After posting a robust year-over-year growth of 16.46% for the first half of 2015, sales of comics slipped 8.8% in the third quarter vs. Q3 of 2014 according to figures released today by Diamond Comic Distributors.  September comic book sales were down 19.62% from September of 2014.

A substantial portion of the decline appears to have been in Marvel sales, as its share was down substantially behind delays in the core Secret Wars title that are rippling through much of the company's line (see "Are Marvel Delays Affecting Market?").  Marvel's share, at 32.67%, is approximately eight points below where it was running regularly just a few months ago (see "Marvel Continues Summer Domination").

The quarterly news was considerably better on the graphic novel side, which saw a 9.32% gain versus the third quarter of 2014.  Buoyed by the launch of a new volume of Saga, sales of graphic novels grew 12.51% in September versus the same month in 2014.

The growth of graphic novel sales diminished the effect of the 8.8% periodical sales slump with the overall Q3 sales of both comics and graphic novels down just 2.98% from the same quarter in 2014.  While troubling, this decline is less than the 4.4% decline in Q1 of 2014, a decline that was quickly eclipsed by subsequent gains (see "Comics Down -- Three Is a Trend").

Marvel took six of the spots in the periodical Top Ten, with DC nabbing three and Image capturing one as The Walking Dead remained in the top ten for the second month in a row, due no doubt the effect of the debut of the new Fear the Walking Dead series and expectations for the launch of the main TWD series in early October.  Half of Marvel’s top ten titles were Star Wars books led by the first book in the publisher’s prequel for the new Star Wars film The Force Awakens, which debuts in December and should have considerable impact on sales in Q4.  Marvel also placed two volumes of its Deadpool vs. Thanos series in the Top Ten, while DC had two Scott Snyder Batman titles plus Justice League #44.

Top Ten Comics-September 2015

  1. Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens #1
  2. Star Wars #9
  3. Batman #44
  4. Deadpool vs. Thanos #1
  5. Darth Vader #9
  6. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #5
  7. Batman Annual #44
  8. Justice League #44
  9. The Walking Dead #146
  10. Deadpool vs. Thanos #2

Marvel lost four points of market share in September compared to August, but DC was able to gain less than one percent.  Buoyed by a strong performance on the graphic novel side Image Comics gained two points of market share in September, while IDW picked up almost a full point.

September 2015 Comic Store Market Share

32.67%                  Marvel Comics
26.01%                  DC Comics
11.81%                  Image Comics
5.72%                    IDW Publishing
4.42%                    Dark Horse Comics
2.11%                    BOOM! Studios
1.79%                    Dynamite Entertainment
1.55%                    Avatar Press
1.32%                    VIZ Media
1.31%                    Titan Comics

Image took the top two spots and three of the top five with the first volumes of Descender and Chromonauts, both of which benefited by Image’s $9.99 first volume cover price, joining Saga near the top of the list.  Vertigo’s Mad Max adaptation and four Batman titles gave DC a robust presence on the list, while the latest volume of Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender made the list as well.

Top Ten Graphic Novels—September 2015

  1. Saga Vol. 5
  2. Descender Vol. 1
  3. Batman, Vol. 7: Endgame HC
  4. Chromonauts Vol. 1
  5. Batman Vol. 6
  6. Avatar: The Last Airbender Vol. 10
  7. Mad Max: Fury Road
  8. Batman: The Killing Joke Spec. Ed. HC
  9. The Joker: Endgame HC
  10. Saga, Vol. 1

For an overview and analysis of comic sales in September, see "Article Coming."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during September, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--September 2015."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during September, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--September 2015."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on comic books shipped during August, see "Top 300 Comics Actual--August 2015."

For our estimates of actual sales by Diamond U.S. from comic specialty stores on graphic novels shipped during August, see "Top 300 Graphic Novels Actual--August 2015."

For an overview and analysis of the best-selling comics and graphic novels in August, see "'Secret Wars,' 'Star Wars' Are 15 of Top 25 Comics."  For an analysis of the dollar trends in August, see "Are Marvel Delays Affecting Market?"

​For our index to our reports on the top comic and graphic novel preorders for January 2000 through September 2015, see "ICv2's Top 300 Comics and Top 300 GNs Index."