Now it’s time for a look at Marvel’s sales distribution charts for July.

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 the 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.

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What do things look like this month?  The number of titles in the sales bands is down slightly, until you get to the 30K-39K, which is way up.  Which isn’t necessarily a good thing, since there were a few more titles ordered at higher bands last month.  Of course a lot of those higher sales were of the first issue + multiple variant variety and Marvel been getting a wee bit of pushback on variants from retailers of late.  Is the market for those cooling off?  Marvel hopes not.

Marvel being Marvel, let’s break this out to the “regular” ongoing titles (which will have a few variant covers in the mix) and the Events/#1 + Variant titles (anything with Secret Empire in the title, first issues and anything else that’s served up as a big anniversary type issue with a bunch of extraneous covers).

As usual, the top list, except for Star Wars is all Events and #1s.  And those #1 sales don’t really hang around.  Star Wars is up a bit this month.  Secret Empire has settled down to ~86K/81K, which seems pretty low for such a major event… until you figure the highest “regular” ongoing non first issue title for July was Amazing Spider-Man 30, estimated at roughly 56.5K.  So Secret Empire’s selling an extra 40-50% above the highest ongoing.

Lots of $1 issues and a couple reorders at the bottom, so that part isn’t as dire as it could be.  And Marvel continues to have a few titles selling truly horrible DM numbers that make all their money as tpbs in places like Scholastic’s book fairs.  (Cue the comment section to say that monthly sales are irrelevant because of this, but not every Marvel title sells 100K+ tpbs and we don’t see each month’s bookscan total or any Scholastic numbers at all, plus the Scholastic sales don’t contribute to the DM and it’s the DM stores we’re worried about right now.)

There’s just a lot of material coming out that’s going to be special order/sub box only for a lot of stores. It looks like that the 20-39K brackets MIGHT be starting to firm up a little, but much like DC, Marvel really needs to get a few things selling above the 60K line that are actual reader purchases, not numbers driven by retailers buying extras to get a discount or a variant cover.  Right now, it’s pretty even distribution of titles between 10K-39K and that hasn’t been the case lately.

Has Marvel more or less hit the trough and will have nowhere to go but up?

It really depends on how readers react to Generations and Legacy. All we know for now is the retailers are pushing back hard on Marvel’s order demands for lenticular covers and that’s not exactly a vote of confidence.

It does somewhat look like the general sales distribution is finding where its lower levels are.  We’ll see if I’m proven wrong next month.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics or have a look at his horror detective series on Patreon.

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. Those are some pretty awful sales. No matter what the actual reason is, it seems like Marvel needs to fix things. Something has gone very wrong.

  2. Fuck SJW Marvel and Fuck Nazi Cap and Fuck…I’m kidding. I just find it interesting that Marvel “fans” are just as all over the place as Marvel the company.

  3. I think a large problem has been a lack of cohesiveness as a whole and for the family of books. There isn’t a “feel” for a marvel style of book anymore. There also isn’t a cohesiveness for family books. The avengers have had random teams use that name for years now. The xmen have been dismantled and so much focus is on time displaced duplicates of characters. There are too many spider people and deadpool has been maxed out. A lot of this comes from throwing every hint at the wall to see what works. Marvel should cut back on books and focus.

  4. “A lot of this comes from throwing every hint at the wall to see what works. Marvel should cut back on books and focus.”

    I agree. When you have 3 or 4 random Avengers books , 2 Hulk, 2 Dr. Strange, 3 X-Team, 3 Black Panther, 4 or 5 alternate version Spider books, etc. , this results in the characters and the books lacking any noticeable distinction. Furthermore, the subplots that used to slowly unfoldied until becoming the main story are gone. There are no consistent supporting casts. Artists can’t seem to do more than 3 to 5 issues in a row (or they are rotated out by Editorial beacuse the artwork is “not as important”). Charles Soule has written Daredevil for 25 issues straight, yet Ron Garney (who used to draw on a monthly basis) can’t do more than two or three issues in row. Why? Mike Deodato was replaced on Thanos, after only 6 issues, by a lesser talent. Why? The bigger question is – why have most of Marvels top talent fled for greener pasture over the last ten years? DC is doing a much, much better job at retaining their top talent.

  5. I would take the point about a lack of cohesiveness a step further. Marvel hasn’t felt like an actual shared universe to me in a long time, and I think that’s a problem. They have event books, they have guest stars, but individual stories and books rarely impact other stories and books in the way they did in the old days. The days where Iron Man isn’t in Avengers this month because he went to space in his own book, or where you’d see a gimmick like Scourge being able to pop up in any title at any time before the story came to a head in Captain America, are long gone. On the other hand, a brand-new character like Riri Williams appears in an event story, and everyone acts like they’ve known her forever. A new character coming to prominence should be a chance to see how they bounce off the existing universe, but instead, Ironheart, Miles Morales, Amadeus Cho and so forth just slot into the ensemble and get on with it. It’s business as usual for everyone. Marvel seems disinterested in everything interesting or fun about a shared universe, and I suspect that disinterest is being felt by readers.

  6. I’m fine with the books but Marvel makes following their universe via day and date single issues too expensive. Guess it’s convenient that Marvel keeps cancelling their titles. Most of the ones I’ve been following have already been cancelled. Just gonna wait for Marvel Unlimited on the new titles.

  7. What did you think was going to happen?

    Long time readers who where never racist, sexist, or homophobic watched there beloved characters become replaced by gimmic characters. Editors at Marvel push personal political agenda and unoriginal ideas.

    Long time beloved characters such as Iceman, Thor, Captain America, Iron man, Falcon, War Machine, Hulk, Nova, and Spider-Man. Have been race/ gender swapped. Turned gay. Been killed off. Became a Nazi. Turned into less masculine man. The characteristics of these individuals have been 100% turned into political agendas.

    Replaced by emtional viladiting young ladies. In which there characters have no real threat. No real character growth. Constantly loved by everyone. No tension. Unless its a white male which automatically equals evil and morally corrupt. On top of it most of these new characters have really disturbing views of themselves. Riri is borderline a super villian. America Chavis is just terrible hatefull person. Iceman is offensive to the gay community in pushing an overly stress stereotype.

    What did you expect? The industry is made up by 70% white males who wanted nothing more than having diversity in there comics. In the 80s you never talked about comics, you would be laughed at and made fun of. It was the beginning of the 90s that we saw acceptance. Here in 2017 we are rewarded with slander. Homophobic rhetoric, sexist, and racists chants by the company we helped support. We are scratching our heads, us old middle aged white dudes . We bought the books, we promoted the characters, we fought in the trenches, and you repay us by pouring hate on us. The comic industry WAS an industry that was passed down by fathers to sons and daughters. Now, I wouldn’t support Marvel Comics. I would tell young men to use other forms of media for inspiration. On top of it Marvel has hired incompetent people who push political ideology. The worst is that our beloved characters are lost, gone, torn away by people who didn’t cherish them. Sad. Just makes me sad.

    Tom & Axel along with there crappy milkshalk crew you all suck. Thanks for running a beloved Marvel characters.

  8. @Paul

    I applaud your finely articulated case against Marvel, and against those that simply want to characterize us (the dissenters and long time fans) as racists and homophobes. By all means keep the diversity. Nothing wrong with diversity as long as it is not forced as an exclusive line wide agenda. But also bring back the original characters in their original titles and let the fans decide with their pocketbooks which titles succeed and which fail.

  9. I’ve worked in one of the bigger comic stores in a large South-Eastern city for (far too many) years. Do you know how many people have said, implied or otherwise hinted that they dropped or are dropping Marvel books due to not wanting to read a book about a woman/African-american/gay/Latino/etc. character who replaced the previous iteration of said character?

    Two.

    One guy came out and said it plainly, and complained about the “liberals” ruining his book. He bought one comic a month, and needed to be handheld through the shipping schedule every month for at least the past six or seven years (meaning he’d come in every week or two asking for the new issue). One other guy who I’d never seen in the store before made veiled, vaguely racist remarks before saying he wasn’t buying Marvel anymore. TWO TOTAL.

    Now, around 20 or so folks complained when Marvel dropped the digital codes, and dropped books following that.

    What I do hear are complaints about shipping/over-shipping, decompression, value and price, the piss-poor paper stock they use on covers, the art, the bad art, the muddy art, the ugly art, the stories,the dull stories, the dumb stories, the long stories.

    Marvel Legacy doesn’t look as if it’ll address any of those concerns, as it appears that they same guys that have been steering the ship are gonna do their best to sink it.

  10. @ Paul – As a fellow middle-aged white dude who’s been reading Marvel since the 80s, it irks me to no end when people include me in some assumed “us” who all feel the same way.

    I have plenty of bones to pick with Marvel (pricing, crossovers, general bloat) but having more heroes that actually look like the people around me in the world isn’t one of them.

    Not arguing with how you feel – would just prefer not to be spoken for.

  11. Well, other Georg, Marvel always celebrated diversity in the past and tried to genuinely promote authentic diversity without destroying their original characters simply because they were white males.
    The problem is not more heroes, the problem is destroying existing heroes. The FF, Hulk, IronMan all pretty much gone. And the agenda is a political agenda not diversity, otherwise why eliminate Ben Grimm from starring roles who is secular jewish? It feels like it’s not diversity, but it’s an ideological movement Marvel associates itself with that appears … villainous.

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