Brian Wood is the loudest critic of the various “comic book sales chart” out there (including the ones run here), and he’s always clear about why that is: the numbers aren’t accurate. In this post, he looks at the numbers again, and addresses the controversy, we think, pretty fairly all around.

Thought I would update, as I got new royalty statements in the mail.

DMZ v2: Body of A Journalist, as of June 30: 12,588

So from the end of April to the end of June, two months, that’s 2,790 additional copies (and counting, since many more have been sold in the last four months). And just to further beat you all with the point we’ve been making all this time, that these sales charts are fiction – they would tell you that this book has sold, to date, significantly less than half of the actual amount. The writer of the CBR article, John Mayo I think, had gone and amended some of the language in his article to reflect how incomplete the numbers were, but I wanted to post this info anyway. I’ve gotten many demands to “leak” numbers, since I am so vocal on this subject, but telling you my orders and sales numbers is something I have always done, not just for Vertigo, and often against the wishes of some (past) publishers.

(also, my royalty statements show that the DMZ single issues are still selling, even all the way back to #13, which is a year ago. on average, the singles sell between 1,300 and 2,000 ((and counting)) over what the reported numbers say)

I share a lot of people’s desire to see the real numbers released to the public. Well, I should say I wish there wasn’t such a public demand for them – not sure why readers feel they are OWED private information – but I do want them to be public because I think it would change, in a massive way, the perception of Vertigo as a line and maybe end a lot of this chatter and snark on the subject, OR at least change the way these information is analyzed…


  1. Please, that’s at least as misleading as the DM TPB chart. Of course TPB numbers will be way off, given other distribution channels, longer shelf life etc but the same isn’t true for the monthly charts. And Wood implicitly conflates the two talking about “these sales charts”. Which is nonsense. There’s awful sales charts such as the TPB one and there’s fairly accurate one, like the monthlies. Which, incidentally, is readily apparent from his statement that monthlies average 1.800 more which are under the 300 top-seller radar. For books selling 10-15k (recent Vertigo) that’s not a lot, and it’s a known bias in the data introduced by the 300 item cutoff. In no way does it however change the general picture because the bias is the essentially the same for _all_ books at that sales level (i.e., whose reorders are likely to fall below the cut). For the comparisons that are regularly made (to earlier singles, to books selling at the same level, ballpark-wise across publishers and to thematically similar work) the bias matters not at all.
    As far as I can tell, it could only matter when (a) a specific cutoff (e.g. 10k) is addressed or (b) when long-term comparisons are attempted, as the sales of the cutoff item #300 will vary and one might theoretically compare a fairly clean 12k number (from a time when #300 sold 500 issues) to a considerably underestimated 11k number from a time when #300 sold 2.5k. In the former case the effect is merely cosmetic and applies across the board, in the latter case other changes in circumstances will have far more influence on the perception of success or failure.
    Sure, around the margins on ought to be extra careful in the monthly chart, and, as mentioned, the DM TPB numbers/charts are another (IMO pointless) matter entirely. But that’s all there is to it, and all Wood’s data shows.

  2. not sure why readers feel they are OWED private information

    Given that DC/Vertigo is part of a publicly traded company, shouldn’t that information actually be public information? Not that I care about any numbers per se, mind you, I just think share holders (current and potential) are owed that information if they ask.

  3. Yes, the figures are not correct, but this month’s figures are compared to last month’s figures, giving a snapshot of trends. Trends are all that can be actually determined, even if the numbers this month might be off by 0.02% or by 2%. If every month-to-month chart showed 5% increases followed by 5% decreases time after time, then the figures would be totally useless. Because they show gradual declines (and occasional inclines), they are accurate enough for generalizations about overall sales.

  4. Um… what? Of course the numbers derived from the Diamond numbers only tell a part of the story… all those numbers tell you is approximately what Diamond sold into the Direct Market. Did people actually look at these numbers and think that they had some sort of relation to what sold in the overall market? All they measure is the DM sold through Diamond. Doesn’t include Diamond’s book trade sales for TPBs, or mass market sales through Curtis or whoever is handling those these days direct from DC and Marvel and Dark Horse, or overseas sales (other than Diamond’s UK sales), or any of a number of other nonDM avenues for sales.

  5. No, they don’t include DiamondUK (which ships to the rest of Europe and possibly some other areas) either

    Ed Brubaker posted three issues of Criminal (singles) numbers a while back in response to one of Paul O’s Marvel columns – and, to within less than 1%, the reported numbers were 85% of the numbers on his royalty cheques in each case. Which supports the idea that the trends are valid, for “singles” anyway.

    So potato-potatoe; if they underreport Vertigo “singles” numbers by 15% each time, they’re still below #100, they’re still selling worse than equivalent Vertigo titles of a few years back (except the ones that were already around a few years back).