Comics Sales 2013 – December – Surprise high and low sales report

Market report by comics historian Terry Hoknes – hoknes@hotmail.com of www.HoknesComics.com
Every month Diamond Distributors reports the top 300 best selling highest ordered new comic books of the month
Retailers order new products 2 months in advance and must predict how well new comics will sell for them.
What happens every month is some titles are over-ordered and some retailers under-order.
As a stereotypical rule most retail shops will order extra heavy on all DC and Marvel titles knowing they might have potentially longer shelf life. All other smaller publishers most retailers will NOT take the same risk with financially.
Therefore the best selling comics of the year are predictably from the “big 2” publishers and the smallest print runs and books that sell out the quickest are from the smallest publishers.
Let’s analyze the best selling comics of the past month. In the following list I will make notes of any comics I believe stand out specifically for having higher or lower orders than might have been expected. This will strongly affect the future back issue prices of these comics.
Harley Quinn #0 debuted as the first issue of the series the month before but with official numbering of #1 still pulled in really high sales for DC at 92,000 copies. The good news for DC is that Diamond still sold out of #1 yet #0 with an even higher print run is still available. This means #1 has a great chance of going up in value but #0 not likely.
DC debuted a brand new futuristic Justice League series with decent but not stellar sales at 57,000.
Possibly Image’s strongest 2013 new title is East Of West which still pulled in 31,000 in sales for #8.
Out of the past months new Image titles Velvet has turned out to be the title that retailers felt strongest about with 25,000 on #2.
Legenderry #1 from Dynamic Forces with many variant covers helped retailers push a really high print run of 27,000 for this publisher.
Dynamic Forces also pulled a marketing gimmick bonanza with Twilight Zone #1 which had so many variant covers that there was even a 1:500 ratio variant cover. This did help sales quite a bit as well as this new issue hit 21,000.00
If a comic comes out with many variant covers that means retailers have to order many more regular covers which always makes the regular copies way too common and they have no chance of going up in value – beware of this with all the high profile new issues coming out !
The most valuable instant back issue of December 2013 was Black Science #2 which was a brand new release and came in as the #116 best selling comic of Dec 2013 with a print run of 20,000 split between 2 covers. That means there are 10,000 copies of each cover. Note that #1 had a print run of 40,000 which means retailers dropped their orders in 1/2 for #2. This turned out to be a bit too drastic of a cut and people had trouble finding copies of #2 making it a $20.00 book within days of release!
The other hot Image back issue recently is Sex Criminals #1 (4th printing photo cover) which had such low orders it did not even make the Diamond top 300 chart so print run may have only been about 2,000 copies.
DC debuted Dead Boy Detectives spinning off from The Sandman with modest to weak sales at 19,000 for a new #1 Vertigo title. If this title becomes popular those copies will dry up quickly.
Unity is the big crossover series from Valiant which 22 years ago helped unite all the titles and boost all sales. It is not happening this time but orders for Unity are stronger than most of the current individual Valiant titles.
Image Comics has debuted many new ongoing series in the past few months and unfortunately this is NOT been good for retailers. Retailers appear to be bombarded and dont know what to order or promote which is causing lower and lower sales for all the new titles. Saviors #1 at 17,000, Dead Body Road #1 at 16,000. Krampus #1 comes in with the lowest sales of the year for Image for a new series with only 9,000 copies. Again, if this title proves to be popular it could become a very hot commodity as copies are not out there. Sin Boldly one-shot from Joseph Linsner at a low 7,200.
Predictably #2 issues are always ordered much less than #1’s however Image has a big drop in orders for all #2 issues. Velvet and Black Science #2’s were the strongest. But then are followed by really weak orders on: Manifest Destiny #2 with 12,000, Alex + Ada with 10,000, Protectors Inc at 8,700, Umbral at 8,400, Burn The Orphanage 8,100, Drumhellar at 6,900, and A Voice In The Dark coming in with a very sad 5,200 copies for a #2 issue and barely even making the top 300.
Notice sales of Zero and Three which are also down in the 8,000 range. This is the first time I can recall ever where the majority of Image ongoing series are selling only 8,000 copies each a month. Note that Diamond is also selling out immediately of all new issues every single month. If these ever heat up even issues #2-5 of each title could increase in value as the copies are not out there.
Looking at the rest of the list with a quick overview I will mention titles that I think the print runs were too high or too low.
If the print runs were too high then those copies are just gonna sit on shelves.
If the print runs were too low it likely sold out immediately at Diamond and in comic shops and has the best chance of all new comics to go up in value quickly.
PRINT RUNS TOO HIGH ?
Doc Savage #1 – lots of variant covers still barely helped it get to 13,000.
PRINT RUNS TOO LOW ?
Ghost #1 – Dark Horse. Either demand just isn’t there or retailers played it safe ordering less than 10,000 for a new ongoing series from Dark Horse.
Boom has a few hits on their hands lately and 2 of them continue to have modest print runs including Day Men #2 (which shipped 4 months late) but still will be turned into a movie. Retailers kept orders at only 7,700. Creator of Adventure Time debuted a new series The Midas Flesh #1 at only 7,900 copies and that is now sold out at Diamond and has a 2nd printing.
WWE Ongoing #1 with 7,200 copies – printed equally between 4 covers means there is only 1,800 copies of each cover featuring real life famous wrestlers. This series should have long term interest and also from those outside the comic world making this print run way too safe by retailers.
Robotech Voltron #1 – new crossover series featuring 80’s characters 6,400 could prove to be too small if a buzz happens.
Fox #2 (Archie) #1 was an instant sell out at only 7,000 copies with 4 covers. The new issue does not have as many covers but the print run also dropped down to a low 4,000 copies. This series is getting rave reviews meaning that this guaranteed to sell out.
The next 5 make my list as great quality titles with ridiculously small print runs and none of them even made the Top 400 of the month.
Lunita #1 (Amigo) print run of only 2,000 for a new title is not a great starting point for the series but again if it gets some buzz than a sell out would happen instantly and I believe Diamond is already sold out.
Steam Engines of Oz Vol. 2 1 $3.99 Arcana 1,937 – New series based on Wizard Of Oz – print run under 2,000.
8Bit Zombies One Shot $3.99 Antarctic 1,914 – Zombies are super popular and here is one of the rarest of the year.
Steam Wars 3 $3.99 Antarctic 1,812 – Star Wars manga type story and #1 and #2 have sold as high as $20.00
Honey West & T.H.E. Cat 1 $3.99 Moonstone 1,304 – two different 1960’s TV show characters team up in this new mini-series with smallest print run of the month. The variant covers have sold for really good money already.
PRINT RUNS – TOSS UP ?
Star Wars Darth Vader #1 – a modest 15,000. Star Wars comics rarely go up in value but if its a good story demand could grow.
Teen Titans Go #1 – 12,000. A high number for a young reader title but if any crossover interest happens with TV fans, or DC fans in general this amount seems too low for a new #1.
Rover Red Charlie #1 – 9,000 – is a decent number for an Avatar title considering this is a mini-series. But its high quality and everyone loves it and this number is split between 3 covers making the print runs closer to 3,000 each and Garth Ennis (Preacher) wrote and created it.
IDW and Dynamic Forces put out a bunch of new series each month. Rarely is there a shortage in print run to cause price increases. So these are not likely to go up. But again if they prove popular word of mouth could easily make these disappear as the print runs are not too high: Illegitimates #1 at 8,800, Revelations #1 at 5,900, Indestructible #1 at only 4,600, Deadworld Restoration #1 at 3,700 and Sinister Dexter #1 at a really low 3,200.
Best Selling comics of Dec 2013 – interesting books to note for high or low sales:
7 Harley Quinn 1 $2.99 DC 92,153 and it still sold out
23 Justice League 3000 1 $2.99 DC 57,726
62 East of West 8 $3.50 Image 31,059
74 Legenderry A Steampunk Adv 1* $3.99 Dynamic Forces 27,174
78 Velvet 2* $2.99 Image 25,549
104 Twilight Zone 1 $3.99 Dynamic Forces 21,723
116 Black Science 2* $3.50 Image 20,151
120 Dead Boy Detectives 1* $2.99 DC 19,525
121 Unity 2* $3.99 Valiant 18,845
126 Saviors 1 $2.99 Image 17,894
130 Dead Body Road 1* $2.99 Image 16,840
134 Star Wars Darth Vader & Cry of Shadows 1 $3.50 Dark Horse 15,847
148 Doc Savage 1 $3.99 Dynamic Forces 13,631
160 Manifest Destiny 2 $2.99 Image 12,801
163 Teen Titans Go 1* $2.99 DC 12,219
182 Alex + Ada 2 $2.99 Image 10,700
193 Ghost 1 $2.99 Dark Horse 9,805
198 Rover Red Charlie 1 $3.99 Avatar 9,327
202 Krampus 1 $2.99 Image 9,078
210 Illegitimates 1* $3.99 IDW 8,840
211 Protectors Inc 2 $2.99 Image 8,723
218 Umbral 2 $2.99 Image 8,485
221 Burn The Orphanage Born To Lose 2 $4.99 Image 8,187
226 Zero 4 $2.99 Image 8,046
227 Three 3 $2.99 Image 8,021
229 Midas Flesh 1 $3.99 Boom 7,907
235 Day Men 2 $3.99 Boom 7,777
237 Wonderful World of Lisa Simpson 1 $3.99 Bongo 7,744
247 Sin Boldly One Shot $3.50 Image 7,272
248 Wwe Ongoing 1 $2.99 NBM 7,271
255 Drumhellar (Previously Strangeways) 2 $3.50 Image 6,952
263 Robotech Voltron 1 $3.99 Dynamic Forces 6,408
274 Revelations 1 $3.99 Boom 5,949
298 A Voice In The Dark 2 $3.99 Image 5,222
314 Archie 650 $3.99 Archie 4,829
322 Indestructible 1* $3.99 IDW 4,693
332 Fox 2 $2.99 Archie 4,334
347 Deceivers 1 $3.99 Boom 3,943
352 Juice Squeezers 1 $3.99 Dark Horse 3,827
354 Deadworld Restoration 1 $3.99 IDW 3,717
368 Sinister Dexter 1 $3.99 IDW 3,298
388 Death Sentence 3 $3.99 Titan 2,655
410 Lunita 1 $3.99 Amigo 2,021
414 Steam Engines of Oz Vol. 2 1 $3.99 Arcana 1,937
416 8Bit Zombies One Shot $3.99 Antarctic 1,914
419 Steam Wars 3 $3.99 Antarctic 1,812
439 Honey West & T.H.E. Cat 1 $3.99 Moonstone 1,304

19 thoughts on “Comics Sales 2013 – December – Surprise high and low sales report”

  1. This is probably the most insightful piece on the spec market and comics market in general that i’ve read in a long time so kudos on that and thanks. It’s hard to get down to brass tacks when a blog post here or a BS rumor there can make one money in the short term and honest appraisals are hard to come by. The point you make about how printing too many incentive variants punishes retailers (and by extension all second hand sellers) by common-izing all the regular covers is so so true. When a cursory glance at the contents of your local comic store’s dollar bin, or hell, even the stacks at Half Price Books, reveals tens and twenties of copies of a 2 month old event comic (even as it’s still ROCKING it’s respective fictional universe ), then there is something dreadfully wrong with this distribution model. I especially like the comparison to Black Science #2 as a book that succeeded because demand simply outpaced supply instead of another 1 in 50 variant that’s supposedly worth more bc some company ginned up a scarce book with a cover by a different artist. I hope that the latter trend is soon ended, outed as the self-imposed fiction that it is and that books like Saga, Black Science, Letter 44, & Sex Criminals continue to be sought after and accrue value because they’re good comics and people like to read good comics. I’m curious tho what your feeling is on Retailer Exclusive Variants? Afterlife With Archie, for example, had a ton of retailer exclusive variants and I think this kind of forced scarcity actually rewarded quality bc the more interesting covers became more valuable than the less intriguing ones. I could see this model becoming the industry standard in the future and i dig the possibilities it creates, esp as a speculator but also as someone who still likes to read good comics

      1. wished i’d been more coherent and/or aware of how big and unreadable that block of text would end up. Just wanted to add some spec picks/ observations :
        -Day Men #2: super shocked that the 4 month delay has made such a huge difference in orders. This was the most hyped book of the moment when it got optioned for a film and if that film ever gets made, this second issue is just gonna soar in value. I’m holding onto at least 2 of the George Perez “Virgin” Variants just in case
        -Fox #2 under 5000 copies ordered?! Very happy i grabbed the Paul Pope variant
        -Manifest Destiny & Three ARE eventually going to take off. Only a matter of time. Historical fiction is not usually good fodder for comics but the level of quality on these books is undeniable. Manifest is the most re-ordered book at my LCS by far according to the owner.
        -WWE #1 written by Mick Foley having such a low print run is probably the biggest shocker here and the book people oughtta target if they see copies. Esp the Undertaker retailer incentive variant which ive already seen go for $15-20. eventualy wrestling fans will realize it exists and that it’s hard to find
        -I’m really pulling for A Voice In the Dark b/c i love the premise and execution but that big a drop is discouraging and i fear cancellation if it doesn’t set its hooks in readers soon. Along the same lines, more than 2,655 people oughtta be able to get their hands on Death Sentence 3. That book is too awesome for words and i badly want to see it catch on w/ people and turn into an ongoing

        1. I do love A Voice in the Dark and think Larime Taylor, who I have spoken to on several occasions, is a fantastic person. I also really like Death Sentence, and am glad that there is a small print run. I think that when this gets collected, there might be more interest in the floppies. Manifest Destiny has been the surprise for me, as I was not expecting to love it as much as I do. Same with Sheltered, which I really hope picks up in popularity.

      2. I also think a lot of people buy #1 just because they’re #1, with no intentions of picking up #2 and so on. I actually enjoyed #2 of VITD better than #1. If it continues down that path, it can only get better! 🙂

  2. oh yeah i love sheltered too. initially picked it up thinking it was a zombie book id flip right away. very surprised that this “lord of the flies”-in-the-rockies tale is one of my most anticipated reads each month, right next to Trillium and now Manifest and Letter 44. Really great book

    1. Also love Trillium, love that the stories can be non-linear and you have to flip the comic over on some issues. Letter 44 is another great one. Charles Soule is awesome and if you haven’t read it pick up Strange Attractors. It’s his stand alone graphic novel which is so cool.
      The point being though, produce quality stories and people will read them and talk about them. In the long run, it will make comics more desirable and worth more on the secondary market.

      1. couldn’t agree more, Flipper. I’m pretty new to selling online but i quickly learned that the variants and gimmickry is usually at it’s most valuable the week a book comes out, forgotten within a month. Hence I have way too many variants that i end up selling for .99 bc i sat on them too long. Fables#1, Y the last Man #1, Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Saga of swamp thing 21 among others i acquired for so much less but sold for way more. Was able to move 4 copies of Letter 44 preview edition earlier this year for about 3.5x what i paid and i still wish id waited til the 2nd issue came out to sell. Quality really is paramount and the most solid guarantor of value

  3. I don’t really think that 5k is ‘very sad’ for a new book from a new creator no one has read before. I’m still making money, the book is still profitable, and lots of books get by on less.

    1. oh absolutely not Larime, and judging by the print runs Hoknes lists, it’s a backlash against people way overbuying Image #1’s than exagerating the drawback in orders. Love love love yr book incidentally and talk it up to whoever listens

  4. I too was worried about the drop off in a voice in the dark. The main problem I see is that image is releasing so many new series each month that it’s cannibalizing the sales of the series that were just released the prior months. I guess the strong survive and the weak (or lesser known creators/artists) die a slow death… we all know it’s very difficult to go up in sales #s after the first issue. Good luck Laramie; I’m rooting for you, and ugly Todd, five ghosts, and all the under dogs!

  5. Yea, Larime, I’ve been with you all the way dude…I pledged to help the Gimp books, then I also pledged to get your wife the laptop! I also sent you an email of encouragement back then…I don’t know if you remember that?
    I have been spreading the word about your book all over the UK. It’s hard because the LCBS’s here only have Diamond UK as a distributor, and believe it or not, it’s like a totally different company than Diamond US.
    I was just at a con in Leeds, UK in November and your name came up with a vendor there. But, it’s just getting your book into the hands of the folks who can make a difference.
    I’ve recently been in contact with Mr. David West, creator/writer/artist of ACCENT UK’s: Missing – Have You Seen The Invisible Man, and he has concerns over the same issues as you and the other small start-up books…EXPOSURE!
    Mr. West’s book sold out at Diamond UK, but if Diamond only accepted say 300 copies of the book, that’s not a lot of comics on the street for Mr. West.
    As well as a lack of exposure, it’s the lack of trust in new books from the distributor’s that causes problems as well.
    Anyway, I’m a huge fan, and love the book…keep up the great work!
    I’ll continue to do whatever I can to support your efforts!
    L8tr,
    UKPONDSIDE
    …Peace!

  6. Nick MoNar – i greatly appreciate your kind words. I love writing these reports which documents whats going on in the comic world and also hopefully helps those out there who need extra advice and opinions on what books to buy.
    I definitely love promoting the smaller publishers to help get them as much exposure as possible so I also order in very little DC/Marvel and my website focuses on keeping all the rare small print books in stock. I have ordered extra now of A Voice In The Dark to keep spreading the word.

    1. Happy to, Terry! When I started selling online last August, it had been about 8 years since I’d stopped collecting and reading comics and I didn’t know “New 52” from “Now!” nor boo. Your website investcomics.com was a great help to me! That you continue to offer your advice gratis is a mitzvah to folks like me.

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