Top Five Publisher surprises in March

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Damond has just released its sales charts and market shares for March, and the top publishers list is of some interest:

PUBLISHER UNIT MARKET SHARE DOLLAR MARKET SHARE
MARVEL COMICS 47.12% 41.94%
DC COMICS 29.92% 27.25%
IDW PUBLISHING 3.61% 4.02%
DARK HORSE COMICS 3.33% 4.76%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 3.08% 3.40%
IMAGE COMICS 3.01% 3.22%
BOOM! STUDIOS 1.84% 1.98%
ZENESCOPE ENTERTAINMENT 0.93% 0.90%
ARCHIE COMICS 0.81% 0.67%
VIZ MEDIA 0.71% 1.48%
TOKYOPOP 0.59% 0.56%
AVATAR PRESS 0.42% 0.56%
ASPEN MLT 0.40% 0.26%
WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT 0.37% 0.46%
EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS LTD 0.27% 0.99%
RANDOM HOUSE 0.25% 0.57%
BONGO COMICS 0.22% 0.21%
DEVIL’S DUE PUBLISHING INC 0.19% 0.25%
BLUEWATER PRODUCTIONS 0.18% 0.19%
ONI PRESS INC. 0.16% 0.33%
OTHER NON-TOP 20 2.59% 6.01%

IDW claims the #3 publisher spot in units, followed by Dark Horse, which is third in dollars. But then, in a bit of a surprise, Dynamite claims the hotly contested #5 spot in both dollars and units, with Image close behind.

While Marvel and DC have always been the “Big Two”, they’re traditionally followed by “The Next Two” of Dark Horse and Image, the only other front-of-the-book publishers– that is until IDW joined the elite last month. With the addition of Dynamite to the mix, you have a loose confederation of “The Big Two” and the “Next Four” with BOOM! aggressively knocking on the door of the RV.

At any rate, if you were to poll the man in the street and ask “Who is the #8 publisher in the direct market?” we doubt too many would have gotten “Zenescope.”

Comments

  1. Nate Horn says:

    I’m guessing if you poll the man on the street and ask “Who is the #8 publisher in the direct market?” you’d hear, “What’s a direct market?” ^_^

    I’m just being a wise ass because I wanted a moment of levity. No offense meant, Heidi.

  2. I would guess Dynamite’s huge jump in market share (almost 50% higher than Feb. ’10) is due almost solely to Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet series:

    Kevin Smith’s GH #1: #20 (units) / #11 ($)
    Kevin Smith’s GH #2: #60 (units) / #42 ($)
    GH Year One #1: #99 (units) / #76 ($)

    Even if KSGH holds close to the sales of its second issue, Dynamite will almost surely drop behind Image again next month.

    As for Zenescope, I wonder if they’re doing some sort of heavy, retailer-driven promotion lately? My local comic shop has started carrying pretty hefty stacks of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Return to Wonderland, even though those titles are totally unlike anything else they typically carry in those quantities.

    Also, wow, looks like the gap between Blackest Night and Siege got even wider this month. Can’t wait to see what the actual units are on these when the iCV2 numbers come out.

  3. Eaglemoss is a “partwork publisher”, and here they make their money on the DC ($14.00) and Marvel ($12.00) figurine magazines.

    Since Viz and Tokyopop are listed, I’m going to assume this list includes both comics and graphic novels. If so, then Bongo gets an asterisk, as HarperCollins publishes the graphic novels.

    Dynamite is not too surprising… the entire backlist of The Boys seems to chart every month on the Top 300 GN list. They also have many recognizable licensed properties, and many strong creator-owned properties.
    (What is surprising: Vera Wang Princess Scent advertising on their website!)

    Here’s a question: What was the last non-two publisher which charted above 5%? Have any ever hit 10%?

  4. Synsidar says:

    It’s notable that the top two publishers have 77.04 percent of the direct market. I wonder what the annual percentages of the GN market are or would be.

    Marvel and DC are, of course, much older than the other publishers, except for Archie Comics. I’m guessing that the recognizability of the characters, whether or not one considers them “icons,” and the Big Two’s practice of flooding the market with marginal titles to capture shelf space and consumer dollars, are chiefly responsible for that dominance.

    SRS

  5. Tommy Raiko says:

    Wow. Look’s like BOOM’s bet about their getting to the Top 5 has taken a step back…but only for March, surely!

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=23797

  6. @Torsten: John Jackson-Miller has an awesome chart of market share over time for the last 13 years here:

    http://www.comichron.com/vitalstatistics/marketshares.html

    Looks like Image and Dark Horse were both consistently in the 5-10% range up through 2004, with Dark Horse still sporadically breaking 5% as recently as a few months ago. IDW also reached (or at least came close to) 5% a few times in the last year. Image was the last one at 10%, back in early 2003.

  7. Jeffy says:

    Boom should be really proud. A really good set of comics that seem to be catching on. Props to Waid and the rest of Team Boom.

  8. Synsidar says:

    John Jackson-Miller has an awesome chart of market share over time for the last 13 years here:

    That chart includes TPBs, magazines, etc. Another chart, which ranks sales of comics to DM shops, shows the dominance of he Big Two.

    SRS

  9. @Synsidar: Right, but the chart I linked to expresses specifically market share percentages, which is exactly what Torsten was asking about, and what Heidi’s original post addressed. It’s all fascinating information, though…I’m glad he compiles it all.

  10. I’m thinking that with BOOM’s line-up (Disney titles, etc.), they are probably making more in-roads outside of the direct market. I think likely that is going to be their best revenue stream over the long-term.
    That isn’t to say that can’t become a bigger player in the direct market, but chances are they will end up with better revenues than Dynamite and even Image because of the money they will be pulling in outside of the direct market.

  11. December says:

    “they’re traditionally followed by “The Next Two” of Dark Horse and Image, the only other front-of-the-book publishers– that is until IDW joined the elite last month.”

    Wrong. IDW has occasionally beaten both Image and Dark Horse for the last year or so. Congratulations for paying attention! Funny how IDW was deliberately ignored until they joined the top companies, now all of a sudden you *magically* realize they exist.

  12. Image doesn’t have a strong graphic novel backlist. There’s Walking Dead (every volume charts each month in the Top 300), there’s the occasional Invincible volume, and the occasional Spawn or Witchblade volume.

    Much of what I see of Dark Horse on the Top 300 is manga and archive collections.

    IDW’s strengths in GNs are the licensed properties, 30 Days of Night, and comic strip reprints (archive editions). They have a small juvenile line, and they’ve just added Craig Yoe and Desperado.

    BOOM! Studios has: kids, licensed, big name creators, “other” genres. It will start publishing alternative titles soon.

    One thing to consider… the pie is getting smaller, from the Diamond perspective. It’s easily seen in the monthly comics analysis, and ICV2 has noted it in their analysis as well.

    According to the annual ICV2 white papers, the overall market is still growing.

  13. Diamond’s list is misleading. We all know that Archie Comics is still a very strong seller, but you don’t see those sales in the direct market.

  14. Jason Michelitch says:

    Why is the unit share being looked at over the dollar share? That’s a serious question. I don’t understand enough about markets and business to know whether unit share is actually more important. Dollar share certainly sounds more important from a common sense point of view…

    Also, is it really that significant which of the four (IDW, Dark Horse, Dynamite, and Image) are #3 when each of them is less than 1% away from any of the others? I can see it being significant that Dynamite hit the 3-4% region, but not terribly important which of the four companies in 3-4% is on top.

  15. Jason Michelitch says:

    Actually, ignore the last half of my comment, it was poorly thought out. The first half is still an actual question, though.

  16. Alan Coil says:

    Diamond’s list IS NOT misleading. It reflects sales through Diamond, not overall market share throughout the world. It is what it says it is, therefore not misleading at all.

  17. Matthew Jeske says:

    @Torsten, I believe that when Image comics first came out they were #1 for one month, ahead of Marvel and DC. I don’t have documentation, for that, so that could be wrong.

  18. Woah, Dynamite sold way more Green Hornet comics than I would have expected.

    Zenescope also shipped a lot of books last month (double shipping three or so of their books), which explains their increase.

    @Torsten What does “Partwork publisher” mean? I went to Eaglemoss’ site and see that they sell Russian Spider-Man stickers and Polish Marvel magazines.

  19. http://manwritesblog.com/2008/03/date-with-a-partwork-publisher.html

    “Partworks are those collectible weekly or monthly magazines that build over time into a larger reference volume. They often have have cover-mounted ‘giveaways’ and the first issue is usually heavily-discounted to get people hooked.”

    I discovered them in New Zealand. Each week, a magazine is published, and contains a plastic doo-dad. (The one I saw was based on human anatomy, and if you bought all the issues, you could build an anatomical model.)

    At Eaglemoss dot co dot uk, click on “current titles”. Each magazine has a dedicated website. (Model Orbiter is the coolest. Wonder if anyone has done something similar for clocks?)

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