February usually finds comics sales in a deep freeze, but this February had something going for it in that both Marvel and DC's main event titles, Siege and Blackest Night, had new issues out. The result was that while some of the internal categories were slightly off versus last February — it was the weakest month for Top 300 comics unit and dollar orders since last March, and the worst February for Top 300 unit sales since 2004 — overall comics and trade paperback orders from Diamond Comic Distributors ticked slightly ahead. The direct market now stands up 3% versus 2009, and up 24% versus 2005.
The charts for February 2010 appear here.
The aggregate totals appear below:
TOP 300 COMICS UNIT SALES
February 2010: 5.38 million copies
Versus 1 year ago this month: -4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: -8%
Versus 10 years ago this month: -1%
YEAR TO DATE: 11.01 million copies, -2% vs. 2009, +2% vs. 2005, unchanged vs. 2000
TOP 300 COMICS DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $18.70 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -3%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +12%
Versus 10 years ago this month: +29%
YEAR TO DATE: $38.06 million, -1% vs. 2009, +24% vs. 2005, +32% vs. 2000
TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $5.1 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: +1%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: -5%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +33%
YEAR TO DATE: $10.35 million; -8% versus 2009
TOP 300 COMICS + TOP 300 TRADE PAPERBACK DOLLAR SALES
February 2010: $23.81 million
Versus 1 year ago this month: -2%
Versus 5 years ago this month, just the Top 100 vs. the Top 100: +9%
Versus 10 years ago this month, just the Top 25 vs. the Top 25: +30%
YEAR TO DATE: $48.42 million; -2% when just comparing just the Top 100 each month
OVERALL DIAMOND SALES (including all comics, trades, and magazines)
February 2010: $29.98 million ($33.16 million with UK)
Versus 1 year ago this month: +4%
Versus 5 years ago this month: +13%
YEAR TO DATE: $61.99 million, +3% vs. 2009, +24% vs. 2005
For the first time in months, the Top 300 trade paperbacks actually topped the dollar value reported last February — that even during a huge Watchmen month. However, that month's sales are suspected to have been underreported (http://blog.comichron.com/2009/03/february-2009-comics-sales-hanging-in.html) due to Diamond's warehouse move.
The average comic offered in the Top 300 cost $3.54; the average comic ordered cost $3.47. The median price — the middle price of all 300 comics — was $3.50. $2.99 was the most common price of comics appearing in the Top 300.
Going forward, March holds some added interest in that the first Yen Press Twilight manga is in the mix. It's unclear what the Direct Market impact will be, and at $10, the market will have to move quite a few to move the needle significantly. But March 2009 was, as noted, a lighter month overall (http://blog.comichron.com/2009/04/march-2009-in-comics-overall-orders.html), with the top comic book selling under 100,000 copies for the first time in comics history — and there remain issues about how complete the reporting of trades were that month. So there's room for a book making a big splash to make a bigger difference year-to-year.
Here's a look back at what was going on in previous years...
February 2009's top seller was once again Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man #583, the top seller for 2009 with estimated Diamond year-end orders of 530,500 copies. Sales for the issue were estimated at 148,778 copies for the month.
Check out the sales chart here.
February 2005's top-seller was Marvel's New Avengers #3 with Diamond first-month orders of approximately 149,000 copies. This marked the third consecutive month that New Avengers was at the top of the rankings.
Check out the sales chart here.February 2000's top-seller was Uncanny X-Men #379, with estimated Diamond orders of more than 108,400 copies. Marvel's Punisher relaunch proved one of the better sellers in what was, overall, a down month near the very bottom of the industry's post-1993 recession.
Check out the January 2000 sales chart here.
February 1995's top seller at Diamond and at Capital City Distribution was Marvel's Amazing X-Men #2, continuing the "Age of Apocalypse" storyline. Capital reported preorders of 89,775 copies. The parent title's Statement of Ownership reports monthly sales averaging at 332,889 copies; this one issue was likely higher.
February 1990's top seller at Diamond and Capital City was Legends of the Dark Knight #6, beginning Grant Morrison's "Gothic" storyline. Capital's orders on the issue were 106,650 copies; overall, sales were likely in the 400,000- to 500,000-copy range. The novelty "compuer-generated" graphic novel Batman: Digital Justice was the top-selling trade at Capital City, with orders of 32,500 copies.
Capital City reported sales for 308 comic books and 35 trade paperbacks in the month. The average cover price for new comics was $2.04, and the average comic book actually ordered cost $1.54. All told, Capital reported selling 2.85 million comic books for $4.38 million. Trade sales totaled $1.17 million, mostly copies of Digital Justice.
February 1985's top seller at Capital City was Uncanny X-Men #194, which sold about 6% more copies at Capital City than the slightly more expensive Crisis on Infinite Earths #3.
All Diamond exclusive-era sales charts are now on The Comics Chronicles, thanks to the efforts of invaluable research assistant T.M. Haley. Updated market share and other historical sales graphics can be found here.
Writer of comics and books about comics, John Jackson Miller