ICv2 is up with the actual numbers for January and they aren’t so hot, as we previously guessed; however, the slow January sales have a number of mitigating factors:

* January always sucks
* A lot of top books did not ship from DC
* The number of products shipped in general was down from December.

However, even with all that, things were still not great:

On the graphic novel side the lack of potent titles was even more pronounced.  The #1 book, Jack of Fables Vol. 8 posted the lowest number for a chart topper since ICv2 began charting sales back in 2001.  Jack of Fables Vol. 8 sold 14% fewer copies than Vol.7, which was released in June of 2010. But it should also be noted that Jack of Fables Vol. 7 was only the 9th bestselling book in June of 2010. It has been suggested that the number of releases in January was down and that is the reason for the decline in monthly sales, but in a hit-driven business, it’s not just the number of titles released that counts, it’s also the popularity of those titles.


Now that the actual sales numbers are available it is clear that the strong sales decline of nearly 22% in comics and 16.5% in graphic novels in year-over-year sales in January 2011 is due in part to a lack of big titles in both sales categories. While the comic book side can boast one strong release, the death-aided Fantastic Four #587, it was the only title over 100,000 and the #2 book in January sold under 73,000 (there were 8 titles over 73K in January of 2010). Plus a number of DC’s heavy hitters including Batman Inc., The Dark Knight, Flash, and Green Lantern didn’t ship, which hurt both the overall sales and DC’s market share in particular.

More: Top 300 Comics Actual–January 2011

Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–January 2011


  1. Wow. #300 sold an estimated 1,291 copies!

    December 2010 = 3,811
    November 2010 = 2,814
    January 2010 = 2,357

    So, are stores selling less product in January? Or does the average comics customer have a fixed budget each week, and spends the same amount each week?

  2. MEMO

    RE: numerical abbreviations

    I has come to our attention that you are still using pre-Information-Age abbreviations in headlines, such as “G” (short for “grand”) as an abbreviation for “thousand”. This usage has been superceded.

    As of 01/01/Y2K, “G” (short for “giga”) is now the abbreviation for “billion”. The abbreviation for “thousand” is now “K” (short for “kilo”). Thank you for your compliance.

    -The World Government Department of Names and Numbers :)

  3. How much does Borders’ decline and store closures factor into these numbers? If you check my Twitter feed — link above — I have some pics up of my neighborhood store in Hollywood, CA and the WEIRD way they are suddenly compressing the graphic novel section (by hanging wacked-out Marvel posters to hide the big patches of empty shelfspace).

  4. > How much does Borders’ decline and store
    > closures factor into these numbers?

    These particular numbers are said to come from Diamond Comic Distribution’s sales to comic book specialty stores, and so shouldn’t be overly impacted by (or reflective of) anything going on at Borders or like traditional-book-trade channels.

  5. It is worriesome that the market is really going down fast as I stated on a previous comment a few weeks ago, could the digital wave be hurting comics like it did with the music industry and movies? Alot of people rip off entire runs lik the walking dead for example without paying a dime. Check out :


    Look a January 2005 thru 2010….the top 25 books are down every single year substantially. In 2005 book #25 would sell in the 50k now it is barely holding on the 40k….that is 20% drop and consistant in the top 100 on….hopefully the industry will survive in the long run…but it is looking rather down.

  6. “could the digital wave be hurting comics like it did with the music industry and movies? Alot of people rip off entire runs lik the walking dead for example without paying a dime.”

    Indeed, I have seen people offering free scans of the complete Walking Dead series in multiple places. According to the sales charts posted on The Beat, it is also the ONLY comic book with sales that have increased almost every single month since shortly after its debut (now selling around 10,000 more copies than it did five years ago), with collected versions that continually hover around the top of the graphic novel sales listings (the icv2 article quoted above has a link to Jan’s numbers, and the first volume is sitting at #2).

    So that series was a really bad example to use when making your point. :p

  7. If anything, the collapse of Borders presumably ought to result in some customers transferring to comic stores and thus increasing the numbers.

    As for whether piracy does any serious damage to the numbers, there’s so much conflicting evidence on that sort of thing that all you can really do is shrug your shoulders and say, who knows?

  8. Paul, I hope you’re right about that, but I think a book chain closing is more likely to result in people just giving up on the hobby. Only devotees follow niche art/entertainment to whatever hard-to-find spot in sets up shop in. Look at all the geek-friendly tv shows that get moved to Friday night time slots, only to be canceled because most viewers don’t bother following along.

  9. The biggest problem was the lack of new releases. Marvel saved more than 50% of their entire output for the month until January 26.
    Some of the dearth of product could be because of publishers adapting to Diamond’s new Day Early Delivery-inspired product receiving deadlines, as well. With boxes getting picked and shipped earlier (sometimes more than a day early), products have to be received by Diamond earlier as well. Publishers might have (MIGHT!) slowed their publishing schedule a bit to give Diamond some time to adjust.

  10. The more I think about these numbers, it looks like 20,000 monthly readers have left the hobby. Now the $3.99 price point has caught up to the rest of the market. I really believe that Marvel is strangling the direct market to death.