Wrapping up our sales distribution charts, the comparison chart of DC, Marvel and Image for August 2018.  So we can see where the biggest sales sit on the Direct Market Landscape.  (Methodology explained at the bottom of the page.)

We’ve seen worse charts than this is the last year.  From a sales band perspective, July looked a bit better than August, magnitude of Fantastic Four #1 orders not withstanding.  But it’s not those first issues that are going to get retailers through the winter months, so let’s dispense with the pleasantries and go straight to the no Events view.

Again, we’ve seen better and we’ve seen worse.  In a market that needs a few big hits / cash cows to help retailers mitigate the risk of not selling through on shelf copies on the left side of the chart, it’s troubling to see Batman slip below 100K.  Not necessarily surprising, though.  As we said when looking at the DC numbers, Batman had already started to slip below 100K before the wedding hype brought it back up.  Time will tell if that’s a blip or a genuine downward trend.  What’s heartening in the chart?  Justice League looks to be settling in around 75K and Venom jumped back up to around 64K.  With Venom, there are some questions about whether there’s speculator activity, but the reorders are healthy, so there’s something in the air.  (Dare we dream the movie trailer sparked interest in the monthly?  That would be a pleasant change.)  There are also a couple if’s that give us some hope.  IF Amazing Spider-Man sticks around in the 80Ks, that’s a big win for Marvel.  IF Superman doesn’t drop much more from the second issue’s ~77K, then that might be a win for DC.  Not a huge win, since it’s not double sales while dropping back to a once a month shipping schedule, but a readership increase.

In an ideal world we’d be more concerned about ongoing titles selling 80K+, but lately, 60K has been a hard line to cross without an Event or a ton of variant covers.  Some of the titles that have sales gains after relaunching look to be in the 40Ks like Immortal Hulk and Justice League Dark.  That’s good for those title and you’d think at those sales levels they’d be profitable books for retailers, but those don’t look like the sort of numbers that move the needle across the board.

Take out Marvel’s #1s with their inflated orders and the Infinity War Event, DC has more of an ongoing toplist.  Basically Batman + Justice League is better than Amazing Spider-Man alone.  Now… that said, let’s wait a couple months and see whether Batman + Justice League can top Fantastic Four + Amazing Spider-Man. There’s a possibility FF is going to move some ongoing numbers and that would make everything a bit more interesting.

What’s on deck in the ongoing relaunch cycle?  Morrison’s Green Lantern and the latest Uncanny X-Men relaunch, both in November.

What’s the excitement between now and then? Events. Heroes in Crisis is about to start for DC.  Infinity Wars is under way from Marvel and then Spider-Geddon.  Maybe another issue of Doomsday Clock will ship.

So we sit back and watch for standard attrition with the ongoing titles as we wait for November’s high profile debuts.

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



  1. The more Marvel content being pumped out has me seriously eyeing Marvel Unlimited. It’s just too expensive to keep up with even a few titles with all double shipping and price bumps and events. And the more DC pushes depressing story arcs, the more I’m starting to cut there as well. Image continues to churn out more sci-fi movie plots. To be honest, classic reprint collections sound more appealing to me these days.

  2. Will the monthly sales analyses for DC and Marvel return? This reader sorely misses them. Dave? Xavier? Please come back.

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