Finishing out a softer fourth quarter, comic store orders for the top comics were weaker in December, with over twice as many titles dropping (sixteen) as increased (seven) in the top 25.  Marvel is re-asserting itself at the top of the list, with nine of the top ten titles and seventeen of the top 25.  DC had one of the top ten, and four of the top 25.  Dreamwave and Image each had two titles in the top 25, with none in the top ten. 


The aforementioned Dreamwave and Image ranks are significant for another reason:  they may indicate the first sign of weakness in the strong retro trend that's been driving sales in pop culture stores for the last couple of years.  This was the first month since February without a retro title in the top ten titles, and there were only five retro titles in the top 25, down from six last month.  Robotech #1 from DC finished just out of the top 25 at #26. 


Marvel's Ultimate War series debuted strong, with initial raw orders from North American comic stores of over 120,000 copies for the first issue.   And the third issue of Jim Lee's run on DC's Batman (#610) was up over 15% from the second (#609), a rare trend-breaker. 


Retro did better on the graphic novel list, with three out of the top ten titles drawn from retro properties, including the #1 graphic novel for November -- Transformers Profile Book #1.  Among series trade paperbacks, Love Hina showed its continued surprising strength, with volume #8, in the #8 rank, up from its orders in #7 and at around double the orders for #1. 


Here are the initial raw orders from pop culture stores on the top 25 comic titles for December:


122,884  Ultimate War #1

116,013  Ultimate War #2

109,415  Batman #610

101,811  Ultimates #9

  99,404  Ultimate Spider-Man #33    

  96,154  New X-Men #135

  93,867  Amazing Spider-Man #48

  92,160  Ultimate Spider-Man #32

  88,276  Uncanny X-Men #416

  87,893  Ultimate X-Men #26

  73,385  Transformers War Within #3

  67,870  Transformers Armada #6

  67,761  Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra  #2

  66,360  Ultimate Daredevil & Elektra  #3

  64,620  Wolverine #184

  62,454  Masters of the Universe #2

  61,557  JLA #76

  60,889  Truth #2

  57,410  Captain America #7

  57,257  Thundercats #5

  55,506  Avengers #61

  55,145  Avengers #62

  54,904  GI Joe #13

  54,292  Daredevil #40

  53,745  Green Arrow #20



Notes on this chart:

Some titles have been truncated or abbreviated for space reasons.

Publisher abbreviations have also been used.

Mar = Marvel

Dar = Dark Horse

Dre = Dreamwave

Ima = Image

Bla = Black Bull

Car = Cartoon Books

Har = Harris

Cro = Crossgen

Bon = Bongo

Tok = Tokyo Pop

Cha = Chaos


The quantities in this chart are ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in December 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 analysis of the dollar trends in December, see 'Weak Finish to a Strong Comics Year.'


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


For the top 50 graphics novels in December, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels--December 2002.'



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


For the top 50 graphics novels in November, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels--November 2002.'


For an overview and analysis of the dollar orders for November, see 'Top Comics Slip Again in November.'


For an analysis of the dollar trends in November, see 'Comic Dollars Down Again in November.'



For links to all of the Top 300 Comic and Top 300 Graphic Novel orders, see our 'ICv2's Top 300 Comics & Top 50 GN's Index.'