As we did yesterday for the print charts, David Brothers data mines comiXology’s year-end charts. There isn’t that much to go on (only a top 10 in a few categories) but some trends do emerge, including, as with GNs, a preponderance of creator-owned work.

A quick glance at the Comixology’s best-selling comics list reveals something remarkable right off the bat. The only Marvel or DC books on the list are Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s Kick-Ass, a creator-owned book, Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War, a work for hire title, and Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth’s Sandman, another work for hire book. If you go by the top ten series, the Big Two are responsible for just 30% of ComiXology’s units sold. This is a sharp drop from the 77% they control in the Direct Market.

Further examination of the Top Ten Series on ComiXology reveals even more interesting data. Creator-owned books are 50% of the list. Creator-owned series don’t even show up on Diamond’s top ten list, but I was still curious. I created a chart of the combined Top 300 sales lists from January 2010 to November 2010, covering 3317 comics, to go along with Diamond’s official Top 500 for 2010.

There’s some argument in the comments over whether Brothers is promoting creator-owned stuff, given that both Marvel and DC have their own apps. Brothers argues that ALL the comics are available through comiXology’s home app.

It’s actually very easy to get a minute-by-minute update of what’s selling in individual apps, as the top 10 are available at any given time. As we write this, Mark Millar continues his assault on all media with Civil War trending. (The #9 and #10 books are also Hulk.)


For DC’s, Batman Beyond, their first day-and-date release is doing well, even at $2.99. (The #9 books is an issue of JLA and #10 is Superman: Secret Origin #6.)


Missing from the discussion is one very key element. If you listen to all the digital players talking at the ICv2 conference, most of them say that their sales skew “young.” Archie Comics’ 1.7 million downloads speak to this. Parents increasingly use their dataphones and tablets as babysitters, and buying comics is part of that. Here’s the Archie app’s top sellers:


Which doesn’t explain why Mark Millar is the king of all media, but it’s something to keep in mind.


  1. So far, the iPad read that has caught me most is ORC STAIN. It’s a super fun book, but something about the way it’s colored just EXPLODES on a lit screen. It’s gorgeous.

    Image and AdHouse both have some great selections. Applause applause…

  2. Alex, it sounds like digital display was taken into account and it was colored in RGB color space, the space of projected light, rather than the normal, less vivid CMYK color space of ink on paper required by printers.

  3. Ironically, the only people who get digital comics right, from a format standpoint, are the pirates.

    I remain hopeful that the industry will some day recognize that.

  4. I think saying that the article referenced here is missing “one key element” is a huge understatement. There’s a mountain of unknown data here that is ignored in the interest of being able to write a piece of hyperbole.

  5. It’s not really hyperbole–I found some interesting data that ran contrary to what proves true in the DM and pointed it out. I made it a point to say that we don’t have hard data, but it’s absolutely fair to look at ComiXology, which has been downloaded more than both Marvel and DC’s apps and is the highest grossing book app on iTunes, in the context of “Who’s buying these books?”

    ComiXology is a big deal and the clear leader in the digital race. For all intents and purposes, they’re shaping up to be Digital Diamond, so looking at their data isn’t short-sighted or dumb or whatever. It’s smart. And the fact that their data is so different than what Diamond reports comic shops ship is one of those things that we need to be looking at.

    ComiXology’s Comics app sells Marvel, DC, and every other publisher. Marvel and DC’s apps sell only their comics. It’s absolutely fair to look at that and go, “Okay, so why are Marvel and DC being dominated in the main app?”

    Heidi–that’s real interesting about digital sales skewing younger. That’s something I’d like to take a closer look at in the future, though I’m not sure how to do so, outside of hassling parents in the street.

    Mark Millar being king of all media is crazy. I wouldn’t think that Civil War would still be selling these days, but it’s doing well.

  6. “ComiXology’s Comics app sells Marvel, DC, and every other publisher. Marvel and DC’s apps sell only their comics. It’s absolutely fair to look at that and go, “Okay, so why are Marvel and DC being dominated in the main app?””

    That is a fair question, yes, and I have theories of my own. I just don’t think that any reasonable conclusion can be drawn without unearthing much more data than what we have at this point. Most of that data will never *be* unearthed, though. I doubt anyone is going to be releasing any specific sales numbers on digital comics any time soon.