April 2007 Sales Analysis with John Mayo

Earlier this month I brought you sales estimates of April shipping books and today I bring you a long look at those numbers and what they actually mean.

April was another strong month for Marvel which had about 45% of the market share of the top 300 comics both by units and by dollars. DC came in a fairly close second place with a market share of almost 43% by units and nearly 41% by dollars. Dark Horse came in a distant third with just over 3% by units and by dollars. Image placed fourth with just over 2% by units and by dollars. This left less than 10% of the market share for the top 300 comics for all of the other publishers.

Marvel took the number one slot on the top comics list with "Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Wolverine" which sold around 157,000 units, about half of what "Captain America" #25 sold. "Justice League of America" Vol. 2, #7, came in second place and saw a bump from the multiple covers of over 17.5% boosting it to around 155,000 units for the issue. Third place went to "Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Avengers" which sold around 140,800, a drop of about 10.5% from "Fallen Son: Death of Captain America: Wolverine." Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born #3 took the fourth slot with an estimated 132,500 units which was down only 9,100 units from the previous issue. Rounding out the top five comics was "Justice League of America" (v2) #8 which sold around 130,400 units, losing all of the bump the previous issue saw from the multiple covers.

Marvel had seven of the top ten comics with DC taking the other three slots. DC did, however, take all but one of the next ten slots except for slot 12 which Dark Horse took with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" #2. That issue sold around 96,400 units, but had suffered from a drop of about 24%. This is a fairly standard second issue drop, being maybe a percent or two more than average.

"52" continued to do well, taking four of the top twenty slots with another four of those slots going to the "World War III" spin off series. "52" #50 did the best with a 2.5% bump because of the World War III event within an event. The numbers for "World War III" imply that most retailers were treating that series as if it were part of "52" with the issues selling right around how "52" #50 and "52" #51 did.

"Superman/Batman" saw yet another all time low for the series with issue #34 coming in at 71,300 units. These are still strong sales, but this series has lost nearly 24,000 readers just since issue #27.

"Runaways" #25 sold well over double the numbers of the previous unit which might have something to do with that Joss Whedon fellow coming onboard as writer.

"Flash, Fastest Man Alive" #11 saw an increase of around 900 units which was a nearly 2% gain putting it at 47,000 units. This series seems to have found a direction and might be picking up some momentum. I suppose that the question now is if the Bart Allen Flash will survive long enough to enjoy it.  With rumors of big changes to come for this series, the question is how those events will affect sales on this book considering it appears to finally have found its footing.

The sales increase that has me most impressed this month is the 2,100 unit gain for "Ms. Marvel" #14. This is a 5% gain over the jump of 10,000 units that the previous issue had. The sales increase could be due to the Greg Horn covers, the art by Aaron Lopresti, the Initiative cover banner or the new direction for the series. In any case, this series seems to have gone from being an attempt to force Ms. Marvel into the spotlight into a case of the character actually being an important part of the Marvel Universe.

Sales may be starting to level off for the "Immortal Iron Fist" around 37,000 units or so. I'm surprised that the White Tiger series hasn't done better. It seems like something that readers of "Daredevil" and "Immortal Iron Fist" would enjoy. But "White Tiger" #5 only sold around 13,600 units, well under half of what "Immortal Iron Fist" is doing and under a third of what "Daredevil" is doing. Maybe people are waiting for the trade of this miniseries.

"JLA Classified" saw an increase in sales with the start of the Kid Amazo storyline. This story was originally solicited as a hardcover a few years back, but was cancelled.

Captain America is still dead, but managed to move another 20,700 units of "Captain America" #25. This was just one of many titles with strong reorders in April. Other include "Dark Tower: Gunslinger Born" #1 with another 18,100 units, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" #1 with 16,900 units, "Civil War: The Confession" with 16,000 units, "Mighty Avengers" #1 with 15,100 units and "Amazing Spider-Man" #539 with 14,900 units. Reorders accounted for 30 of the 300 slots and a total of 185,700 units. With the exception of 1,700 units for "Dynamo 5" #1, all of the reorder activity was for Marvel and DC items. If that reorder activity had been a single distinct publisher, it would have had the fourth largest market share. We are seeing a lot more reorder activity these days than we used to. But, it is a welcome change from the "no overprinting" days of Marvel. The most surprising reorder activity was "Marvel Zombies" #1 with 1,400 units and "Marvel Zombies" #2 with 1,500 units. The sales of this series just won't die.

Overall, the top 300 comics were down 272,800 units from last month, but up 1,131,600 from April 2005. For items with previous issues for compared against, total declines were 276,800 units and total gains were 104,400 units resulting in a net loss of 172,400 units.

The breakdown of the market shares for the top 100 graphic novels and collected editions was a bit unusual for April. Normally the breakdown is split roughly into thirds with one third for Marvel, one third for DC and the remaining third being the other publishers. But, with the numerous "Civil War" trade paperbacks in April, Marvel dominated with an amazing 45.5% of the market share for the top graphic novels and collected editions by units and an astonishing 51.25% by dollars. This was clearly a great month for Marvel in this arena. It just shows what can happen when a publisher collects most of the best selling issues for the past year into trades and releases them all in the same month. DC came in second with only about 22.25% of the market share by units and 25.30% by dollars. That was less than half of what Marvel had. Viz came in third with nearly 11% by units and only about 5.25% by dollars. Tokyo Pop came in fourth with around 5.75% by units and 3.18% by dollars.

Marvel dominated the top ten slots with "Civil War" (19,200 units), "Civil War: Amazing Spider-Man" (9,400 units), "Civil War Front Line" Book 1 (7,600 units), "Civil War: Fantastic Four" (6,800), "Civil War: X-Men" (6,200 units) and "Civil War: Thunderbolts" (5,800 units). Other Marvel items in the top ten included the "Runaways" Vol. 7 digest in slot nine with 5,400 units and the "Spider-Man: Reign" Premiere Hardcover in slot ten with 5,300 units. The only DC item in the top ten was the "All Star Superman" hardcover in slot five with 6,700 units. Rounding out the top ten was "Fruits Basket" v16 from Tokyopop with 6,600 units.

In addition to the numerous trades with Civil War in the title, there were a couple with Civil War in the subtitle such as "Heroes For Hire: Civil War" and "Punisher War Journal: Civil War." These tended to not do as well.

Perhaps the most disappointing sales on the graphic novels and collected editions list was the "Agents of Atlas" Premiere Hardcover which only moved 1,700 units. Marvel went all out on this hardcover and included a number of things that really didn't have to be in there. It is unfortunate that those "bonus features" didn't seem to help it get better opening numbers.

In the latest episode of my Comic Book Page podcast, I discuss both the sales of the "Civil War" trades and the "Agents of Atlas" hardcover with Chris Marshall of the Collected Comics Library podcast. We also discuss the top ten graphic novels and collected editions and how the "300" and "Mouse Guard" trades seem to be doing in the mass market.

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