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The comics sales estimator cabal did their work yesterday and the analysis of February’s sales was not good. Via ICv2: February Comics and Graphic Novel Sales Decline

After an abysmal showing in January (see “How Low Can DC Go?”), DC shipped the third issue of Dark Knight III: The Master Race in February, pulling its market share back up to 26%, but the overall market for comics and graphic novels still declined vs. the same month a year ago, by 1.69%, according to information released by Diamond Comic Distributors.  There was a big divergence between comics and graphic novels, with periodical comics down 6.73% and graphic novels up 12.00%.



The usually chipper John Jackson Miller pointed out another bad sign for the month:

But lower volumes this month are real: the month’s 300th place title sold 3,744 copies, the lowest sum since June 2012. Click to see the sales of 300th-place titles across time.

When JJM says things are slowing, it means things are slowing.

One thing I keep seeing people saying is that without Star Wars Marvel would be down, but you know a dollar is a dollar. Why not count Star Wars? It’s not like they’re going to lose the license. Still, this downward trend is real. Is it going to destroy the comics industry? No. Is it going to inconvenience some people and create more struggle? Yes.


  1. “Is it [Star Wars] going to inconvenience some people and create more struggle? Yes.”

    I don’t understand. How will Star Wars comics inconvenience people and create struggle? Sure, I can understand that a softening of the market for super-hero comics might do that, but that isn’t the fault of Star Wars comics.

    The fact that Star Wars comics sell well should actually be a benefit to comic shops, right?

  2. “Is it [this downward trend] going to inconvenience some people and create more struggle? Yes.”

    Fixed that for you. :)

  3. I’ll never understand comics fans’ insistence that “Bestselling Comic A” doesn’t “count” for whatever reason. You break your back on a kids book that sells a million copies only to hear that it didn’t count because it was for kids. The guys at Marvel surely had to move mountains to make that Star Wars series happen, they clear six and seven figure sales, and it doesn’t count.

    What market are we analyzing if not the comics market?

  4. The point about Star Wars is that sales for the brand…

    1. Are not replicable..
    2. Aren’t bringing in new readers who might then try other books.
    3. Will eventually decline.

    Now, I don’t know if any of those are actually true but that’s the argument, that Star Wars is a non-repeatable fad/event that is merely disguising serious problems.


  5. That headline is a bad choice of words if February Sales are not in fact “up.” Maybe “posted” would have been better?

  6. I think Marvel should have used ‘Timely’ for the Star Wars line. Maybe even under their own Star Wars imprint. Problem they face is their own inherent self destructive approach and start publishing too many titles and spin-offs. Keep it to no more than four titles and publish one a week with annuals on five week months.

    Can’t tell me the industry isn’t looking in serious trouble with the numbers DC and Marvel are generally down to.

    In the past the industry really needed Marvel and DC to be feeders and breeders of comic fans so the independent could pick up those that stuck around but wanted something more mature.

    Marvel and DC continue to break the fingers of really good writers and make them churn out unintelligible pap for an every shrinking demographic. There are few if any editors/publishers who know how to produce content to the mainstream market.

    I wonder which of the big two will be the first to switch their line to be purely tie-ins to the movies and TV shows?

  7. I think the Star Wars thing also depends on what one is discussing. If one is discussing the publishing savvy of Marvel Comics, then you can certainly discount Star Wars sales, as the license for that was pretty much dropped in their laps by virtue of being owned by Disney. Marvel isn’t publishing Star Wars due to some smart moves on the part of Axel Alonso et al. Now, in terms of “is Marvel making money”, well certainly.

  8. But yes, the question of “are Star Wars comics readers buying other comics?” is a good question, as is “Are Star Wars comics readers new readers or just the same readers who are pleasantly surprised to now have Star Wars comics to buy?”

  9. It’s not the second question. Dark Horse never had these kind of sales. Not even during the prequels. This is purely because of SW fans solely happy because there’s a new trilogy starring Hamill, Ford., Fisher, etc.

  10. Star Wars was published continually for 20 years by Dark Horse.

    Giving no credit to Marvel for sales is incredibly lame.

  11. “This is purely because”

    They’re actually made by decent creators and about characters people give a shit about.

  12. Chris, Marvel absolutely got the right people to do the books.

    But I’ve yet to hear anyone ever say “This is better than what Dark Horse ever did in the last 20 years” or much less have many people who seemed to read what DH was publishing during that whole period.

    The last time DH really made news with the license (other then the announcement that it was going back to Marvel) was when the Brian Wood Star Wars series got released. Because DH was doing a book full on set in the trilogy with all the characters everyone knows and cares about. They really hadn’t done a book set with the main six in quite a few years before that. Granted, the area was covered a lot in tons of material, but it’s still obviously what fans were wanting to read.

    But now we had a new trilogy of movies coming, with the characters the fans wanted to see, plus a whole new series that now everyone was saying counted? Yep, that’s what was bringing them in. But the strongest reason is because it was set in the original trilogy period..

    But it’s still not just “No credit to Marvel” or anything like that. The fact remains that more people know Marvel then they do Dark Horse so more people are aware they have the SW license. But DC could have gotten it and would have the same reactions (with I imagine their best writers/artists doing the book).

  13. I don’t get this myself. If you mean Diamond distribution network and the comic shops are down due to Marvel and DC basically being a lot of shit, ok. The industry itself!? Puhlease. When you have Raina Telegemeier ruling bookstores with her graphic novels. Her and Derf (Trashed) being paid to visit other countries for signings and whatnot, ruling the critics lists and every wannabe comics creator aspiring to be them, rather than Artist A on Captain America or Artist B on Superman, I think we’re just fine.

    I could be wrong though.

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