Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mining Shares

Last week, Newsarama reported Diamond Comic Distributors' direct market statistics for June 2007. Yesterday, ICv2.com followed suit with their actual sales estimates. What the numbers show is a continuation of recent trends. Out of the Top 25 books, 16 are by Marvel and eight by DC (the remaining book is Dark Horse Comics' Buffy the Vampire Slayer); Marvel has eight titles beyond the 100,000 unit mark, DC has two; and while another six Marvel titles are selling between 80K and 100K, DC has zilch in that area. Marvel's market share in June was 43.62% in dollars and 48.42% in units; DC's was 27.02% in dollars and 28.57% in units. Obviously, that's not a very balanced picture, which leads Tom Spurgeon to suspect that even rougher times may lie ahead for DC.
DC's current event build-up/event unto itself series, Countdown, continues its steady sales hemorrhage. Depending on how many books are out next month, it may fall out of the top 20 entirely. With Justice ending and whatever they're calling the Flash comic a risk not to hold its numbers of its snuff-comic predecessor, DC might have one of those gut-check months in July.
Now, while it's quite fair to say that DC Comics took another sound beating from the competition in June, Spurgeon's analysis misses several key factors.

First up, three of the publisher's bestselling titles, All Star Superman (most recently shifting around 92,000 units), Batman (80,000) and Action Comics (60,000), missed their June shipping dates. Two of them have been released in July so far, in addition to other high-selling titles like Justice League of America, Justice Society of America and - supposedly - All Star Batman, which is slated to come out on July 25. This makes a further slump unlikely, at least for July.

Second, DC Comics only shipped 61 periodicals in June (not counting reprints, magazines and the Johnny DC cartoon adaptations); usually, it's between 70 and 80. This is the result of seven titles missing their June release dates, but also of the fact that, for the first time in a while, no DC titles failed to come out in May, so they didn't have the usual set of stragglers to boost the numbers in June. Obviously, that's going to change again with the July chart.

Finally, contrary to Spurgeon's suggestion, it's safe to say that July's All Flash #1, just like June's Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #13 and August's Flash #231, will sell significantly better than previous Flash issues: DC's had a sales incentive in place to ensure it, offering any retailer ordering 200% of their numbers of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #10 full returnability on those three issues. Consequently, they've got nothing to worry about with regard to Flash, at least in the short term.

I'm not disagreeing with the notion that DC isn't having a particularly good year so far. Spurgeon's right to point out that they're losing another sales juggernaut with no replacement in sight with the completion of Justice, for that matter. Still, the situation is not nearly as bleak as he makes it sound. (On a sidenote, I'd argue that two months worth of an average sales decline for Countdown hardly constitute a "steady sales hemorrhage.")

No comments: