Mayo Report: Variants Boost "Walking Dead," Joker's Daughter Rises Again

Wed, November 13th, 2013 at 8:58am PST

Comic Books
John Mayo, Staff Writer
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Once again, in October 2013, Diamond released a long list than usual. The top comics list was 399 items long with another 15 items on the small comics list below that for a total of 414 items with known sales. For just the top 300, Marvel accounted for 38.66% of the total units sales while DC took another 33.45%. Including all of the known data shifts those percentages of the total known sales to 38.66% for Marvel and 35.14% for DC.

The best-selling comic by a wide margin was "The Walking Dead" #115 with an estimated 310,599 units. This falls around 46,517 estimates units below the total known sales for "The Walking Dead" #100.

While the issue kicks of a major story arc along with an increased frequency of release -- the series is going twice-monthly for a few months -- the major factor in the massive increase of over 240,000 units was the multiple covers for the issue. Instead of retailer incentive covers, there was the regular cover, ten interconnecting covers and a blank cover all of which could be individually ordered by retailers. The interconnecting covers works very differently than a retailer incentive cover. Sales for retailer incentive covers are based on how rare that particular cover is. The higher the number of copies of the regular cover the retailer needs to buy to qualify to by the incentive cover, the rarer that cover is and higher the perceived value of that cover. Interconnecting covers don't compete with each other. The readers/collectors interested in the cover gimmick are likely to get all of the interconnected covers, not just a particular one. For those readers going all-in on the interconnected cover gimmick, sales increased by an order of magnitude. Certainly there is a large contingent of readers that will be more than happy with a single cover, be it the regular cover, one of the interconnected covers or the blank cover.

As with the majority of cover gimmicks, sales of the issue based solely on the cover gimmick are gone with the next issue. However, "The Walking Dead" has a proven track record of retaining readers and building an audience. As a result, we are very likely to see a higher level of sales after this gimmick than before it. The increased release frequency should also help retain/build sales over the course of this story arc.

"Sandman: Overture" #1 sold around 93,306 units. Since it was released on the last week of the month, there is a good chance we might see reorder activity for it next month. Any reorder activity within the initial month of release is included in the data for that month which gives the list a bit of a bias slightly favoring items released at the beginning of the month. Those items have time for advance reorder (made between the final order cutoff and the release of the item) and reorders (made after the item was released) to get to retailers and be included in the data for the month.

Neil Gaiman Explains "Sandman: Overture" #2 Delay

A few of the Villains Month 2D covers made the list this month with reorder activity, the most impressive of which was "Batman: The Dark Knight" #23.4 Jokers Daughter (2D Cover) which moved another 21,065 estimated units. The others combined fell short of that total with "Justice League" #23.4 Secret Society (2D Cover) selling around 5,486 units, "Batman" #23.4 Bane (2D Cover) approximately 4,774 units, "Batman/Superman" #3.1 Doomsday (2D Cover) an estimated 4,163 units and "Justice League" #23.3 Dial E (2D Cover) doing only about 3,736 units. No doubt some of the other 2D covers had reorder activity but the data from Diamond cut off a few slots below "Justice League" #23.3 Dial E (2D Cover).

"Green Team, Teen Trillionaires" #5 was the lowest selling title set in the DC universe in October with 6,318 estimated units. While not as low as the 5,082 estimated units for "Shield" #10 back in June 2010 or the approximately 5,783 units for "Great Ten" #9 in July 2010, it is rare for a title set in the mainstream DC universe to sell so low. "Green Team, Teen Trillionaires" was a gamble when it was launched, and it's no surprise it is ending with issue #8. Given it fell below the top 300 in October, we are only likely to see it on the list again if Diamond continues to provide the top 400 items. I don't know if "The Movement" has been announced as ending or not. With "The Movement" #5 selling approximately 9,110 units, if it hasn’t already been announced as ending then it probably will be soon. "Stormwatch" and "Batwing" are two other New 52 titles which are very likely to end in the near future.

This next chart illustrates the importance of perspective when looking at the sales data.

At first glance, it looks like the various ongoing X-Men titles had fairly stable sales during September and October while the "Battle of the Atom" miniseries dropped by about 40,000 units. These particular issues where chapters 1 to 10 of the "Battle of the Atom" crossover storyline. Looking at the data from that perspective you can see how many readers simply skipped the chapters in particular titles. "All New X-Men" makes sense to be the best-selling of the bunch since the storyline centered on the time displaced X-Men from that title.

With the increased length of the list from Diamond, we can see a number of titles that normally fall well below the radar. My personally reading list is split about one third DC, one third Marvel and one third everything else. A number of the titles I read and enjoy every month fall far lower on the sales charts than I personally think they deserve. I'm sure everyone feels that way even if probably isn't a consensus about which particular titles "should be selling better." Fortunately, smaller publishers can have sales in this area and still be successful. If you are curious how your favorite title is doing but you don't normally see it in the top 300 then you might want to look at the bottom of the list this month since it does further down that usual.

I'll be at the Austin Comic Con the weekend of November 22-24. If you have questions about the sales data or you'd just like to talk comics, either email me before the convention or find me at the Comics and Social Media panel at 7pm on Friday, November 22 in room 12.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at John.Mayo@ComicBookResources.com.

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