Marvel was the only major comic publisher with U.S. direct market growth in 2001, according to our analysis of circulation and dollar data from the last two years. Initial dollar orders for Marvel comics and graphic novels to Diamond U.S. grew 14% for the year, and posted a robust 25% second half growth rate. Dollar orders for DC, Image, and Dark Horse comics and graphic novels all declined in 2001, by 10%, 22%, and 2% respectively. Other than Marvel, Dark Horse was the best performer, with increases in three out of four quarters.
The good news for the industry as a whole was in the difference between first half and second half rates of change. All of the publishers improved their performance in the second half, with an average 11% difference between first half and second half growth rates for the four major comic publishers. This confirms an underlying strength to the market, which hopefully portends positive full year growth rates for the industry for 2002. U.S. comic and graphic novel orders dropped slightly over-all in 2001, but if current trends continue, that trend will reverse (see 'Graphic Novels and Q4 Comics 2001 Bright Spots'). For some of the reasons why comic orders are showing strength after a long decline, see 'Top Comic Stories of 2001.'
Year Over Year Rate of Change--2001 vs. 2000
This analysis was based on comic and graphic novel title indexes and market share information for 2000 and 2001 provided by Diamond Comic Distributors. Using the title indexes and external title-by-title order data, we're able to estimate the advance order quantities for the top 300 comics, top 10 graphic novels, and top 10 comic-related magazines sold by Diamond each month. This allows us to estimate the approximate market size, and applying Diamond's market share percentages gives us dollar estimates by publisher. This methodology applies only to advance orders to Diamond U.S., so this analysis does not take into account reorder activity, differences between advance order and shipment dates that may take products into or out of the period, backlist sales, or sales through other channels. However, this analysis can provide general indications of over-all trends, and account for most of the comic and graphic novel sales in the U.S. and Canada.