It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts and see where things fall in the market for February 2018. As usual, we’ll start with DC.
Standard disclaimers: The numbers are based on the Diamond sales charts as estimated by the very reliable John Jackson Miller. These charts are pretty accurate for U.S. Direct Market sales with the following caveats: 1) you can add ~10% for UK sales, which are not reflected in these charts; 2) everyone’s best guess is you can add ~10% for digital sales – while some titles do sell significantly better in digital (*cough* Ms. Marvel *cough*), that’s the average rule of thumb; 3) it’s not going to include reorders from subsequent months, although reorders will show up in subsequent months if they’re high enough. So if you’re a monster seller in Southampton and it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.
What’s a sales band? It’s another way to have a higher level view of the market. The general idea is to divide the market into bands of 10K copies sold and see how many issues are in each band. How many issues sold between 90-99K copies, 80-89K copies, etc. etc. In very broad terms, the market is healthier when there are several titles selling in the 70K-100K+ range because titles that move a lot of copies give the retailers some margin of error on their ordering. When you see titles selling in the 20-29K band and especially below, there’s a pretty good chance a lot of retailers aren’t ordering those titles for the shelf (pull box/pre-order only) or minimal shelf copies at best.
A month without Doomsday Clock is a month the market can kiss ~150K copies ordered goodbye. As a result, we only have one title over 100K: Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt from the world of Metal. Now I know DC has been leaning towards Johnnie Walker with their Black Label announcement, but Wild Hunt seems to be more in line with Bicardi or Wild Turkey, for it was ordered at a bit over 101K. (Ask your bartender to explain that joke.)
Let’s have a bit closer look at the DCU first.
Not a big event month, so we’re left with Batman hovering at ~95K/~94K until the wedding, which will doubtless bump the orders up a bit. Then you’ve got Sean Murphy still tearing it up with Batman: White Knight with ~77.4K. Then Detective at ~52K/51K. Figure that this month’s Metal installment has “Dark Knights” in the title and we have the house that Batman built. Take away Batman and nothing breaks 50K.
The next highest is TV’s The Flash at a very tightly clusted ~46K each for two issues and then something interesting happens: we find The Terrifics #1~45.5K. Very nearly debuting as the bestselling non-Batbook.
OK. 46K for the bestselling non-Batbook is not a good situation in the greater scheme of things, but that means something from New Age of Heroes might just be a hit, relative to the sad state of the market. The Terrifics #1 also performed well on Comixology’s weekly charts, which could indicate retailers didn’t order enough and some people fell back on digital or it might merely just be a good sign of reader interest. And since a Plastic Man miniseries was already announced, perhaps DC’s wasted no time making The Terrifics their new franchise?
Speaking of New Age of Heroes, how’s the rest of it doing? Sideways debuted at 35K. Damage #2 is down to 27K. Silencer #2 is down to 21K. We’ll see how it goes next month, but The Terrifics is having a much more promising debut.
Liam Sharp’s Brave & the Bold, which strikes one as the same sort of artist-centric book as New Age of Heroes, except with Batman & Wonder Woman, debuts at ~42K, roughly ½ way between Detective and Wonder Woman. Almost like retailers were splitting the difference when ordering? Hmmm…
Mera debuts at 35K, way above Aquman’s ~25K, which is an interesting contrast.
Alas, there are still more DCU issues under 30K than over 30K and that’s not a great situation. The real bright spot is The Terrifics, assuming it can retain some of that audience. They created sales out of the ether there.
Past there, there continues to be significant reorder activity for Doomsday Clock, Metal, Batman: White Knight and Mister Miracle.
Also of interest, the Batman: Dark Prince Charming Book 1 European HC album was filed with the floppies, not with the graphic novels. Read into DC’s intentions with that as you will, I know I did. It was ordered in at 1750 copies. That’s a sad, sad number for a DC floppy, but it’s a $12.99 book and would have been #17 on the graphic novel chart. Interpret the sales on whichever list you prefer and we’ll see if reorders appear.
Outside the DCU, a digital first title had a better than average debut: video game-based Batman: Sins of the Father was ordered in as ~32.5K. DC is riding a pony named Batman, to be sure.
The Young Animal / Justice League event also went over pretty well with all its issues falling in that 20K-29K band.
Vertigo is even starting to chart (thank you 500 item estimates list) and Deathbed managed to break the 10K barrier, which is a milestone for recent Vertigo.
Was February a good month for DC? Not really, no. But at least we’re seeing a couple non-instant death spiral debuts as we wait for May and June. I’d ask you to consider New 52 wave 3 or wave 4, but you don’t need the nightmares.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics