April 10, 2012
Analysts Weigh In On March 2012 DM Numbers
The comics business news and analysis site ICv2.com
has offered up their usual array of lists, estimates and analysis regarding the performance of comic books and graphic novels in the Direct Market of comic and hobby shops, this time for March 2012.
* Top 300 Comic Books
* Top 300 Graphic Novels
My favorite numbers cruncher John Jackson Miller at The Comics Chronicles
has posted his analysis of the month here
I guess Marvel's return to the top 10 is the story this time out, as is their pushing the first couple of issues of their Avengers Vs. X-Men
crossover effort into the six-figure range that's been hard for them to reach for quite some time now. It's difficult to say that if this placement says much of anything about the health of this particular comics market, Marvel, or this specific effort. Marvel went all in on this one, and how much these figures represent genuine desire for the product in the marketplace and how much they represent Marvel's ability to manufacture bigger numbers is going to be unclear. Two things, though. First, the appearance of a big hit and a big hit can be pretty close to the same thing in Direct Market circles because those sales rely on an on-board group of retailers and an enthusiastic fan base, both of whom are traditionally attracted to whatever is doing well, no matter how it gets there. Second, an outcome whereby retailers rejected this series before it got started despite any and all sales offers and promotional ploys, that might have been a fairly big disaster for the publisher. So simply avoiding that outcome is a good thing.
I think there are a couple of worrisome signs, too. The analysis at ICv2.com engages directly with the dollar slippage 2011 to 2012, the key point being that March 2011 was hardly a vigorous month. And just generally I look at things like how quickly the sales on comic book have settled back into recently traditional levels rank-to-rank -- how the #20 comic from this month in 2009 is selling at just about the same level as the #20 comic from 2012. I'm not a numbers cruncher, and there's a lot more going on here in terms of the entirety of certain lines being published and how things are performing further down the tail, and of course book sales and digital make up two other components of a bigger picture, but it seems to me that less than a year removed from a supposed industry-saving surge in sales we're not seeing it in terms of a renewed comic-book middle class. I'm still worried that what happened last year is that things got so sluggish, the overall blood-sugar of the traditional comic book industry so low, that we may have mistaken the temporary alertness that comes from chugging a can of cola with long-term maintenance and health. Then again, if the industry settles into a place allows for these companies to make "hits" and to move units in a generally reliable way, I'm not sure maximizing health over the long-term is as compelling a goal.
posted 8:00 am PST
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