September 2019 had 6,917,535 units in the top 300 comics list, an increase of 449,268 units from last month. Spawn #300 was the best selling comic in September 2019. This is the first time an Image title has topped the sales charts since Walking Dead #150 ruled them with 156,166 units in January 2016. Walking Dead also topped the comics sales charts in October 2014, October 2013 and July 2012. In each of those cases, the issue of Walking Dead had multiple covers. Spawn #300 had a dozen covers.
Marvel Comics placed 3,318,929 units in the top 300 comics, a decrease of 142,808 units and accounted for 47.98% of the total units.
DC Comics placed 2,224,799 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 430,361 units and accounted for 32.16% of the total units.
Image Comics placed 534,424 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 175,118 units and accounted for 7.73% of the total units.
The premiere publishers accounted for 96.68% of the total units for the top 300 comics this month while all of the other publishers with items in the top 300 accounted for 3.32% of the total units for the top 300 comics.
The up-swing of 2,245,774 units from new and increased sales was enough to compensate for the down-swing of 1,796,506 units from lost sales for the net increase of 449,268 units.
The 24 titles across the 8 publishers in the continuing titles which gained sales category accounted for 1,196,007 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 199,673 units.Marvel dominated this category 90.1% of the units. House of X and Power of X accounted for 52.32% of the category. These titles are building up a lot of potential interest in the next rounds of mutant titles at Marvel. It will be interesting to see how those titles do and how long this new era of the X-Men lasts.
The 2 titles across the 2 publishers in the continuing titles which shipped more issues category accounted for 55,014 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 22,985 units. Punisher Kill Krew and Star Wars Adventures were the only two titles in this category this month.
The 19 titles across the 10 publishers in the continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category accounted for 186,493 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 2,383 units.
The 8 titles across the 4 publishers in the continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category accounted for 379,104 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 373,318 units. Marvel dominated this category with Absolute Carnage accounting for 62.07% of the category. The first two issues shipped last month and only the third issue shipped this month.
The 106 titles across the 11 publishers in the continuing titles which lost sales category accounted for 2,402,708 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 543,346 units.Marvel accounted for 51.05% of the units in this category with numerous titles losing sales compared to last month. DC accounted for 30.17% of the category due mainly but not exclusively to the drop in sales on Batman/Superman. The drop on Batman/Superman is unsurprising given the title launched last month and most titles see significant drops in the first few issues during the honeymoon period when retailers have to order the title sight-unseen before the readers have a chance to read the title and express their thoughts on it.
The 41 titles across the 15 publishers in the new titles category added 1,127,779 units. There was no clear leader in this category. Marvel accounted for 35.43% of the category while DC accounted for 34.17%. Spider-Man was the top selling new titles this month. Harley Quinn was in both Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy which continues the story of those characters after Heroes in Crisis and also Harleen which is part of the Black Label imprint.
Some of these are new stories while others are continuations of existing stories under a new name. Flash Forward and Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story threads from Heroes in Crisis and King Thor picks up from Thor. Comic book readers have already been trained to wait not try to pick up a series after the first issue. Continuing stories from previous titles in first issues without making them accessible to new readers risks training readers to only try out completely new properties.
The 25 titles across the 9 publishers in the returning titles added 646,200 units. Image lead the pack in this category with 47.48% of the units in it.
Spawn #300 topped the sales this month with 262,599 units. Given the heavy use of variant covers and the milestone nature of the issue, expect sales to drop significantly on the next issue. Spawn is the longest running title from Image is it great to see the renewed interest in the title.DC accounted for 35.21% of the category with about half of that activity being the penultimate issue of Doomsday Clock.
The 57 titles across the 16 publishers in the suspended titles category accounted for a downswing of 515,466 units. DC Comics accounted for 40.51% of this category with DCeased and Superman: Year One being the highest profile titles which didn't ship this month.
The 21 titles across the 9 publishers in the defunct titles category removed 304,954 units. Marvel accounted for 65.69% of this category with the end of a number of titles last month like Thor (which was replaced by King Thor) and a number of miniseries like Spider-Man: Life Story) and Symbiote Spider-Man_.
The 4 titles across the 2 publishers in the annuals/specials category decreased by -57,039 units from last month to 15,794 units this month. Marvel accounted for most of the activity in this category.
The 50 titles across the 2 publishers in the non-series category accounted for 734,833 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 734,833 units, a downswing of 558,937 units for a net an increase of 175,896 units.
Marvel had most of the titles and most of the units in this category thanks to the True Believers titles and other one-shots.
DCeased: A Good Day to Die filled the gap left by DCeased this month. DC is starting to do more things like the Dollar Comics but most of the non-series comics at DC are things like the Year of the Villain one-shots.
The 19 titles across the 4 publishers in the reorders category accounted for 173,603 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 163,670 units, a downswing of 90,429 units for a net an increase of 73,241 units. Marvel had strong reorder activity this month with both House of X and Powers of X doing well.
September was a slightly odd month. Both of the major companies had events in progress but we didn't see the sales spikes we used to see years ago from those crossovers. There weren't really any major launches this month along the lines of House of X and Powers of X from either Marvel or DC.
Fortunately, House of X and Powers of X have been received well by the readers. That could pave the way for great sales for the new round of mutant books. Or many reader might only go for the titles by Jonathan Hickman and pass on the other titles. It is hard to tell how much of the interest in a title will be translate into sales of a replacement title. Every transition point from one title to another forces a jumping off point and creates a potential jumping on point.
The problem is when a title ends, a reader can't get the next issue as there isn't one to buy. When a new title if offered, even if it is clearly a replacement for a title the reader was getting, there is no guarantee the reader will pick up the new title. Ongoing titles have a standard attrition rate of a few percent for every issue that's released. If readers can't be kept from issue to issue of an ongoing title, then why would there be any reasonable expectation readers of one title will all transition to a replacement title?
The perception that first issues sell is generally true. First issue usually have the best sales for a title. Heavy use of incentive covers and people speculating on the potential value of new titles is some of it. Some of it is readers sampling new tiles looking for something that clicks with them. A lot of it might be the shiny aspect all new things have which quickly fades.
The transition points which try to force existing readers off one title and on to another in the hopes that a bunch of new readers will also jump onto the new titles often works. At least for an issue or two. Usually before too long the replacement title is selling around the sales level of the previous title. So while it might work in the short term, it rarely pays off in the long term.
The average length of titles seems to be getting shorter and shorter. It is impossible for someone to become a long time reader of a title when the title hasn't been around for a long time.
House of X and Powers of X seems to be successful. There seems to be an interest in what is going on now and what might happen next. The question is if it gets people curious enough about what happened before to dig into the rich history of the X-Men. Readers who do that become more invested in the X-Men franchise than someone who is only interested a run on a title until the first thing bump in the road. With Hickman's run on the X-Men titles, that bump in the road might not come for most readers until Hickman gets off the title at some inevitable point in the future. At which point, will the readers be invested enough in the X-Men franchise to stick around to simply be happy with what they got and move on to something else?
For a more in-depth discussion of the sales data, check out the Mayo Report episodes of the Comic Book Page podcast at www.ComicBookPage.com. The episode archived cover the past decade of comic book sales on a monthly basis with yearly recap episodes. In addition to those episodes on the sales data, every Monday is a Weekly Comics Spotlight episode featuring a comic by DC, a comic by Marvel and a comic by some other publisher. I read around 1s00 new comics a month so the podcast covers a wide variety of the comics currently published. If you are looking for more or different comics to read, check out the latest Previews Spotlight episode featuring clips from various comic book fans talking about the comics they love. With thousands of comics in Previews every month, Previews Spotlight episodes are a great way to find out about new comic book titles that may have flown under your comic book radar.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.