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Comic Sales Get the 'Deep Freeze' in February

Down 10.39%, With Only One Title Over 100K Again

Published: 03/17/2014, Last Updated: 09/05/2014 03:53pm
For the second month in a row, only one comic book sold over 100,000 copies in the comic store market in February of 2014 according to ICv2’s estimates of comic sales based on indexes released by Diamond Comic Distributors.  The lack of more than a single comic over the 100K mark was indicative of a weakness at the top of the charts that undoubtedly played a role in the significant 10.39% decline in the sales of periodical comics during the month.  Until the past two months, the comic market had always had at least two books over the 100K level each and every month since the market began a 2+ year growth spurt with the launch of DC’s "New 52" initiative back in September of 2011 (see "Only One Title Above 100K").
Graphic novel sales actually increased in February by 2.83% over February of 2013, but it was not enough to overcome the 10.39% decline in comics, and yielded an overall drop in sales of comics and GNs of 6.71%.  The situation was reversed in January with graphic novel sales off 14.28% and comics down just .42%, but the overall effect was similar with overall sales of comics and GNs down 5.09%.
Does the two-month downward trend in comic book sales mean that the current “comic boom” is at an end?   The answer is not clear, since it is difficult to determine the precise effect of the brutal winter weather that afflicted much of the country has had on comic book sales.  The Upper Midwest has experienced the coldest winter in over 30 years, while the East Coast and New England have had to deal with numerous snowstorms, and even the South has been affected by ice storms in key markets such as Atlanta and Dallas.  Gauging the effect of the cruel winter is extremely difficult, but it is hard to imagine that major increases in heating costs in much of the country have not had a negative effect on disposable income.
Once again Scott Snyder’s Batman was the top title of the month and the only comic to sell over 100,000 copies, as it suffered only a small drop in circulation.  It is hard to pin the blame for the February decline on the publishers, especially Marvel, which launched no fewer than eight #1 issues during the month, though it must be said that only the premiere issues of Wolverine and Fantastic Four managed to make the top ten. 
DC took the top two spots and three of the top five, but Marvel, which has a bona fide hit in Superior Spider-Man, placed five titles in the top ten compared to three for DC.   Image Comics took the other two places in the top ten with two issues of The Walking Dead, the sales of which were no doubt aided by the fact that The Walking Dead TV series was absolutely killing it on AMC during the month.  The long-running zombie series written by Robert Kirkman has now reached issue #122, and has been steadily building sales of the periodical series, which is now averaging 65K per issue (though it should be noted that similar sales of TWD periodicals in January were not able to crack the top ten.)
Although year-over-year graphic novel sales were up in February, one shouldn't read too much into the fact, since February of 2013 was a weak month for GN sales, which actually declined from Feb. of 2012.  IDW’s Locke & Key Vol. 6: Alpha & Omega, the finale of the classy horror series written by Joe Hill and drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez, topped the charts in February, but sold just 4,532 copies. 
While there were no super-selling GN releases in February, there was a bunch of titles that sold between 3,400 and 4,200 copies including Image Comics’ Fatale, Vol. 4, Invincible Vol. 19, and Saga Vol. 1 (backlist), along with Boom Entertainment’s hit Adventure Time Vol.4, plus Marvel’s Star Lord Annihilation Conquest and its $75 Infinity hardcover, which was the month’s top dollar GN with sales of over a quarter of a million dollars.

For an analysis of the dollar trends in February, see "Comics Down Second Consecutive Month."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during February, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--February 2014."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during February, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--February 2014."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during January, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--January 2014."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during January, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--January 2014."

For an overview and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in January, see "Only One Comic Above 100K."  For an analysis of the dollar trends in January, see "Comics Sales Flat, GNs Down in January."

For our index to our reports on the top comic and graphic novel preorders for January 2000 through February 2014, see "ICv2's Top 300 Comics and Top 300 GNs Index."
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