It was another hard month for the direct comic book market in September. According to the most recent report from Diamond Comic Distributors, overall single issues slumped 6.07% compared to August 2017, while graphic novel sales dropped 13.14%.
While not a complete surprise, I was hoping the summer slump would rebound and sales would begin to improve. Instead, year-to-date sales to comic book stores are down 10%.
Marvel Comics was September’s top publisher with a 37.97% dollar share and a 38.13% unit share. DC Entertainment was second with a 30.21% dollar share and a 36.68% unit share. In third was Image Comics with a 9.55% dollar share and a 8.81% unit share. In fourth was IDW Publishing with a 4.30% dollar share and a 3.67% unit share, followed by Dark Horse Comics with a 2.44% dollar share and a 1.70% unit share.
|SEPTEMBER 2017 VS. AUGUST 2017|
|SEPTEMBER 2017 VS. SEPTEMBER 2016|
|YEAR-TO-DATE 2017 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2016|
Why is this happening? An interesting tweet from @HelenaWayne shows a longview look at comic book sales for the last 17 years.
Marvel+DC sales from 2000-2017. I think we can put “diversity is killing Marvel’s sales” to rest. They’ve been down-spiralling for 17 years. pic.twitter.com/Ci0JicoF1z
— Helena Wayne 🍁 (@HelenaWayneBlog) October 8, 2017
A couple of broad topics that might tie into the drop for the month – movie ticket sales continue to decline, as the summer was the worst on record for many years. The video game industry has slow and steady growth, with mobile game sales jumping in the first quarter of 2017. Then of course the U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs in September. With a number of different things vying for our dollars, as well healthcare, and living wage considerations making the headlines, it make sense that comic book sales would dip.
However, what isn’t pointed out in the chart above is the increased cost of comics over the last 17 years, and the fact that for the last couple of years, some publishers have been on a never ending drive to push out as many number one issues and crossover events as possible. While we can point to larger outside forces that are chipping away at the comic publishers we love, overall decline may actually be an inside job.