It’s time to take a look at the sales distribution charts of Image and the other independent publishers for April.
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 711 copies ordered, so this is probably a fairly complete list compared to the old top 300.
As usual, Walking Dead sets the pace at just under ~74K. Spawn surprises here with ~46.8K and Oblivion Song is ordered into the GM at ~44.5K. Isola debuts at ~24.7K. Kick-Ass and Gideon Falls both stay over the 20K mark.
Image is starting to look like it’s going to have more of a top list than just Walking Dead and Saga, but we should probably wait and see where the new titles settle down. There are still an awful lot of titles selling under 10K, but Image’s top list is unrivaled in the current indie scene.
For the rest of the indies in April, the high water mark for orders was Oni’s Rick and Morty with just under 26K. The bestselling non-Image creator-owned book was ~24.2K for Frank Miller’s Xerses from Dark Horse. And above the 20K line, IDW has had a surprise hit with Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic #1 was ordered into the DM at ~21.3K and all four of the weekly issues in April have gone back to print.
Other notable books, all clustered around 15K in orders include John Wick, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
What does it look like when we merge that charts?
As usual, Image outpaces everyone in the higher brackets, but this month IDW has more title in the under 10K list… although I wasn’t counting the $1 reprints Image was putting out en masse in April.
Honestly, relative to the beginning of the year, these charts look OK.
Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work? Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics