Where Do We Stand: January Comics and Graphic Novel Sales

Do You Need Money? advert, 1954, Digital Comics Museum

With snow on the ground in the Northeast US, it’s time to reflect on winter sales so we can dream of outdoor spring comic book reading. For January, we’ll see if and how often women were represented in the top ten bestsellers lists and review interesting market trends.

Star Wars Issue 1 coverWith the release of Star Wars #1, it’s no surprise that Marvel was a big winner in the single issues for January. Leading up to the movie Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Marvel took back the Star Wars comic book license from Dark Horse, to relaunch. Issue #1 has sold more than 1 million copies it was predicted to sell. A tough act to follow, Marvel and DC still contended for the rest of the top 10 with Image sneaking in for one spot with The Walking Dead #136.

Death of Wolverine hard coverImage was the big winner of the month on the Diamond trade and graphic novel list. Although Marvel took top billing with the Death of Wolverine hardcover edition, but only managed two additional spots. Image took the remaining seven, including four spots for all four trade paperbacks of Saga. Saga continues to do well in bookstores with both Saga Vol. 4 and the Saga: Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 hardcover spending the majority of January in the NYT bestsellers lists.

 While I was at two separate cons this past month, the question arose about publisher market share. This month I’m including a handy chart based on the Diamond sales numbers for your reference. The first chart shows the dollar share of the market by each publishers.

January Comics Market ShareWhy is it important? You may hear DC and Marvel referred to as the “Big Two.” Part of the reason is their history in the market, but also their infiltration of the market as well. Since the two are part of larger entertainment companies, DC is part of Warner Bros Entertainment and Marvel is part of Disney, a lot of folks feel that they have the resources to be held accountable for more diverse characters, including less sexualized images of women.

New Titles Shipped JanuaryContinuing the trend from December, there were no female creative talent on the Diamond list for single issues. For trades and graphic novels, since all four trades of Saga, which include the artist talent of Fiona Staples, are on the list, it skews the numbers a bit making female representation look a bit higher than it is. One additional title, Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta, included a woman, the colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser, on the creative team.

Thor issue 4Part of making comics more accessible to girls and women includes diversity in the cover art. For single issues, women were included on five covers, but again, similar to December, four of them they shared groups shots, where the male characters significantly outnumbered the female ones. Thor #4 was only the exception.

On the NYT list, Raina Telgemeier and Roz Chast are still holding strong titles. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s female protagonist Katie in Seconds continues to make the cut and American Vampire Vol. 7, which features a new 1960s story arc focused on Pearl, debuts well for of the remaining weeks in January.

Don’t let the top ten numbers discourage you. There are lots of current titles with great female characters and fantastic women on creative teams. Female representation is gaining momentum and when it hits the top ten lists, I’ll be here to share the news. See you next month!

Each month, Diamond Comics Distributors releases data on the top selling products from single issue comics, to graphic novels and trade paperbacks, to toys. Their sales data represents items sold through comic book shops.

I also include information from the New York Times’ weekly bestsellers’ list for graphic books. Their list comprises sales data for items sold through venues other than comic book shops, like bookstores. As it’s weekly, it won’t be an exact picture of all the days in the month, but it’s valuable way to see what fans who aren’t buying at comic shops are reading.

Brenda Noiseux

Brenda Noiseux

Community builder, artist, convention organizer, gamer, geek writer @womenoncomics, @Sidequest_BHP. Owner, Bittenby Studios