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Mundane March Titles Hold Their Own

No DKSA or Origin Means No Big Comic Hits this Month

Published: 03/04/2002 12:00am

With no new issues of top-selling miniseries Dark Knight Strikes Again or Origin scheduled for release this month and Hawkman the top-ranked new title, the best-selling comic title for March 2002, New X-Men, has initial raw orders to Diamond US of only around 104,000 copies, the lowest quantity for a #1 comic title since April of last year.  Only two titles had orders over 100,000 copies (see 'Top 300 Comics -- March 2002').  But that's still a positive comparison to numbers from a year ago, when we first started publishing these estimated quantities.  Our article on comic orders for March 2001 (see 'Top Comics Below 100,000'), with comparisons to numbers from ten years ago, was the first to put numbers to the sorry state of comic periodical sales in the new millennium and caused considerable distress in the industry (see 'Sturm und Drang in the Comics Industry').  The 2002 numbers, while still far from robust, show over-all improvement vs. 2001, with a majority of the titles that can be directly compared to a year ago showing increases.  Some of those increases, most notably Marvel's flagship Amazing Spider-Man title, are dramatic.  For the dollar trends for March and the first quarter of 2002, see 'Comics and Graphic Novels Complete Q1 Hat Trick.'

 

In comparison to last month, orders on about 2/3 of the top 25 titles were down, again reflecting the weakness of the season.  Marvel continues to dominate the top of the chart, with eight of the top ten titles and 19 of the top 25. 

 

Lone Wolf and Cub from Dark Horse topped the graphic novel bestseller list again this month (see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels -- March 2002').  But the two September 11 volumes from DC and Dark Horse, which were solicited via a Previews Update prior to their listings in the January Previews, would have topped the list had all orders been combined. 

 

Interestingly, both the top dollar comic and the top graphic novel for the month featured the same property:  the top dollar graphic novel was the GI Joe trade paperback collection from Marvel, and the top dollar comic was GI Joe #4 from Image.  Wait a minute, what year is this?

 

The estimated initial orders to Diamond US for the top 25 comic titles for March 2002 are:

104,138            New X-Men #124

102,956            Ultimates #3

  96,150            Ultimate X-Men #16

  95,386            Uncanny X-Men #404

  92,896            Amazing Spider-Man #41

  80,515            Ultimate Spider-Man #20

  72,907            GI Joe #4

  72,892            X-Treme X-Men #11

  72,638            Green Arrow #13

  69,340            Wolverine #174

  61,871            JLA #64

  53,249            Avengers #52

  51,793            Wolverine Hulk #2

  49,918            Punisher #10

  48,669            Hawkman #1

  48,299            Daredevil #31

  47,727            Peter Parker Spider-Man #41

  44,949            Fantastic Four #53

  44,785            Paradise X #1

  43,180            Spawn #120

  43,016            X-Force #126

  42,108            Incredible Hulk #38

  41,892            Ultimate Marvel Team-Up #14

  41,848            X-Men Unlimited #34

 

The quantities in this chart are ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in March 2002. 

 

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 last month's top comic list, see 'Top 300 Comics -- February 2002.'

 

For last month's graphic novel list, see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- February 2002.'

 

For an overview and analysis of last month's numbers, see 'DKSA #1 Again for February.

 

For an analysis of the over-all dollar trends for February, see 'Comics and Graphic Novels Continue Growth in February.'
 
 
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