Initial comic and graphic novel orders to Diamond US from pop culture stores were up sharply again this month, with a 19% increase over February 2001, and a 10% increase over the stronger numbers in 2000.  Much of the strength came from the graphic novel category this month, where orders were up 93% over February 2001, with comics up a more sedate 12% over 2001.  Marvel's new hardcover line and strong releases from other Big Four publishers pushed up the book dollars, where a few strong releases can make a big difference (see 'DKSA #1 Again for February').  February orders were about 5% below January's, a normal seasonal decline.


This growth rate is nearly identical to last month's 18% year over year rate (see 'Comics Up 18% in January),' and continues to validate the turnaround of the comic market that began in the second half of last year (see 'Top Comic Stories of 2001').


Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse all grew at healthy rates in February, with Marvel the leader at a 39% year over year growth rate.  DC grew around 21% vs. the year ago period, but a single title, DKSA #3, once again accounted for all of that growth and more.  Dark Horse was up about 7% vs. 2001, with Astro Boy a strong addition to its book line in February. 


For a complete list of orders on the top 300 comics for February, see 'Top 300 Comics -- February 2002.'


For a complete list of orders on the top 25 graphic novels for February, see 'Top 25 Graphic Novels -- February 2002.'


For an overview and analysis of last month's numbers, see 'Ten Cent Batman Boffo.'


The numbers in this analysis are produced by estimating initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in February 2002 and previous periods.  We use the total dollars generated by this method and market shares provided by Diamond to estimate the year over year rates of change by publisher. 


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.