Periodically (pun intended), it’s useful to take a look at where the sales of a publisher’s titles are clustered.  It helps widen the picture of how things are going.  The idea is to break the sales chart into 10K slices.  How many titles or issues sold 100K copies or more?  How many sold 90K-99K?  How many sold 40-49K?  How many sold under 10K?

The conventional wisdom has been that when things are healthy, DC and Marvel will have a couple titles each selling over 100K and then the bands will fill out with a few titles in 90Ks, 80Ks, etc., etc.  We’ll be having a look at that this week and today we’re looking at Marvel.

Now the numbers:

100K+ 1
90K-99K 0
80K-89K 0
70K-79K 1
60K-69K 1
50K-59K 2
40K-49K 7
30K-39K 26
20K-29K 16
10K-19K 29
Below 10K 7

WOW.  I’ve never seen Marvel’s numbers shifted so far down the chart.  Please note: I left out the Disney theme park and Stephen King material.  That’s “mainstream” Marvel material up there.  To be perfectly frank, that looks like a sales band chart for DC as New 52 was unraveling, not a Marvel chart.  The big difference being that DC would have Batman up in 100K category and it’s Darth Maul #1 selling over 100K for Marvel in February — you know there’s no way #2 sells like that.

When DC ran into trouble and so many of their books were dropping  below 20K, Marvel didn’t really let titles drop too far below 20K before cancelling or relaunching.  Let’s be clear – there were a few titles they have really supported and given plenty of rope to.  And some of these titles clean up as collected editions over at the Scholastic Book Fairs, so their monthly numbers aren’t the primary concern.  Still, you take a look at all these issues selling less than 20K in the DM and you start wonder what percentage of Marvel titles are pullbox/special order only?

Star Wars is down to ~74K.  Amazing Spider-Man is down to ~61K as their best selling Marvel Universe title.  Remember, when DC was crashing, Batman was moving well over 100K per issue, sometimes over 120K.  Spidey, as the de facto flagship title for February is selling half of what the Synder/Capullo Batman was selling in it’s heyday.

Fortunately for Marvel, they’ve got some collected edition sales, particularly from that Scholastic market we keep talking about.  That’s why nobody’s talking doomsday when they see a sales distribution like this.  Marvel’s doing some kind of course correction as soon as Secret Empire is over.  They get that they need to make some changes while they still have a Direct Market audience.  Those changes can’t come quickly enough, though.

DC Comics Sales Band Report For February 2017

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics or try some fiction.


  1. All of those needless cancellations and relaunches sure have grown Marvel’s sales! (Much sarcasm implied)

  2. You included all of DC’s imprints in their chart. I don’t understand why the same couldn’t be done here to show where Marvel’s Disney theme park, Stephen King, and all-ages Marvel Universe titles end up.

  3. I read the two graphic novel volumes of “Drax” last night.
    It works well, but I think we’re seeing Marvel transitioning to a graphic novel marketplace, so even more people are waiting for the trade.
    (Drax went from 49K t0 8K over 11 issues… and that’s with variant covers!)

    Marvel is publishing miniseries, but not telling fans they are miniseries.
    Since they are no longer on the newsstand, they don’t have to keep the same series running for years. (It confuses the ordering, and the magazine accounts are less likely to add a new title to the racks. So the insides of “Avengers” might change, but the title stays in print.)

    But looking at the GN DM numbers….
    v. 1 1134 copies (May 2016)
    v. 2 696 copies (November 2016)
    They did not make the Bookscan Top 750 (>4000 copies sold).

    46 Worldcat libraries own copies of Drax v.1.
    The New York Public Library, which is a large system with a vibrant GN collection, does not own any copies. They do own 146 copies of “Smile”, and 56 copies of “Ms. Marvel, Volume 1”.

    Can we see a companion chart for the Bookscan 2016 data?
    There’s a long tail chart (all the titles), and there’s the Top 750.
    “Probably surprising no one, Marvel’s #1 best-seller continues to be “Civil War”, at just over 39k, ”
    Considering that 10K is considered successful in general publishing, Marvel might be concerned.

  4. i commented over at Mr Hibbs Bookscan column , but it kind of makes sense to share here –and I will add 1 comment … the book fair I recently did , Marvel sales trailed DC sales by a w-i-d-e number , I mean it seemed they are in two different leagues ….. but they did sell ok , just compared to DC , they trailed badly …………………………… I would love to see School Book Fair totals … I recently helped at one , and at first I was kind of stunned on how many comicbook trades we were setting up the night before…I commented to the person in charge , and she said just watch , how they sell . Well after the 1st day the 6 books that sold out of their 25 copies were : Cyborg Vol 1 and 2 , the 2 DC Superhero Girls books , 2 of the Gotham Academy volumes . The comic related trades led the way , and by far and away were the best sellling books for the 3 day event

  5. Axel Alonso has to be the greatest underachiever of our generation. Marvel should be ruling the world, drafting off the success of the cinematic universe. Instead, they are forcing intellectually dishonest political views on their fans. Many of their writers have never read comics prior to their assignments rendering a once precious continuity meaningless. I hope they clean house soon before they ruin their comic line.

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