February sees a bump in overall comics sales, periodicals face “middling effect”

February saw the comics periodical level off into a mire that reminds me of cable television shows – with a lot of different books appealing to the same sized audience.  January’s sales dip seems to have been countered though. What does it all mean? Hard to say really – but the return of some popular titles absent in January may have played a big part, such as the #1 selling direct market comic book: Green Lantern, which sold 71,000+ copies, and the Flash which sold 55,000+ copies. At 71K, Green Lantern is the lowest selling number #1 comic on the top 300 list in, well, at least a decade, perhaps ever. There weren’t many event books, and no major hype books such as last month’s issue of Fantastic Four. Reality is that this is actually a decent indicator of what people are buying and reading outside of the event books.

As we continue to see a slow shift towards more interest in books such as trades and hardcovers, without the event hype comics periodicals are leveling off into a steady grey mire of mediocre sales. Definitely the reduction of cover prices on most DC books by $1 helped a lot and stores are reporting stronger sales of mid-to-low level DC and Marvel titles such as Batgirl, Red Robin, Justice Society, and so forth. A few store owners I’ve spoken with reported that their customers added an extra book or three to the their weekly pulls because of the money they were saving on the drop in cover price – they shifted their budgeted dollars into other periodical comics instead of spending them elsewhere. It’s amazing how much $ event books take away from the regular ongoing books.

Overall though, looking at February 2010, there’s a less than 4% drop in overall unit sales, not the apocalypse predicted by some. Unit sales of graphic novels went up a whopping 1% so there’s not much difference this year over last. Money-wise, comics sales went up less than 2% and graphic novels went up 7% in sales so there must have been a few higher ticket items on the list.

As far as floppies featuring the work of Canadians go sales range from #2’s Brightest Day 19 (with it’s David Finch cover) with 71,063 copies to #300’s Kill Shakespeare #1 Penny Farthing Edition reprint at 2,860 copies. Two notable absences are Batman Incorporated (art by Yanick Paquette) and Batman: The Dark Knight (by David Finch). Francis Manapul had the highest selling book featuring full art by a Canadian creator with 55K copies of the Flash sold to the direct market. Superheroes still dominate the periodical market and there’s not much chance that will change anytime soon.

#2 Brightest Day 19 (cover by David Finch)
#3 Brightest Day 20 (cover by David Finch)
#9 The Flash #9 (art by Francis Manapul)
#19 X-Men #8 (art by Chris Bachalo)
#43 Action Comics #898 (cover by David Finch)
#50 Incredible Hulks #623 (art by Dale Eaglesham)
#64 Superboy #4 (written by Jeff Lemire)
#66 X-23 #6 (cover by Kalman Andrasofszky)
#96 Spawn #202 (created and inked by Todd McFarlane)
#99 Wolverine and Jubilee #1 (written by Kathryn Immonen and variant cover by Nimit Malavia)
#115 Spawn #203 (created and inked by Todd McFarlane)
#119 Haunt #13 (inked by Todd McFarlane)
#135 Loki #13 (inked by Michel Lacombe)
#168 Knight and Squire 5 (cover by Yanick Paquette and Michel Lacombe)
#188 Sweet Tooth #18
#190 Incorruptable #15 (art by Marcio Takara)
#225 Black Terror #13 (variant cover by Steve Sadowski)
#232 Black Terror #14 (variant cover by Steve Sadowski)
#255 27 #3 (cover by W. Scott Forbes)
#270 Skullkickers #6 (featuring the work of Jim Zubkavich, Ray Fawkes, Scott Hepburn, Joe Vriens)
#279 Jurassic Park: Devils in the Desert #2 (by John Byrne)
#300 Kill Shakespeare #1 Penny Farthing Edition

Of course, this is a list of just the top 300 comics – meaning there are hundreds of additional books that are selling less than 3,000 copies to the direct market.

And graphic novels by Canadians:
– Note that BOLDED items are new, first time in print items – unbolded are reorders or trades of books previously published as a hardcover.
– Nice to see the first Flash hardcover collection out (feat. art by Manapul)
– Sales range from the #1 selection Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne at 5,310 copies to 304 reorder copies of Sweet Tooth Vol.2
– Scott Pilgrim reorders are still coming in, as are Y the Last Man and Sweet Tooth. Interesting to see reorders for the Steve Rogers, Super Soldier hardcover, as I think that may have been overlooked by a few people first time around.
– Many of these books also have a second life on the book distribution circuit.

#1 Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne (featuring the work of Yanick Paquette and Michel Lacombe)
(#5 Nemesis HC (features art by Steve McNiven))
#11 Haunt Vol. 2 (featuring the work of Todd McFarlane)
#14 Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues HC (art by Francis Manapul)

#36 Spider-Man: The Gauntlet Vol.5 TP – The Lizard (art by Chris Bachalo)
#55 Fringe: Tales from the Fringe TP (featuring a chapter drawn by Fiona Staples)
#83 Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 2 HC (featuring art by Yanick Paquette and Serge LaPointe)
#91 Namor Visionaries: John Byrne Vol.1 TP (by John Byrne)
#132 Acts of Vengeance Omnibus (featuring work by John Byrne)

#133 Scott Pilgrim Vol.2 (by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
#138 Incredibles Vol.5 TP (featuring art by Marcio Takara)
#139 Y The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned TP (art by Pia Guerra)
#144 Atlantis Attacks Omnibus (featuring work by John Byrne)
#176 Scott Pilgrim Vol.3 (by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
#190 Spawn Origins HC (Todd McFarlane)
#203 Y The Last Man Vol. 2 TP (art by Pia Guerra)
#222 Batman and Robin Vol.2: Batman vs. Robin (art by Cameron Stewart)
#227 Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4 (by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
#231 Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 (by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
#236 Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5 (by Bryan Lee O’Malley)
#257 Sweet Tooth Vol. 1 (by Jeff Lemire)
#260 Y the Last Man Vol. 3 TP (art by Pia Guerra)
#269 Steve Rogers: Super Soldier HC (art by Dale Eaglesham)
#282 Y the Last Man Vol. 4 TP (art by Pia Guerra)
#292 Sweet Tooth Vol. 2 TP (by Jeff Lemire)