It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts of Image and the other independent publishers for March.
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 December estimates have the top *500* single issues, which means everything above 647 copies ordered, so this is probably a fairly complete list compared to the old top 300.
Once more we’re seeing an Image chart that looks a little more familiar. Oblivion Song is actually the top dog here with ~80.3K. Kirkman went on an all-out media blitz for this one and did extensive courting of the retailers, so it’s not a shock to see it debut so high. We need to wait a couple months and see how the readers react, but that’s a nice debut. Walking Dead is just below 75K. Saga’s at ~45.5K. Gideon Falls debuted big at ~33.5K and should be watched closely. Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl drop to ~25K and ~21K, respectively. That’s big drop from the debuts, but they’re still outselling a lot of DC and Marvel titles. Will Oblivion Song, Gideon Falls and the Millar titles be the new hits Image hasn’t had in a while? It’s a bit early to tell, but there’s a chance at least a couple of those will stick.
Looking at the rest of the indie field, the prime mover, way ahead of the pack, was Valiant’s Shadowman relaunch at a bit over 33K. BOOM! Scored big with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25 at ~27.8K. And expect to hear more about Power Rangers in the next couple months. That title exploded and has retailer buzz. Vamperonica #1 from Archie almost crossed the 20K threshold for them with ~19.7K. Rick & Morty Present The Vindicators launched with ~18.8K orders. A fresh series of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods debuted with ~18.5K for Dark Horse. Shadow/Batman pulled in another ~17.6K for Dynamite.
Now those highlights are mostly #1s, but it’s fairly healthy for the recent indie market.
The bestselling non-Image creator owned title was either TMNT (depending how you view the book technically being licensed to its co-creator) at ~12.7K or Doctor Star & the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows at ~9.8K (and seeing Lemire’s Black Hammer material here shouldn’t be surprising anybody).
How does it look when we overlap the two charts? Here are a couple different formats:
Image’s volume is higher at pretty much every sales level, and it’s probably IDW that gives them the closest to a chase on volume… if you start the comparison under 20K, that is.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics