I came across this quick breakdown of sales figures for December 2011 for the comics industry on Tumblr, began to write some thoughts and decided to share them.
Marvel Comics has come out on top in terms of sales last month, knocking DC Comics from its three-month streak as the leading publisher. This new report comes from the monthly sales estimates published by Diamond Comic Distributors that gives us the scoop on how Marvel accomplished the maneuver. According to Diamond, Marvel held a 34.43% dollar share and 39.05% market share while DC Comics held a 33.74% dollar share and a 37.72% market share.
Despite the new title earned by Marvel for the month of December, DC still managed to hold eight spots out of ten for the month’s best-selling issues, including Justice League #4 and several other #4 issues from DC’s ‘New 52′ relaunch while Marvel only held two spots in the top ten (Avengers: X-Sanction #1 and Defenders #1). It’s still tricky to see how these numbers are playing out given that DC is publishing around 70 titles a month while Marvel continues to publish well over 100 each month. Taking these numbers into account along with the fact that Marvel double-ships several different titles each month on average, it can be said that Marvel tends to flood the market in order to get a stronger foothold. Regardless of the numbers on quantities, there’s no denying that fans are clearly more impressed by DC’s offering given the top 10 books in the sales chart.
I’m a bit fed up with Marvel’s practices as a company. The numerous “incentives” they push to retailers by giving a rare sketch cover for defacing DC titles, having a handful of “universe changing big events” every year, rebooting a series a few times in the past 5 years with a new #1 each time – or simply renumbering for a new storyline – to lure collectors, and rehashing stories decade after decade. I’m sure they’ve got some decent writers on their payroll, but they sure as hell aren’t putting them to good use. How many times have the Avengers and X-Men fought, Wolverine has enough trouble being in 100 books a month.
Their films have done well, but I don’t know how well they’ll hold up after Avengers. They have sequels for the stand-alone characters in the works, but Iron Man 2 was more of a lead-in for the Avengers and suffered as an Iron Man film. It will be interesting to see what happens with the X-Men franchise and Amazing Spider-Man has promise, but they’ve already rebooted both of them. Are they still kicking around ideas for the Fantastic Four?
And now they plan to publish novels of their biggest stories?* I’ve seen novelizations of story lines before in bookstores, but I’ve never had the desire to actually read one. I tend to just roll my eyes.
DC is also starting to piss me off with their new price for Batman and Detective Comics. I think it was less than a year ago DC started pushing their “holding the line at $2.99” gimmick, and it looks like every popular title will be at least $3.99 this year. They had announced a few books, Action Comics and Justice League, would be $3.99 at the launch of the new 52, but then decrease to $2.99 after a few issues. That didn’t happen. DC’s excuse is that the books are longer, 40 pages as opposed to 32, but they’re padding the books with extras and not story. Look at the back of a JL book, character designs were in the first three. Action Comics #4 had a story to fill in the gap that occurred during the story they were telling. Why was that even necessary? If you need a supplementary story to fill in a gap of your story, rewrite the damn thing.
If the extra pages are dedicated to story as they claim, great! I just expect it will be little more than a chance for them to cram in a few more ads. I definitely don’t want to pay more for character designs and more space for letters to the editor. I’m sure that’s popular for some readers, but increasing the price 25% (didn’t check my math) for that seems ridiculous.
*If you haven’t read Gutters, you should look through them, especially if you’re a comics fan. It’s often topical, so if you don’t get a reference there is usually a blurb written by the author below to help you narrow down your Google search.