And finally, the comparison chart of DC, Marvel and Image. So we can see where the biggest sales sit on the Direct Market Landscape.
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 little sparser at the top than you’d like to see, but that’s mostly down to Marvel’s lack of a successful stunt in November. What happens when we pull Doomsday Clock, Metal tie-ins & one-shots and Marvel’s disappointing lenticular promotion?
And a reminder, in case you didn’t read the DC and Marvel-specific write-ups. This chart is being generous. The books in the 70Ks range are a Batman Annual (not a regularly occurring issue, even if it isn’t an Event tie-in) and a Star Wars issue with an abnormal amount of variant covers. DC’s entrant in the 60Ks range in the Batman: White Knight mini-series that also isn’t regular, but isn’t really an event. So if you wanted to be a puritan about ongoing titles without stunts on the “No Event” chart, you’d go from Batman in the mid-90Ks to Walking Dead in the mid-60Ks and no other regular ongoing title cracks 60K without some form of stunt.
It could always be worse, but the only silver lining to be found in these charts is that Doomsday Clock and Metal sound like they’re selling through for retailers. Events are floating the top list right in November… but only the DC events.
Throw out Batman and Star Wars for DC and Marvel, the two publishers are not in such different places and it’s not a particularly good place. The title count at either publisher for titles cracking 40K in the Diamond estimates is a lot slimmer than it should be in a healthy marketplace.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics