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The official sales estimates are out and it turns out that February 2012 was a legit strong month for comics, and it wasn’t just those five Wednesdays, ICv2 writes:

So far 2012 is looking like a banner year for comics and graphic novels according to sell-in data released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.  Sales of periodical comics were up 22.26% versus sales in February of 2011, while graphic novels gained 15.6% versus sales during the same time frame a year ago.  Year-over-year combined sales of comics and graphic novels were up a solid 20.11% in February.    Of course it’s all “compared to what” and there is no denying that Q1 of 2011 was a down period for comic sales  (especially for top-tier titles—the bestselling book in February of 2011, Green Lantern #62, sold just 71,517 copies), but there is also no denying that the market is considerably more robust now than it was a year ago.

February 2011 now looks like the bottom of the trough for comics sales…and DC’s breaking the glass on the reboot was a good move, with growth throughout the charts:

While the sales of the top tier titles continued to slowly erode in February, overall comic sales were up sharply especially when compared with February of 2011, when the top comic sold just over 71,000 copies.  Six titles posted far larger totals than that last month, and while there were 17 comics that sold over 50K in February of 2011, there were 27 in February of 2012. February comic sales were strong in spite of the lack of potent new debuting titles–Ed Brubaker’s Captain America spin-off, Winter Soldier #1 was the only #1 that made it into the “Top 25” (at #24).

John Jackson Miller has similar thoughts and notes a lot of strength even in the non-Big Two segment of the chart:

It may be that the successful model for a middle-tier publisher is no longer keeping to a small-sized line — the "Rule of Eight" observed by market analyst Marc Patten many years ago, who found a high mortality rate for publishers that extended past eight monthly titles in the post-Image era. IDW (which had its highest market share ever this month), Dynamic Forces, and to an extent Boom have joined Image and Dark Horse on what would appear to be a tier where trade paperbacks are making the economies of scale make sense. Is eight titles is no longer the barrier, but the lower entry point to a Periodic Table-like island of stability? And how many publishers can inhabit that region? It's something worth more research.

This may be the most obvious observation ever, but this sales improvement comes despite vastly increased availability of digital comics in every segment. A year ago, day and date was on the rise but still about as welcome as your paroled cousin at the family picnic. Now more than half of all comics are available day and date, with more and more joining every day.

DC’s New 52, widely viewed as the savior in this scenario, has also been available digitally from the very first minute. Hasn’t hurt a bit.


ICv2 – Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–February 2012
Top 300 Comics Actual–February 2012


  1. Can’t this just be due to after-effects of the new 52 launch in combination with Marvel double-shipping almost all of their major titles?

  2. You could argue that Day & Date has helped, since missing the first issue(s) of a title no longer makes it impossible to jump on.

  3. This comment isn’t directed at Dean specifically, but his above comment struck a chord with me because it seems to represent a mindset I’ve seen a lot lately. I’m not saying that Dean is a digital utopian himself (I don’t know him), but that’s where I’m going with all this:

    If day-and-date digital were really helping fuel the positive direct market sales figures to any notable extent, then you wouldn’t see so many #1 issues going back to press for 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th printings. And you wouldn’t see certain later issues of titles like Batman going back to press a week or two after their release.

    This is all a victory (a minor but important one) for the print/direct market. But digital utopians can’t seem to make sense of that simple fact. For years they’ve told us that the only possible positive development for comics would be for direct market sales to tank so bad that everyone would be forced to read comics on the backlit screens of overpriced Apple products made by oppressed Chinese people. Okay, maybe they left that last part out, conveniently. And in their minds the comics would be ideally priced at 99 cents each, even though that pricepoint doesn’t make sense in any industry not built on the backs of the aforementioned oppressed Chinese people. But, as luck would have it, digital comics just aren’t catching on to any extent that actually takes away many sales from regular old comic shops.

    I do read some comics digitally; it’s a fine format for what it is. But why is it that every pro-digital press release has something deceitful about it? Either they’re announcing sales records but not saying what the exact sales figures are. Or they announce a certain threshold of “sales” but conveniently downplay the fact that many of the “sales” were free downloads. And now that the printed/direct market is looking up a bit, digital is trying to take credit for that too.

    It’s maddening. Sorry to disappoint the digital utopians, but comic shops are still around and everyone whose livelihoods are connected to the printing and distribution of comics haven’t lost their jobs yet.

  4. Igmus your oppressed Chinese people is a little far fetched. it’s a factory, but, they have got restaurants and movie theaters and hospitals and swimming pools, and we are talking about the factory they make Apple products.Can you name a factory in America that has all that has all that?
    Steve Jobs has brought up the standards for workers in China. Apple is still making improvements today. Again it is another American spouting about another Country without understanding that Country and what Apple had to do to make those things happen.
    As for the sales increase it is a good up swing for the comic book industry. Every comic book company needs all the help. Hopefully comic prices will hold or go down to get more people back into buying books.