Our wish for actual sales numbers released by an actual comics publisher has finally been granted! And in The Hollywood Reporter, no less. DC released sales for its top three books of the year:

Justice League no. 1, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Jim Lee, which has shipped 361,138 copies since its August launch and has gone to press five times;

Batman no. 1, written by Scott Snyder and penciled by Greg Capulo, which has sold 262,379 copies in two printings;

Action Comics no. 1, which sold 250,898 copies, going back to the press three times.

These all beat Marvel’s top seller, the death issue ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #160, which shipped 159,355 copies. (It’s not entirely clear how DC knew how much Marvel sold but…that’s how all this works out.)

Good numbers? Yes! Amazing numbers? No. Not bad in context of the past decade’s sales, however.

We haven’t seen where John Jackson Miller explained what this really means. Perhaps he’ll do it in our comments or at least direct us to the proper post?


  1. That Ultimate Spider-Man number is from the ICV2 estimates, which don’t include non-North AMerican numbers, orders in subsequent months, or the second print. Even so, I doubt it will catch up to the top three.

  2. From a retailing perspective I can tell you that the relaunch has been largely successful for our store. It has brought in tons of customers, old and new, and has sustained them. Of course numbers aren’t as good as the first month of #1 issues but many of the people who tried it in September are coming back for more every week.

  3. DC is probably doing some reverse-engineering from the Diamond end-of-year chart which will become available soon — mine will be here:


    …but you can see an example of last year’s End-of-Year numbers here:


    When we see those, we’ll know if DC’s figures refer to Diamond’s sales in North America, or include overseas. At present, we know that, for example, Batman #1 charted twice for a total of 211,520 copies in September and October, so I would suspect that they are likely looking at overseas-included.

  4. And yeah — the Ultimate Spider-Man number is mine from when it shipped in June. (Or Milton’s — we came up with the same thing.) No reorders or overseas included. The full USM numbers will be in the release that comes from Diamond soon.

  5. Comparing DC’s worldwide sales with Marvel’s North American direct market sales? Bit dodgy. (That said, it’s not clear from the article that DC supplied the comparison. The journalist might have found it himself.)

  6. The number they cite for JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 beats the total direct-market estimate (as of November 2011) by more than 100K.

    I’m very curious where those extra sales occurred. Unless there’s a gigantic glitch or they sold truckloads of re-orders in December, it can’t have been the direct market.

  7. I agree — I count 256k when the combo packs are thrown in.

    If the book and its Combo Pack entries both just missed the chart in November, that could be another 8,000 — and then there’s December. But historically we wouldn’t expect to see Diamond UK amounting to 25% of the run.

    That leaves newsstand — and since the term was “shipped”, that could cover the rest. The newsstand business is a fraction of what it was, but counting “shipped” copies enlarges the figure considerably.

    My hope is that digital downloads and print are not aggregated in this — while we’d like to see both figures, they’re more useful when they’re kept separate.

  8. Has anyone done revenue models based on these numbers? For example:
    On Action #1 (only 1 price point):
    250,898 copies at $3.99 = $1,001,083

    Now this is all assumption:

    DC sells at 50% discount (avg between retail volumes): $500,542
    Pay for creation and distribution: Diamond (15%), the printer (paper/ink/shipping) (15%), creators/staff (8%), rent/utilities (8%) + misc (4%) = $250,270.
    Net revenue: $250,270.

    And so on based on the number of titles and sales.

    Think this is anywhere near correct?

  9. Anyone know approx how much oversea sales represent versus the North American (USA and Canada) market? Is it 10-25%? If so, why do titles that sell 25k get cancelled if there are maybe another 5-10k+ elsewhere or even more? I am guessing the major titles like Batman, X-Men, Spider-man, Superman etc….re sold worldwide. Things like resurection man and Deadpool, maybe less so.

  10. The original language overseas sales will be a small margin. But they get reprinted and translated in France, Italy, Spain, Germany,… and get quite some sales too.