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TBU by the Numbers – October 2015

tbu numbers

Welcome back to “TBU by the Numbers” – this time in a more timely manner!  I’ll be giving you my analysis of all the monthly sales numbers of all TBU ongoing comic series, weekly series, and limited series.  These numbers are for the month of October 2015 and come from Diamond Comics Distributors released numbers as relayed by Comichron.  As always, this article is intended to give you a  monthly progress report overall of how well The Batman Universe of comics is doing both compared to other DC books and the comics market in general, and more than that, I also want to delve into the numbers for individual comic issues per month to get a sense of which titles are doing well, which titles are doing poorly, and which ones fall in between.  For a more in-depth discussion of the metrics I’m using to evaluate the issues from this month, see my first article on the subject.  But for now, to the numbers!


DC and TBU Overall Numbers:

October 2015
Total Comic Sales 7.93 million issues
Percent Annual Change -6% from 10/14
DC Total Sales 1.82 million issues
DC Market Share 22.92%
TBU Total Sales 1.16 million issues
TBU Market Share 14.65%

If it’s not apparent from the chart above, DC had a very poor performance, comparatively speaking, in the month of October.  In addition to the great sales that Marvel is continuing to see from their Star Wars titles, Marvel is also undergoing both the end of their large Secret Wars events and the beginning of an “All-New, All-Different” campaign which has been marked with several newly renumbered issue #1’s.  The combinations of these factors led Marvel to dominate the market in the month of October leading them to double DC’s total percentage of issues sold overall and nearly double the amount they made on those issues (in dollars) despite DC having published 75 new issues to Marvel’s 68 new issues.  Marvel also swept the entire Top 10 from the reported Top 300 comics and DC only managed a measly three issues in the Top 30 (Batman #45, Justice League #45, and Batman Eternal #1)


However, if you don’t compare the numbers to DC’s main rival, the month was not bad overall.  DC’s market share did decrease but the number of issues sold went up by around 200k issues (not coincidentally this is about the same amount of issues sold of the new Batman & Robin Eternal weekly title that began in October) and DC made more money overall off these issues as well.  So, in it’s own right, DC had a decent month even as it had a terrible month comparatively.


The TBU also had a great month if you look at these numbers alone.  When you see the individual numbers broken down below, you will see that every title except for one had percentage declines from September to October (although none of these were all that drastic), but the numbers reported here are again an increase both in total market share and numbers of issues sold which is, again, partially a function of the extra 200k issues of Eternal sold (in addition to the beginning of the Titans Hunt title as well). However, in full disclosure, this is also due in some small part to the fact that I have added a few extra titles (Arkham Knight Genesis, Justice League United, Secret Six and Injustice) to my list that I am covering and those sales were not included in my report for September.  Using these metrics, the TBU actually accounts for more than half of issues sold while being just shy of half of the number of new issues made available (36 of 75).


My guess (for whatever it’s worth) is that these comparative numbers will be temporary and will normalize after no more than another month (DC has seen similar huge boosts and declines after major events as well).  But, I think that there is a lesson to be learned here, that even though some readers (myself included) hate something as simple as renumbering or re-titling an ongoing series, it appears to be a successful strategy in terms of sales and I wouldn’t be surprised to see DC adopt it more often going forward.


Books Doing Well:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman #45 11 (-8) 109,376 -4.40% -7.98% 100.00
Justice League #45 20 (-12) 77,192 0.57% 2.38% 70.57
Batman & Robin Eternal #1,2,3,4 21, 37, 39, 43 233,242 53.31
JLA #4 35 (-21) 56,543 51.70
Harley Quinn #21 36 (-21) 55,272 -2.75% -19.38% 50.53
Detective Comics #45 44 (-28) 47,972 -14.14% -16.40% 43.86

In October, as in every month, when looking at the TBU books overall, some issues rise to the top as bigger successes for the month.  The flagship titles (Batman, Justice League, and Detective Comics) all did very well as usual as did Harley Quinn.  The debut of the Batman & Robin Eternal, however, was huge for both DC and the TBU’s overall numbers totalling over 200k issues over the four issues released.  I consider all four issues together here, but each issue on it’s own would have landed itself a place in my top books for the month in terms of sales as well.  You can also notice here, that while the vast majority of TBU saw percentage drops from September to October, the lone exception of Justice League was up half a percent.  And for most of the other books that saw declines, those drops were not very dramatic (with the exception on this chart of Detective Comics).  Also, you’ll notice on this charat and the subsequent ones, that at least partially due to the success of Marvel’s new titles in October, every TBU book either dropped or stayed the same in the rankings (though Eternal debuts pretty strongly given everything else).


Books Meeting Expectations:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman/Superman #25 59 (-28) 37,566 -6.39% -25.21% 34.35
Robin: Son of Batman #5 62 (-58) 35,619 -6.66% 32.57
New Suicide Squad #13 68 (-21) 33,260 -3.93% -15.79% 30.41
Grayson #13 69 (-17) 32,260 -0.07% -38.96% 29.49
DC Bombshells #3 70 (-31) 32,147 -13.43% 29.39
Titans Hunt #1 75 31,037 28.38
Injustice #11,12 138 (-1), 139(-8) 29,840 -5.74% 27.28
Batman Beyond #5 79 (-24) 29,409 -5.75% 114.05% 26.89
Batgirl #45 80 (-23) 29,276 -4.50% -53.27% 26.77
Teen Titans #12 86 (-28) 26,796 -31.64% 24.50
Earth 2 Society #5 93 (-11) 23,459 -7.80% -38.14% 21.45*
Black Canary #5 104 (-13) 22,215 -6.18% 20.31*
We Are Robin #5 108 (-14) 21,243 -7.21% 19.42*
Red Hood/Arsenal #5 111 (-12) 21,025 -4.92% 19.22*
Catwoman #45 113 (-8) 20,229 -5.94% -22.11% 18.49*

*Denotes book on notice.


These books were holding steady this month with respectable but not outstanding sales numbers.  However, as a group, they did not perform as well as last month, with none of these books cracking the Top 50, all of them dropping significantly in the rankings (except for the debut of Titans Hunt), and all of them seeing percentage drops from September (although, only DC Bombshells saw a double-digit drop and Grayson‘s decline seems to be leveling out).  Still, most of these books are ones that I’d categorize as safe for now.


However, some of these books remain on notice as not being able to afford to drop much lower before I’ll start to expect their cancellation.  The one of these books that I’d be most worried about is Catwoman, which is hovering just above the 20k mark and has been inching closer for the last few months.  However, if Catwoman were to eventually get cut from DC’s lineup, this is actually a book I could see as a test for DC if they wanted to gauge the effects of renumbering issues.  Catwoman is a popular enough character to likely continue to deserve her own book, but not so important a character that DC might not be willing to take some risks in how it is published.


Books in Danger:

Title Rank Sales % Change (Monthly) % Change (Annual) TBU Strength Index
Batman: AK Genesis #3 119 (-15) 19,045 -11.64% 17.41
Justice League United #14 112 (0) 18,865 -6.42% 17.25
Batman: Arkham Knight #9 124 (-9) 18,132 -7.68% 16.58
Gotham Academy #11 131 (-5) 16,560 -4.23% -61.79% 15.14
Secret Six #7 132 (-7) 16,343 -5.94% 14.94
Justice League 3001 #5 134 (-5) 15,512 -7.14% -20.95% 14.18
Batman ’66 #28 147 (4) 14,081 -1.63% -11.57% 12.87
Midnighter #5 152 (-3) 13,235 -8.29% 12.10
Gotham by Midnight #10 156 (-2) 12,932 -5.59% 11.82
Bat-Mite #5 164 (-5) 11,929 -8.52% 10.91

These are the books that I am labeling as being in danger because of their sales numbers.  In our experience watching the relative successes of monthly issues, books that slip below 20k in sales are on DC’s chopping block.  As mentioned last month, some of these books have already been cancelled as soon as they finish out the number of issues already solicited (Batman ‘ 66 and Gotham by Midnight) and some of these are limited series which are scheduled to end soon anyways (like Bat-Mite).  However, just like I’d assume based on September’s numbers, October’s numbers suggest that several books need some sort of drastic change to survive much longer.  I discussed Gotham Academy and Midnighter last month and how they might have other things going for them that could potentially be their saving graces, but we see both books decline in sales again in October, with Midnighter selling just over 13k issues and being surrounded in the charts with books that have already been cancelled.  Although, like I did last month and as was discussed in the comments on September’s article, it is also worth pointing out that Gotham Academy is likely getting some boost from digital sales given the popularity of digital comics among its key demographics.


Also, even though they are debuting on my analysis this month as I included some more books for October than I did for September, I also need to point out that both Justice League United and Secret Six are performing under the threshold we’d expect for cancellation and may need some help to survive as well.

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