Comic and graphic novel orders (dollars) surged again for May 2002, continuing the torrid growth that began in the fourth quarter of 2001 (see 'Comics and Graphic Novels Complete Q1 Hat Trick').  Retailers' raw initial orders to Diamond on comics and graphic novels for May were up 24% vs. May 2001, topping the 23% year over year growth rate in April.  Comic orders were up 23% compared to orders in May 2001; improved Spider-Man and Batman sales and solid numbers below the top 25 made up for lower X-Men numbers compared to 2001 (there was a major X-Men promotion in May 2001).  Graphic novel orders were up 28% for May compared to May 2001.   Dollars were near flat compared to May 2000 -- up 2%, a slower growth rate than the 9% rate vs. 2000 in April.  Comics were down 1% vs. 2000 and graphic novels were up 39%. 


If June numbers continue to come in strong, the quarterly growth rate on comic and graphic novel orders could grow for the third consecutive quarter.  Right now things look like this:


2001 vs. 2000 Comic and GN Orders


Growth Rate

4th Quarter 2001


1st Quarter 2002


2nd Quarter 2002 to date



The growth was more widespread than it has been in recent months, with all of the Big Four comic publishers up for May vs. 2001.  Marvel continued its torrid pace--up 51% for the month.  DC was up a hair (under a point) and Image was up 4% vs. May 2001, improvements over recent months.  Dark Horse grew 27% vs. 2001, and among small publishers, CrossGen continued its run with 28% growth vs. the year-ago period.  Comparisons to 2000 were less favorable.  Marvel and Dark Horse were up 33% and 39%, respectively, vs. May 2000; Image and DC were down 32% and 29%, respectively, compared to May 2000.


Although there was some softness in orders on some top comic titles for May, the rest of the chart looks good (see 'Spider-Man, Batman Up in May'), and with the upcoming release of the Spider-Man movie and free comic book day (see 'Expectations High for Free Comic Book Day'), followed by the release of Star Wars:  Episode II, there is going to be good traffic in pop culture stores in the coming weeks.


The dollar estimates in this article are based on estimates of raw initial orders to Diamond  US.


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 the dollars used in these estiamtes reflect 80% or more of the total North American sales by the publisher on most periodical comics.   


For a list of orders on top comics in May, see 'Top 300 Comics -- May.'


For a list of orders on top graphic novels in May, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels -- May.'


For a list of the top comics in April, see 'Top 300 Comics -- April 2002.'


For a list of the top graphic novels in April, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels -- April 2002.'


For an over-view and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in April, see 'Retro Rules in April.'


For an analysis of the over-all dollar trends for April, see 'Comic and Graphic Novel Orders Surge in April.'