Home Sales Charts Marvel tops the chart in a big way

Marvel tops the chart in a big way


It’s that time of the month! After a few months of sliding, ICv2 reports that comic sales were up in September — say, maybe there is something to this “recession-proof” chatter.

Sales of periodical comics through Diamond Comic Distributors rose 2% in September, reversing a 7-month long string of declining comic sales. Although a 2% gain versus September of 2007 doesn’t sound like much, it represents a major year-over-year improvement from August during which comic sales declined a whopping 9%, the largest monthly drop since March.

Top 300 Comics Actual–September 2008
Top 100 Graphic Novels Actual–September 2008
Sales overview

Secret Invasion led the way to Marvel’s sales dominance:

Marvel’s Secret Invasion event is in full swing and it helped boost sales in September with seven SI-related titles in the top 25. The lead title Secret Invasion #6, which was down just over 1,000 copies from the previous issue, was number one by a large margin. So far Secret Invasion has shipped on time and is clearly the major comic event of 2008 so far. Two other Secret Invasion-related titles, New Avengers #45 and Mighty Avengers #18 also made the top five.

In fact, Marvel had a pretty titanic month, according to Michael Doran:

Diamond Comics Distributors released their Top 100 Comic Book and Graphic Novel sales charts and Market Share report for the September 2008 comic book Direct Market on Monday, and Marvel Comics may have achieved an industry milestone for the first time in the single major distributor/post-Marvel bankruptcy era – over 50% Unit Market Share – i.e. over half of every comic book and graphic novel ordered by retailers in September was a Marvel publication.

PLUS: John Jackson Miller has his sales figures up and even tells us:

And I haven¹t worked it out all the way back, but Marvel¹s number of entries in the Top 300 is very possibly as high as it¹s been since September 1996, when I began keeping track. It had 116 books in the Top 300, versus 87 for Marvel and 27 for Image. I think you probably have to go back to the early 1990s for as high a number of entries. Second-printing or variant covers may be part of the reason, although Diamond does lump all versions into the same entry in its Top 300 lists.

  1. Chris,

    That used to be the way it was. They changed that once Marvel changed their discount to retailers to be based on what actually ships rather than what was ordered. Ever since that change, Diamond has reported their Top 300 based on what has shipped. If you look at the list, it is product that is already out.

    Now, that does not mean that retail sales are actually up. It just means that Diamond’s sales are up. Our stores saw a modest decline in sales for September from September 2007.

  2. “So far Secret Invasion has shipped on time and is clearly the major comic event of 2008 so far.”

    Ahh… the joys of writing without an editor….

    And that John Jackson Miller bit doesn’t make any sense. The “It” seems to refer back to Marvel, but then you end up with this sentence:

    “It [Marvel] had 116 books in the Top 300, versus 87 for Marvel and 27 for Image.”

    Do people ever double-check this stuff before they post it?

  3. Note also that the Overall total for the month (including the full backlist and comics after 300th place) saw wider gains of 7% — so that while the Top 300 Comics and Top 100 Trades for the year are off 3%, or $7.5 million, the Overall Comics, Trades, and Magazines figure is up 1%, or just under $3 million, for the year.

    As I’ve discussed here and elsewhere before, the rankings currently capture only 75% of the comics and trades Diamond sells, by dollar value. It’s why the Dollar Shares that Diamond publishes differ from what you would come up with if you just added up all the dollars from the Top 300/100.

    As an example, this month, if you just looked at the Top 300 Comics and Top 100 Trades, Fantagraphics’ dollar share is only 0.21%. But Diamond reports its overall Dollar Market Share as 0.79%. That’s because Fantagraphics had no comics entries in the Top 300 and only one trade in the Top 100 trades (Love & Rockets) — but it has many items that did not make the toplists. More than $200,000 worth, according to the Overall estimates.

  4. It’s only fair to note that DC had a very bad month in terms of getting their major titles out the door. None of their four top sellers from August came out in September. So Marvel’s huge market share is no real surprise.

  5. 116 titles from Marvel last month—good to see marvel flooding the market again.

    Warning—the next crash in the comic book industry might very well be the last crash in the comics industry. I predict 2011 or 2012.

  6. And just why is Secret Invasion so popular? Because it reads like an analogy of the war in Iraq. The protectors of the United States, in this case the super-heroes, battle a terrorist organization, in this case the Skrulls. The protectors even go so far as to travel to a mysterious, foreign land, in this case the Savage Land, in order to kill as many Skrulls as possible.

    The heroes, almost all of whom never killed before, feel justified in killing all the Skrulls, because it really doesn’t matter, does it,—they’re nameless and entirely sub-human.


  7. Note that there were not 116 new titles from Marvel — rather, 116 entries on the Top 300 list. Reordered books account for several of its entries — so both the new Ultimate Origins #4 and the previous month’s Ultimate Origins #3 made the list as a result of selling more than 2,900 copies in reorder. Many of the Secret Invasion books got a second entry in this manner.

    The charts of the early 1990s didn’t include reorders, so the items there more clearly represent what was new.

  8. Why is SI so popular? Many reasons. One being the 4 or so variants for each issue. It definitely tweaks the numbers. For every variant being bumped in price and sold, a bunch of regular cover issues wind up in the dollar bin. Go to enough conventions and you see back issue bins flooded.

  9. If comics are ‘recession-proof’ then they are something like food, not the really expensive places, but for some reason, people seem to need their food and comics no matter what the circumstances.

    The problem is when people start mistaking their weathering strengths as proof of indefinite growth or something, when the chaff still gets taken out, even though the industry may seem stronger overall.

  10. Of the 116 Marvel books, only 95 are actual new comics : 6 are repackaged reprints and 15 are new printings.

    But yeah, there’s definitely some flooding : 19 Secret Invasion-related books (including 7 miniseries !), 21 X-Men-related books (and that’s excluding Deadpool and Captain Britain), 8 Spider-Man-related issues…

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