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Marvel Dominated April Comic Sales, Rising While Other Publishers Dipped

April 2019 had 5,838,322 units in the top 300 comics list, a decrease of 165,177 units from last month. Marvel was the main player in April with over half the overall market share, over 55% of the units in the top 300 comics and nearly twice as main units in the top 300 as DC. Marvel was up 610,960 units in the top 300 comics but all of the other publishers were down 776,137 units which resulted in the net drop for the month.

 

Marvel Comics placed 3,215,024 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 598,945 units and accounted for 55.07% of the total units.

DC Comics placed 1,632,272 units in the top 300 comics, a decrease of 580,924 units and accounted for 27.96% of the total units.

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Image Comics placed 394,824 units in the top 300 comics, a decrease of 43,876 units and accounted for 6.76% of the total units.

The premiere publishers accounted for 96.62% 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 3.38% of the total units for the top 300 comics.

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The up-swing of 1,756,922 units from new and increased sales was not enough to compensate for the down-swing of 1,922,099 units from lost sales for the net decrease of 165,177 units. As is often the case, the new titles category was a major factor for the month. Unfortunately, the combined impact of suspended titles, continuing titles with more issues, continuing titles which lost sales, continuing titles with fewer issues and defunct titles pulled the total units for the top 300 comics down more than the combined gains for the categories of new titles, returning titles, reorders, non-series and continuing titles which gained sales.

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The 28 titles across the 10 publishers in the continuing titles which gained sales category accounted for 782,406 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 54,236 units. DC was the main player in this category with 75.56% of the units in the category and accounted for 70.44% of the gain in the category.

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DC had 16 titles in this category this month with Batman and Red Hood: Outlaw having the largest gains. Most of the other publishers only had a single title in the category with IDW having two titles and Image and Marvel both having three titles.

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There were four shipping weeks in March and four in April.

Detective Comics was the only title in the continuing titles which shipped more issues category and it accounted for 127,750 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 399,191 units. Given Detective Comics #1000 sold 526,941 units last month and another 45,737 units of reorder activity this month, it was guaranteed the title would drop massively on the next issue. Detective Comics #1001 sold 66,743 units which was 88.35% less than Detective Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #1002 dropped another 8.59% down to 61,007 units. Both of those two issues sold right around where the previous two issues to Detective Comics #1000 sold. This title alone accounts for over 68% of the drop in the top 300 comics list for DC this month.

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The 21 titles across the 9 publishers in the continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category accounted for 197,572 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 2,694 units.

Image has a number of titles such as Realm, Skyward, Outer Darkness, Middlewest and Murder Falcon was have relatively stable sales, even if they are suffering from standard attrition. Both Murder Falcon and Skyward are ending soon.

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There were four shipping weeks in March and four in April.

The 9 titles across the 2 publishers in the continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category accounted for 379,714 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 270,635 units. Marvel accounted for 97.01% of the units and 91.4% of the drop in this category.

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In most cases, two issues of the titles were released last month and only a single issue this month. The exception to that was Avengers: No Road Home which shipped four issues last month and the final three issues this month. Shippnnig an issue less generally results in sales for the title being down even if the title was trending up such as was the case with the final two issues of Avengers: No Road Home.

Many Marvel titles are shipping on a frequency which don't align to the calendar months. Those titles tend to alternate between this category and the continuing titles which shipped more issues category.

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The 104 titles across the 12 publishers in the continuing titles which lost sales category accounted for 2,248,201 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 392,490 units. Marvel accounted for 64.8% of the drop in this category this month.

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Some of the larger drops on Marvel titles such as Spider-Man: City at War, Cosmic Ghost Rider Destroys Marvel History Spider-Man: Life Story were large second issue drops. Second issue drops between 40% and 60% are common on Marvel titles because of the heavy use of incentive covers on first issues.

Some of the other drops such as Invaders and Marvel Comics Presents seem to be a result of those titles over-shipping last month. The data Diamond releases includes both the quantity rank which is based on the number of units the item shipped and a retail rank which is based on the invoiced dollars for the item. The key thing to note about the retail amount the use of the invoiced amount for the ranking. The invoiced amount factors in the discount the retailers get and is obviously lower than the cover price of the item. The retail ranking can reflect when items are over-shipped or discounted beyond the standard level which as seemed to happen last month on Invaders and Marvel Comics Presents and this month on Spider-Man: City at War, Marvel Team-Up and Magnificent Ms Marvel. This indication of over-shipping or higher discounts it isn't immediately obvious unless you are specifically looking for it and even then it can be very easy to miss.

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The 43 titles across the 14 publishers in the new titles category accounted for 1,062,758 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 1,062,758 units. Marvel dominated this category with 74.6% of the units in it.

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War of the Realms launched strong for Marvel. War of the Realms #1 sold 187,851 units followed by a 62.36% second issue drop to 70,704 units. The related miniseries ranges in sales from the low of 24,718 units for War of the Realms: War Scrolls to the high of 31,940 units for War of the Realms: Uncanny X_Men with the average sales of 28,731 units. While those sales aren't particularly impressive, those items fell between ranks 50 and 80 which isn't bad.

Symbiote Spider-Man #1 sold 165,841 units so we'll have to wait until next month to see how the title does after the first issue. Marvel tends to heavily promote first issues with incentive covers to boost sales. In this case, Symbiote Spider-Man #1 had a regular cover, two open-to-order covers, a 1-in-25 cover, a 1-in-50 cover, a 1-in-100 cover, a 1-in-200 cover and a meet-or-exceed 100% of orders for Amazing Spider-Man #15 cover. The second issue, however, only had a regular cover, two open-to-order covers and a 1-in-25 cover. The lack of the 1-in-50 cover, the 1-in-100 cover, the 1-in-200 cover and the meet-or-exceed cover in addition to it being a second issue and not a first issue inevitably results in much lower sales of the second issue than the first. Don't be surprised if Symbiote Spider-Man is one of the top items in the continuing titles which lost sales category next month.

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The 24 titles across the 9 publishers in the returning titles category accounted for 317,311 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 317,311 units. DC accounted for 34.03% of this category, Image another 23.24% and Marvel 13.75%.

Batman Who Laughs accounted for 32.66 of the category and returned after Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight stood in for it last month.

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The 68 titles across the 19 publishers in the suspended titles category accounted for 0 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 608,184 units. DC accounted for 31.87% of the drop in this category and Image accounted for 17.69% of it wit 15 different titles in the category.

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Unsurprisingly, Doomsday Clock fell back into the suspended category after releasing another issue in March. The next issue is currently slated for the end of May but if history is any indication, will likely not ship until at least June. SHAZAM! skipped a month which is unfortunate timing with the movie out.

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The 30 titles across the 11 publishers in the defunct titles category accounted for 0 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 245,372 units. The category was fairly evenly split across DC, Marvel, Image and the other publishers.

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Most of the titles that ended last month were not surprises. They were either one-shots, mini-series or low selling titles.

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No annuals or specials shipped in April leaving WWE Wrestlemania Special which shipped last month as the only titles in this category with a downswing of 3,533 units.

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The 34 titles across the 4 publishers in the non-series category accounted for 496,602 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 443,641 units, a downswing of 303,189 units for a net an increase of 140,452 units. Marvel accounted for 97.07% of the upswing in this category while DC accounted for 95.16% of the downswing with Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight.

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Marvel had a few Spider-Man one-shots, some Star Wars: Age of the Republic one-shots and another round of Avengers themed True Believers issues as well as a few other things in April totaling to 262,769 units for Marvel in this category in April. The True Believers one-shots averaged 13,080 units and totaled 183,126 units.

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The 18 titles across the 6 publishers in the reorders category accounted for 226,008 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 210,158 units, a downswing of 27,993 units for a net an increase of 182,165 units.

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DC had strong reorder activity on Detective Comics #1000, numerous issues of Batman Who Laughs, Naomi and Doomsday Clock as well as the first issue of SHAZAM!. Below the top 300 comics was some reorder activity on previous issues of Heroes in Crisis.

Marvel had some strong reorder activity on a nearly every previous issue of Immortal Hulk except the third and thirteenth issues although some of that was below the top 300 comics.

Marvel is releasing nearly twice as many items in the top 300 as DC which is part of why Marvel tends to dominate many of the categories. But some of what we are seeing with Marvel such as the reorder activity on Immortal Hulk which reflects a core strength in the material and the strong sales of the True Believers reprint line which shows there is interest in older material at lower prices. Marvel has started up the facsimile editions and those seems to be doing well too. These sort of thing at Marvel are essentially celebrations of the history of Marvel. The use of incentive covers might seem excessive at Marvel, people are buying them which shows a clear interest in them which in and of itself justifies the continuation of them. Marvel doesn't always top the charts and doesn't always have the majority of the sales but it is a dominate player in the industry and that isn't likely to chance any time soon.

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.

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