The Mayo Report: Analyzing "The Walking Dead's" Undying Climb Up the Sales Charts

While the overall sales of the top 300 comics in August 2015 were down over a million units from the previous month, it had little impact on the breakdown of the top 300 comics with Marvel Comics accounting for 44.04% of the total unit sales, DC Comics taking 29.92% and Image Comics a distant but still strong third place with 9.62%. The other two premiere publishers, IDW Publishing with 3.50% and Image with 3.06%, bring the breakdown for the front half of the Previews catalog to 90.14% of the total unit sales for the top 300 comics. The remaining 9.86% of the sales from all of the other publishers on the list combined totaled to 643,257 units.

The bump seen on many of the DC titles is most likely due to the Bombshells variant covers, which were offered with no minimum order required. The Bombshells covers were popular enough to launch the DC Comics Bombshells series.

The top selling comic in August 2015 was "Secret Wars" #5 from Marvel with 204,415 units followed by "Star Wars" #8 with 145,066 units. "Batman" #43 sold 124,697 units which continues to be impressive, particularly given this volume of the title has never dropped below 100,000 units since it was launched in September 2011. No other comics sold over 100,000 units in August.

"Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #3 sold 90,787 units, followed by "Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows" #4 at 83,548 units makes it the most successful series of the Secret Wars event. Typically an event can be measures as much by the bump in sales on tie-in issues of other title as by the sales of the miniseries for the event itself. In this case, "Secret Wars" itself is clearly doing exceptionally well, but the other metric of sales bumps on tie-in issues doesn't really exist since most of the related titles were launched as part of the event with no prior sales history to measure sales against. The fact of the matter is, these related titles are selling viable numbers for the most part, but far from the exceptional sales of issues which tied into "Civil War" from 2006 through 2007. The lowest selling of the "Secret Wars"-related titles in August was "M.O.D.O.K. Assassin" #4 with 14,501 units. Many of the lower selling "Secret Wars"-related titles are at levels which would most likely get an ongoing Marvel title cancelled.

"The Walking Dead" #145 sold 82,792 units, which is twice the sales of the next item on the list not published by Marvel or DC. The following chart shows in yellow the placement of "The Walking Dead" within the top 300 comics charts since it launched by in November 2003. In some months, the title didn't ship, and in other months, multiple issues shipped.

The title launched at rank 233 with around 7,265 units through Diamond. The low sales point of the series was the second issue, with around 6,078 units sold through Diamond which placed it at 206 that month. The lower sales resulted in a better ranking because the rankings are based on how an issue sells compared to the other issues sold that month. Sometimes, a title can appear to climb the charts from one month to the next while dropping in sales. That having been said, the continual upward trend of "The Walking Dead," both in sales and in ranking over the past decade, proves increased sales of a title can happen. Certainly the television show helped the sales of the comic, but the upwards sales trend had already been going for seven years by that point. "The Walking Dead" was selling nearly 25,000 units a month a full year before the television series launched on October 31st, 2010 on AMC. Whatever the reason for its success, Robert Kirkman has proven a title can earn its way up to being a top ten title. Volume 24 of "The Walking Dead," the most recent trade paperback for the series, sold 20,777 units and was the best-selling trade paperback through Diamond in August 2015.

This sort of visualization can also illustrate the success Image Comics has been having over the past year or two by showing the placement of the various Image Comics title in the top 100 during that timeframe.

This image represents the top 100 comics from March 2003 through August 2015, with the items from DC in blue, Marvel in red, Image in yellow and all of the other publishers in gray. During the past two or three years, Image Comics has been placing more items in the top 100 comics than it has in the previous couple of years. The image also shows the various periods in which Marvel has dominated the top 10 and the two month period when DC dominated top twenty with the launch of the New 52 in September 2011, and a few months later when DC swept the top ten two months in a row at the beginning of 2012. The chart also shows the struggle DC has been having lately in placing items at the top of the sales.

This visualization of the publishers of the top 100 comics shows the relative strength of the publishers from month to month. Seeing how the various titles from the lead publishers rank against each other shows patterns which can be hard to notice otherwise. One such patterns is how DC rarely has a strong grip at the top of the charts or even strong clustering of titles on the chart which Marvel often has both. Another takeaway is how DC has placing more items in the top 100 over the past year than it had been averaging over the previous three years since the New 52 relaunch. While the line up at DC has undergone a significant amount of change since the New 52 relaunch, titles which aren't finding an audience should be ended and replaced.

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.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.

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