The lack of an issue of Infinite Crisis shipping in February proved no crisis for the comics industry, which racked up yet another month of year-over-year gains in most categories, according to CBG?s analysis of the sales reports released by Diamond Comic Distributors on March 17.
?The industry continues to do well in a time of year traditionally slow for comics shops,? said John Jackson Miller, F+W Publications editorial director for collectibles. ?In units, this was the best February for the Top 300 comics since 1998 ? and in dollars, since 1997.? Miller is the compiler of the world?s largest collection of comics circulation figures, the CBG Standard Catalog of Comic Books (fourth edition now available at retail stores and here.).
CBG‘s charts for February appear here.
The archive of all months to date appears here and now includes all months from 1998.
Comics unit sales: The Top 300 comic books had retailer orders of 6.05 million copies in February, 3% more than in the same month in 2005, which had the same number of shipping weeks. For the year to date, Top 300 comics unit sales stand at 11.62 million copies, up 7% over last year?s 10.84 million copies.
With Infinite Crisis shipping on March 1, the road was open for Marvel to take the top slot on the charts ? which it did with Astonishing X-Men #13 (below), selling approximately 140,600 copies.
Publishers appearing for the first time on the charts included Creative Talent, whose When Zombies Attack #1 placed 267th with approximately 2,300 copies sold; and Markosia, whose Abiding Perdition #5 hit the charts at 288th place and 1,700 copies.
Comics dollar sales: The Top 300 comic books had sales worth $18.18 million in February, 8% more than February 2005?s total of $16.77 million.
For the first two months of 2006, the Top 300 comics from each month have sold a combined $34.79 million, an increase of a whopping 14% over the same period in the previous year.
Trade paperbacks : The Top 99 trade paperbacks and graphic novels reported by Diamond (the listing for the #71 item was somehow skipped) had orders worth $3.45 million at full retail in February. That figure is off 8% from the February 2005 total of $3.75 million.
Adding those to the Top 300 comics for the month yields $21.63 million, an increase of 5% over February 2005.
For the first two months of 2006, the Top 300 comics and the Top 100 trade paperbacks from each month had orders worth $41.78 million, up 11% over the same period in 2005.
Exclusive: Diamond?s ?overall? sales: In the most inclusive category calculated by anyone in comics, CBG is able to estimate Diamond?s total sales for comics and trade paperbacks, including all those not in the Top 300/100 every month.
?Diamond publishes dollar market shares for its top 20 publishers across all comics, trade paperbacks, and magazines,? Miller said. ?Knowing the exact total orders of any publisher on that list right down to the oldest backlist item allows you to calculate Diamond?s total orders across these product groups.?
The February 2006 total was $28.64 million, which increases to $31.86 million, when Diamond?s United Kingdom orders are added. The figure represents an increase of 8% over February 2005. Overall, the last two months stand at $54.2 million, up 9% over 2005?s total of $49.85 million.
CBG cautions that the ?overall? category overstates comics? actual performance to the extent that magazines that do not have comics content are included. The comics publishers? market shares would actually be slightly higher, if ancillary items were removed.
Market shares: Marvel led DC by nearly a 5-to-4 margin in Diamond?s reported overall unit and dollar market shares. Notable is the number of comics both publishers placed in the Top 300: 96 for Marvel and 91 for DC. ?That Marvel number includes reordered items,? Miller said, ?but is beginning to get into territory not seen since the mid-1990s.?
In an unusual turn, Dark Horse led Image in all categories including unit sales in the Top 300, where Image?s greater output of titles ? 24 comics to Dark Horse?s 12 in February ? usually gives it an edge.
Also influencing market share for comics publishers was the declining contribution coming from the magazine portion of the market, where the Top 15 magazines dropped under 100,000 copies combined. Wizard?s unit share stood at 1.06% in February, a full third less than it was two years ago. (Inquest, which was off more than 60% from last February?s orders, dropped under 1,900 copies and has already been announced for a May relaunch at a cover price of $1.99.)
Price analysis: The average comic book on Diamond?s Top 300 list cost $3.25 up from $3.10 in February 2005.
The weighted average price ? that is, the cost of the average comic book Diamond sold ? was $3.01, up from $2.86 last year.
The average price of the comics that made the Top 25 was $2.90.
Historical context: Increasingly, Comics Buyer?s Guide is adding to its online library of past sales figures. Sales figures from this month in 2001 can be found here.
Again, the archive of all months to date appears here and now includes all months from 1998.
Methodology: Diamond keys orders for all comics it lists sales for to Batman, with one ?order index point? being equal to 1% of that title?s orders. Using actual Diamond final orders from titles accounting for more than 25% of Diamond?s Top 300, CBG determined that one point on Diamond?s order index was likely to equal 664 comic books ? with a 95% probability that the real figure was between 663 and 665.
For more information: Historical graphics for several categories tracked above appear in Comics & Games Retailer magazine. Also, check issues of Comics Buyer?s Guide and CBGXtra.com.