In June 2015, Marvel was once again the publisher with the largest portion of the top 300 comics with 46.57% followed by DC with 30.40% and Image with 10.66%. Marvel accounted for 48.95% of the total retail dollars for the top 300 comics. DC accounted for 29.25% and Image with 9.14%. The five premiere publishers in the front half of Previews accounted for 93.78% of the units and top 300 comics 93.58% of the retail dollars for the top 300 comics. If the store you shop at seems to favor the premiere publishers, or just Marvel and DC, over all of the other publishers that is why. Simply put, the smaller publishers aren’t as profitable as the larger publishers.
Taking a look over the history of the aggregate sales of the top 300 comics, we can see the units sales are trending up but not as quickly as the retail dollars:
Breaking those charts to Marvel, DC and other, we can see Marvel is clearly the leader of the pack. In some recent months, DC is beginning to get outsold by the other publishers due to a combination of weaker DC sales and stronger sales of the other publishers.
“Secret Wars” #3 sold an estimated 218,136 units. Not only does the miniseries continue to do well for Marvel, but many of the related titles, such as “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” #1 and “Thors” #1, sold very well.
Some might see the 203,565 units sold of “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows” #1 as fans “voting with their wallet” in favor of a married Spider-Man. Personally, I’ve always considered the “vote with your wallet” concept to be somewhat flawed. That sort of voting process is inherently biased in favor of the content as a purchase is seen as being a vote in favor of the content. The purchase happens prior to the assessment of the material. As anybody who has ever read a comic they didn’t enjoy can attest, that reading of the sales figures is inaccurately optimistic. Likewise, not purchasing a comic does not equate to someone not liking the comics, as they may not even be aware of the comic. In the case of “Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows,” given the number of new titles coming out these days, it is entirely possible some readers were unaware of exactly what this title was. For the moment, we’ll ignore that possibility entirely given the sales over 200,000 units. The real question is how many of these copies sold to readers and how many readers approve of the nature and direction of the story. Unfortunately, there is no real way of knowing that. Equating high sales on these charts to anything other than retailers expecting a high level of interest in the material or needing to order high to qualify for incentive covers is questionable at best.
“Archie” #666 concludes the original numbering of the series with an estimated 17,814 units. Given the new first issue will have around two dozen variant covers, the renumbered and retooled volume will almost certainly start with strong sales within the direct market.
“Nonplayer” #2 shipped from Image 217 weeks after the first issue and sold approximately 13,507, units which is down around 8.89% from the total known sales of the first issue. The series got high praises when it launched four years ago only to have the second issue never get solicited until this year. It raises the question of if the second issue is late or not. Technically, it came out exactly when it was originally solicited to ship, so from that perspective, it wasn’t late. Unfortunately, there was a 217 week gap between the first and second issues, making it feel very late. I respect Nate Simpson and Image Comics for not soliciting the issue until he could get it out as promised, and the drop in sales is remarkably low given the delays on the title and the uncertain future of when the remaining issues of the series will ship.
As a reader, delays like “Nonplayer’s” can be frustrating. For a series, they can be crippling. Fortunately, the delay on “Nonplayer” doesn’t seem to have hurt the title, but we won’t know for certain how the series does until all six of the issues ship. Four years is an eternity, and to say the entire comic book industry has changed since “Nonplayer” #1 shipped would not be overstating things. Since April 2011, digital comics went from being on the horizon to day-and-date digital releases being a common and expected business practice. The overwhelming majority of titles from just four years ago have either ended or been relaunched, retooled, renumbered, renamed or otherwise revamped. The recent changes in the list of titles published by DC and Marvel are more evidence of how fluid the industry has become over the last few years. Delays like “Nonplayer” used to be much more common and while they still happen these days, they are fairly rare.
If you’d like to listen to an in-depth discussion of the sales data, check out the Mayo Report episodes of the Comic Book Page podcast at www.ComicBookPage.com. In addition to those episodes, 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 what is currently being published. If you are looking for more or different comics to read, check out the latest Previews Spotlight episode which features 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 things which may have flown under your comic book radar.
I’ll be at Comic-Con International: San Diego again this year and would be happy to discuss the sales trends with people. If you are interesting in doing so, email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com and we can try to find a time and place to meet up during the convention. I’ll be on the 10th Annual All Star Comic Book Podcaster Panel, Saturday, July 11th from noon until 1pm in the Auditorium at the San Diego Central Library. The Central Library is on the other side of Petco Park from the convention center. That is the easiest time and place to find me and I’d be happy to talk with people after the panel.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.
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