Orders for comics and graphic novels in dollars continued their year over year declines in January with an 8% drop compared to January 2002.  Comic dollars were down about 7.5% and graphic novel dollars were down about 18% vs. January 2002.  This marks the fourth consecutive month of year over year declines in combined comic and graphic novel dollars ordered in advance by pop culture stores from Diamond U.S.. 


A longer-term perspective produces a somewhat brighter picture, with comics up 8% vs. January 2001 and up 9% vs. January 2000.  Graphic novels were up 3% vs. January 2001, and up 27% vs. 2000. 


This is the fourth consecutive month of over-all year over year declines, and the second consecutive month of declines in both comics and graphic novels.  Based on when these orders were made, it means that comic and graphic sell-throughs at retail in pop culture stores were probably still not good during November, because retailers are cutting orders to match what they perceive as the anticipated demand two months hence. 


On a publisher-by-publisher basis, Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse were down vs. 2002 (19%, 18%, and 4% respectively), and Image was up (14%).  There was action outside of the Big 4, with CrossGen up 37% and Tokyopop up a whopping 208% vs. January 2002.
Note--in the process of working the January 2003 numbers, we discovered a glitch in our calculation of graphic novel orders for December 2002--the number we originally calculated was too high.  This means that graphic novel orders in December 2002 actually declined vs. December 2001 (we had originally calculated an increase), and the combined decline for comics and graphic novels for the month was greater than we originally calculated.  There were also impacts on the Q4 comparisons between 2002 and 2001, although not as great.  For the full year calculations, there was no effect.  See 'Weak Finish to a Strong Comics Year' for the corrected article.

These estimates are based on ICv2 estimates of initial raw orders to Diamond North America on titles scheduled for shipment in January 2003.  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 over-view and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in January, see 'Batman Tops January Comics.'


For the top 300 comics in January, see 'Top 300 Comics--January 2003.'


For the top 50 graphics novels in January, see 'Top 50 Graphic Novels--January 2003.'


For an over-view and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in December, see 'Top Comics Still Soft in December.'

For an analysis of the dollar trends in December, see 'Weak Finish to a Strong 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 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.'