Is Fantastic Four the breakout hit Marvel’s been searching for? Maybe it is. It’s a bit too early to tell, but it’s the #1 selling title at Comixology for the week 0f 9/12/18 as we look at another sales chart that varies wildly from the Diamond estimates as relaunch season marches on.
|Issue||Previous Issue Print Sales Est.||Previous Issue Diamond Rank|
|1||Fantastic Four (2018-) Issue #2||368,914||1|
|2||Superman (2018-) Issue #3||77,464||8|
|3||Amazing Spider-Man (2018-) Issue #5||81,630||7|
|4||Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #21||44,681||33|
|5||Infinity Wars (2018) Issue #3 (of 6)||70,348||12|
|6||Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #988||51,362||24|
|7||The Wicked + The Divine Issue #39||10,124||179|
|8||The Flash (2016-) Issue #54||48,992||26|
|9||Titans (2016-) Issue #25||30,889||66|
|10||X-Men Blue (2017-) Issue #35||28,038||87|
|11||Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #54||34,990||47|
|12||Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016-) Issue #26||21,874||114|
|13||X-23 (2018-) Issue #4||33,490||53|
|14||Hawkman (2018-) Issue #4||27,331||90|
|15||Ms. Marvel (2015-) Issue #34||13,338||157|
|16||Runaways (2017-) Issue #13||11,549||171|
|17||Catwoman (2018-) Issue #3||64,721||15|
|18||Rat Queens (2017-) Issue #11||8,698||184-July|
|19||Domino (2018) Issue #6||23,056||105|
|20||Supergirl (2016-) Issue #22||28,507||82|
Buckle in, this week’s sales chart continues the trend of lots of sudden turns as the new crop of launches and relaunches seek their level.
Fantastic Four #2 is the top book. How well did it sell? It’s really hard to tell. #1 had an absurd number of variant covers and all sorts of incentive discounts, so the the Diamond sales estimate has exactly zero basis for comparison on digital readers who just want the story. But it sold well and MIGHT be that breakout hit Marvel needs so badly. It’s more appropriate to get excited if it’s the top book after the fourth issue, but beggars and choosers.
Superman is the #2 comic of the week. The estimate is from the second issue and there’s usually at least a 20% drop from issue 2 to issue three, so we should probably take the Diamond estimate with a grain of salt for moment. Issues 3 and 4 tend to be slightly more stable, in terms of circulation.
Amazing Spider-Man is in third place. Again, I’d ignore that Diamond estimate because Amazing hasn’t been behaving like an 80K+ book in digital. That said, this month it’s ahead of Darth Vader, the fourth place book. Vader’s been fading in print and the second issue of July had a substantial drop off, but the title’s looked fairly consistent on Comixology charts. Either Amazing is picking up a little steam or Vader is fading a bit. I’ve had Vader pegged as behaving like it was selling approximately 55K in print. Detective Comics, perpetually hovering around 51K mark on the Diamond charts is the #6 comic of the week, so if Vader’s slowing, it’s slowing more slowly than the print orders have been.
The latest issue of Infinity Wars is the #5 comic of the week. It’s bounded on either side by Vader and Detective, so throw out all the retailer incentives and it’s behaving like a ~51K-55K selling print title, which seems a bit low for Marvel’s Event du jour, but that’s the direction Marvel’s Events have been heading in.
Coming in at #7 is The Wicked and the Divine. Yes, it’s over-performing to an absurd degree. A 10K print seller acting like something in the vicinity of a 50K seller in digital.
The Flash is in eighth place. We’ve noticed it slowing down a little in digital since the “Flash War” arc ended and the Diamond numbers dipping to ~49K would seem to confirm that.
Slots #10 – #13 on the list are a bit of a mystery. They are, in order: Titans, X-Men Blue, Wonder Woman, Red Hood and the Outlaws and X-23. However you interpret it, Red Hood continues to be over-performing in digital, as not quite 22K print title behaving like (depending on how you interpret this section) a 33K or 28K title. Past that, either Titans and X-Men Blue are significantly up, particularly X-Men Blue or Wonder Woman and X-23 are dropping off. Where I’m sitting that’s a toss-up, though I’m leaning towards Titans and X-Men Blue having a surge of interest. Titans does seem to have been benefiting from a new direction and joining the Justice League-verse.
Hawkman is next on the list, and even relative to the mysteries above and below, this is about where you’d expect to see a title whose previous issue sold ~27.3K in print.
#15 and #16 on the list are Ms. Marvel and Runaways, both behaving like books of twice their print circulation when viewed on the digital chart. Probably more than double in the case of Runaways.
#17 is Catwoman. Venom and Cosmic Ghost Rider do not have a lock on big shocks for comics performing much, much lower in digital. Now, I’ll grant you we’re looking at a drop from issue #2 to issue #3, but the previous issue of Catwoman was ordered into the Direct Market at ~64.7K. It’s performing in digital like it was a… call it ~24-27K seller. Over a 50% drop. Now, if we look at the previous issue in digital, it was behaving like approximately a ~30K print title, so in digital the drop off from #2 to #3 is not so unusual, but wow is there a disconnect from the print ordering.
Rat Queens is next on the list, likely over-performing by 2.5x to 3x compared to print orders.
#19 on this week’s list is Domino, which seems about right here, but possibly over-performing slightly.
On the other hand, #20’s Supergirl seems to be under-performing in digital.
Lots of divergences from the print orders this month. Some of it is likely the longer order adjustment period + order incentives on the retailer side, some of it appears to be different tastes in digital, though. The newstand readers were always a little different than the Direct Market collectors, so it’s always been more unusual that there wasn’t more divergence between the Comixology and Diamond lists.
Methodology and standard disclaimers:
The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 9/9) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for from the Comichron August chart, with the exception of Rat Queens, for which the last issue came out in July.
The conventional wisdom that’s been handed down over the last few years is that he digital audience has more of less the same reading habits as the Direct Market Print audience. I’ve had multiple publishers tell me that digital sales of new issues are roughly 10-15% of print sales and the titles more or less have the same proportional popularity in digital as in print. Maybe a couple titles switch places on the sales ranking list, but largely the same. The bestsellers on the newsstand were not always the same bestsellers as in the Direct Market, so it doesn’t seem like that should necessarily be the case with digital. There will be a little bit of mismatch because these are more weekly than monthly ranks and it isn’t clear exactly how Comixology defines the reporting periods, but if you look at comics sales, you learn to live with the data available.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.