Thursday, December 15, 2016

COMICS SALES: Dark Horse for November 2016


According to data from Diamond Distributers, and the monthly sales charts compiled ICv2.com and Comichron.com, Dark Horse Comics is America’s fifth largest comic book company, both in terms of dollar sales and units sold.

In November 2016, the company solicited 28 regular comic books for sale to specialty comic book shops, placing 17 (60.7 percent) in the Top 300. That was good for 2.09 percent of the Top 300 slots.

Dark Horse also accounted for 2.17 percent of the dollar sales piled up by those Top 300 comics, a grouping that rang up a retail sales tab of $29.32 million in November. Assuming the publisher gets about 40 percent of the cover price on a comic book, Dark Horse brought in revenue of about $254,498 during November on the 17 books it placed in the Top 300.

Let’s take a look at their titles. As always, keep in mind the numbers are sales by Diamond Distributors to North American comic book stores, not those stores to their customers. The number in parentheses next to the month/year of release is that issues rank within Diamond's Top 300 for that month, while any number listed in brackets are re-orders placed by retailers after an issues first month of release. Numbers marked with an asterisk were returnable, and so had their calculated sales numbers cut by 10 percent by ICv2.com and Comichron.com, from which these numbers are derived.


113. SERENITY: NO POWER IN THE ‘VERSE ($3.99)

07/2005: (49) Serenity #1 — 38,507 [32,607]
08/2005: (47) Serenity #2 — 47,091 [11,383] (-17.8%)
09/2005: (42) Serenity #3 — 52,307  [4,874] (-2.2%)
-----------------------------------------
03/2008: (26) Serenity: Better Days #1 — 62,282 [4,310](+16.5)
04/2008: (32) Serenity: Better Days #2 — 56,117 (-15.7%)
05/2008: (41) Serenity: Better Days #3 — 52,413 (-6.6%)
-----------------------------------------
01/2014: (29) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #1 — 47,285* [13,343] (+15.7%)
02/2014: (42) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #2 — 38,630*  [6,862](-25.0%)
03/2014: (45) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #3 — 37,516*  [5,535](-5.4%)
04/2014: (41) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #4 — 42,269   [2,305] (+3.5%)
05/2014: (42) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #5 — 42,606 (-4.4%)
06/2014: (43) Serenity: Leaves on Wind #6 — 42,069 (-1.3%)
-----------------------------------------
10/2016: (73) Serenity: No Power #1 (of 6) — 39,492 [11,596](+21.4%)
11/2016: (113) Serenity: No Power in Verse #2 (of 6) — 24,186 (-38.8%)

Retailers seem to have a history of misjudging demand for Serenity comics. It’d be interesting to hear from a few retailers in the comments section below to find out if most copies are selling to regular customers, or if this property (as I suspect) draws in customers who do not, as a rule, haunt their LCS.

If we look at the first series in 2005, timed to release of the movie SERENITY, which in turn was based on the short-lived Joss Wheden FOX television series, FIREFLY, we see that nearly 46 percent of all sales to comics shops came as re-orders, after the original month of solicitation. Generally, on that and most series that followed, the first issues ended up charting as a reorder for up to four months following its initial release. 

From there, we see each subsequent series jumping up to land at roughly 15-20 percent above where the previous series ended. Even the first three issues of the Leaves on the Wind series, which had numbers reduced 10 percent on the ICv2/Comichron charts due to being returnable, garnered significant re-order activity. This being the case, I’d have expected retailers to go in to a greater degree on the first issue of the latest series. Given this month’s reorder activity, I suspect #1 is about played out now, but we should be able to look forward to #2 charting again next month, probably with another 7,500 copies, or so. Might’ve sold even more if any of the characters looked like who the artwork is supposed to depict.

Interestingly, had No Power’s #1 reorders been placed for the month the book was originally solicited, the total of 51,088 copes would have landed it at No. 49 on the October sales list, between DEADPOOL, No. 21 and HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS, No. 6.

For what it’s worth, the first two series retailed for $2.99, I believe. The third for $3.50, and the current one at $3.99. And they’ve all generally featured multiple covers, which probably plays well with those lured into the LCS as diehard fans of the show. If I was Dark Horse, I’d get real shiny on the photo covers featuring our Big Damn Heroes™ — but that’s just me. Still, I’d expect a slew of photo covers for this particular property would move another 5,000 to 10,000 copies, per issue.

Oh, and one final discussion point. The Wikipedia page for the first series, subtitled “Those Left Behind” in collected form, notes that, “According to Dark Horse, the miniseries sold 85,000 copies.” I’m not sure what that number comes from. The footnote attached to it goes to a Dark Horse page that does not cite the number. Anyway, it is 19.5 higher than the ICv2/Comichron number. And that seems about right. I’ve always heard that with British and non-Diamond sales, most comics actually moved about 20 percent more than what we see on these sales charts. Of course, I first heard that some significant period of time before the 2005 series. With additional shrinkage in the industry, I’d wager a guess that most comics are circulating maybe 10-15 percent more than then the numbers we are dealing in this column.


160. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, SEASON 11 ($3.99)

11/2001: (132) BTVS #39 — 17,173
11/2006: ---
11/2011: ( 64) BTVS Season 9 #3 — 33,485
11/2012: ---
11/2013: ---
11/2014: (230) BTVS Season 10 #8 —   7,183
11/2015: (150) BTVS Season 10 #21 — 13,869
-----------------------------------------
12/2015: (174) BTVS Season 10 #22 — 13,497 (-2.7%)
01/2016: (160) BTVS Season 10 #23 — 13,121 (-2.8%)
02/2016: (157) BTVS Season 10 #24 — 12,852 (-2.1%)
03/2016: (151) BTVS Season 10 #25 — 12,717 (-1.1%)
04/2016: (163) BTVS Season 10 #26 — 12,570 (-1.2%)
05/2016: (157) BTVS Season 10 #27 — 12,475 (-0.8%)
06/2016: (174) BTVS Season 10 #28 — 12,363 (-0.9%)
07/2016: (175) BTVS Season 10 #29 — 12,255 (-0.9%)
08/2016: (180) BTVS Season 10 #30 — 12,119 (-1.1%)
09/2016: ---
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (160) BTVS Season 11 #1 — 14,855 (+22.6%)

6 months: +19.1%
1 year:       +7.1%
2 years:     +106.8%
5 years:      -55.6%
10 years:  ---
15 years: -13.5%

I’m not sure what DHC did to goose sales between Nov. 2014 and 2015, unless the sales number for Issue No. 8 is an error on the Comichron report, and it’s supposed to be 17,183. Otherwise, Buffy is the very picture of a stable title, and DHC is managing it beautifully — let it drift down under standard attrition, and then bust a new #1. To that end, DHC appears to be using “Season” numbers as a more palatable version of a new Volume number. It just lets the “TV Season” play out for how every many issues the title seems to be holding its own.


169. BLACK HAMMER ($3.99)

07/2016: (117) Black Hammer #1 — 19,775*
08/2016: (153) Black Hammer #2 — 16,201 (-18.1%)
09/2016: (152) Black Hammer #3 — 13,656 (-15.7)
10/2016: (171) Black Hammer #4 — 13,320 (-2.5%)
11/2016: (169) Black Hammer #5 — 12,950 (-2.8%)

This Jeff Lemire series seems to have found its level quickly, while holding its own quite nicely. That didn’t stop me from bailing out after #2 though. Not that there was anything wrong with the series. The first two issues just hadn’t come out yet when it came time to place my September order with my retailer and there were other things I wanted more. Come to think of it, I never did read those first two issues, once I got them.

Still, it’s worth noting, I think, that in the current market we often see a drop of about 25-30 percent for a second issue, and around 15 percent for the third, followed by around 7 percent for #4. From that point, if a series loses 2 percent per month in retailer orders, it’s doing pretty well. It seems on this one, retailers guess pretty accurately what the actual demand would be. And those readers who have sampled the series (other than me) appear to be sticking with it, at least for now.


179. ETHER ($3.99)

11/2016: (179) Ether #1 (of 5) — 11,720

I have zero idea what this one is all about. Those are semi-decent numbers for a small publisher limited series with not instant name recognition. Even so, this looks to finish its run outside the Top 300 and under 5,000 in orders.


186. HELLBOY AND BPRD 1954 ($3.99)

09/2016: (160) Hellboy/BPRD 1954 #1 — 12,662 [11,194]
10/2016: (188) Hellboy/BPRD 1954 #2 — 10,966 (-13.4%)

Weird. The first issue charted again in November with reorders almost as high as the initial buy-in. But the third issue must have missed its Nov. 23 release date, as it did not make the charts. That’s a decent drop for a second issue, but then Hellboy and BPRD are known properties, with built-in fan bases.


196. LADYKILLER 2 ($3.99)

08/2016 (147) Ladykiller 2 #1 (of 5) — 16,665
09/2016 (172) Ladykiller 2 #2 (of 5) — 10,798 (-35.2%)
10/2016: ---
11/2016 (196) Ladykiller 2 #3 (of 5) —  9,935 (-8.0%)

Looking about standard. Basically, retailers order on the presumption that many people who try the first issue won’t like it enough to try the second. That’s true of just about all titles. But it says something really cynical about the industry in general, in terms of its storytelling ability, don’t you think? I mean,


217. CONAN THE SLAYER ($3.99)

07/2016 (167) Conan the Slayer #1 — 13,388
08/2016 (203) Conan the Slayer #2 —  9,561 (-28.6%)
09/2016 (194) Conan the Slayer #3 —  8,879 (-7.1%)
10/2016 (207) Conan the Slayer #4 —  8,657 (-2.5%)
11/2016 (217) Conan the Slayer #5 —  8,326 (-3.8%)

The trend line looks pretty typical, although that drop for #5 looks just a skosh on the scary side. As a publisher, I’d want to see monthly drops leveling off or shrinking by that point, not picking up speed. This tells me readers did not take to this series quite as well as retailers expected, and they’re probably sitting on more unsold copies of the first three issues than they’d care for.


219. ALIENS LIFE AND DEATH ($3.99)

09/2016 (155) Aliens Life and Death #1 (of 4) — 13,022
10/2016 (203) Aliens Life and Death #2 (of 4) —  9,206 (-29.3%)
11/2016 (219) Aliens Life and Death #3 (of 4) —  8,228 (-10.6%)

A standard attrition line, but one that harkens back to my comments on LADYKILLER 2. You’d think the assumption from retailers would be that virtually all customers who tried the first of a four issue limited series would want to stick around for the end of the story. That retailers seem to expect customers to bail out before stories end just four issues hence tells me they have very little confidence in the story, sight unseen. And that, I think, is a failure of the publisher. Not Dark Horse, particularly. The same is true across all company lines, and all of them need to do a better job at either producing stories readers will want to read all the way through, and convincing retailers this will be the case.


247. BRIGG’S LAND ($3.99)

08/2016: (127) Brigg’s Land #1 — 20,228*
09/2016: (189) Brigg’s Land #2 —  9,487* (-53.1%)
10/2016: (225) Brigg’s Land #3 —  7,757  (-18.2%)
10/2016: (247) Brigg’s Land #4 —  6,635  (-12.5%)

I don’t know anything about this title. It appears to be an ongoing series. But not for long at this rate. Those monthly loses are much bigger than is usual.


257. HARROW COUNTY ($3.99)

05/2015: (160) Harrow County #1 — 11,759
11/2015: (209) Harrow County #7 —  8,011
-------------------------------------
12/2015: (246) Harrow County #8 —  7,721 (-3.6%)
01/2016: ---
02/2016: (212) Harrow County #9 —  7,279 (-5.7%)
03/2016: (210) Harrow County #10 — 7,307 (+0.4%)
04/2016: (230) Harrow County #11 — 7,080 (-3.1%)
05/2016: (237) Harrow County #12 — 7,041 (-0.6%)
06/2016: (250) Harrow County #13 — 7,039 (-0.0%)
07/2016: (244) Harrow County #14 — 6,942 (-1.4%)
08/2016: (255) Harrow County #15 — 6,800 (-2.0%)
09/2016: (231) Harrow County #16 — 6,550 (-3.7%)
10/2016: (248) Harrow County #17 — 6,377 (-2.6%)
11/2016: (257) Harrow County #18 — 6,118 (-4.1%)

This one seemed to level off pretty nicely, but monthly attrition is picking up of late. That does not bode well.


258. WORLD OF TANKS ($3.99)

08/2016: (224) World of Tanks #1 (of 5) — 8,056
09/2016: ---
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (258) World of Tanks #2 (of 5) — 6,115* (-24.1%)

As low as this one started out, it’s bound to finish up outside the Top 300. It might even be out by next month. Could this actually finish with less than 1,000 in retailer orders?


259. BPRD: HELL ON EARTH($3.99)

11/2011: (169) BPRD: Russia #3 — 10,800
11/2012: (175) BPRD Hell on Earth #101 — 11,208
11/2013: (212) BPRD Hell on Earth #113 —  8,904 (-20.6%)
11/2014: (228) BPRD Hell on Earth #125 —  7,534 (-15.4%)
11/2015: (232) BPRD Hell on Earth #137 —  6,816 (-9.5%)
------------------------------------
12/2015: (273) BPRD Hell on Earth #138 — 6,865 (+0.7%)
01/2016: (220) BPRD Hell on Earth #139 — 6,499 (-5.3%)
02/2016: ---
03/2016: ---
04/2016: (237) BPRD Hell on Earth #140 — 6,689 (+2.9%)
05/2016: (248) BPRD Hell on Earth #141 — 6,482 (-3.1%)
06/2016: (271) BPRD Hell on Earth #142 — 6,486 (+0.1%)
07/2016: (252) BPRD Hell on Earth #143 — 6,418 (-1.0%)
08/2016: (273) BPRD Hell on Earth #144 — 6,233 (-2.9%)
09/2016: (241) BPRD Hell on Earth #145 — 6,103 (-2.1%)
10/2016: (254) BPRD Hell on Earth #146 — 6,056 (-0.8%)
11/2016: (259) BPRD Hell on Earth #147 — 6,009 (-0.8%)

I’m not 100 percent certain, but I think #147 was the last issue. The property will likely be back, though.


271. RISE OF THE BLACK FLAME ($3.99)
09/2016: (199) Rise of the Black Flame #1 (of 5) — 8,442
10/2016: (247) Rise of the Black Flame #2 (of 5) — 6,379 (-24.4%)
11/2016: (271) Rise of the Black Flame #3 (of 5) — 5,641 (-11.6%)

Again, it’s a pretty standard attrition line. But given the starting point, that gets scary fast.


273. GROO: FREY OF THE GODS ($3.99)

01/1998: (117) Groo #1 — 21,282
04/1998: (129) Groo #4 — 17,966 (-15.6%)
-----------------------------------
12/1998: (142) Groo and Rufferto #1 — 16,449 (-22.7%)(-8.4%)
03/1999: (147) Groo and Rufferto #4 — 13,631 (-24.1%)(-17.1%)
-----------------------------------
01/2015: (142) Groo: Mightier Sword #1 — 14,085 (-14.4%)(+3.3%)
04/2000: (152) Groo: Mightier Sword #4 — 12,482 (-8.4%) (-11.4%)
-----------------------------------
12/2001: (148) Groo: Death & Taxes #1 — 11,564 (-17.9%)(-7.4%)
03/2002: (153) Groo: Death & Taxes #4 — 10,082 (-19.2%)(-12.8%)
-----------------------------------
11/2007: (162) Groo: Hell on Earth #1 — 13,406 (+15.9%)(+33.0%)
04/2008: (164) Groo: Hell on Earth #4 — 10,370 (+2.6%)(-22.6%)
-----------------------------------
10/2009: (198) Groo: Hogs of Horder #1 — 9,182 (-31.5%)(-11.5%)
03/2010: (228) Groo: Hogs of Horder #4 — 6,868 (-33.8%)(-25.2%)
-----------------------------------
01/2015: (198) Groo: Friends & Foes #1 — 8,446 (-8.0%)(+23.0%)
01/2016: (236) Groo: Friends & Foes #12 — 5,855 (-14.7%)(-30.7%)
-----------------------------------
07/2016: (242) Groo: Frey of the Gods #1 — 7,033 (-16.7%)(+20.1%)
08/2016: (282) Groo: Frey of the Gods #2 — 5,946 (-15.5%)
09/2016: ---
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (273) Groo: Frey of the Gods #3 — 5,575 (-6.2%)

Okay, so here I’ve done a little something different with the percentages. Groo has had nice long series runs, but since landing at Dark Horse the SOP has been to publish the property as a series of mini-series. The first percentage column above compares each #1 to the previous #1, and then each final issue to the previous final issue. So, for example, “Hogs of Horder” #1 sold 31.5 percent less than “Hell on Earth” #1, while HoH #4 sold 33.8 percent less than HoE #4. In the second column, the top number compares the first issue of that series to the last of the previous one, while the bottom one is the attrition from the first issue of that series to the last. So, HoH #1 sold 11.5 percent less than HoE #4, while HoH lost 25.2 percent in retailer orders from its first issue to its last.

Got it? Okay, so make of the numbers what you will. What I make of it is that Groo is a character of increasingly diminishing returns. But this can’t be all that surprising. I mean, how many good jokes about cheese dip are there?


276. TARZAN ON THE PLANET OF THE APES ($3.99)

09/2016: (205) Tarzan/Planet of Apes #1 (of 5) — 7,983
10/2016: (257) Tarzan/Planet of Apes #2 (of 5) — 5,974 (-25.2%)
11/2016: (276) Tarzan/Planet of Apes #3 (of 5) — 5,455 (-8.7%)

This one blows my mind. I mean, it’s Tarzan? It’s Planet of the Apes! It’s Tarzan on the Planet of the Apes!! I SO want to see that movie, I can’t imagine nobody wants to read the comic book. But apparently so. I wonder what it was about this series that made retailers go, “Meh. I don’t think any of my customers will buy it.”


281. ELFQUEST: FINAL QUEST ($3.99)

01/2014: (189) Elfquest: Final Quest #1 —  9,861
11/2014: (237) Elfquest: Final Quest #6 —  6,961 (-29.4%)
11/2015: (249) Elfquest: Final Quest #12 — 6,081 (-12.6%(
--------------------------------
12/2015: ---
01/2016: (241) Elfquest: Final Quest #13 — 5,753 (-5.4%)
02/2016: ---
03/2016: (248) Elfquest: Final Quest #14 — 5,728 (-0.4%)
04/2016: ---
05/2016: ---
06/2016: ---
07/2016: (275) Elfquest: Final Quest #15 — 5,585 (-2.5%)
08/2016: ---
09/2016: (265) Elfquest: Final Quest #16 — 5,370 (-3.8%)
10/2016: ---
11/2016: (281) Elfquest: Final Quest #17 — 5,254 (-2.2%)

This kind of makes me sad. At one time I was drop-dead in love with Elfquest. But then they oversaturated the market with spin-offs and I lost interest. Maybe that’s the case with others as well? I dunno. But the property is for totes finishing with a whimper.


Here now, are the comics solicited by Dark Horse for release in November that did not crack the Top 300 in sales.

ALIENS: DEFIENCE #7
BOUNTY #5
CHIMICHANGA: THE SORROW OF THE WORLD’S WORST FACE #2 (of 4)
CRYPTOCRACY #6
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #28
DEPT. H #8
KINGSWAY WEST #4 (of 4)
RESIDENT ALIEN: THE MAN WITH NO NAME #3 (of 4)
SPELL ON WHEELS #2 (of 5)
THE STRAIN: MISTER QUINLAN, VAMPIRE HUNTER #3 (of 5)
TOMB RAIDER #10
USAGI YOJIMBO #159
WITCHFINDER: CITY OF THE DEAD #4 (of 5)


Got comments, questions, alternate theories, awful things to say about my parentage? Don’t be shy, buddy! Hit the comments button, below!








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