Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man #583 road President Obama’s coattails to a record-setting total of 352,953, making it the bestselling full-price periodical comic book since ICv2 began tracking sales through Diamond Comic Distributors in 2001.  Previous high numbers belong to Marvel’s Civil War #3 and Captain America #25, which each sold 290K, but unlike those titles ASM #583’s performance was the result of not just multiple variant covers, but multiple printings--in fact it appears likely that the majority of ASM’s sales came from subsequent printings not its initial run.  And, for anyone who thinks that the Obama cover was not the primary sales driver, please note that prior to the Obama story and cover image, the title had been selling south of the 70,000 mark.  The sales for this title may not be all over--the fourth printing of ASM #583 shipped in February along with the fifth printing (see “ASM Gets 5th Printing”).


DC’s Final Crisis was one of only four titles that picked up circulation in January, and absent ASM #583, it would have finished a close second to Marvel’s Dark Avengers #1, the key book in Marvel’s Dark Reign event in which Norman Osborne takes over the Avengers (aka his Thunderbolts playing Avengers).  After the Dark Reign-aided New Avengers #49, sales of subsequent titles dropped off quickly and remained weak down the list (see “Comic Sales Drop in January” for an analysis how the #10, #20, #50, #100, and #300 titles dropped versus similarly positioned comics in January of 2008).  How long will it be before someone notices that the top five titles all have a $3.99 cover price, and start blaming the higher cost of the top tier of titles for the drop-off of the downlist books?


Overall 19 titles in the top 25 declined with only four posting gains.  Obviously Amazing Spider-Man #583 posted the biggest gain, while Batman #685 declined the most after the end of the popular Batman R.I.P. storyline.  Once again Marvel had 14 titles in the top 25, while DC had 10 and Dark Horse had one.


Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead Vol. 9 from Image was by far the bestselling graphic novel of the month.  The Walking Dead series has been a terrific backlist seller for Diamond and this well-written zombie saga has begun to take off in the bookstore market as well.  With the end of Y: The Last Man, Walking Dead, which topped Watchmen in January, is now clearly the top non-superhero graphic novel property in the direct market.  Watchmen remains strong and sales should pick up as excitement (driven by an excellent TV marketing campaign) builds for the March 6th premiere of the movie adaptation directed by Zack Snyder.


Marvel’s Secret Invasion trade, which finished third, was actually the top-dollar graphic novel release thanks to its $29.99 cover price.  Marvel deserves credit for getting this volume out quickly, and it should be noted that there were four other Secret Invasion volumes in the Top 25.  The barrage of Secret Invasion titles helped Marvel place 11 titles among the Top 25 graphic novels.  DC Comics was second with 9 books followed by Dark Horse with three, and Image Comics and Cartoon Books with one each.  Dark Horse’s Berserk Vol.27, which finished at #11, was the highest rated manga title.  Mention should be made of Brian Azzarello’s The Joker, which finished at #9 and has remained in the top 25 for 4 straight months, and of the first volume of Jeff Smith’s Rasl, which finished at #12, an exceptional performance for a self-published book.


Here are ICv2's estimates of the sales by Diamond Comic Distributors to comic stores on the top 25 comic titles in January:


352,953           Amazing Spider-Man #583

118,579           Dark Avengers #1

110,892           Final Crisis #6 (of 7)

103,292           Final Crisis #7 (of 7)

  90,040           New Avengers #49

  73,184           Captain America #46

  72,654           Batman #685

  72,610           Astonishing X-Men #28

  72,116           Justice League of America #29

  69,980           Buffy the Vampire Slayer #21

  65,556           Green Lantern #37

  63,754           Amazing Spider-Man #584

  62,504           Uncanny X-Men Annual #2

  61,385           Justice Society of America #23

  59,932           Amazing Spider-Man #585

  59,286           X-Men Legacy #220

  56,656           Detective Comics #852

  52,747           Fantastic Four #563

  52,703           Final Crisis Superman Beyond #2

  51,940           Action Comics #873

  51,817           X-Force #11

  50,683           Dark Tower Treachery #5 (of 6)

  49,637           Ultimate Spider-Man #130

  49,223           Invincible Iron Man #9

  48,489           Superman #684

We are estimating actual sales by Diamond U.S. (primarily to North American comic stores), using Diamond's published sales indexes and publisher sales data to estimate a sales number for Batman (the anchor title Diamond uses in its calculations) and using that number and the indexes to estimate Diamond's sales on the remaining titles.  We can check the accuracy of our numbers by comparing the Batman number that we calculate using multiple data points; our numbers for Batman are within 1/10 of 1% of each other, ensuring a high degree of accuracy.

For an analysis of the dollar trends in January, see "Comic Sales Drop in January."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books scheduled to ship during January, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--January 2009."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels scheduled to ship during January, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--January 2009."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books scheduled to ship during December, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--December 2008."

For our estimates of actual orders to Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels scheduled to ship during December, see ""Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--December 2008."

For our index to our reports on the top comic and graphic novel preorders for January 2000 through January 2009, see "ICv2's Top 300 Comics and Top 100 GNs Index."