Monday, October 12, 2015

DC Sales Stabilize in September

Following Convergence in Spring 2015, DC Comics initiated a soft relaunch with the DCYou initiative. In the main ongoing titles, the New 52 continuity was maintained but several new titles were introduced with their own separate continuities and the overall editorial position became one geared more toward story freedom and title integrity rather than a tight interlocking universe. They also continued their move toward more diversity in the overall line of books, which seems to be working in terms of bringing in diverse readers, though it might take some time to see the strategy pay sales dividends.

As I covered before, the DCYou launch and its associated marketing push led to a bit of a dip in sales rather than a boost. But there were positive underlying signs related to readership and quality indicators. Now, Diamond has released the September 2015 sales numbers and I think things are looking okay for DCYou. Here are some observations:
  • A significant portion of Marvel's success relative to DC stems from its Star Wars titles rather than its mainline Marvel universe. In a sense, there are two big players (Marvel and DC) and two mid-sized players (Star Wars and Image), though certainly the success of Star Wars feeds Marvel from a business perspective.
  • DC only posted 34 books in the Top 100, whereas they usually post between 35-45 on that chart (37 in August, 34 in July, 44 in June). A slight piece of silver lining is that 19 of the 34 DC books were in the Top 50 (up from 18 in August).
    • Marvel: 57 in the Top 100, with the 4 Star Wars books posting in the Top 11.
    • On a personal note, I was happy to see all 4 of the Superman books posting in the Top 50, with an average Diamond index (i.e., metrics relative to sales of Batman) of 34.16 (similar to the 35.0 in August). But this is down from late summer 2014, when the same four Superman books averaged 46.8. Perhaps the new take on Superman has not panned out as DC had hoped.
  • DC maintained a 26% market share for retail and 26% share for units (25|27 in August, 24|24 in July, 28|25 in June). Retail, of course, is the more important of those numbers and so 26% is a fairly good number, down only relative to the June numbers in the last 4 months, and June was boosted by a flurry of #1's with the DCYou.
    • Marvel: 33% retail and 38% units in September, benefiting from the continuing Secret Wars event and those 4 Star Wars books in the Top 11.
  • Continuing a recent trend, DC fared well on the trade paperback / graphic novel side of the market. DC had 5 graphic novels in the Top 10.
    • Marvel had 0 graphic novels in the Top 10.
Two of the new books that I have really enjoyed are Prez and The Omega Men. Both are politically a bit risky but, I think, very well done. The Omega Men has been a critical hit, but was nearly canceled after its first arc. Luckily, the fans spoke out and DC agreed to continue the series for at least 12 issues. I hope Prez is able to continue, as well.

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