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It’s time to look at the sales distribution charts for August.  (See bottom for standard disclaimers and explanation of method).  As is our custom, we’ll start with DC.

Ah, that too rare sight of all the sales bands being filled – even the top ones, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.  The second Batman issue to ship in August, (#53) dropped below 100K.  To be certain, ~99.2K isn’t a bad number in this market, but that’s not a great thing to see Batman slipping.  That said, if you go back to Batman #43 in March, the series bottomed out at ~91.6K before the hype for the non-wedding brought it back up past the 100K mark we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the last several years.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that things are sliding a bit after the Event, especially since it wasn’t really a wedding.

Likewise, the sole entrant in the 80Ks sales band was Sandman Universe #1 with ~83.5K orders.  While that’s a staggering number for Vertigo in this day and age, it’s a one off we’re not likely to see that number again any time soon.

On the other hand, Justice League does appear to be settling down around 75K and that’s big win for DC.

Let’s take a look at just the DCU chart.

No events in the DCU this month, so only one chart there.  The mystery of where the Bendis Superman titles are going to end up is still just that.  The second issues of those runs have Superman at ~77.5K and Action at ~61.9K.  If they fall much further, Action won’t be much of an improvement over the previous run on a per issue basis and there’s one less issue per month.  (And from what I’ve seen, Action is the better read between the two.)

Catwoman #2 was ordered at ~64.7K, which seems awfully high for a Catwoman series, plus the digital version of Comixology is behaving more like a ~25K title, so let’s keep an eye on this one for a couple months and see if it sticks around in rarified air.

Detective is hanging on like a trooper in the low 50Ks, but Flash’s second issue of the month falls out of the 50Ks to just under 49K.

But on the other hand, Justice League Dark #2 is at ~46.5K and hanging around significantly higher than the last incarnation.

On the whole we’re looking at a bit of mixed bag.  There’s some notable slippage (Batman and Flash), there’s some stabilization at higher levels from relaunches (the Justice League family) and the jury’s still out on the Superman titles.  If only the entire line wasn’t so bottom-heavy.

One thing of note, that 10K-19K sales band would be fairly small if not for the New Age of DC Heroes line.  The Terrifics is still above 20K, but the rest of that sub-line has tanked pretty hard.

Outside the DCU, the Bendis Jinxworld line debuts with Pearl at ~32.7K and Scarlet at ~24.5K.  If those numbers remotely hold, it blows the Jinxworld Marvel/Icon sales clear out of the water.

This iteration of the Hannah Barbera / DCU crossovers hit between ~36K and ~25.7K.  No breakout hit, per se, but decent numbers for a fifth week event.

Wildstorm is Wildstorm and Young Animal is bleeding out on the way to the finish line.

And plenty of 3K-ish orders on old issue of Doomsday Clock, which seems to be a gift that’s at least giving a little while it’s delayed.

All in all, while Batman slipping raises an eyebrow, there appear to be more wins than losses to attrition for August, as we wait to see how the Green Lantern relaunch compares to Justice League and Superman.

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* Saga *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.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the rundown!

    Just one niggling question…

    Back in 2010, the first three issues of the original “Scarlet” sold:

    #1 – 32,000 (+ 3,000)
    #2 – 27,500
    #3 – 25,000

    The new #1 — at 24,500 — “blows those clear out of the water”?

  2. Yeah, but SCARLET #8 sold just 8492 copies, while #9 sold a meager 7385, both in May 2016 (yes, same month of release after THREE YEARS break between #7 & 8 — issue #7 sold 13,250 back in July of 2013 (!)

    So, yeah, the relaunch is MILES above the “previous issue” since the #1 is effectively issue #10 (which they took orders for, but never shipped)

    As far as I know “Book two” never completed?

    -B

  3. That’s right: #10 did ship, and so, Volume 1 did finish (thankfully).

    If this new #1 had been marketed, covered, and sold as #11, I could totally understand comparing its sales to the sales of #10. Seeing as it wasn’t, I’d prefer to see launch numbers compared to launch numbers.

    (Of course, I feel foolish arguing with someone of your standing!)

  4. Serious question: how does being so bottom heavy lead to publishing comics being profitable for AT&T? Do the trades make up the difference?

    I can tell you from working for AT&T corporate for 5 years they’re a very bottom line driven company.

  5. Treating the new Scarlett #1 as if it would’ve been Scarlett #11 in sales comparisson might be misleading indeed. The argument is always made that sales drop steeply after issue #1, therefore making these re-boots useless for long term improvement of the industry.
    But I’d guess the point is, that retailers will probably be less likely to speculate and over -order on Scarlett than on (say) Super-man. There must be more perceived demand for these titles according to retailers, than a few years ago. 24.500 is more than triple 7385. If retailers thought, ‘Aw heck, it’s a fresh start, let’s double our previous order!’, you’d still only be at 14.770; almost 10.000 short.
    I agree ‘blowing out of the water’ might be a bit strong, but there certainly seems te be some indication that Icon was underperforming in it’s final years.

  6. Oh, and Batman appears to be in a terrible place, PR-wise. I her a lot of sceptism, with long term-readers considering to drop the book, so the fall below 100k is absolutely no surprise.
    Bendis on Superman doesn’t seem to be the elixer of life DC was hoping for, but at least the grumbling has died down, and people who are reading it appear to be enjoying it.

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