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DC’s June Sales Distribution: It’s a Good Thing Batman Bounced Back

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The June sales estimates dropped during the show, so let’s spend part of the morning taking a look at some sales distribution charts.

Standard disclaimers: The numbers are based on the Diamond sales charts as estimated by the very reliable John Jackson Miller. These charts are pretty accurate for U.S. Direct Market sales with the following caveats: 1) you can add ~10% for UK sales, which are not reflected in these charts; 2) everyone’s best guess is you can add ~10% for digital sale – while some titles do sell significantly better in digital (*cough* Ms. Marvel *cough*), that’s the average rule of thumb; 3) it’s not going to include reorders from subsequent months, although reorders will show up in subsequent months if they’re high enough.  So if you’re a monster seller in Southampton and the it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.

What’s a sales band? Its another way to have a higher level view of the market.  The general idea is to divide the market into bands of 10K copies sold and see how many issues are in each band.  How many issues sold between 90-99K copies, 80-89K copies, etc. etc. In very broad terms, the market is healthier when there are several titles selling in the 70K-100K+ range because titles that move a lot of copies give the retailers some margin of error on their ordering.  When you see titles selling in the 20-29K band and especially below, there’s a pretty good chance a lot of retailers aren’t ordering those titles for the shelf (pull box/pre-order only) or minimal shelf copies at best.

Above is the DC chart leaving in the Events, which this month are Dark Days: The Forge and another issue of Dark Knight III (which definitely puts the “periodic” in periodical).

Good News: Batman is back up over 100K, Dark Days is off to a healthy start and DK 3 is holding up.

Bad News:  Without those 4 titles, there is no upper list.  Only mid-list and All-Star Batman, the sole other title selling above the 60K line in the Direct Market estimates, is ending soon.  When it goes, the next highest selling ongoing title will likely be Detective Comics or The Flash, both of which are in the 54K-56K range at the moment.

DC had pretty good luck with the Hanna-Barbera and Looney Tunes comics this month, largely because of the DC hero/Looney Tunes crossovers.  And I expect we’ll be seeing Batman/Elmer Fudd show up next month with the second printing.  (If you haven’t read it, go find a copy.  You know how much hype it’s getting?  It still probably exceeds the hype and Lee Weeks isn’t getting enough praise for nailing a really tricky assignment.)

Above is what the chart looks like without Events.  Which in this case is two issues in that 100K+ range and a deluxe edition of DK3 at the bottom of the chart.  This sort of chart is something that’s used for more dramatic effect with Marvel’s sales distribution, but fair is far.  (DC doesn’t game the variant covers as dramatically as Marvel, so it’s not the same concern in terms of ongoing titles.)

And, the observation is the same as usual.  You take away those Batman titles and DC’s sales start to look a lot more like Marvel’s.  That gap between the 100K+ sales band and the rest of the line is astonishing and is only going to get worse post-All-Star Batman unless they can find some new books that catch on. Unless you’re the person who believes that 60K is the upper limit for a “normal” monthly/bi-weekly comic.

Next up, Marvel.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics or have a look at his horror detective series on Patreon.

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