Indignant Online

The Bottom of the Comics Bestseller List is Higher (Too Bad About the Mid-List)

You may have heard the news that comic book sales were slightly down in July and the there’s been a slightly downward trend in these things. What you likely haven’t heard is the bottom of the sales charts is way up in July.

When Diamond issues its sales list and ICV2 does its estimates, there are 300 comics ranked and 100 graphic novels ranked. Guess what? #300 for comics and #100 for graphic novels are both at high water marks.

For July 2008, the #300 comic sold 4,256 copies. In June 2008, #300 only sold 2,549 copies. In July 2007, #300 sold 2,086. Below are a table and chart of what the bottom of the best seller list was selling July ’07 through July ’08 and then July’s back to 2003 for context.

Bottom line, while the sales for the bottom of the chart goes in surges, that bottom is way, way up right now. If sales are down and the bottom is up, that doesn’t say a lot for the so-called mid-market books, does it? The flip thing to say would be that, right off the bat, Trinity sold 17,736 less copies in July ’08 than the previous weekly series, Countdown, did in July ’07. (A combined 291,751 issues of Countdown vs. a combined 274,015 for Trinity, per ICV2 estimates.) The trouble with that is, I know three issues of Trinity were under returnable rules and possibly under-counted. On the other hand, 5 issues of Trinity were still selling almost 18,000 less than 4 issues of Countdown. That’s just not a good sign. 

Month                   Sales for #300
July ’08                4,256
June ’08               2,549             
May ’08                2,781
April ’08                2,959
March ’08              2,110
February ’08          1,998
January ’08           2,534
December ’07         2,250
November ’07        2,810
October ’07          3,031
September ’07     1,499
August ’07           2,501
July ’07                2,086
July ’06                1,681
July ’05                1,125
July ’04                1,887
July ’03                1,833


With the graphic novels, the surges are less dramatic.  Overall, the trend is a big step forward, two step back and a bigger step forward with July ’08 as the biggest step forward. The most interesting thing? With the bottom of the best seller list consistently over 1,000 copies per month, you see less of the Walking Dead backlist turning up in the Top 100, like it did for so long. Usually those volumes would bounce right around where the bottom of this currently is and there’s good chance their sales haven’t dropped that much, the list just has a higher cut-off. Table and chart follow.

Month                   Sales for #100
July ’08                 1,572
June ’08                1,355
May ’08                 1,120
April ’08                1,195 
March ’08              1,087
February ’08          1,057
January ’08           1,163
December ’07        1,046
November ’07        1,174
October ’07           1,482
September ’07       1,043
August ’07            1,231
July ’07                 1,072
July ’06                 1,283
July ’05                 1,067
July ’04                 1,056

The good news is, the tide is rising. The bad news is, the mid-list is still in sad shape. Buffy books have replaced the old Image books as the big selling independent comics, but there’s still little action in the 20K-40K range with independents. There’s a 34K copy drop-off between the number 5 book and the number 20 book. 40 slots selling over 50K, which is only 35 titles selling over 50K. Trinity could tumble out of that range in a couple months. Robin, X-Factor and Incredible Hercules all have big cross-over issues. Secret Invasion Frontline’s a first issue and will be out of the 50K range is it sheds 15% between issues one and two. Could be down to 30 titles selling over 50K very quickly.

Cheer for the end of the list rising, but watch out for the mid-list. It isn’t doing well.

Shop the Indignant Store

Leave a Response