It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts and see where things fall in the market for April 2018. 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 sales – 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.
This isn’t a typical month because one of those 100K+ issues was Action Comics #1000. The estimates for that were just under 450K. DC has said it was a 500K+ seller and when you add in 10% for UK and overseas sales, that seems reasonable. I also expect this one will have a reorder presence on the May charts. A $7.99 comic that was ordered huge and by most accounts sold through very well for the retailers. That’s a big win that the market needed.
Batman’s also up a little as the wedding approaches. ~125.8K and ~96.5K for the two issues. It was starting look like Batman was flirting with dropping out the 90Ks, but this bump should last at least through #50.
After that we enter the usual vast desert between Batman and Detective. The oasis in the middle of the desert is Batman: White Knight, which is nearing its conclusion, but still hits at ~73.2K copies ordered into the Direct Market. Then comes Detective at ~51K/~50K for the two issues.
Yes, that’s 45K+ sales gap between the lower of the month’s two Batman issues and the highest selling issue of the next biggest ongoing series. And that’s crazy. Especially since most of DC’s titles don’t sell 45K in the first place.
Immortal Men debuts next at ~48.5K, but it seems unlikely those numbers are going to hold, given what’s befallen the rest of the New Age of Heroes line. Flash, as is the pattern of late, is the bestselling non-Batbook among the ongoing titles that isn’t a first issue with 2 issues ordered in tight around ~45.5K.
It’s not a guarantee that Detective is going to remain above 50K in May, so we see the slow downward drift of attrition continue to accumulate at DC.
Now, May is where the refresh starts. In theory, things are changing, but once more we’re looking at too many titles selling under 30K and a bottom heavy distribution chart.
The big gainer this month is Deathstroke, bumping up to nearly 39K with a Bat-centric story arc. Deathstroke coming close to Justice League sales? That’s what the orders say.
The Justice League refresh is first, then Superman and we’ll see what else is getting a new creative team and/or relaunch once those two lines are re-established. It’s time for pruning the vine.
The stealth bright spot is, no matter how badly they’ve botched the release schedule, Doomsday Clock is still getting significant back orders.
Outside the DCU, it sure looks like Young Animal didn’t keep much of the momentum from their Justice League crossover Event. The Hanna Barbera line seems a bit down, relative to the first batch. Vertigo is struggling. Wildstorm didn’t ship.
Take away Action #1000 and Batman, you wouldn’t be left with a very pretty picture, but that’s were things stand. Next month, we’ll start to have an idea how the Justice League relaunch has been received.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics