It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts of Image and the other independent publishers for November.
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 it took the US audience 3 weeks to reorder, it’s probably not going to be reflected here.
What’s a sales band? It’s 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.
For the purposes of these sales band charts, we really are looking for titles that are selling 10K and over, so only publishers with an issue that topped 10K will be listed here. There are also going to be plenty of titles/issues that didn’t make the chart, which generally means they sold under ~4763 in November, but some lower selling titles are reported and that’s not a hard and fast rule. The sad fact is, most independent comics sell under 10K and it’s when they cross that line that they really start getting noticed.
You might be looking at Image’s November chart and thinking “shouldn’t they have more issues selling over 20K?” Yes, you’d think that might be the case, but it’s only Walking Dead at ~63.2K and Paper Girls at ~24.7K that shipped this month. Image encourages creators to take a month or two off around tpb releases, so it’s not necessarily just creators being late… but it certainly can drag down the monthly sales report if things don’t ship. The next highest title was The Realm #3 at ~17.2K… which is one of their better launches in recent history.
What’s going on with the other independent publishers? Glad you asked.
Only 3 issues broke that 20K barrier in November. Valiant’s Ninja-K #1 is actually the second bestselling independent comic at ~25.5K. Dynamite’s Shadow/Batman #2 sold in at ~22.5K and John Wick #1 sold in at ~22.3K. Notable things with the above? There’s an issue #2 selling over 20K, which doesn’t happen as often as it could. Also, Dynamite has the same number of issues selling over 20K as Image does.
Yes, Walking Dead sells so much more as to make it a potentially silly thing, but this is not normally what the chart says.
So what does the chart look like when you put Image on the indie chart?
Oh, sure… Image has much higher volume, but throw about Walking Dead and they don’t have quite such a different in high end volume in November as you do in other months. It’s a little more like what happens when you throw out Batman and Star Wars before comparing DC and Marvel charts.
There’s been some consistent talk among the retailers about Image’s sales slipping a bit. It may be stating the obvious, but you can’t sell what doesn’t ship and that’s illustrated a little more dramatically in November.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics