As it usually does when it ships, The Walking Dead rules the Comixology sales chart for the week of 9/5/18 and we even have an incursion from a sale digital trade paperback.

Issue Previous Issue Print Sales Est. Previous Issue Diamond Rank
1 The Walking Dead Issue #183 67,681 17
2 Batman (2016-) Issue #54 111,549 8
3 Justice League (2018-) Issue #7 77,023 13
4 Avengers (2018-) Issue #7 55,850 24
5 Captain America (2018-) Issue #3 167,414 3
6 Star Wars (2015-) Issue #53 49,136 32
7 Immortal Hulk (2018-) Issue #5 44,389 36
8 Paper Girls Issue #24 21,214 98
9 The Dreaming (2018-) Issue #1 N/A
10 Astonishing X-Men (2017-) Issue #15 48,504 33
11 Batman (2016-) Vol. 6: Bride or Burglar 5,400* 1-tpb
12 Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016-) Annual Issue #2 26,657* 72*
13 Nightwing (2016-) Issue #48 26,899 69
14 Asgardians of the Galaxy (2018-) Issue #1 N/A
15 Adventures of the Super Sons (2018-) Issue #2 N/A
16 X-Men Gold (2017-) Issue #35 34,409 48
17 Deathstroke (2016-) Issue #35 36,092 45
18 Cosmic Ghost Rider (2018) Issue #3 (of 5) 92,327 10
19 Green Lanterns (2016-) Issue #54 24,316 84
20 Thanos Legacy (2018) Issue #1 N/A

This week is potentially representative of the new comics order after the summer relaunches.  Walking Dead we expect to be #1 in digital.  Batman we expect to be #2 unless something like Doomsday Clock ships the same week.  Justice League seems like it’s probably going to settle in at somewhere between 70% and 80% of Batman.  Avengers is probably going to be the bestselling Marvel digital title (Avengers #5 charted above Thor #3 when they shipped on the same week in July).  Captain America is settling in between Avengers and Star Wars.  Since Star Wars appears to be having  a bit of attrition, that would put Cap theoretically performing like a low 50Ks book, which would seem like an improvement.  Immortal Hulk looks like it’s going to be a solid mid-to-upper 40Ks performer in print and it shows up after Star Wars on the chart, then Paper Girls, which always drastically over-performs in print shows up at #8.  And here ends the part of the chart where we have a pretty good idea of the numbers involved.

The Dreaming #1 is certainly charting very well for a Vertigo title.  The question is how well?  The print estimate for the previous issue of Astonishing X-Men seems a bit higher than it’s behaving in digital.  It’s probably a high 30Ks equivalent, maybe low 40Ks, to judge by what’s below it.  Which would lead me to estimate The Dreaming is behaving as print title somewhere in the vicinity of 40K in orders.

The #11 comic of the week is Batman, Vol. 6.  Yes, it’s the digital TPB from July 31st that happens to be on sale for $5.99.  There were 5400 orders for it in the Direct Market in July (too soon for reorders).  This book appears to be behaving like a high 30Ks, maybe even 40K print title.  If you figure digital sales are 10-15% of print, we’re talking about potentially 4K-6K downloads if the sale was equally popular across the various digital channels.  Most likely it didn’t QUITE match initial print orders from the shops, but that’s not outside the realm of possibilities.  Yes, people do like a good digital sale.

The Doctor Aphra Annual and Nightwing appear to be over-performing in digital, which you expect with Nightwing, though Aphra’s a bit more of a wildcard.

The debut of Asgardians of the Galaxy and the second issue of Super-Sons would appear to be functioning as mid-30K-ish titles, which would seem to be good performance for both and it will be interesting to compare that with the eventual print estimates.

X-Men Gold and Deathstroke appear roughly where you’d expect them, though with the print order of the two switched.

Then we have Cosmic Ghost Rider.  A buzz book that doesn’t seem to have buzz in the digital format.  It’s liking performing like a ~25-35K print book and based on previous weeks, unless it’s picking up some steam, I’d guess more like the vicinity of 28K for a print equivalent.  It’ll be interesting to see what the Diamond numbers for August were on this one.

Green Lanterns is #19 and that’s a title that does a bit over 24K in print, which means that our #20 comic of the week, the debut of Thanos Legacy, is behaving like a mid-to-low 20Ks title.  And once more we have a Cates book that’s showing up lower in digital than the print buzz would lead you to suspect.  It’s a very odd situation with how differently some of these Cates titles appear to be under-performing in digital.  Either he’s a lightning rod for print speculators or there’s some kind of demographic quirk with digital readers.  From what I’ve seen of his Thanos and Doctor Strange, it doesn’t appear to be an issue of quality.

While Deathstroke is wrapping up a Batman crossover and we’ll have to see if the audience gains from that are retained, for the most part, this may be what the pecking order of titles looks like for the Fall and perhaps Winter.  It would definitely be interesting if the Gaiman/Sandman-verse titles hold on to their first issue audiences.  Those are numbers Vertigo hasn’t seen in awhile.  In the meantime, while Marvel has some titles like Immortal Hulk and Captain America that have some sales gains, it continues look like Avengers is representative of that mid-50Ks order level they haven’t been able to break through on a regular basis without variants and retailer incentives that don’t exist in the digital world.

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 July chart.

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

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