquaintance about the question of whether Brosh is a cartoonists or not and she literally snorted.) The drawings are crude, it must be said. In fact, they make Drabble look refined. But they reflect the personal nature of the work, the pain, occasional alienation, disappointment, and general flailing about that Brosh chronicles. Every young woman has felt like Brosh’s misshapen, wide-eyed squiggle at some time in their lives—myself included. It’s definitely comics. And you know what, comics industry, you need to embrace Allie Brosh as a cartoonist because, like I always say, DON’T DISTANCE YOURSELF FROM SUCCESS.

Also, when you click on Brosh’s Amazon page the most interesting thing is the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” listing. (Click for larger.)
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The Oatmeal, Kate Beaton, Clare Belton. Today’s link is the XKCD book. Pretty clear indications of the ascendance of webcartoonists in the book reading (as opposed to fan) side of comics.

Anyway this is part of the wave of NEW READERS in comics. Part of why things are going so well right now. These are not your “pap pap” comics. Readers who are passionate about authors. I don’t expect anyone in the “comics-niscenti” end of things to ever accept Brosh as a cartoonist or to engage with her work. Luckily, that attitude doesn’t matter.

BONUS: long interview with Brosh at Mother Jones.