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Comic Dollars Down Again in November

Graphic Novels Up, Still Growth vs. 2000

Published: 11/05/2002 12:00am

Total comic and graphic novel orders from comic stores for November were down about 3% vs. last year, continuing the trend from last month (see 'Comic Orders Down for October').  Once again, there was a split between comics, which were down about 4%, and graphic novels, which were up 6%.  Comic and graphic novel orders were up around 5% vs. two years ago, with a 10% increase in comics and a 19% drop in graphic novels.

 

Of the Big Four comic publishers, Marvel and Dark Horse were drags on the total, with 19% and 31% drops vs. 2001 numbers, respectively, although Marvel was still up around 10% vs. 2000.  DC and Image were both up a little over 1% vs. 2001.  Dreamwave and CrossGen were big gainers in comic sales vs. 2001.

 

These numbers are confirming what we've been hearing anecdotally-that sales were soft in comic shops this fall, although not falling off a cliff.  One factor positively influencing sales in comic shops a year ago was the huge publicity around Marvel's 9-11 books, which is absent this year (see 'Top Comic Stories of 2001').  And next month's sales are going to face a rough comparison for DC, which does not have the strong sales (and draw into stores) of the Dark Knight Strikes Again series launch last December.  It now seems probable that advance orders for the fourth quarter will be down over-all vs. a year ago.  But it's still way too early to say that the expansion of the comics market that has been occurring over the past year is over, especially when you consider other channels such as bookstores, which are probably up substantially over last year.

 

These estimates are based on ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in November 2002.  They do not include orders placed with Diamond UK, late orders, advance reorders, distributor over-orders, or reorders.

 

Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image distribute 100% of their comic store orders through Diamond.  Some other publishers distribute directly to stores or through other distributors and as a result this analysis may underestimate their sales. 

 

Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image distribute some of their titles through channels other than comic specialty stores, e.g., newsstands and bookstores.  These quantity estimates do not reflect distribution through those channels. 

 

The quantities above do not include advance reorders, late orders, or reorders.

 

Most of the titles on this chart are also distributed to Europe by Diamond UK, which can account for significant sales for the publisher, ranging from 3-20% of the US numbers.  Sales by Diamond UK are not included in the numbers above.

 

Even given the above, however, it is probably safe to say that these quantities reflect 80% or more of the total North American sales by the publisher on most periodical comics.   

 

One other factor to consider is that sales through Diamond and other comic distributors are non-returnable to retailers.  That means that there is a considerable unknown percentage of books unsold at the retailer level.  If that percentage is 10-20% of sales (a reasonable assumption), the estimates above may be quite close to actual sales to consumers.

 

For an over-view and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in November, see 'Top Comics Slip Again in November.'

 

For the top 300 comics in November, see 'Top 300 Comics--November 2002.'

 

For the top 50 graphic novels in November see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels--November 2002.'

 

 

For an overview and analysis of the dollar orders for October, see 'Comics Slide in October.'

 

For an analysis of the dollar trends in October, see 'Comic Orders Down for October.'

 

For the top 300 comics in October, see 'Top 300 Comics--October 2002.'

 

For the top 50 graphic novels in October, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels--October 2002.'

 

 

For links to all of the Top 300 Comic and Top 300 Graphic Novel orders, see our 'ICv2's Top 300 Comics & Top 50 GN's Index.'

 
 
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