Marvel is next up for the June 2018 sales distribution chart. (See bottom for standard disclaimers and explanation of method).
That’s not the worst Marvel chart we’ve seen in recent months.
Four titles with over 100K copies ordered isn’t bad. On the other hand, three of those were the first issues of Tony Stark: Iron Man, Deadpool and Thor. Marvel #1 orders tend to have very little resemblance to the ongoing audience and, sure enough Thor #2 is only ordered in at ~63.2K, though a 40% drop for a Marvel #2 isn’t that heavy. Wait and see on those three, the first two or three months can see be drops.
Amazing Spider-Man #801 getting ~122.2K orders is pretty good, though. The digital numbers never really reflected this, but Dan Slott’s exit has gotten pretty heavy orders.
But perhaps we should look at this as Event vs. Non-Event.
Yes, that’s a bit more like what we’re used to seeing.
The 80Ks sales band has a successful event in the form of ~88.2K worth of X-Men wedding issues. And there was and actual wedding in that comic, too. Immortal Hulk launches with ~84.1K copies – that’s a LOT of Hulk issues in recent years, but not the sort of huge Marvel launch we used to see a few years ago. (Comixology sales charts indicate Immortal Hulk is getting more traction in digital than other recent Hulk titles, but doesn’t seem to be a breakout hit there.)
Venom #2 was ordered in at ~72.2K. This is a curious one, as Venom barely makes the Comixology top 20, but the second issue was ordered very highly. Either there’s an adjustment coming, the title is just much, much more popular in print than it is in digital or there’s a lot of speculator activity around this book. But it got 72K orders for the #2, which is better than Thor did… although #3 was down to ~57.5K. Avengers #3 was ordered at 59.5K, so it still seems on target to settle down to the mid-50Ks.
What you’d really like to see with these relaunches are some titles sticking above 60K. That doesn’t look likely with the June estimates. 60K still looks like the lid on top of Marvel’s circulation for ongoing titles. Perhaps the relaunch of Amazing Spider-Man will continue the numbers Slott’s run has achieved as it wraps up? Perhaps Fantastic Four will stick above 60K after issue #6? Time will tell.
Overall, much like the problems with low circulation titles DC is having, the majority of Marvel titles sell under 30K. 31K is arguably a hit comic in this environment.
Right now the difference between Marvel and DC in June that DC has Justice League launching strong and evidence that the Superman titles will launch OK. Marvel has their big Spidey run ending and relaunches retreating quickly towards their old top list in the mid-50K range.
We’ll see if they fare better in July.
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.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics