Initial US orders on comics and graphic novels grew 8% in the third quarter of 2002 vs. the same period in 2001, the slowest growth rate in the last year.  The comparison against third quarter of last year, the point at which orders were beginning to reflect higher demand, was obviously a less favorable one than the comparisons to the relatively weak quarters in the first half of 2001.  Comics were up 8% and graphic novels up 12%.  For September, comics were up 4%, graphic novels up 31%, a more typical configuration over the last year.  Q3 was also up vs. 2000:  comics 5%, graphic novels 29%, 7% over-all.





Graphic Novels


Q4 01 vs. 00




Q1 02 vs. 01




Q2 02 vs. 01




Q3 02 vs. 01






Marvel was once again the growth engine for the market, with a 15% increase in orders for Q3 vs. Q3 2001.  DC eked out a 1% increase, Image was down 4%, and Dark Horse was down 15%.  Interestingly, in September Marvel was up 2%, DC 4%, and Image was down 17% and Dark Horse down 5%, which probably means that the growth in the market was coming from outside the Big Four.  With Dreamwave an overnight success, CrossGen increasing steadily, and the manga publishers growing this may not be a one-month trend.


The fact that the quarterly growth rate slowed a bit in Q3, the first full quarter after the release of the Spider-Man movie and Free Comic Book day, indicates to us that retailers accurately predicted the impact of those events and were able to capitalize on them when they occurred. 


The dollar estimates discussed in this article are based on ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in September 2002.  They do not include orders placed with Diamond UK, late orders, advance reorders, distributor over-orders, or reorders. 


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.


For an overview and analysis of the orders on the best-selling comics in September, see 'Ultimate September.' 


For the top 300 comics in September, see 'Top 300 Comics -- September 2002.'


For the top 50 graphic novels in September, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels -- September 2002.'


For an over-view and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in August, see 'Retro Influence Grows on Top Comic Sellers.'


For analysis of the dollar trends in August, see 'Comic Orders Awesome in August.'


For the top 300 comics in August, see 'Top 300 Comics -- August 2002.'


For the top 50 graphic novels in August, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels -- August 2002.'