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Comics Up 18% in January

Marvel, DC Drive Growth

Published: 01/03/2002 12:00am

Comic and graphic novel orders to Diamond U.S. (dollars) were up 18% for January 2002 vs. January 2001.  Growth came from both comics and graphic novels; comics were up 17% and graphic novels were up 24% vs. the year ago period.   This doubles the year-over year growth rates from fourth quarter of 2001 (see 'Q4 Comics 2001 Bright Spot'), and strengthens the case that comics may have finally turned up after over a half-decade of declining sales (see 'Top Comic Stories of 2001'). 

 

Marvel and DC were both up sharply.  Marvel's dollar orders were up 34% over those in January 2001, driven by Origin, Moment of Silence, Ultimates #1, and strong orders on other top titles (see 'Ten Cent Batman Boffo').  DC's strength was not as broadly based.  Dollar orders for DCs were up 22% vs. those in 2001, with Dark Knight Strikes Again accounting for more than the difference between the years (in other words, had DC not solicited orders for DKSA for January, its orders would have been down over-all). 

 

January 2002 dollars were down only 4% from December 2001, again demonstrating the underlying growth rate when compared to the previous year, when January 2001 orders were down 12% from December 2000. 

 

For a complete list of comic orders for January, see 'Top 300 Comics -- January.'

 

For a list of graphic novel orders for January, see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- January.'
 
 

The estimates in this analysis are based on ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in January 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.
 
 
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