DC sold a lot of comics — so many that they actually sent out a press release about it; even Diane Nelson, previously silent on the relaunch, now thinks it was a great idea. Selling five million comics in 6 weeks is indeed a sizable number; however, what augurs the best for the comics industry is that sales across the board were up. Marvel had its best September in a while, as did Image. We’re not talking a return to 1993 — as some retailers think — but more like a return to 2003. Which is still great.

It’s fairly obvious that customers were waiting for something exciting to happen in order to go back into stores; these disenchanted readers — Dan DiDio’s much-loved “lapsed readers” — have now discovered that comics are still fun. But will they stay that way?

Launched in a normal fashion, all but a handful of these new 52 books would have been hard-pressed to get 30K in orders; some would have considered 25K a giant success. Now they’re selling five million? How is that possible?

The surge in retailer confidence is really the success story here for the future.

DC Comics – the home of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman – is experiencing its best comic books sales in more than 20 years, following a historic renumbering of all DC Comics titles with 52 all-new first issues. With sales of more than 5 million copies in only six weeks, the first issues of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 are generating international headlines and bringing fans back into comic book stores across the country.
“We are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive response from retailers, fans and the creative community to DC Comics — The New 52,” said DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson. “This was a bold publishing initiative that is reinvigorating and growing the industry and medium we love.”
“We did more than just change Superman’s costume and renumber the entire line. We took a huge risk and it’s paying off,” said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and artist of JUSTICE LEAGUE. “Comic book retailers are seeing returning fans and as well as new readers flock to their stores.”
Earlier this year, and before DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched on August 31st, the industry’s bestselling comic book title typically sold about 100,000 copies. In contrast:
·       JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 has sold more than 250,000 copies.
·       ACTION COMICS #1 and BATMAN #1 have both sold more than 200,000 copies.
·       DETECTIVE COMICS #1, THE FLASH #1, GREEN LANTERN #1 and SUPERMAN #1 have all sold more than 150,000 copies.
So, just how many comic books are we talking about? With New York Comic Con kicking off this week, let’s look to some of New York’s famous landmarks for some visual context. It takes (approximately):
·       2,090,880 comic books laid end to end to stretch from one end of New York State to the other. We’ve sold enough DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 first issues to span New York State in its entirety two times over. 
·       174,480 comic books stacked on top of each other to reach the top of the Empire State Building. That’s every copy of GREEN LANTERN #1—with issues to spare.
·       36,600 comic books stacked in a pile to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty. That means copies of WONDER WOMAN #1 could reach the top of Lady Liberty almost three times. 
Oh, and 5 million copies sold?  That’s enough copies of DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 to lay out and span the distance from New York to Chicago – with some left over. “People are buying, reading and talking about a line of comic books in a way they haven’t in years,” said Dan DiDio, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher. “We’re thrilled to see the passionate response fans have had, but this is just Step One for us. Now our plan is to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going.”
“When DC Entertainment was created almost two years ago, we committed to an environment of ‘no fear’ when it came to creative and business risks,” said Nelson. “I couldn’t be more proud of our Publishing team for embracing this mantra and delivering in a way that is growing the genre, our partners’ businesses and our fan base, while helping to fuel the creative engine that drives so many Warner Bros.’ content businesses.”
In addition to debuting all-new first issues in comic shops, DC COMICS – THE NEW 52 launched same-day digital publishing, with DC Entertainment becoming the first major comic book publisher to release their entire line of ongoing titles same-day digital.
“Our digital sales have been better than we could have imagined and we are pleased that these sales are additive to traditional publishing sales in the comic book stores,” said John Rood, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. “We’re not migrating readers from print to digital. We’re adding more new readers into the mix.”


  1. Wow. I am legitimately impressed. It’s more than I expected and I hope this continues. I’d be so happy if I didn’t have to worry constantly that graphic storytelling was circling the drain.

  2. Five million is correct. DC’s cut of the Top 300 comics in September at Diamond works out to 3.39 million units; add JL in September and two weeks of October and you’re there. For contrast, in a weak overall month, February of this year, its share was 1.69 million units.

    Amusing to see the comparatives. The promo cards for my Comichron site note that “Enough comic books have been sold since 1935 to cover Manhattan Island… three times over!”

  3. The five million figure is good, but as far as reaching potential readers is concerned, it would be better for, say, 800,000 to 900,000 people to have bought anywhere from six to seven issues each, and better still for 1.3 million people to have bought 4 issues each, than it would be for 500,000 people to have bought ten issues each. The wider a publication’s appeal is, the easier it is to keep circulation numbers up and to try to get individual readers to buy more issues. The results of Nielsen’s survey could be important in figuring out how to keep the circ numbers up.


  4. Nice, almost as good as two weeks worth of Japan’s Shonen Jump magazine. Or a single Asterix book.

    US is bigger and richer than France and Japan put together. Those numbers are WAY too small! In the 80s, Marvel and DC would have cancelled books selling less than 100k.

  5. @Pedro Bouça

    Sad, but true. These numbers are good compared with last years’ numbers, but are nothing compared to the heyday.
    But LET’S NOT FORGET THE TRADE PAPERBACKS that are due in the future :)

    Asterix sold more than 400 million copies worldwide, Tintin more than 200… I have a question tough, for you and everybody that knows the answer (that includes THE BEAT): How many copies sold the bestselling American Graphic Novel? I mean, is there a GN that sold more than, let’s say 2-3 million copies?

  6. Other articles showed that revenue was actually DOWN 1% due to lower trade and hardcover sales. In other words, retailers and consumers bought fewer collections because they knew the money would be going to DC’s #1s instead.

    So even in the biggest month ever in a long time, the industry is still down. But people are calling this a victory.

    It’d only be a victory if we can sustain growth. And contrary to what this article intimates, we’re not growing at all, not even in our best month in almost a decade.

  7. “Asterix sold more than 400 million copies worldwide, Tintin more than 200… I have a question tough, for you and everybody that knows the answer (that includes THE BEAT): How many copies sold the bestselling American Graphic Novel? I mean, is there a GN that sold more than, let’s say 2-3 million copies?”

    The Monster At The End Of This Book
    by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin

    The Muppet Wiki reports that it sold two million copies when it was released in 1971. Forty years later, it’s probably sold at least five million in various editions (include a $3.99 Golden Book, an e-book, and an app).

    #2? Black and White by David Macaulay. It won the Caldecott Medal in 1991, which guarantees bestseller status, and keeps the book in print forever. Most of the continuous sales are to libraries.

    #3? In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak. It was a Caldecott Honor book in 1971, and remains controversial. Sendak continues to sell.

    “Alien the Illustrated Story did make the bestseller list, but it seems unlikely that it sold one million copies.

    Another candidate is the first Pogo book by Walt Kelly. It ranked #8 on Publishers Weekly non-fiction list for 1951. If it remained in print along with the 45 Simon & Schuster Pogo books, it could have sold more than a million copies. This book is not a strip reprint book, but instead re-positions panels into a comic book format to tell a smoother narrative.

    For Marvel and DC, the big sellers are Watchmen, The Death of Superman, and V for Vendetta (it hit the bestseller list during the movie).

    The other perennial sellers are Maus by Art Spiegelman and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, both of which are popular in college curricula. 25 years of sales for Maus, 10 for Persepolis.