The October sales estimates are out, so it’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts and see where things fall in the market. As usual, we’ll start with DC.
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.
DC has to be pretty happy with Metal. ~158.7K orders on #3. Another three one-shots between ~87K and 90K. Nearly a 20K jump for The Flash. Metal, along with a couple lenticular covers for Action Comics, makes that distribution chart look healthy. So let’s look at DC with and without the Events and get a bit more objective.
See how much those Metal titles are propping up the top list? You take those away (the two Action lenticular issues were ~88K and ~81K respectively if you combine the lenticular and regular covers and The Flash went ~69.7K as a Metal crossover, normally expected to be… maybe 52K?) and this is what’s left.
You’ve got Batman #32 at ~108.9K, then #33 falls under 100K at ~97.8K. Then you’ve got the first issue of Batman: White Knight at ~86.8K (good for you, Mr. Murphy). I guess you could call that mini-series an Event and increase that gap between Batman and Detective at ~56.8K, but it didn’t seem to be hyped like an event. And yes, the first of October’s two issues of Detective Comics outsold All-Star Batman. I guess people are getting their Snyder + Batman fix with Metal? Can we agree that Metal, and especially with the one-shots, is a Batman vehicle? Gosh, it’s almost like people like to read Batman… because with the exception of those lenticular covers, that’s what’s selling.
Of note: Mister Miracle #3 is holding an audience at ~40.5K. Those are pretty darn good numbers for Mister Miracle. There are also a few Metal-related reorders that charted in October, so some real positive notes.
Of course, the rest of ongoing non-Bat-titles could be better. As you can see from the charts, the majority of the issues are in the 20K-39K range, with the 30-39K sales band being the most heavily populated one. It could be worse and those sub-10K titles are going to start disappearing soon, but events and stunts are what seem to be driving the most profitable titles.
It does make a person think that the “New Age of Heroes” titles spinning off from Metal might have a healthy launch. Time will tell if that comes to pass… and they retain a readership. DC could use something in that Death Valley region on the chart between Batman and Detective. Too many things on the low side of the chart.
The rest of the imprints are doing about what you’d expect. Gotham City Garage might have launched a little better than you’d expect. Vertigo continues to be represented on the charts by Astro City and Mother Night if you consider the pop-up imprints to be part of Vertigo and there’s some suggestion DC might. We await any Bendis pop-up imprint, which ought to be announced before too much longer.
Next month: Doomsday Clock and we’ll see how much the Events dwarf the ongoing titles. But hey, if that’s what keeps the lights on for everyone, so be it.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics