March 2019 had 6,003,499 units in the top 300 comics list, an increase of 634,521 units from last month. This is still well below the average for the top 300 of 6,618,657 units. First quarter is typically the weakest quarter of the year so this isn't surprising.
The premiere publishers accounted for 95.99% 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 4.01% of the total units for the top 300 comics.
Marvel Comics placed 2,616,079 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 118,785 units and accounted for 43.58% of the total units. DC Comics placed 2,213,196 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 429,837 units and accounted for 36.87% of the total units. Image Comics placed 438,700 units in the top 300 comics, a decrease of 41,331 units and accounted for 7.31% of the total units.
Diamond reported DC having a larger dollar market share than Marvel this month. The market share is based on invoiced sales of comics, trades and magazines and includes pre-orders, advance reorders and in-month reorders. The percentages in these articles only include the top 300 comics since not all of the data used by Diamond to calculate the market share is released.
Unstacking the unit sales chart shows the relative strength of the publishers within the top 300 comics list. This gives a better sense of the different scale that Marvel and DC operate at than the other publishers. Larger publishers have advantages of scale while comparatively smaller publishers can have leaner operating structures which can allow them to adapt quicker to market changes.
Unstacking the delta chart shows how each of the premiere publishers influenced the total sales of the top 300 comics list from last month to this month. Keep in mind that there is an aspect of "what goes up must come down" with the delta charts from as an increase in one month for a publisher can sometimes force a decrease for that publisher the following month.
Most of the increase this month for DC came from Detective Comics #1000, Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 and Doomsday Clock #9. The next issue of Doomsday Clock_ was originally expected to be released on March 27, 2019 and has been delayed for a week eight times already putting the current expected shipping date at May 22, 2019 with no guarantee it will ship on that date. Detective Comics has been averaging in the 50,000 to 55,000 range for the past year or two. Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight #1 is a one-shot and Doomsday Clock is a chronically late title. That means about a quarter of the units DC placed in the top 300 this month aren't going to be there next month.
The up-swing of 1,757,978 units from new and increased sales was enough to compensate for the down-swing of 1,123,457 units from lost sales for the net increase of 634,521 units. As is usually the case, new titles was the main influence increasing sales while continuing titles which lost sales was the main factor decreasing sales.
Unstacking the unit sales chart shows the sales of the top 300 comics list are split by category and the relative strength of each category. Notice how negligible the influence of reorders and annuals/specials are but how non-series titles have a meaningful impact on the monthly sales total for the top 300 comics. Since suspended and defunct titles don't ship any issues in the current month by definition, these categories will always have a zero value on this cart. They are included both from completeness and as a reminder sales would have been higher if the titles in those categories had shipped in the current month.
Unstacking the delta chart shows the influence of each category on the sales of the top 300 comics list. Obviously some categories like new titles can only increase sales while other like defunct titles can only lower sales from month to month.
The 32 titles across the 8 publishers in the continuing titles which gained sales category accounted for 1,000,801 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 117,195 units.
Marvel Comics accounted for 47.27% of the change in this category. Amazing Spider-Man, Invaders and Marvel Comics Presents had the largest gains for Marvel in the category this month. Amazing Spider-Man kicked off the "Hunted" storyline this month and the first of those issues had an open-to-order cover, a 1-in-25 cover and a meet-or-exceed 125% of Amazing Spider-Man #7 cover. The cause of the increase on Invaders is unclear as there were no incentive covers in the initial solicits for the issue nor is there any particular story based reason for sales of the third issue to bounce back up to a few thousand units shy of the first issue sales. The gain on Marvel Comics Presents #3 of 10,946 units is 59.31% increase over the previous issue. Any gain on a third issue is unusual, much less this large of a gain.
DC Comics accounted for 44.29% of the change in this category. Supergirl, Catwoman, Justice League and Harley Quinn had the largest gains for DC in the category this month. Supergirl and Catwoman each had an open-to-order cover by Stanley "Artgerm" Lau which accounted for the increase in sales on those title. Harley Quinn had an open-to-order cover by Derrick Chew and both issues of Justice League had open_to-order covers.
There were four shipping weeks in February and four in March.
The 5 titles in the continuing titles which shipped more issues category were all from Marvel and accounted for 398,055 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 137,174 units, a downswing of 473 units for a net an increase of 136,701 units. Avengers: No Road Home shipped more issues but lost 473 units in sales during the middle of the ten issue run compared to last month when the title launched.
The 29 titles across the 11 publishers in the continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category accounted for 201,592 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 4,323 units.
There were four shipping weeks in February and four in March. All of the titles in this category shipped two issues last month and only a single issue this month.
The 5 titles across the 3 publishers in the continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category accounted for 634,728 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 403,541 units, a downswing of 142,704 units for a net an increase of 260,837 units.
Detective Comics was the only DC title in this category. Detective Comics #1000 was a milestone issue and topped the list this month with 526,941 units compared to the 65,064 units for the previous issue. The issue has nine open-to-order covers themed for each of the decades since Batman was created and an open-to-order black cover. The issue-to-issue increase was 461,877 units but the month-to-month increase for the title was 403,541 units because two issues of the title shipped last month. Both of those issues had reorder activity below the top 300 this month.
Daredevil #3 had a 1-in-50 cover by John Romita, Jr which accounts for the bump in sales on that issue even though the title was down for the month because two issues shipped last month and only a single issue shipped this month.
The 111 titles across the 11 publishers in the continuing titles which lost sales category accounted for 2,201,031 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 416,770 units.
Marvel Comics accounted for 46.25% of the change in this category. Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine: Infinity Watch and Venom were the titles with the largest drops this month for Marvel this month. The various Age of X-Man titles which released a second issue this month had an average second issue drop of 41.38%.
DC Comics accounted for 37.31% of the change in this category. Flash and Wonder Woman were the titles with the largest drops this month for DC this month.
The 45 titles across the 16 publishers in the new titles category accounted for 813,204 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 813,204 units.
Marvel Comics accounted for 59.16% of the change in this category with numerous limited series and an ongoing series or two.
The 34 titles across the 12 publishers in the returning titles category accounted for 350,562 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 350,562 units.
DC Comics accounted for 44.61% of the change in this category. Doomsday Clock being the best selling returning title by a huge margin and accounted for 34.25% of the units in category. We already know that the next issue won't be released until at least late May so this still will go back into the suspended category next month. Doomsday Clock launched in November 2017 and the next two issues were released monthly, then the series went bimonthly with the third through seventh issues at which point the title has been released on a quarterly basis. Just to give some context to how much the DC line up of titles has changed since Doomsday Clock launched, other titles released that same week included Blue Beetle #15, Kamandi Challenge #11 and Detective Comics #969. The first two of those titles are long since over while Detective Comics has had over 30 issues released in the time nine issues of Doomsday Clock has been published. The release schedule for the title isn't helping the story momentum any but doesn't seem to be hurting the sales.
The 37 titles across the 16 publishers in the suspended titles category accounted for a drop of 348,081 units for the top 300 comics this month.
DC Comics accounted for 30.42% of the change in this category and Batman Who Laughs alone accounted for 29.24% of the change in this category. Image Comics accounted for 20.14% of the change in this category across numerous titles.
The 30 titles across the 11 publishers in the defunct titles category accounted for a drop of 298,942 units for the top 300 comics this month.
Marvel Comics accounted for 33.42% of the change in this category. Return of Wolverine (2018) accounted for 19.84% of the category but the title was effectively replaced by Wolverine: Infinity Watch.
The 3 titles across the 3 publishers in the annuals/specials category accounted for 3,533 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 3,533 units, a downswing of 14,581 units for a net a decrease of 11,048 units.
The 28 titles across the 3 publishers in the non-series category accounted for 356,150 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 356,150 units, a downswing of 276,671 units for a net an increase of 79,479 units. The majority of the items in this category were from Marvel. Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight) was the only DC item in the category this month.
The True Believers line had no items released this month. Marvel is starting to release facsimile editions of key issues at a $3.99 price point. It will be interesting to see how those do in comparison to the True Believers line.
The 18 titles across the 4 publishers in the reorders category accounted for 43,843 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 30,339 units, a downswing of 74,632 units for a net a decrease of 44,293 units.
Diamond released the March data near the end of April which provided the rare opportunity to know everything which shipped in the month after the newly released sales data. Based on some really rough guess work based on what shipped in April and the last known sales of those titles with some wild guesses thrown in for new titles, April could shape up to be roughly the same sales level at March, possibly slightly less.
We can safely figure the two issues of Detective Comics released in April won't sell as well at Detective Comics #1000 but will mostly likely sell closer to how the title had been averaging prior to that issue resulting in a significant drop for that title in April. Counterbalancing that is the launch of War of the Realms and the various related miniseries from Marvel. Add in Major X-, Marvel Team_Up_ and another batch of True Believers titles and Marvel could see an increase of maybe half a million units or more.
I didn't spent too much time trying to project a ballpark figure for the total of the top 300 comics for April since that data will be out soon enough. One of the limiting factors on projecting sales for future months is the constant turn over in titles over time. Even with a sales history going back well over a decade and tossing in some ballpark guesses for over 25 items, only 298 items of the items which shipped in April had projected values. This lack of sales history is nothing new. It is the outcome of the constant rotation of titles which has been going on for a years. The lifespan of titles is shrinking and with it comes an increased uncertainly on how future titles will sell.
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 200 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.