Comics sales back in the dumps in May

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Although both sales charts seemed to show incremental gains in March and April for comics periodical sales, everything at the top seems to have slid back in May, ICv2 reports. Comics sales were down a whopping 17.3 percent and NO comic — not even the debut of DC’s highly touted FLASHPOINT mini – topped 100k copies sold. Although FLASHPOINT did very well in reorders, the low initial orders show that event fatigue is very real where comics retailers are concerned.

After nearly pulling even in year-over-year sales in April, the Top 300 periodical comics plummeted 17.3% in May as the top titles exhibited unusual weakness.  The situation doesn’t appear to have been quite as bad on the graphic novel side with year-over-year sales of the Top 300 books down just 6.2%, but in this case appearances are deceiving, the drop in comic sales was not quite as bad as it looks and graphic novel sales in May of 2011 were even worse than they appear at first glance.


ICv2 attributes this to periodicals being compared to an unusually robust May 2010, while GN’s are being compared to a very anemic May 2010.

Indeed, it’s been a while since we’ve had a GN sales breakout — the lack of obvious tie-ins for this summer’s movie slate being one example.

John Jackson Miller crunches the numbers and finds, as we’ve been seeing, that the bottom remains stable, although modest numbers-wise:

The 300th place title, a key indicator of sales levels, was Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #2 at 2,913 copies, the second-highest total for that placement for the year and almost the same as the 300th place title sold last May. So the market has the same depth as this time last year — it’s the volumes higher on the list that have been shaved off.

More: Dollar Trends May 2011
Top 300 Comics Actual–May 2011.
Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual–May 2011.

We advise careful reading of all these links carefully — with DC’s relaunch around the corner, every sales figure is going to be examined in even greater detail.

Comments

  1. Chris Hero says:

    “[T]he Top 300 periodical comics plummeted 17.3% in May…[.]”

    WOW!!

  2. thequestion says:

    the fallout from the rise to 3.99 continues (thanks Marvel) and is taking the whole direct market down with it…

  3. Snikt Snakt says:

    Looks like the days of a single comic hitting 100k in sales are coming to a close…

  4. DanielT says:

    Is it the fallout of 3.99 or is it that Marvel and DC together produce like, three comics that are worth reading?

  5. Micah says:

    Flashpoint #1 shipped before the announcement of the DCU reboot. I would expect heavy reorders. My LCS guy said that more of his customers were picking up Fear Itself, but the Flashpoint tie-ins were selling more than the Fear Itself tie-ins.

  6. briguyx says:

    After the great reviews of “Flashpoint #1,” I decided to go get it at my local store, but they were sold out, so I never got it. Now that the reviews on the following issue are in and not as good, I won’t be picking it up, especially with the DC Universe rebooting…

  7. bruce says:

    When you target you comic books to a specific niche audience this is what happens. Mainstream doesn`t want to read these kind of stories and MAINSTREAM has tuned out.

  8. Micah says:

    It turns out that the direct market for comics wasn’t the only market that was hurting in May: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43392106/ns/business-retail/

  9. “Is it the fallout of 3.99 or is it that Marvel and DC together produce like, three comics that are worth reading?”

    THIS.

  10. Stink Monkey Pop Pop says:

    April-May Is when gasoline rapidly climbed to $3.99 a gallon.

    Do you buy fuel, or buy a funny book?

  11. Fear Itself and Flashpoint are both totally mediocre books by creators who we all know can do better. And look what’s on the horizon Schism/Mutant Civil War? Or Spider Island/who cares anymore? Or Bendis bringing back the Dark Avengers and Norman Osbourne. Maybe he can write yet another interminable story about the Hood next. I currently enjoy Secret Six, Batman Inc, Heroes for Hire, Avengers Academy and X-Force. And as soon as those get cancelled or rebooted I am probably out the door.

  12. Keyser says:

    I agree with Jason and some of the other comments. I got the first two Flashpoints (not great either) and when they announced the reboot, I just stopped and tapped out of it all. None of this new reboot stuff looks any good to me either so I’ll just go read something else. Pretty much done with DC unless they also cancel the kids books too like Brave and the Bold.

  13. TonyJazz says:

    I’m with thequestion. I don’t buy $4 books, but I do buy $3 books. As a result, I’m buying fewer books overall, but still part of the comic buying public (for now).

    …and I’m one of those who are unlikely to make the switch to digital… no interest in not having collectable versions…

  14. Snikt Snakt says:

    “no interest in not having collectable versions…”

    Collectable?!? If you’re looking for comics that will one day be valuable, look to the pre-1980′s b/c most stuff from 1980-present is barely worth cover price…

  15. Someone is publishing a comic that sold less than 3000 copies???????? Why?

  16. Ricardo Baptista says:

    @RY33
    Because they like telling stories and aren’t in it for the money?

  17. I take pleasure in this for some reason. Sales keep going down and all the big two do is make the same mistakes over and over and over. Too big. Too much. All style and no substance. Completely inaccessible to new readers. Characters you can’t even recognize anymore. Pandering to their shrinking market instead of doing ANYTHING to expand into new ones.

  18. Wow, what a bunch of wet blankets.

    I’m glad that DC is doing something drastic to try to right their publishing train. Come September, I will be buying about 50% more DC books than I currently do now.

    And I can only speak from my experience, but the Marvel embrace of the $4 price point has seen my Marvel monthly pulls go from 15 or so two years ago to zero now.

    So yeah, the price point is having some effect.

  19. I Love Torrents says:

    Quote:
    “Stink Monkey Pop Pop
    06/14/2011 at 10:19 pm

    April-May Is when gasoline rapidly climbed to $3.99 a gallon.

    Do you buy fuel, or buy a funny book?”
    ____________________________

    Comic store orders (which this measures) are placed months in advance. This had nothing to do with it.

    What DID?

    1. Too many books, not enough talent.

    2. Prices being too high ($3.99? $2.99 made me LMAO, let alone this latest joke. You keep raising ‘em, I’ll keep downloading torrent packs every Thursday for my iPad.)

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