It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts of Image and the other independent publishers for May. (See the bottom for explanation of methodology.)
As you can see, after a sleepy winter is looking like itself again. Walking Dead was actually the #2 selling non-event/#1/anniversary ongoing title in June. We’ll have to see where the new launches settle down, but 73.7K is a LOT of copies in the current market. Spawn continues its resurgence with just under 38K, Saga’s at ~37.5K, Oblivion Song is at ~36.4K, Death or Glory debuts with an impressive ~32.8K. These books are outselling a LOT of DC and Marvel titles. And that’s with some attrition on Saga.
On the flipside, Image also shipped 12 issues that sold under 3K, so it’s not all roses. They’re far out ahead of everyone else in the indie world, though.
Speaking of which:
The big seller outside of Image was Valiant’s Harbinger Wars 2 #1 at ~22.6K. Notable sellers relative to the segment include Rick and Morty at just under 19K, Mighy Morphin Power Rangers just over 18K, Xerxes at ~16.8K, and Red Sonja/Tarzan debuting at ~16.4K
And yes, that’s TokyoPop appearing out of nowhere with Nightmare Before Christmas Zero’s Journey #1 at just over 10K copies ordered. Surprise!
Frank Miller’s Xerxes is the bestselling non-Image creator-owned book of the month.
How do things look when you compare Image with the rest of the field?
As usual, there just isn’t much comparison. It’s not common for an independent comic to cross the 10K threshold and it’s rare when one crosses the 20K barrier. Only one non-Image indie managed to break the 20K barrier in May and it was a first issue.
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.
For the purposes of these sales band charts, we really are looking for titles that are selling 10K and over, so only publishers with an issue that topped 10K will be listed here. The sad fact is, most independent comics sell under 10K and it’s when they cross that line that they really start getting noticed. The May estimates have the top *500* single issues, which means everything above 769 copies ordered, so this is probably a fairly complete list compared to the old top 300.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics.