ICv2’s January number have been posted, and although they aren’t horrific, they ain’t great. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #583 set a sales record, but overall periodical sales were down nine percent.

DC’s Final Crisis was one of only four titles that picked up circulation in January, and absent ASM #583, it would have finished a close second to Marvel’s Dark Avengers #1, the key book in Marvel’s Dark Reign event in which Norman Osborne takes over the Avengers (aka his Thunderbolts playing Avengers). After the Dark Reign-aided New Avengers #49, sales of subsequent titles dropped off quickly and remained weak down the list (see “Comic Sales Drop in January” for an analysis how the #10, #20, #50, #100, and #300 titles dropped versus similarly positioned comics in January of 2008). How long will it be before someone notices that the top five titles all have a $3.99 cover price, and start blaming the higher cost of the top tier of titles for the drop-off of the downlist books?

BUT, according to the dollar analysis:

Sales of the top 100 graphic novels were up 4%, an increase that brought the overall decline in sales of both the top 300 comics and top 100 graphic novels down to 7%.

Not good times for the pamphlet, as collections seem to be making up more and more of stores’ bread and butter.

Just how these figures jibe with retailers who had their best Januarys ever we shall leave to the comment thread to decode.

ICv2 – Top 300 Comics Actual–January 2009
ICv2 – Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–January 2009


  1. I don’t know what the end-game of Dark Reign will be, but it has demonstrated that few writers can spell Norman Osborn’s name correctly.

    I’m curious — does that number for ASM #583 include only the first printing? Or maybe the first two?

    I see Jeff Parker’s new Mysterius the Unfathomable book below #200 on the chart. The second issue comes out today, and it’s worth picking up.

  2. But Brian Hibbs said we were crazy when we were predicting January sales would be horrific across the board! Oh, that’s right, he’s the same guy who implied the recession was an invention of the media in a Tiltings column. (Yes, I’m relishing this “told you so” because of how snarky he always is.)

    Also, I hope no one is surprised to see the floppy is dying. As already seen with manga – the true mainstream – the trade is the future and the future is now.

    Despite my only buying a couple floppies (RASL and Madman), I’m still pretty friendly with my LCS guy. According to him, business is so bad he’s barely keeping his doors open. He’s already resorting to selling hot books on e-bay just to get by. Quite frankly, I don’t see him surviving the upcoming year.

  3. Kenny, how long has your LCS guy had his store, do you live in a small or big city with an especially hard hit economy (and does said LCS have a lot of local competion)? Brian Hibbs has owned his store for something like 20 years so I think he knows a thng or two about a thing or two. And about manga, well any number of LCS will tell you that it’s not the sales force it once was and “regular” bookstores are returning a lot of manga when their return window comes up.

  4. It is entirely possible for many individual stores to flourish while we see declines in the aggregate. And Ralph’s right that manga sales in the bookstore trade were off last year by worse than comics sales were off this month.

    Rich, the Amazing Spider-Man number includes sales of all printings so long as the copies were shipped in calendar January, as I understand it. The first printing, Milton is correct, is probably the smaller printing, since retailers did not know the significance of the issue when it was first solicited. I would expect that printing to be around the usual 70,000. The book just missed being the all-time Diamond-era record setter, coming in just under Darkness #11 from December 1997 — I’ve added a records page on Comichron dealing just with the Diamond years.

  5. One of my local shops certainly takes no chances. Last week I purchased their ONLY!! shelf copy of the new Gaiman/Kubert issue of Batman.
    I think that at that level of frugality, they are, of course, doing harm to themselves.

  6. it is entirely possible to see monthly comic sales dip and still have a great month.

    It is also possible to see an overall dip in a traditionally slow sales month without that meaning, you know…. Anything at all, aside from “gosh, people shop a little less in the sub zero weather.”

  7. Hm. Many of the stores I know have been doing Ebay sales of old stock for some time now, as in 5+ years. Some are much more aggressive than others, particularly those that skew towards back issues (for which Ebay is practically a requirement these days.)

  8. Rich, the ASM number covers the first three printings, which shipped in January. The fourth and fifth printings shipped in February, so they’ll appear as re-orders on next month’s chart.

  9. “Brian Hibbs has owned his store for something like 20 years so I think he knows a thng or two about a thing or two.”

    He also just figured out POS systems in the last two or three years when there have been UPC codes on comics for at least 20, so there are clearly some things he doesn’t know.

    The fact that his “revelation” about basic inventory management wasn’t greeted with a resounding chorus of, “No shit,” is a clear indicator that a lot of LCS’s don’t know the first thing about running a business and won’t have the skills to make it through the downturn.

  10. Hibbs, and many other retailers for that matter, just recently started using POS systems because there has been no reliable comic-centric software available, until recently. Hibbs and others like him who run great stores and know how to manage a business will do just fine. A great comic store is a fun place, and people will always find money for places that bring them joy.

  11. “Hibbs, and many other retailers for that matter, just recently started using POS systems because there has been no reliable comic-centric software available, until recently.”

    I don’t know the packages to be able to argue specifics, but my LCS has been using POS for at least 13 years, so I don’t buy it. Product is product.

  12. How long is it going to take John Jackson Miller to figure out how to spin AMAZING SPIDER-MAN sales actually dipping below the 60,000 mark?