Marvel & DC's Differing Sales Strategies Show on May 2019 Comic Book Sales Charts

DCeased #1
Credit: Greg Capullo/FCO Plascencia (DC)
Credit: Francesco Mattina (DC)

Tom Taylor, Trevor Hairsine, and Stefano Gaudiano's DCeased #1 from DC was the best-selling Direct Market comic book of May 2019 according to figures released by Diamond Comic Distributors Friday morning. 

DC had six titles in the May Top 10 including Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's Doomsday Clock #10 at #2 and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 at #3.

Marvel had four titles in the Top 10, including Gerry Duggan and Mike Deodato Jr.'s Savage Avengers #1, ranked #4.

Image Comics' The Walking Dead #191 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard was the highest ranking non-Marvel or DC title, ranked #27 for May. 

Credit: Isaac Goodhart (DC/DC Ink)

Lauren Myracle and Issac Goodhart's Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale original graphic novel, from DC's DC Ink imprint, was May's best-selling graphic novel.

Marvel remained May's top publisher with a dollar share of 40.46% and a unit share of 39.75%. DC placed second with a 28.22% dollar share and a 38.58% unit share. Image was third with a 6.88% dollar share and a 5.53% unit share.

John Jackson Miller of Comichron dug deeper into the numbers for his takeaways of the month. His full post follows reprinted with his permission. 

May's orders of comic books and graphic novels in the comics shop market were higher than in any month since last October, but not quite good enough to beat May 2018, which had Amazing Spider-Man #800 among other blockbusters in the mix. Retailers ordered almost exactly $47 million in comic books and graphic novels from Diamond Comic Distributors this May, including 7.27 million comic books; both of those figures were down 4% year-over-year versus last May.

DC's DCeased #1 led new comics periodicals; we'll report on its estimated sales on Monday, when you'll be able to click here to find estimated sales figures for May 2019.

The tale of two strategies we've seen in 2019 continued with Marvel publishing more different periodical titles, and DC and Image publishing fewer. Diamond reported that market-share leader Marvel shipped 118 new comic books to market, a figure that's higher than any since Diamond began reporting monthly release counts in 2013. We're not absolutely certain that figure represents only unique new comic books, with no second or later printings included; it depends on how Diamond is keeping track. But if that 118 number holds, it’s likely to be the highest figure this century. Marvel placed 119 comics in the Top 300 in June 2009, but several of those were previously listed books that had been reordered.

The month's total wouldn't be an all-time record, though. At the peak of the early 1990s comics boom, Marvel shipped 126 new comic books to retailers in August 1993, of which 123 issues made Diamond's Top 300. That appears to be the all-time record for it or any other American publisher.

Regardless, Marvel's May total was 26 more comics than it released in May 2018 — and necessary to allow the publisher to come close to its Spidey-fortified performance from that month. The total retail dollar value of Marvel's shipments to retailers was off single digits percentage-wise from that month. The publisher remains up 6% for the year.

DC's 60 comics released in May 2019 was 14 fewer than last May, yet the publisher does appear to be succeeding at its stated goal: releasing fewer comics while increasing the sales of the ones it releases. Taking four of the top five slots on the comics charts, DC's shipments to retailers were up 5% in dollar terms versus last May, and its year-to-date shortfall narrowed to 4%. DC also had the top graphic novel by units in Lauren Myracle's Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale.

Image, meanwhile, cut its offerings even more than DC did versus last May - releasing 38 new comic books in the month, the publisher's smallest slate since at least 2013. That's down from 65 comic books released in May 2018 - and the bottom line shows the impact, as Image's year-to-year sales to retailers for the month were greatly diminished. By this point in 2018, Image had shipped at least $4 million more in comics and graphic novels to retailers; that's twice the size of the industry's year-to-date shortfall.

Dark Horse, meanwhile, benefited from Umbrella Academy's Netflix show, placing fourth in dollar market share and landing three of the series' collections in the Top 10 Graphic Novels by units. The publisher's overall sales are up significantly year-over-year and also year-to-date.

May had one more shipping week than April (though the same number as last May), explaining part, but not all, of the boost in sales from that month; a 51% increase in graphic novel dollars over April is significant. We saw several hardcover-laden reorder charts in May, usually an indicator of sales and promotions; graphic novel units are down versus last May by the same percentage that dollars are up, so that supports that explanation.

The year-to-date total slipped into the red for the first time in 2019, down less than 1%; orders through May 31 are $1.4 million shy of the total last year. That's less than a third of what Spidey #800 brought in last year, so the margin is fairly narrow.

While April and May of 2018 were banner months for the business, last June represented a slight pause in that year's momentum, so getting back to even this month is at least possible. (Then July 2018's Batman #50 sales will presumably lend that year a boost, before August's Marvel Comics #1000 sends the pendulum back in 2019's direction.)


The May 2019 Market Share, Comparative Sales Data, New Titles Shipped and Top 10 Comic Books Units and Dollars and Top 10 Graphic Novels Units and Dollars charts can be seen below:

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

RETAIL MARKET SHARE

PUBLISHER

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS

40.46%

DC COMICS

28.22%

IMAGE COMICS

6.88%

DARK HORSE COMICS

3.78%

IDW PUBLISHING

3.61%

BOOM! STUDIOS

2.21%

VIZ MEDIA

1.84%

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

1.78%

ONI PRESS INC.

0.84%

TITAN COMICS

0.67%

OTHER NON-TOP 10

9.72%

 

UNIT MARKET SHARE

PUBLISHER

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS

39.75%

DC COMICS

38.58%

IMAGE COMICS

5.53%

IDW PUBLISHING

2.98%

DARK HORSE COMICS

2.19%

BOOM! STUDIOS

1.76%

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

1.50%

VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC

0.71%

VIZ MEDIA

0.65%

ONI PRESS INC.

0.56%

OTHER NON-TOP 10

5.80%

COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

 

DOLLARS

UNITS

MAY 2019 VS. APRIL 2019

COMICS

15.60%

14.51%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

50.97%

44.63%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

24.51%

16.35%

TOYS

27.91%

46.27%

MAY 2019 VS. MAY 2018

COMICS

-7.81%

-4.30%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

5.36%

-5.36%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-4.15%

-4.38%

TOYS

40.65%

40.25%

YEAR TO DATE 2019 VS. YEAR TO DATE 2018

COMICS

-0.45%

-5.12%

GRAPHIC NOVELS

-1.21%

-5.94%

TOTAL COMICS/GN

-0.66%

-5.18%

TOYS

23.04%

30.09%

 

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER

COMICS
SHIPPED

GRAPHIC NOVELS
SHIPPED

MAGAZINES
SHIPPED

TOTAL
SHIPPED

MARVEL COMICS

118

36

0

154

DC COMICS

60

33

0

93

IMAGE COMICS

38

23

0

61

IDW PUBLISHING

37

18

0

55

DARK HORSE COMICS

22

30

0

52

VIZ MEDIA

0

45

0

45

BOOM! STUDIOS

22

13

0

35

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

19

4

0

23

TITAN COMICS

10

6

2

18

ONI PRESS

9

5

0

14

OTHER NON-TOP 10

151

190

27

368

TOTAL

486

403

29

918

 

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

VENDOR

1

DCEASED #1

$3.99

DC

2

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #10

$4.99

DC

3

BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH #1 (MR)

$5.99

DC

4

SAVAGE AVENGERS #1

$4.99

MAR

5

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #5

$4.99

DC

6

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21

$3.99

MAR

7

THE IMMORTAL HULK #17

$3.99

MAR

8

BATMAN #70

$3.99

DC

9

BATMAN #71

$3.99

DC

10

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #22

$3.99

MAR

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

VENDOR

1

DCEASED #1

$3.99

DC

2

BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH #1 (MR)

$5.99

DC

3

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #10

$4.99

DC

4

THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS #5

$4.99

DC

5

SAVAGE AVENGERS #1

$4.99

MAR

6

THE IMMORTAL HULK #17

$3.99

MAR

7

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21

$3.99

MAR

8

WAR OF REALMS #3

$4.99

MAR

9

WAR OF REALMS #4

$4.99

MAR

10

BATMAN #70

$3.99

DC

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY UNITS SHIPPED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

VENDOR

1

UNDER THE MOON: A CATWOMAN TALE TP

$16.99

DC

2

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 1: THE APOCALYPSE SUITE TP

$17.99

DAR

3

MIDDLEWEST BOOK 1 TP (MR)

$9.99

IMA

4

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 2: DALLAS TP

$17.99

DAR

5

EAST OF WEST VOL. 9 TP

$16.99

IMA

6

DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: SPACED OUT TP

$9.99

DC

7

THE IMMORTAL HULK VOL. 3: HULK IN HELL TP

$15.99

MAR

8

LEGEND OF KORRA PART 1: RUINS OF EMPIRE TP

$10.99

DAR

9

RAT QUEENS VOL. 6: INFERNAL PATH TP (MR)

$16.99

IMA

10

SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOL. 3 HC (MR)

$49.99

IMA

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS BY DOLLARS INVOICED

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

VENDOR

1

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 4 HC

$125.00

MAR

2

SAGA DELUXE EDITION VOL. 3 HC (MR)

$49.99

IMA

3

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN BY J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI OMNIBUS VOL. 1  HC

$125.00

MAR

4

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 1: THE APOCALYPSE SUITE TP

$17.99

DAR

5

UNDER THE MOON: A CATWOMAN TALE TP DC INK

$16.99

DC

6

THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY VOL. 2: DALLAS TP

$17.99

DAR

7

EAST OF WEST VOL. 9 TP

$16.99

IMA

8

SIX DAYS: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF D-DAY'S LOST CHAPTER HC

$24.99

DC

9

ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR HC

$99.99

DC

10

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT HC

$29.99

DC

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