May 2019 had 6,586,828 units in the top 300 comics list, an increase of 748,506 units from last month. This is the highest total for the top 300 comics since the 7,231,202 units for November 2018. DC had the majority of the gains thanks to a number of high profile titles like DCeased, Doomsday Clock and Batman: Last Knight on Earth.
Marvel Comics placed 3,294,377 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 79,353 units and accounted for 50.01% of the total units. Marvel has 124 items in the top 300, 117 of them were new released while 7 were reorder activity.
DC Comics placed 2,191,098 units in the top 300 comics, an increase of 558,826 units and accounted for 33.26% of the total units. DC had 59 items in the top 300 comics list with only one of those being reorder activity.
Image Comics placed 351,175 units in the top 300 comics, a decrease of 43,649 units and accounted for 5.33% of the total units.
The premiere publishers accounted for 96.26% 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 3.74% of the total units for the top 300 comics.
The up-swing of 1,945,697 units from new and increased sales was enough to compensate for the down-swing of 1,197,191 units from lost sales for the net increase of 748,506 units.
The 35 titles across the 7 publishers in the continuing titles which gained sales category accounted for 1,115,537 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 125,006 units. Marvel accounted for 57.73% of the change in this category with 19 of the 35 titles in the category.
Naomi from DC and Venom from Marvel were the two titles which gained the most sales.
The 11 titles across the 5 publishers in the continuing titles which shipped more issues category accounted for 706,076 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 298,088 units. Marvel accounted for 86.30% of the change in this category.
Immortal Hulk continues to do well and was the top seller in this category this month. Amazing Spider-Man also did well with the "Hunted" storyline.
The 19 titles across the 10 publishers in the continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category accounted for 171,176 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 2,490 units.
GI Joe: A Real American Hero was the only title which shipped fewer issues category accounted for a downswing of 6,507 units.
The 100 titles across the 10 publishers in the continuing titles which lost sales category accounted for 2,430,686 units in the top 300 comics with a downswing of 535,632 units. Marvel accounted for 78.84% of the change in this category.
Symbiote Spider-Man dropped 69% on the second issue. This is a reflection of the difference in incentive covers between the first and second issue. The first issue has the regular cover, two open-to-order covers, a meet-or-exceed 100% of Amazing Spider-Man #15 cover, a 1-in-25 cover, a 1-in-50 cover, a 1-in-100 cover and a 1-in-200 cover while the second issue had a regular cover, two open-to-order covers and a 1-in-25 cover. Open-to-order covers can increase sales but the impact tends to be insignificant compared to ratio variants like a 1-in-100 or a 1-in-200 cover. Obviously the difference is because of the additional copies the retailer needs to order of the regular cover to qualify to get the 1-in-X cover while the open-to-order cover only increases the sales by the number ordered of that cover.
The first issue of War of the Realms sold around 191,130 units while the other three issues sold an average of 75,748 units. The month-to-month drop on the title reflects the inflated sales of the first issue compared to the rest of the run so far.
The 31 titles across the 15 publishers in the new titles category accounted for 987,180 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 987,180 units. DC accounted for 46.45% of the change in this category and Marvel accounted for 31.93% of it.
DCeased #1 was the top selling comic of the month. The issues seemed to be well received but these sales are unsustainable so we should expect to see a drop next month. The question is how much the title will drop. Unlike a typical Marvel title, this title didn't have a number of 1-in-X covers or meet-or-exceed covers. It did have two open-to-order covers, one by Francesco Mattina and the other by Yasmine Putri. The second issue has the regular cover and an open-to-order cover by Francesco Mattina. The first issue sales weren't over-inflated the way Marvel first issues tend to be. As a result, the sales on the second issue could remain uncharacteristically high.
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 launched strong with 113,694 units. Savage Avengers launched slightly below that with 112,137 units. Next month this might be another example of the impact of incentive covers on second issues. Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 had a regular cover and an open-to-order cover and the second issue also has a regular cover and an open-to-order cover. Sales of the second issue shouldn't drop because of any difference in the variant covers between the two issues since the two issues have the same sort of promotional push.
Savage Avengers #1, on the other hand, had a regular cover, an open-to-order cover, two meet-or-exceed 150% of Avengers #14 covers, a 1-in-10 cover, a 1-in-25 cover, a 1-in-50 cover and a 1-in-100 cover and the second issue had a regular cover, two open-to-order covers, a 1-in-25 cover and a 1-in-50 cover. The 1-in-100 cover on the first issue and not the second is the key difference but the two meet-or-exceed covers on the first issue and not the second will also be a factor. The end result some of the sales of Savage Avengers #1 generated by the incentive covers aren't going to translate into sales of the second issue.
The end result is two titles with roughly similar sales on the first issue are likely to have noticeably different sales on the second issue.
The 29 titles across the 11 publishers in the returning titles category accounted for an upswing of 427,058 units. DC accounted for 43.29% of the change in this category.
Doomsday Clock #1 shipped at the end of May and accounted for 27.59% of the change in this category.
The 41 titles across the 13 publishers in the suspended titles category accounted for a downswing of 285,889 units. Image accounted for 39.24% of the change in this category with 13 titles not shipped in May. Buffy the Vampire Slayer by BOOM! Studios was the biggest title that shipped last month and skipped this month.
The 23 titles across the 9 publishers in the defunct titles category accounted for a downswing of 278,504 units. Marvel accounted for 59.75% of the change in this category. Avengers: No Road Home (2019) along accounted for 33.69% of the change in this category.
The various Ghostbusters 35th Anniversary one-shots are in this category because they were assigned unique series codes as if they were ongoing titles.
The 5 titles across the 4 publishers in the annuals/specials category accounted for an upswing of 85,094 units. DC accounted for 78.80% of the change in this category.
The 56 titles across the 8 publishers in the non-series category accounted for 519,873 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 519,873 units, a downswing of 496,602 units for a net an increase of 23,271 units. Marvel dominated this category in both directions.
The True Believers line continues to do well for Marvel accounting for 183,128 units last month and 159,353 units this month. In addition to leveraging reprints well, Marvel had a number of one-shots with new material such as the Web of Venom: Cult if Carnage and Amazing Spider-Man: Hunted one-shots last month and the various Star Wars: Age of the Republic and War of the Realms issues this month.
The 18 titles across the 5 publishers in the reorders category accounted for 137,839 units in the top 300 comics with an upswing of 102,376 units, a downswing of 190,545 units for a net a decrease of 88,169 units.
Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge #1 seemed to have sales split between last month and this month with about a third of the sales happening on the final week of last month and the rest during this month.
While the reorder activity within the top 300 dropped this month for Immortal Hulk, numerous issues placing between ranks 311 and 363 for a total of 22,950 units.
The different publishers employ different strategies. Some publishers heavily leverage incentive covers more than other. Some publishers put out more material than others. Some publishers do frequent line wide storylines while others lean more towards self-contained titles. Some replace ongoing titles with new volumes of them when they shift creative teams. Each publishing strategy has pros and cons. Some of them work great in the short term but can have long term consequences.
Marvel had the majority largest market share, just over half the unit sales for the top 300 comics. It did that by publishing more material than any other publisher and a seemingly infinite number of incentive covers. As much as it would seem like there would be a point of diminishing returns for many of the publishing strategies Marvel employs, and there are diminishing returns on many of them, the bottom line is Marvel is not just having success but is by far the most successful current comic book publisher in the direct market. Marvel has leveraged that success in comics over the past decade in the movie industry with a highly successful run of movies in set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The challenge for the other publishers is for them to figure out which, if any, of Marvel's strategies can work for them and to try to replicate some of that success. The bigger challenge is figuring out which of the strategies working for Marvel aren't likely to work for them and what they should do instead.
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.