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TBU By the Numbers – September 2017

For the month of September we are doing a little tweaking with our sales analysis. Firstly, we are adding the variation in number of copies to the issue-by-issue sales analysis. While the percentage gives us the idea of how drastic the rises and falls are, the numbers speak higher when it comes to books in the lower tiers of sales. Also, we now have a Batman Universe ranking. This will allow us to better understand how the books are faring relative to their counterparts. Furthermore, with Metal hitting full steam in September, we are now having a separate session just for the titles tied to the event.


As a reminder, the sales numbers used for this analysis are provided by Comichron, based on reports by Diamond Comics Distributors, which cover the direct sales market. Whereas this can give us an idea of how well the books are doing, those numbers hide two very significant factors: digital copies and books sold in bookstores.


Despite being less traditional, those markets represent a big chunk of sales that go uncharted here. An easy way to understand how the Diamond numbers might lie is by simply comparing the top-selling titles on Comixology to the Diamond numbers. Another way to grasp this is by knowing that, according to a recent report by the NPD Group, “comics and graphic novels category in the U.S. trade book market has experienced compound annual unit sales growth of 15 percent over the last three years, making it one of the highest growth categories in the trade book marketplace.” Meaning, more and more comics are being sold outside of the direct market.


Kristen McLean, industry analyst for NPD Books, says, “There is a whole new audience emerging for comics and graphic novels; these readers are younger, they are more diverse, and they are getting their books from a much wider range of channels than we typically think of for comics.”


This information does not invalidate the Diamond sales analysis. In fact, what this analysis can tell us is how well the individual issues are being received by the core buyers. While not absolute, those numbers help indicate what brings up the sales and what will pull them down, and the successes and failures of the traditional gimmicks used by publishers, such as tie-ins, crossovers, and guest characters.

A total of thirty-one Batman Universe titles were released in September. All of the Metal titles sold incredibly well. In fact, Metal took six of the top ten positions in our TBU ranking, with Bat titles also taking six out of the top ten in the overall market. As for titles switching positions, Super Sons had sales numbers below Nightwing for the first time since its release. While Detective Comics did get pushed down some positions, it still outsold the second and third installments of Gotham Resistance (Nightwing #29 and Suicide Squad #26).



The Batman titles continue being very much stable.”The War of Jokes and Riddles” only came to an end with issue #32, which also featured Catwoman’s answer to the proposal, and there is a chance the sales will be boosted a little for that one. What does impress from the sales for September though is that issue #30, for being an interlude, did not see any drop in sales. “The Ballad of Kite-Man part II”, in fact, sold more than issue #31, the second to last issue of the arc.


As for Detective Comics, “A Lonely Place of Living” started with issue #965, bringing sales up to what they were before the start of “Intelligence”, the arc focusing on Azrael. To be honest, I expected the sales to reach more than 60,000 with the return of Tim Drake, but I am guessing that at least half of those 3.5K buyers will be sticking to the title with Tim’s return.


Batman/The Shadow finished its run with a reasonable number of copies sold. A second mini-series titled The Shadow/Batman has already hit stands.



Starting with the good news, Batgirl continues showing positive sales results as “Summer of Lies” hits its second part. The cover did feature her and Nightwing caught in a passionate kiss, which might have spurted sales a little. Batman Beyond also had a slight increase in sales with the special Bat-women issue. On a neutral note, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is now in its second month straight with a small decrease in sales, after a consistent drop of roughly 800 issues every month for almost all of the second semester of Rebirth.


Moving on to the middle ground, Harley Quinn is showing a peculiar pattern, with issue #27, a one-shot, having little to no change in sales, while the start of “Vote for Harley” decreased them. Harley, Nightwing, and Red Hood continue having similar variations issue by issue. Nightwing #29 will be covered on the Metal session.


Batwoman, like the other second wave titles, is still showing close or above 1,000 copies drop in sales every month. Issue #7 was the first one without James Tynion IV co-writing with Marguerite Bennett. Graver still is the situation with Bane: Conquest, as the bleed in sales does not seem to be losing steam. The series was originally supposed to end with issue #6, but it got extended to a maxi-series with 12 issues. With how fast the sales continue dropping, it will probably end its run at around 10,000 copies.


As for Nightwing: The New Order, despite it being natural that new titles drop enormously from the first to the second issue, what makes it slightly worrisome is the fact that it did not sell all that well to begin with.



With the final installment of “Kill Your Darlings”, Suicide Squad is the most stable title out of all of Greater DC. Super Sons and Justice League of America, as previously mentioned, are second wave titles, which are still showing significant drops. Appalling is the fact that the first wave titles are in similar situations.


It has already been announced that Justice League will be changing hands to Christopher Priest on writing and Pete Woods on art. We can expect less cosmic and more character driven plots from Priest, taking from his Deathstroke run and the previews that have already come out for Justice League.


Titans is not faring well either. Issue #15 was the reveal that Nightwing was supposedly a H.I.V.E. agent – a plot maneuver that will often fail, but that is still recurrent in comics nonetheless.



Here we see the power of a #1 issue fading out. My guess is that Dark Nights: Metal will be selling around 100 thousand by the end of its run, roughly what Capullo and Snyder went off of Batman selling. This is not to say the event is a flop, on the contrary. Taking from the number of copies sold for the one-shots and tie-ins, the event is quite a success.


The variation for those is calculated using the previous titles of its kind, so from Red Death to Murder Machine, and from first to last of the Gotham Resistance titles. They are shown in order of release in the table.


The Batman one-shots were both sold out issues and got reasonably high ratings on Comic Book Roundup. What will probably be the top seller is being saved for last, The Batman Who Laughs. As for Gotham Resistance, it pulled the sales of all three titles up to fifty thousand, with a very small dropping rate from the second to the third installment. Green Arrow #32, the last part of the crossover, only came out in October and will be covered next month.

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