It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts and see where things fall in the market for November 2017. As usual, we’ll start with DC.
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.
When taken as a whole, the DC chart doesn’t look too bad. Only one sales band (80K-89K) is empty of titles. Multiple books selling over 100K. An equal number in the 90Ks range as over 100K.
What’s working? Metal, Metal tie-ins, Doomsday Clock and assorted Bat-titles. But mostly, DC is on an Event hot streak.
Doomsday Clock ordered into the Direct Market at 224,414 and by all accounts sold through well enough to keep most everyone in retail very happy. Batman-centric Metal one-shots sell at 90K+ copies per issue. A Metal tie-in issue of an ongoing title is good for an extra 20K+ copies. For that matter, slap a lenticular cover on Action Comics and suddenly combined orders are up to 78,461. That’s close to double the next issue’s orders of a mere 41,955.
Methinks nobody is looking forward to Metal ending in a few months.
So how are things looking without those events?
Yeah, that’s not nearly as hot. Batman is firmly below 100K per issue and getting lapped by some of the Metal one-shots. What really ought to be alarming is that the chart entries for the 70Ks and 60Ks sales bands aren’t technically ongoing titles. This year’s (critical darling of a) Batman Annual ordered in at just under 76K. There won’t be another of those for a few months. Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight mini-series ordered in at ~69.7K and is sort of/kind of taking the place of All-Star Batman in DC’s line up, if you want to be pragmatic about it.
The next highest selling ongoing title that isn’t crossing over with Metal is Detective Comics #968 ordering in at just under 57K. So for “normal” ongoing titles, there’s about a 40K copies per issue gap between Batman and Detective. Flash is the next bestselling title/franchise at ~50K/48K across two issues. And it looks like DC is in danger of losing its 50K-59K sellers as standard attrition marches on.
No real surprises in November on the non-DCU imprints, although one gets the impression the new wave of Hanna-Barbera titles might not be doing quite as well as the first wave, top-to-bottom.
It’s also worth pointing out that hardcover Euro-album, Batman: The Dark Prince Charming Book One is listed with the floppies. Is that an error on Diamond’s part or a sign that DC is looking at the Euro-album as a potential new serial format? Time will tell… depending on how they sell. (This one was listed at 13,257 copies.)
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics