DC's Dark Knight Strikes Again was the top-selling comic for the third consecutive month, according to orders placed with Diamond US from pop culture stores (see 'Top 300 Comics -- February 2002'). The initial raw order was over 171,000 copies, which was around 10% over initial orders on #2, and nearly as high as the initial orders on #1. The difference, of course, was that retailers had seen how #1 sold when they ordered #3, whereas #2 was ordered blind. Whether the shipping delays on the second and third issues of DKSA will have an impact on consumer demand remains to be seen.
Other books were mostly down a little vs. January, a phenomenon that is fairly typical for this time of year. Amazing Spider-Man held its own, and Batman took a nice bump for its 600th issue. Compared to orders on the same titles a year ago, the top books were a mixed bag, but mostly down against two years ago. Marvel's dominance of the top 25 comic titles was the same as last month -- eight out of the top ten, and 17 out of the top 25.
Dark Horse retro manga books took two out of the top four and three out of the top seven positions this month in the graphic novel list (see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- February 2002'). The first issue of Dark Horse's new Astro Boy series joined Lone Wolf and Akira this month. Dark Horse VP Marketing Michael Martens told us that Dark Horse was pleasantly surprised by the size of the orders on Astro Boy, but here at ICv2 we think this title ultimately has even more potential than Lone Wolf or Akira because of the strong character recognition across age groups from the American showings of the TV series. Although they were lower in pieces, Marvel's Origin and Ultimate Spider-Man hardcovers brought in big dollar orders, with the Origin hardcover the top dollar graphic novel of the month. For an analysis of the dollar orders in February 2002, see 'Comics and Graphic Novels Continue Growth in February.'
The estimated initial orders to Diamond US for the top 25 comic titles for February are:
171,546 Dark Knight Strikes Again #3
107,342 Ultimates #2
105,642 New X-Men #123
97,079 Uncanny X-Men #403
94,713 Ultimate X-Men #15
90,551 Amazing Spider-Man #40
77,513 Ultimate Spider-Man #19
77,492 Ultimate Spider-Man #18
74,457 X-Treme X-Men #10
73,218 Green Arrow #13
69,684 Wolverine #173
61,121 JLA #63
60,642 Wolverine Hulk #1
54,381 Avengers #51
53,153 Batman #600
51,330 Punisher #9
47,731 Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #40
47,333 Daredevil #30
46,355 Fantastic Four #52
44,404 X-Force #125
44,048 Rising Stars #18
42,767 Spawn #119
42,650 Detective Comics #767
42,310 Cage #1
41,869 Fathom #14
The quantities in this chart are ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in February 2002.
Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and Image distribute 100% of their comic store orders through Diamond. Some other publishers distribute directly to stores or through other distributors and as a result this analysis may underestimate their sales.
Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, and Image distribute some of their titles through channels other than comic specialty stores, e.g., newsstands and bookstores. These quantity estimates do not reflect distribution through those channels.
The quantities above do not include advance reorders, late orders, or reorders.
Most of the titles on this chart are also distributed to Europe by Diamond UK, which can account for significant sales for the publisher, ranging from 3-20% of the US numbers. Sales by Diamond UK are not included in the numbers above.
Even given the above, however, it is probably safe to say that these quantities reflect 80% or more of the total North American sales by the publisher on most periodical comics.
One other factor to consider is that sales through Diamond and other comic distributors are non-returnable to retailers. That means that there is a considerable unknown percentage of books unsold at the retailer level. If that percentage is 10-20% of sales (a reasonable assumption), the estimates above may be quite close to actual sales to consumers.
For last month's top comic list, see 'Top 300 Comics -- January 2002.'
For last month's graphic novel list, see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- January.'
For an overview and analysis of last month's numbers, see 'Ten Cent Batman Boffo.'
For an analysis of the over-all dollar trends for January, see 'Comics Up 18% in January.'