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It’s Official: Q3 Comic Sales Sucked

Dollars Down 12%

Published: 10/20/2010, Last Updated: 11/30/1999 12:00am

Now that the third quarter of 2010 is over, it’s clear that the negative trends that comic stores have been bucking for the last two years have finally taken their toll:  sales of comics and graphic novels were down a combined 12% for the quarter.  Comic sales were down 14% and graphic novel sales down 6%. This is the largest year over year quarterly decline we’ve seen since we started tracking these numbers in 2004.

 

September sales were a continuation of negative trends for the quarter, with a 12% decline in comic sales and a 2% decline in graphic novel sales. 

 

Year-to-date trends are better, with over-all sales down 5% behind comic sales down 4% and graphic novel sales down 8%. 

 

We took a look to see to what degree higher prices were holding up comic periodical sales, and although there was an effect, it wasn’t huge.  Piece sales for the quarter were down 16%, vs. the 14% decline in comic dollars noted above. 

 

Both Marvel and DC are cutting prices in January, with DC moving prices on all 32-page titles back to $2.99, and Marvel announcing that it will be launching some new $2.99 titles that month (see “DC Lowering Comic Prices in 2011”).   Both appear to be reacting to feedback from retailers and fans, who are telling them that consumers are cutting back on purchases, and in some cases dropping out of periodical buying entirely, because of pressured budgets.   

 

Pricing may be part of the problem, but the real issue is a dearth of major hits.  Like all entertainment businesses, the comics category rises and falls on the strength of its strongest titles, and the strongest titles just aren’t that hot right now, especially in the core superhero lines of the Big Two.  Marvel took a break from major events this year (see “Interview with Marvel’s Dan Buckley, Part 1”) and hasn’t had any big PR successes for a while, and DC has seemed like it was moving through molasses for much of the year as its New York staff waited for the other shoe to drop in the company’s ongoing reorganization (it recently hit the floor, see “DC’s Move West to Affect 80”). 

 

Hits or not, it’s important to keep the Q3 numbers in perspective.  As Marvel publisher Dan Buckley pointed out in the interview referenced above, comics have held up remarkably well in a terrible economy for discretionary spending over the last two years, and the over-all trends for 2010 have been respectable. 

 

We’re now on our way into the all-important holiday season, which could help or hurt the full year numbers.  As always, we’ll be helping you sort them out here. 


For an overview and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in September, see "'Wolverine' Tops September Charts."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during September, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--September 2010."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during September, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--September 2010."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during August, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--August 2010."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during August, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--August 2010."

For an overview and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in August, see "No Comic Over 100K."  For an analysis of the dollar trends in August, see "Comics and Graphic Novels Plummet in August."

For our index to our reports on the top comic and graphic novel preorders for January 2000 through September 2010, see "ICv2's Top 300 Comics and Top 300 GNs Index."
 
 
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