Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Can Prove It With Charts!

Last week Diamond released their list of the Top 500 Graphic novels sold in 2012 which resulted in a lot of commentary about what a bad job Marvel is doing in the book market (considering how successful their movies are.)

While several commentators had good analysis on the numbers, I felt the data could have been sliced up a bit better in some cases, so today, I've got charts galore doing just that.

First up - DC Trade sales vs Marvel Trade Sales

As you can see, DC leads the way pretty much 2 to 1 ahead of Marvel in the Graphic Novel market.

Now, is that all Watchmen and Kingdom Come trades flying off the shelves you ask? Well this next chart shows the breakdown between old stuff and new content.

For DC, Reprinted material is a clear winner. Not so much for Marvel. I think that can be attributed to two things. One, DC does a much better job keeping their old stuff available for reprinting. Marvel tends to let books go out of print at the drop of a hat. Also, DC has a broader base of material to reprint (Covering Golden Age to Vertigo)

Which begs the question: How important is Vertigo in the scheme of things? I've always been one of those people who sort of felt Vertigo lost its relevance when Sandman stopped coming out on a regular basis. Looks like I was pretty well wrong.

As it turns out - Vertigo Graphic Novels make up over 12% of all Graphic Novel sales at DC. That's a good bit higher than I would have thought.

Still, it's easy to see that Superhero Graphic Novels are the bread and butter, so which of those are selling the best? The answer might surprise you:

Looking at this chart, I'm struck at the huge disparity between Superman and Batman! Now some people might say that can be due in part to Batman having had several successful movies in the last decade. However, why isn't the same true for The Avengers?

I'm also impressed to see the X-men brand remaining so vital in the Graphic Novel market as it languished in the comic market (until the recent Marvel Now revamp.) What is also interesting is just how close the smaller guys all are. The X-men are the only other group with a two digit percentage point and even they aren't out of the teens.

Finally, in comic shops, the dominant sales strategy is Events. But how does that play out in the trades? Not too good it would appear!

This was another one that sort of surprised me, as I think I would have said Event trades probably sold as well as non-event trades, but that's clearly not the case. Apparently the trade market is much less enamored with events than the Wednesday Comic Shop crowds.

Looking at all this, I can't help but think that 2013 will bring some big shakeup in the Marvel Trades publishing side.

- Jim


MattComix said...

Batman has basically been warped into being the patron saint for the kind of grimdark excess your average Wednesday warrior seems to be obsessed with. DC tries to bend Superman over backwards to service that and it doesn't really take. At least not to the numbers they wish it would.

It is refreshing to see that bookstore shoppers are less likely to fall for or blindly follow the big bloated event gimmicks.

MattComix said...

With Marvel it sure as hell doesn't help their reprint sales when they only manage to squeeze out a couple of Marvel Masterworks in paperback every oh, 6-8 *months*.

Which is ridiculous considering the material is already there!

Trey said...

Nice analysis, Jim, and well displayed. Matt's editorializing aside--Batman is the most popular character in comics period (by some metrics, he might be the only popular character in comics) so it's not really surprising his sales are that high: he's got a better "Q rating."


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