And now it’s time to look at the Marvel sales distribution charts for November 2017.
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.
That’s a lot lower than the Marvel charts have looked lately, isn’t it? That’s because there are no successful events. Oh, there are Legacy covers galore, but I don’t think anybody can claim with a straight face that those Legacy variant covers were a success. “Live by the sword, die by the sword” and Marvel’s been living on those variants for years… except they seem to have gone to the well too often and what they used to be able to get ordered for those variants is way down. Well, that and the retailers really didn’t appreciate the tactics being used with minimum orders.
The bestseller (sell-in, that is) would be Captain America #695 by Waid and Samnee at a bit over 87K (spoiler, it will lose over half that total for the next issue in December… but still have a decent number for a current Marvel title). That’s with a lenticular cover variant. The next bestselling issue would be Star Wars #38 at a bit under 74K.
What’s that? Yes, you were paying attention. That *is* a little high for a Star Wars issue. Two things going on: it’s the debut of Gillen/Larroca on the title and (you guessed it) it has an abnormal number of variant covers. Not one of those lenticulars that Marvel was trying to push, though. I almost threw this one in the event/#1/variants category and #39, also out in November, only had orders of 56K. Which would still be the highest non-lenticular seller. That’s… really kind of a sad commentary on Marvel’s sales. They can’t get over 56K without stunts. But I suppose that’s about what Detective sells for DC, so there you go.
The bestselling non-tricked out Marvel Universe issue? Amazing Spider-Man #791 a bit over 50K. Yes, Marvel is treading awfully close here to not having a “normal” ongoing superhero title selling over 50K. There’s very little going on with ongoing non-Star Wars titles until you get into the 30K-39K sales band. Which is to say, it sure doesn’t look like the Legacy promotion is moving the needle.
As usual, for too many issues selling in that 20-29K band to do retailers much good unless it’s a special order/pullbox, but at least Marvel’s been weeding the garden and there’s not as much selling under 20K as there used to be. If it’s still there (and there was a reorder for Thor #700 charting), it’s because it’s selling in a different format.
With the lenticulars getting roundly rejected by Marvel’s old standards for variants, that leaves them without a real top list in November and it makes for an ugly chart.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics