Fantastic Four #1 landed with a big splash atop the Comixology Bestseller list for the week of 8/8/18.  Catwoman?  Not so much.

Comixology Rank Issue Previous Issue Print Sales Est. Previous Issue Diamond Rank
1 Fantastic Four (2018-) Issue #1 N/A N/A
2 Superman (2018-) Issue #2 133,703 5
3 Amazing Spider-Man (2018-) Issue #3 113,944 7
4 Darth Vader (2017-) Issue #19 48,201 34
5 The Sandman Universe (2018-) Issue #1 N/A N/A
6 Detective Comics (2016-) Issue #986 51,750 29
7 The Flash (2016-) Issue #52 53,616 26
8 Injustice 2 (2017-) Issue #70 Digital First
9 Titans (2016-) Issue #24 33,060 50
10 Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps (2016-) Issue #50 27,998 67
11 Wonder Woman (2016-) Issue #52 50,901 31
12 Hunt For Wolverine: Adamantium Agenda (2018) Issue #4 (of 4) 31,128 52
13 Catwoman (2018-) Issue #2 121,056 6
14 Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016-) Issue #25 18,829 109
15 X-Men Blue (2017-) Issue #33 28,839 65
16 Hawkman (2018-) Issue #3 30,781 56
17 Spider-Man (2016-) Annual Issue #1 N/A
18 Supergirl (2016-) Issue #21 30,787 61-APR
19 Plastic Man (2018-) Issue #3 20,632 99
20 Domino (2018) Issue #5 23,923 88

This is a really interesting week for the sales chart.  There are a lot of fairly young books that haven’t necessarily found their level in print yet and a lot of books that seem to be picking up some readers in digital.

Fantastic Four #1 tops the list and we really don’t have a good point of reference for it, because we don’t have solid numbers for the comics immediately behind it.  It’s followed by Superman #2,  the previous issue of which was ordered into the DM at 133.7K.  That’s probably a little high for a digital equivalent, but it’s too early to say.  Amazing Spider-Man #3 follows Superman and the previous issue was ordered into the DM at ~114K, but that was a double shipping first month, so that might not be the level and we really need another month’s print numbers to get a baseline here…  and/or see where they stand vs. an issue of Batman or Justice League.  Upshot is that Superman and Spidey seem to be holding on to a significant number of readers for the relaunch.

Darth Vader is next on the list and this one we have a better idea about.  This is where Vader normally shows up.  The print orders for Vader are down a bit in July, but that doesn’t appear to be the case at Comixology, where it continues to be a roughly the equivalent of a 55K seller.

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Sandman Universe #1 follows Vader, which indicates the equivalent of a low-to-mid 50Ks print total.  That’s the best Vertigo performance in recent memory and it will be interesting to see if this is a title that over-performs in digital.

After SandmanDetective Comics and The Flash flip flop places this week.  Flash has been on a hot streak and was ordered into the DM with ~2K more copies in July, so either Detective’s heating up in digital or Flash is cooling off.  Either way, it’s likely a relatively tight sales spread from Darth Vader through The Flash.

Injustice is in the 8th spot and continues to be the likely dividing line between the titles that sell 50K+ in print and everything else.  And below Injustice, we can very nearly through the print rankings out the window.

Titans is #9 on the chart.  Titans made a big sales jump digitally when it started a storyline that spun out of Justice League: No Justice and the print bump in sales doesn’t appear to be quite as large.  It’s a little hard to say exactly where this would fall based on the comics immediately around it, but if I had guess, I’d say this is probably around the print equivalent of ~40K-45K vs. ~33K being ordered into the DM of the previous issue.

Hal Jordan is the next book and it’s one that’s always over-performed in digital.  It’s followed by Wonder Woman and here we’re met by another quandry.  WW #51 had a big sales bump in print orders that might not have showed up as such in digital.  #50 was ordered into the DM at ~38.4K, #51 at 50.9K.  #52, this week’s issue, looks like it’s probably closer to being the close to the #50 print orders than #51, but it’s a little hard to be definitive, other than it if were being ordered at the equivalent of 50K+, it would _probably_ be on the other side of Injustice.

Hunt For Wolverine: The Adamantium Agenda looks to be the best performer out that quartet and the final issue shows up at #12.  #3 was ordered into the DM at a bit over 31K and it seems like this one is probably right around the print equivalent of 30K, based on what follows it a few places lower.

Catwoman is the #13 seller of the week.  Throw the non-wedding tie-in print orders out the window for this one.  #2 looks to be closer to a print equivalent of somewhere around 30K for the digital audience.  30K is not a horrible number these days, but that’s quite a tumble from the hype around the first issue.

Red Hood and the Outlaws is next on the list.  This is another title that’s gotten a digital bump in the last few issues and another title that would seem to be acting like a ~28K-30K print equivalent title.

X-Men: Blue is #15 on the list and looks to be about where it’s supposed to be, the previous issue having been ordered in at ~28.9K  Hawkman follows that and if the second issue was ordered into the DM at ~30.8K, standard attrition would likely put it right around this spot, so that seems normal.

Spider-Man Annual is #17 for the week.  Post-Bendis Miles Morales… that just seems like a strange thing to be typing, but it’s showing up as likely the print equivalent of mid-to-high 20Ks.

Supergirl returns with a new look and a plot related to the Bendis Superman book, but it sure doesn’t seem to have caught on digitally.  April’s issue, was ordered into the DM at around ~30.8K, very close to Hawkman #2 numbers.  This one looks to be doing the print equivalent of mid-to-high 20Ks, probably less than half of the Superman numbers.

This week ends with two Gail Simone titles: Plastic Man and Domino.  In print, Domino was ordered into the DM ~3.3K higher, but at Comixology, Plastic Man is the better seller and likely over-performing a little bit in digital, though both title here are roughly where we’d expect to see them.

All these relaunches and direction changes are definitely shaking up the digital charts and likely will continue to for a couple months, but it sure is interesting looking at how digital keeps diverging from print sales.  Worth noting: no Image makes the chart this week.  Oblivion Song was their big release of the week, but it seems to under-perform in digital for whatever reason.  If it were equivalently popular in digital, it probably should have been somewhere around #12-14.

Methodology and standard disclaimers:

The initial methodology is to compare the current issue on the Comixology top 20 chart (issues pulled the evening of 8/12) with the last issue we have print sales estimates for from the Comichron July chart, with the exception of Supergirl, who last issue was from the April 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

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve heard 10% of print and I’ve heard 15% of print, so it’s probably somewhere in that range and a handful of them crack 10K. Batman, Doomsday Clock, Saga (which is proportionally more popular in digital). But figure if most comics sell ~25K in print, they’ll sell ~2500-3750 digitally. But that’s over all of digital. Comixology is the dominant digital storefront, though.

    Now, that said, it’s not clear what kind of a discount the established publishers are getting and there aren’t any print costs, so they might be more profitable to the publishers on a per issue basis.

  2. I’ve said this before, but I don’t believe 10-15%.

    Darth Vader #19 has 133 ratings on Comixology. Assuming its sales equal issue #18 that equated to 4,820-7,210 people bought it. This would suggest only 1.8 – 2.8% of people rated it, which I find implausible.

    10-15%, if provided by publishers, seems more likely to compare ALL digital sales, including the long-tail of all issues/collections/sale items sold in a month regardless of when released, and not be a useful comparison for new single issue sales in first week. List price vs sale price?

    On the other hand, the regular sales don’t seem to break top 25 often and publishers appear to find value in putting them on sales regularly. That suggests they must do decent numbers.

    Honestly, I’d guess Brian’s question as to whether hundreds or thousands is a good one, and it depends on day as to what I think answer is.

  3. Are there any benefits to rating a comic on Comixology? I can understand doing it on a service like Netflix, where it helps the algorithm get better at predicting what you’ll like, but for Comixology, why would a reader bother rating a book?

    Those are low rating numbers, definitely. But I don’t know if I’ve ever rated a book I’ve read on Comixology, and I certainly don’t make a habit of it.

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