Comic and graphic novel orders were up month-to-month again in November, continuing a strong second half for North American comic sales with the largest dollar orders of the year to date. As we've been reporting for months (see 'September Orders Buck Seasonal Trends'), retailers have been reporting better traffic, sales, and consumer mood since this summer. Total comic and graphic novel dollars were up 6% over October, which was the top month of the year at the time.
As we did last month, we're now reporting both the estimated initial orders on the top 300 comic titles (see 'Top 300 Comics -- November') and on the top 25 graphic novel orders (see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- November'). Breaking down the dollars by format, comics were up about 1%, but graphic novels were up 51% over October. Dollars on graphic novel orders tend to fluctuate much more than dollars on comic orders because they can be much more influenced by a few strong (or weak) titles, but over-all the fluctuations seem to wash out when orders on the two formats are combined (for the top 25 graphic novels in October, and an analysis of this phenomenon, see 'Graphic Novel Orders Reinforce Trends'). One note -- when we calculated the November dollars by format, we moved the dollars from Plastic Man Archives #3 from comics (where Diamond inexplicably listed it) to graphic novels.
Marvel dominated the top of the list to exactly the same degree as it had for the past two months, with nine of the top ten titles, and twenty-one of the top twenty-five. Also the same, DC and Image each had two titles in the top twenty-five. Of special note were the orders on Marvel's Origin #4, which at nearly 157,000 were over 25% higher than the orders on any of the first three issues. Retailers clearly underestimated demand on the early issues of this title, and that makes it a good thing that Marvel is including a reprint of the contents of the first issue in an anthology book due in December (see 'Marvel to Reprint Origin -- Sort of').
Orders for November books were the first that retailers placed after the September 11th attacks on the U.S., and the strong numbers (including increases on most of the top-selling titles) indicate a high degree of confidence in sales in the new war (and recessionary) economy.
The estimated North American advance orders to Diamond for the top 25 comic titles for November are as follow:
156,959 Origin #4
125,044 Uncanny X-Men #400
116,782 New X-Men #120
100,668 Ultimate X-Men #12
87,112 Amazing Spider-man #37
84,326 X-treme X-Men #7
80,758 Green Arrow #10
80,278 Ultimate Spider-man #15
78,707 G.I. Joe #2
73,398 Wolverine #170
66,320 JLA #60
66,120 Inferno Hellbound #1
63,029 Punisher #36
60,860 Battle Chasers #10
59,021 Avengers #48
58,814 Wolverine 2001 Annual
58,383 X-Treme X-Men Savage Land #3
55,389 Daredevil Yellow #6
52,138 Elektra #5
50,051 Peter Parker Spider-man #37
49,490 Daredevil #27
49,111 Fantastic Four #49
48,501 X-Force #122
46,784 Spawn #116
46,260 Nightcrawler #1
Note -- in its report, Diamond ranked Inferno Hellbound #1 from Image at #9, despite the fact that its index indicated it should be #12. We've assumed the index was correct and ranked it at #12 here.
Our analysis is based on a combination of the information Diamond releases in Diamond Dialogue and actual order numbers provided to ICv2 from publisher sources. By plugging in the circulation numbers we know and using the Diamond order index, all of the circulation numbers for comics ordered through Diamond can be interpolated. Since Diamond calculates its indexes based on initial advance orders from its US location only, we use publisher numbers for the same kind of orders to do our calculations. This produces very accurate estimates of the initial orders for North American shops. It is not an estimate of the total sales by publishers.
Here are the limitations to our analysis:
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 of new releases to consumers.