A longtime showbiz journalist and fan's thoughts on comic books, movies and other cool stuff.

Tag: direct sales

Diamond’s 2013 Stats Show Comics Sales Growing

The Walking Dead #115 was the top-selling comic book of 2013.

Despite all the turmoil, 2013 turned out to be a fantastic year for the comics industry.

Diamond Comics Distributors just posted its year-end stats, revealing comic book sales were up more than 10 percent over 2012 and graphic novels up 6.5 percent. That’s an overall sales boost of just over 9 percent.

Both unit sales and dollar sales charts showed Marvel and DC collectively accounting for about two-thirds of the business, followed in dollar share by Image Comics, IDW, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Boom!, Eaglemoss, Valiant and Avatar Press.

The Walking Dead #115 turned out to be the top-selling single issue of the year — fueled no doubt by the ten connecting variant covers celebrating the series’ 10th anniversary— followed by DC relaunches Justice League of America #1 and Superman Unchained #1. Marvel dominated the rest of the top ten, with Guardians of the Galaxy #1, Superior Spider-Man #1, Infinity #1, X-Men #1, Age of Ultron #1 and Uncanny X-Men #1. Rounding out the list was Superman Unchained #2.

Graphic novels were dominated by Image, with volumes of Saga and Walking Dead taking the top six spots. Marvel’s sole title on the list was Hawkeye, Vol. 1, while Batman scored two for DC with The Court of Owls and The Killing Joke Special Edition.

The charts also show why publishers are constantly rebooting and relaunching titles: Those tactics sell lots of comics. So I expect we’ll see a lot more of that.

On the plus side, it’s great to see almost all the major publishers posting gains and also that each has forged for itself a strong identity in the market through publishing quality work. I can think of books I like from pretty much every one of the top publishers, which is saying something.

It’s also interesting to see Diamond list its account tally for comic book specialty shops at more than 3,500. That’s up from what I remember it being in the not-too-distant past, and an increase in this number likely has a lot to do with market growth considering these sales tallied here are sales to retailers, not sell-through numbers. I’ve long thought that more comics shops were important for the industry just to get the damn things out there and in front of people who’d buy comics and like them if they could actually see them for sale somewhere.

Turning comics fans into comics dealers

Comics used to be full of ads for jobs that kids could do to make a little cash. Like learning electronics or selling subscriptions to something called Grit. But I think the ad below is unique in that I don’t remember ever seeing another ad urging kids to become local comic dealers before I stumbled across this 1974 gem in the Marvel Milestone Edition of The Incredible Hulk #181 (click for a closer look):

The basic idea is to get kids to buy a dozen comics for $2 and then sell them at cover price to their friends and family. If they sold them all at a quarter a piece, they’d make a whole buck. Having never heard of this, I can’t imagine it got a great response or inspired a generation of fans to get into the comics retailing business. But this was around the time the direct market was being formed. I wonder if Marvel thought they’d get a better deal from kids than from stores, which I’m sure got a greater discount than one third.

On another note, I always liked the Marvel Milestone Edition comics, which were reprints of a single comic that included all the original ads, letter cols, Bullpen pages, etc. The first ones came out in 1991 and were reprints of X-Men #1 (the 1963 version) and Giant-Size X-Men #1, both in honor of the release of X-Men #1 (the 1991 version). When they arrived in the shop, I was a bit disappointed these were printed on modern, glossy paper as I had imagined them being true reproductions of some kind on old-fashioned newsprint. But the owner of the store I frequented at the time said I was in the minority, and he had sold far more than he expected to sell because fans liked the slick production values.

Anyway, I wonder why Marvel doesn’t consider a special format for collectors, maybe a box set of fairly accurate reproductions of the original periodical comics on vintage style paper, perhaps oversize to set them apart from the originals. I recall seeing this idea done for some German-language reprints that made it over to Meltdown Comics a number of years back. I would be among the fans who would dig such an idea, should Marvel decide to reprint its classic comics in yet another format.

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