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Comix Experience best-sellers 2015

After the cut, it’s a big long data-dump for people what like that kind of thing!

I’m posting this year’s sales analysis a bit wider than usual (Hello Reddit!), so let me write a little more about myself and my CV and my stores than typical. My name is Brian Hibbs and I own two comic book stores in San Francisco: Comix Experience on Divisadero St, and Comix Experience Outpost on Ocean Ave. I opened the original store 26 years ago in 1989, when I was just twenty-one years old, and I purchased Outpost almost exactly two years ago, in order to stop it from closing overnight.

 

San Francisco is currently home to nine comic book stores (The others include: Cards and Comics Central, Collector’s Cave, Isotope, Whatever, Amazing Fantasy, Mission: Comics and Art, and Two Cats); down from twenty-four when I opened in 1989. There are also something around a dozen general independent book stores (note that San Francisco has no national chain bookstores!) that also carry a solid selection of “graphic novels” (which is usually really just a highfaluting name for “bound collection of comics”, and isn’t really any different in any substantial way from “comic book”, except that it makes people feel better about themselves) – but it is the comics specialty stores that are selling the most comics material, and it is my belief that my two Comix Experience stores sell roughly a quarter of all comics material in The City.

 

As I noted, I have been selling comics since 1989, and we’re the oldest comic store with the same ownership in the same location in San Francisco. For a quarter of a century I’ve written “Tilting At Windmills”, a regular column about comics retailing, also published in two volumes from IDW Publishing; I’ve been a judge of the Eisner Awards (Comics’ equivalent of the Oscars); I’ve sat on the Board of Directors of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (an organization that protects the First Amendment rights of comics creators), I was one of the original founders of ComicsPRO (the comics retailer trade organization); and I even led a successful Class Action lawsuit against Marvel Comics that won more than a million dollars for comic book retailers internationally.

 

Most recently, in response to rising costs in San Francisco, we launched an international Graphic-Novel-Of-The-Month Club where we hold streaming meetings with authors (like Neil Gaiman!) for literally hundreds of folks around the country (and globe!), and we also have a sibling club for kids aged 8-13, which is co-hosted with my twelve year old son.

 

(*whew*)

 

2015 was an excellent year for Comix Experience – sales were up by 14.41% in the main store, and by 19.53% at Outpost; something that I attribute mostly to my superlative staff (Douglas, Emma and Sienna at the main store, and Nathan, Cameron, and Jay at Outpost) – and we’ve had our best year ever at both locations.

 

The two stores are VERY different from one another with different tones and tenors. The main store is very much a book store that specializes in comics material: 56% of our sales came from book-format comics this year, while 40% came from periodical comics (usually stapled, usually 32 pages). Only 4% of our sales come from other material (including toys and t-shirts and so on). Comix Experience is less about the characters (Batman and Spider-Man, et al.) and much more focused on the creators that bring those characters to life. As a creator-driven store, our sales reflect that passion, as you will see below.

 

Comix Experience Outpost runs pretty differently – it was an existing store that we took over, and because of its location and the nature of its traffic, it is FAR more focused on the periodical comic (as well as the back issue). Outpost is 70% periodical-format comics (10% of that is back issues), and just 23% in book format comics. 7% of sales there are toys and other merchandise. It’s a very different sales mix than the Mothership!

 

Let’s take a look, store-by-store, at sales this year, and see what the best-sellers are in each category, and get a sense of maybe where the market is heading. Let’s look at BOOKS, first, since that’s the biggest category at the bigger store!

 

One important consideration here is that these numbers DO NOT include the Graphic-Novel-Of-The-Month Club numbers, every one of which would top the #1 in-store book! In fact, we’ve been told that, for at least some of the titles we selected (which were, in order: ILYA’s “Room For Love”, Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s “Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl”, Liz Suburbia’s “Sacred Heart”, Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’s “Two Brothers”, Neil Gaiman and JH Williams III’s “Sandman: Overture”, and Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crooks’ “Harrow County”), the GN club represented 8-10% of the print run of those books!

 

As always, our single biggest entry is the generic “Sale Book”, where we’re marking down unsold books by roughly 50% of cover price to get them out – that catchall, combined, sold more copies than our #1 book. This is true at BOTH stores. But, I’m not including that in this presentation because I think it muddies the waters too much.

 

So, starting with The Mothership, Comix Experience on Divisadero, the top 100 (or so) books looks like this:

 

1 SAGA TP VOL 04
2 SAGA TP VOL 05
3 SAGA TP VOL 01
4 SAGA TP VOL 03
5 SAGA TP VOL 02
6 SAGA DLX ED HC VOL 01
7 TREES TP VOL 01
8 DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 01 REAGAN YOUTH
9 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 01 THE FAUST ACT
10 SPACE DUMPLINS GN VOL 01
11 SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 01
12 SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 02 TWO WORLDS ONE COP
13 SANDMAN TP VOL 01
14 MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 NO NORMAL
15 LOW TP VOL 01 THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE
16 MS MARVEL TP VOL 02 GENERATION WHY
17 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 01 THE PROMISE
FADE OUT TP VOL 01
19 SANDMAN OVERTURE DELUXE ED HC
20 BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 01 HOW TO FALL FOREVER
21 FABLES TP VOL 22
22 DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 02 KIDS OF THE BLACK HOLE
Y THE LAST MAN TP BOOK 01
24 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 04 WHO WANTS WAR
IN REAL LIFE GN
26 AMULET SC VOL 01 STONEKEEPER
BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 02 WELCOME NOWHERE
THIS ONE SUMMER GN
WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 02 FANDEMONIUM
30 BONE COLOR ED SC VOL 01 OUT FROM BONEVILLE
SANDMAN TP VOL 02 THE DOLLS HOUSE
32 APOCALYPTIGIRL AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES TP
THE INCAL HC
34 BITCH PLANET TP VOL 01 EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE
35 RAT QUEENS TP VOL 01 SASS & SORCERY
STEP ASIDE POPS HARK A VAGRANT COLLECTION HC
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL TP VOL 01 SQUIRREL POWER
38 WATCHMEN TP
39 LOVE AND ROCKETS NEW STORIES TP VOL 07
40 NIMONA GN
PROPHET TP VOL 01 REMISSION
PROPHET TP VOL 04 JOINING
43 BEE AND PUPPYCAT TP VOL 01
KILLING & DYING HC
RAT QUEENS TP VOL 02 FAR REACHING TENTACLES OF N’RYGOT
46 DESCENDER TP VOL 01 TIN STARS
OGLAF BOOK TWO
48 BRYAN LEE O MALLEY SECONDS GN
CIVIL WAR TP
HAWKEYE TP VOL 01 MY LIFE AS A WEAPON
HAWKEYE TP VOL 03 LA WOMAN
MS MARVEL TP VOL 03 CRUSHED
53 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 02 WE ARE ALL ONE
EAST OF WEST TP VOL 03 THERE IS NO US
FUN HOME TP
OGLAF BOOK ONE
57 BLACK HOLE COLLECTED SC
58 AMULET SC VOL 02 STONEKEEPERS CURSE
DARTH VADER AND SON HC
MEANWHILE IN SAN FRANCISCO THE CITY IN ITS OWN WORDS
WRENCHIES GN
62 BATMAN TP VOL 01 THE COURT OF OWLS
BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 03 VANISHING POINT
COPRA TP ROUND TWO
EX MACHINA TP BOOK 01
TWO BROTHERS HC
67 BATMAN YEAR ONE DELUXE SC
CAT PERSON
DAYTRIPPER TP
FIGHT CLUB (Prose)
MANHATTAN PROJECTS TP VOL 05 THE COLD WAR
NEMO RIVER OF GHOSTS HC
V FOR VENDETTA NEW EDITION TP (MR)
74 ADVENTURE TIME TP VOL 01
BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE SPECIAL ED HC
FABLES TP VOL 01 LEGENDS IN EXILE
GOODNIGHT DARTH VADER HC
SMILE SC NEW PTG
SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY GN
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 01 DAYS GONE BYE
Y THE LAST MAN TP BOOK 02
82 DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 03 THE SNAKE PIT
HAWKEYE TP VOL 04 RIO BRAVO
MOON KNIGHT TP VOL 01 FROM DEAD
PREACHER TP BOOK 01
SANDMAN TP VOL 03 DREAM COUNTRY
SISTERS GN
THROUGH THE WOODS GN
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 23 WHISPERS INTO SCREAMS
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 24 LIFE AND DEATH
91 ATTACK ON TITAN GN VOL 01
BATMAN DARK KNIGHT RETURNS TP
CHI SWEET HOME GN VOL 01
FABLES TP VOL 21 HAPPILY EVER AFTER
FROM HELL TP
HARK A VAGRANT HC
HELLBOY TP VOL 01 SEED OF DESTRUCTION
MANHATTAN PROJECTS TP VOL 01 SCIENCE BAD
SACRED HEART GN
SCULPTOR HC GN
STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY YR HC VOL 01
TRANSMETROPOLITAN TP VOL 01 BACK ON THE STREET
ZERO TP VOL 01 AN EMERGENCY

 

As you can see, it is Brian K. Vaughan’s world, we just live in it, as “Saga” utterly sweeps the top of the chart. It is almost not fair… except, that it is an excellent comic, and sales are very much deserved. “Saga” is published by Image comics, and Image entirely dominates the charts with a pretty staggering thirty-five out of the 104 books listed here.

 

Another thing that is probably worth noting is that super-hero comics aren’t doing that great on this list – only nine of the Top Sellers for the year are Marvel super-hero titles, and just a paltry four are DC super-hero books. Meanwhile? I count seventeen books on our Top Sellers that are aimed squarely at kids!

 

Meanwhile the Outpost has a very different looking list – the top is somewhat the same, but then it diverges wildly:

 

1 SAGA TP VOL 01
2 WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 01 THE FAUST ACT
3 SAGA TP VOL 04
4 SAGA TP VOL 05
5 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 01 THE PROMISE
NOWHERE MEN TP VOL 01 FATES WORSE THAN DEATH
SAGA DLX ED HC VOL 01
8 BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 01 HOW TO FALL FOREVER
9 CIVIL WAR TP
10 DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 01 REAGAN YOUTH
11 SAGA TP VOL 02
12 SAGA TP VOL 03
13 EAST OF WEST TP VOL 02 WE ARE ALL ONE
MS MARVEL TP VOL 01 NO NORMAL
PRETTY DEADLY TP VOL 01
SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 01
SOUTHERN BASTARDS TP VOL 01 HERE WAS A MAN
18 BATMAN THE KILLING JOKE SPECIAL ED HC
BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 02 WELCOME NOWHERE
NIMONA GN
RAT QUEENS TP VOL 01 SASS & SORCERY
22 MOON KNIGHT TP VOL 01 FROM DEAD
MS MARVEL TP VOL 02 GENERATION WHY
24 DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 02 KIDS OF THE BLACK HOLE
LUMBERJANES TP VOL 01
26 FADE OUT TP VOL 01
LOW TP VOL 01 THE DELIRIUM OF HOPE
RAT QUEENS TP VOL 02 FAR REACHING TENTACLES OF N’RYGOT
29 DEADPOOL TP VOL 01 DEAD PRESIDENTS NOW
INFINITY GAUNTLET TP
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 23 WHISPERS INTO SCREAMS
WRENCHIES GN
33 BATMAN TP VOL 01 THE COURT OF OWLS
CHEW TP VOL 01
FLASH TP VOL 01 MOVE FORWARD
SEX CRIMINALS TP VOL 02 TWO WORLDS ONE COP
SPACE DUMPLINS GN VOL 01
WICKED & DIVINE TP VOL 02 FANDEMONIUM
39 BATMAN ETERNAL TP VOL 01
BATMAN TP VOL 03 DEATH OF THE FAMILY
BEE AND PUPPYCAT TP VOL 01
BITCH PLANET TP VOL 01 EXTRAORDINARY MACHINE
BLACK SCIENCE TP VOL 03 VANISHING POINT
BONE COLOR ED SC VOL 01 OUT FROM BONEVILLE
DEADPOOL TP VOL 01 SECRET INVASION
DEADPOOL VS CARNAGE TP
EAST OF WEST TP VOL 03 THERE IS NO US
SANDMAN TP VOL 01 PRELUDES & NOCTURNES NEW ED
THEYRE NOT LIKE US TP VOL 01 BLACK HOLES FOR THE YOUNG
TREES TP VOL 01
51 BATMAN DARK KNIGHT RETURNS TP
BIRTHRIGHT TP VOL 01 HOMECOMING
COPRA ROUND ONE TP
DARTH VADER & FRIENDS HC
DEADPOOL KILLS MARVEL UNIVERSE TP
DISNEY FROZEN CINESTORY
EAST OF WEST TP VOL 04 WHO WANTS WAR
HOUSE OF HEM TP
JUPITERS LEGACY TP VOL 01
LOCKE & KEY TP VOL 01 WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT
RUMBLE TP VOL 01 WHAT COLOR OF DARKNESS
SAILOR MOON TP KODANSHA ED VOL 01
STAR WARS DARTH VADER TP VOL 01 VADER
STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY YR HC VOL 03 PHANTOM BULLY
STREET FIGHTER TP VOL 01
WYTCHES TP VOL 01
67 ALAN MOORE WRITING FOR COMICS GN
ALL OVER COFFEE v2: EVERYTHING IS ITS OWN REWARD
AUTUMNLANDS TP VOL 01 TOOTH & CLAW
BATMAN HC VOL 07 ENDGAME
BATMAN LIL GOTHAM TP VOL 01
BLACKEST NIGHT TP
BRYAN LEE O MALLEY SECONDS GN
DARTH VADER AND SON HC
DEADPOOL BY DANIEL WAY COMPLETE COLL TP VOL 01
DEADPOOL TP VOL 02 SOUL HUNTER NOW
DEADPOOL TP VOL 05 WEDDING OF DEADPOOL
DOCTOR WHO OFF GUIDE HOW TO BE TIME LORD HC
EX MACHINA TP BOOK ONE
FATALE TP VOL 01 DEATH CHASES ME
GREEN ARROW TP VOL 04 THE KILL MACHINE
INFINITY WAR TP (JAN062102)
JUSTICE LEAGUE TP VOL 01 ORIGIN
MAGNETO TP VOL 01 INFAMOUS
MS MARVEL TP VOL 03 CRUSHED
NIGHT OF LIVING DEADPOOL TP
PHONOGRAM TP VOL 01 RUE BRITANNA
RUNAWAYS COMPLETE COLLECTION TP VOL 01
STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY YR HC VOL 01
STAR WARS TP VOL 01 SKYWALKER STRIKES
TRANSMETROPOLITAN TP VOL 01 BACK ON THE STREET
VELVET TP VOL 01 BEFORE THE LIVING END
WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM TP VOL 01
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 01 DAYS GONE BYE
WATCHMEN TP NEW ED
96 APOCALYPTIGIRL AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES TP
BATMAN & ROBIN TP VOL 01 BORN TO KILL
BATMAN EARTH ONE HC VOL 02
BATMAN HUSH COMPLETE TP
BATMAN THE LONG HALLOWEEN TP NEW ED
BATMAN TP VOL 05 ZERO YEAR DARK CITY
BATMAN YEAR ONE DELUXE SC
BATTLING BOY SC GN VOL 01
BLACKSAD AMARILLO HC
BTVS SEASON 10 TP VOL 01
CAPTAIN MARVEL TP VOL 01 HIGHER FURTHER FASTER MORE
COWL TP VOL 01 PRINCIPLES OF POWER
CRIMINAL TP VOL 01 COWARD
DAREDEVIL TP VOL 01 DEVIL AT BAY
DEADLY CLASS TP VOL 03 THE SNAKE PIT
DEADPOOL TP VOL 02 DARK REIGN
DIVINE GN
FABLES TP VOL 22
FUTURAMA TP VOL 01 O RAMA
GOTG BY ABNETT AND LANNING COMPLETE COLL TP VOL 01
HILO GN VOL 01 BOY WHO CRASHED TO EARTH
INJECTION TP VOL 01
JUSTICE LEAGUE TP VOL 02 THE VILLAINS JOURNEY
KINGDOM COME TP NEW EDITION
LAZARUS TP VOL 01
MAGNETO TP VOL 02 REVERSALS
MAKING COMICS STORYTELLING SECRETS SC NEW PTG
METAL GEAR SOLID OMNIBUS TP
MILES MORALES ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN TP VOL 01 REVIVAL
MORTAL KOMBAT X TP VOL 01
MY LITTLE PONY FRIENDS FOREVER TP VOL 01
NAILBITER TP VOL 01 THERE WILL BE BLOOD
SANDMAN OVERTURE DELUXE ED HC
SANDMAN TP VOL 02 THE DOLLS HOUSE NEW ED
SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN TP VOL 01
SHE-HULK TP VOL 01 LAW AND DISORDER
SMILE SC NEW PTG
SOUTHERN BASTARDS TP VOL 02 GRIDIRON
SPIDER-VERSE HC
STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY YR HC VOL 02 RETURN OF PADAWAN
SUICIDE SQUAD TP VOL 01 KICKED IN THE TEETH
THOR PREM HC VOL 01 GODDESS OF THUNDER
UNNATURAL CREATURES STORIES SELECTED BY NEIL GAIMAN SC
USAGI YOJIMBO SAGA TP VOL 01
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 02 MILES BEHIND US
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 19 MARCH TO WAR
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 20 ALL OUT WAR PT 1
WALKING DEAD TP VOL 24 LIFE AND DEATH
WOODS TP VOL 01
Y THE LAST MAN TP BOOK 01
YOUNG AVENGERS TP VOL 01 STYLE SUBSTANCE NOW

 

There are 146 titles on Outpost’s list of “Top Sellers” (Compared to Experience’s 104), mostly because of all of the ties towards the bottom. Honestly, only the top 24 titles by quantity would even place on The Mothership’s list, and Outpost’s #1 book sold about twenty percent of Experience’s #1 – like I said, Outpost is mostly periodical sales!

 

Of Outpost’s 146 best-selling books, fifty-one are Image books, and fifty-one are Marvel/DC superhero books (21 DC, 30 Marvel), but I still feel optimistic about this list because 16 of the Top 20 are from Image, and they also feature sixteen titles that are aimed squarely at kids. Outpost has an entrenched and trained customer base, and I believe that it takes somewhere between three and five years to build trust and shift tastes in any kind of a meaningful fashion. This looks like a pretty great start to me, at the end of year two!

 

What about periodical comics? Periodical comics are the crank that drives the engine – they provide a regular, steady, dependable cash-flow, and get people visiting us “52 weeks a year”. As noted above, Experience is 40% periodicals this year (I am a little surprised: that is up from last year when it was 39% — I put this primarily on Marvel cover prices).

 

I actually stumped Divisadero’s staff this year when I asked them what the best-selling periodical was. They (and I!) assumed it was SAGA, or, maybe PAPER GIRLS, but, no….

 

1 FIGHT CLUB 2 #1
2 PAPER GIRLS #1
3 SAGA #25
4 SECRET WARS #1 (OF 9)
5 FIGHT CLUB 2 #2
6 SAGA #26
7 SAGA #28
SANDMAN OVERTURE #5 (OF 6)
9 SAGA #29
10 SAGA #30
11 SAGA #27
12 SECRET WARS #2 (OF 8)
13 FIGHT CLUB 2 #3
14 PAPER GIRLS #2
15 SANDMAN OVERTURE #4 (OF 6)
16 SECRET WARS #3 (OF 9)
17 ISLAND #1
18 STAR WARS #1
19 SECRET WARS #4 (OF 9)
20 SAGA #31
21 FIGHT CLUB 2 #4
22 BITCH PLANET #2
23 SANDMAN OVERTURE #6 (OF 6)
SECRET WARS #5 (OF 8)
25 MONSTRESS #1
26 SEX CRIMINALS #11
27 CASANOVA ACEDIA #1
28 PAPER GIRLS #3
29 BITCH PLANET #1
30 8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #1
31 DARTH VADER #1
32 NAMELESS #1
33 BITCH PLANET #3
34 DESCENDER #1
35 SECRET WARS #6 (OF 9)
36 WE STAND ON GUARD #1
37 STAR WARS #2
38 DOCTOR STRANGE #1
INJECTION #1
40 STAR WARS #3
41 JOURNEY STAR WARS FASE #1 (OF 4)
42 SECRET WARS #7 (OF 9)
43 ARCHIE #1
44 DYING AND THE DEAD #1
45 INJECTION #2
PROVIDENCE #1 (OF 12)
47 DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #1 (OF 8)
PRINCESS LEIA #1 (OF 5)
WE STAND ON GUARD #2
50 BITCH PLANET #4
DARTH VADER #2
52 ISLAND #2
STAR WARS #4
TOKYO GHOST #1
55 DESCENDER #2
SEX CRIMINALS #10
57 BATMAN #40
LOW #6
WE STAND ON GUARD #3
60 DARTH VADER #4
FADE OUT #4
FIGHT CLUB 2 #5
STAR WARS #5
64 NAMELESS #2
65 EAST OF WEST #16
66 AUTUMNLANDS TOOTH & CLAW #3
DOCTOR STRANGE #2
SECRET WARS #8 (OF 9)
SEX CRIMINALS #12
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1 (Ser 1)
71 8HOUSE ARCLIGHT #2
BLACK SCIENCE #12
STAR WARS #6
STAR WARS #8
WALKING DEAD #145
76 FADE OUT #5
LOW #7
78 A-FORCE #1 SWA
DARTH VADER #3
FADE OUT #6
JUPITERS LEGACY #5
OLD MAN LOGAN #1
THOR #8
WALKING DEAD #138
85 BATMAN #39
SEX CRIMINALS #13
STAR WARS #7
WALKING DEAD #136
WALKING DEAD #137
WALKING DEAD #141
91 8HOUSE #3 KIEM PART ONE
BATMAN #41
CRIMINAL SPECIAL ED ONE SHOT
DESCENDER #3
FADE OUT #7
LOW #9
ODYC #1
WALKING DEAD #139
WALKING DEAD #146
WICKED & DIVINE #8

 

In a never-before-seen thing, there are *exactly* one hundred titles on the Top 100 this year, and the bottom of the list is about 20% higher sales than the bottom of 2014’s list. The top is also much higher – more than a third! Also, the top 22 books were all triple-digits, which is a significant deepening from the top. From my perspective, periodical comics are sort of thriving?

 

FIGHT CLUB 2 #1 takes the top spot, at least in part, because we had Chuck Palahniuk in for a signing. That moved the needle a little! We also get the strongest super-hero performance we’ve had in like a decade, with SECRET WARS #1 in at position number four. We sold as many copies of SW #1 as we did (almost) the next three Marvel superhero comics combined. If only lateness hadn’t plagued that project, and sent sales dropping by 20% across-the-board on later issues.

 

A few things I am proud of: ISLAND #1 as a Top 20 book, MONSTRESS #1 as a Top 25 title, and 8HOUSE: ARCLIGHT #1 as a top 30 book. Oh! And ARCHIE #1 as a Top 50 title!

 

Overall, Image is a staggering fifty-eight of the Top 100. But note how many of those are #1s and how you’re seeing fewer #2-4s on this list. This indicates people are SAMPLING, but maybe not STAYING with those titles (at least not in the “top 100 in a year” sense)

 

Just eighteen of our Top 100 are traditional superhero comics – with fourteen from Marvel, and just four of those from DC. My best-selling ongoing periodical DC superhero title that isn’t Snyder & Capulo’s BATMAN is BLACK CANARY #1 way way down at (you can’t see it) 174.

 

As I said, fourteen Marvel Super-hero comics, but ALSO fourteen Marvel STAR WARS comics. That’s crazy, and huge! Also, you can see the occasional “(ser 1)” notation for Marvel books (MUCH more so on the next chart), that’s because Marvel released more than one “issue #1” this year for certain series, creating a wicked amount of market confusion. The UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1 that is in our Top 100 here is the first one, not the second one.

 

My final note: I ran the chart out to 200 places for my own knowledge (I think that would drown you in data), and SANDMAN OVERTURE #1 (released two years ago!) placed at #185 That’s what you call a long tail! Ugh, and that it sold so much better than most of DC’s bread-and-butter superhero comics, too. DC is in serious trouble.

 

Let’s move back over to Outpost, and look at their periodical comic sales. This is a VERY VERY different chart. Remember, too, that 60% of Outpost’s sales are periodical comics (plus 10% for back issues)

 

1 SECRET WARS #1 (OF 9)
2 SECRET WARS #4 (OF 9)
3 SECRET WARS #2 (OF 8)
4 SECRET WARS #5 (OF 8)
5 SECRET WARS #3 (OF 9)
6 DOCTOR STRANGE #1
7 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1
8 SECRET WARS #6 (OF 9)
9 MONSTRESS #1
STAR WARS #1
11 SECRET WARS #7 (OF 9)
12 PAPER GIRLS #1
13 DARTH VADER #1
14 BATMAN #41
THORS #1 SWA
16 BATMAN #40
17 GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #1
18 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1
19 CIVIL WAR #1 SWA
20 BATMAN #38
STAR WARS LANDO #1 (OF 5)
22 BATMAN #39
23 EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #1
24 BATMAN #43
25 BATMAN #42
SPIDER-GWEN #1
27 MIGHTY THOR #1
STAR WARS #4
29 STAR WARS #3
30 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #1 SWA
BATMAN #44
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
33 ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT AVENGERS #1
STAR WARS #5
35 FIGHT CLUB 2 #1 MACK MAIN CVR
36 STAR WARS #7
37 DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #1 (OF 8)
38 BATMAN #45
SPIDER-GWEN #1 (ser 1)
STAR WARS #2
STAR WARS #6
42 A-FORCE #1 SWA
BATMAN #46
CIVIL WAR #2 SWA
OLD MAN LOGAN #1
46 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #2 SWA
SILK #1 (Ser 1)
49 ALL NEW HAWKEYE #1
CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON #1
DOCTOR STRANGE #2
SECRET WARS #8 (OF 9)
53 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #3 SWA
UNCANNY INHUMANS #1
55 STAR WARS VADER DOWN #1 VDWN
56 ALL NEW WOLVERINE #1
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #12 SV
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13 SV
DARTH VADER #2
DARTH VADER #4
DEADPOOL #1
FIGHT CLUB 2 #2 MAIN CVR
PRINCESS LEIA #1 (OF 5)
64 CIVIL WAR #3 SWA
DARTH VADER #6
INFINITY GAUNTLET #1
MONSTRESS #2
STAR WARS #8
69 ANT-MAN #1
BATMAN ANNUAL #4
DEADPOOLS SECRET SECRET WARS #1 (OF 4)
JOURNEY STAR WARS FASE #1 (OF 4)
STAR WARS #9
74 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #4 SWA
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #5 SWA
PAPER GIRLS #2
X-MEN 92 #1 SWA
78 CIVIL WAR #4 SWA
DARTH VADER #3
STAR WARS #10
81 DARTH VADER #5
THOR #8
WOLF #1
84 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3
UNCANNY AVENGERS #1
86 A-FORCE #2 SWA
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 SV
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15 SV
DARTH VADER #7
EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #2
WE STAND ON GUARD #1
92 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #18
JUSTICE LEAGUE #41
SAGA #25
95 BATMAN #47
DARTH VADER #8
MS MARVEL #1
SAGA #26
STAR WARS #11
STAR WARS #12
THOR #4
THOR #6
THOR #7
TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #1

 

So, yeah, a pretty super-hero oriented store!

 

Things I like here: MONSTRESS #1 as a TOP TEN book (Wow! Staff loved that one, obviously!), and FIGHT CLUB 2 #1 in at #35.

 

There are 104 titles here, with only eight of them being Image (big difference to the main store!), though another difference between the stores is that The Mothership doesn’t really do multiple covers, unless there is an artistic reason to do so (the split covers on SANDMAN OVERTURE, for example), but Outpost is much more collector-oriented, building up customer bases for things like the Skottie Young variants (which sell better than many many Marvel comics) or the Hip Hop covers, etc. These numbers are COMBINED cover sales, so many of these titles have somewhere between 1/3 and ½ of their sales as being variant covers (and therefore, less likely to represent long-term readers)

 

“Star Wars” is almost a quarter of the Top (104) here – twenty-four SW books chart here, and there are a staggering (compared to Divisadero, I mean, not against the entire industry!) seventy comics that are super-hero oriented. Fifty-six of those Marvel, and just fourteen DC. Like I said, DC is in really deep trouble.

 

Let’s take a little look at how the marketshares break out. Since we’re already with Outpost, let’s stay with them. This is both categories combined, comics and books (and toys and shirts, and everything else, too!)

 

MARVEL COMICS 40.04%
DC COMICS 21.61%
IMAGE COMICS 15.55%
IDW PUBLISHING 4.08%
DARK HORSE COMICS 3.89%
BOOM! STUDIOS 3.28%
D. E. 1.34%
ONI PRESS INC. 0.82%
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS 0.81%
TITAN COMICS 0.58%
GRAPHITTI DESIGNS 0.46%
AVATAR PRESS INC 0.46%
:01 FIRST SECOND 0.40%
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS 0.39%
KODANSHA COMICS 0.33%
BONGO COMICS 0.30%
GRAPHIX 0.26%
VIZ MEDIA LLC 0.24%
DRAWN & QUARTERLY 0.17%
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC 0.17%

 

Looks a lot like the typical market, really. But DC is starting to approach only half of Marvel, which is bad juju for them. And Image is nearly within 6 percentage points, wow. Image taking the #2 spot next year would not be a surprise. Note that Marvel and DC are both losing ground to Image compared to Outpost last year – Marvel was 41.4% and DC 26.7% compared to Image’s 12.1% (or IDW’s 3.1% or Boom’s 2.6%). Between those percentage changes, and the kind of scarily massive impact of open-to-buy Marvel variant covers on the Outpost comics list, I get worried about having a periodical focused store, despite the double digit sales growth. Year three is going to be an interesting year to see how and where things stabilize – because outside of a very few exceptions (MONSTRESS!), we’re not seeing the Image effect really landing like it does at the main shop.

 

Experience looks very very different than Outpost in 2015:

 

IMAGE COMICS 21.01%
MARVEL COMICS 20.70%
DC COMICS 18.28%
DARK HORSE COMICS 6.85%
IDW PUBLISHING 4.67%
BOOM! STUDIOS 3.25%
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS 2.46%
DRAWN & QUARTERLY 1.52%
:01 FIRST SECOND 1.34%
ONI PRESS INC. 1.27%
VIZ MEDIA LLC 1.18%
AVATAR PRESS INC 1.08%
HUMANOIDS INC 0.97%
GRAPHIX 0.90%
D. E. 0.84%
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS 0.71%
KODANSHA COMICS 0.69%
PANTHEON BOOKS 0.63%
REBELLION / 2000AD 0.54%
TITAN COMICS 0.46%

 

This is the second year in a row that Image was Experience’s #1 publisher, and the first year that I feel like it’s actually a real thing: in 2014 we had Brian K. Vaughan signing the first SAGA hardcover, and that represented hundreds of $50 books we wouldn’t have sold otherwise. But in 2015? These were honest day-to-day sales not swayed one way or another by a magnet signing.

 

And here is the thing: Image is crippling itself by charging $9.99 for many TPs. While there is some slight marketing value in a $9.99 trade, I firmly believe that we would still be stilling at least 90% of what we do if these books were $14.99 instead. Why do I think that? Because ALL of our top-selling $9.99 Image titles are books we PUSH. Further, the spread between v1 and v2 is better than the average spread between many other books – these are selling based on content, not on price! We sold more copies of SAGA v4 and v5 than we did of v1 this year – that indicates to me that I am losing $5 on each and every SAGA v1. And so are Brian and Fiona. There is a clear inelastic demand for these books, and Image’s pricing strategy really strongly needs reevaluating in my opinion.

 

Marvel and DC are just going to decrease further from here, I think. While Marvel is up 0.7%, most of that seems to be from the pricey relaunch at the end of the year – and while a $5 first issue of DR. STRANGE helps me just fine, that’s not a repeatable thing every year, at least not at that sell-through number. Further, I’m not looking at any major demand with the new backlist their current frontlist is likely to be generating, and, unlike DC, they do a pretty mediocre job of stocking and positioning their older backlist.

 

DC lost 1.5% this year, and they REALLY don’t have any new backlist to sell from current frontlist titles, and both of their proposed/rumored plans for next year (twice-a-month shipping on some books and a full relaunch on issue #52s) sound like giant major audience-losing ideas (Seriously? Relaunching BATMAN to #1 and twice-a-month sounds on the face of it to guarantee it no longer selling 100k month, but maybe 75k or so max, right? I want DC to bring more books to sell like BATMAN, not bring down BATMAN to sell more like DETECTIVE)

 

Overall, both stores seem to be going in the right direction, and we’re seeing a lot of strength in a lot of great comics. We’ve absolutely got a comic that you’re going to like, and we’d love it if you came by and let us show you all of the possibilities that comics have, whether that’s at our main store on Divisadero, or at the Outpost, out on Ocean ave., or through our Graphic-Novel-of-the-Month Club or our GN Club for Kids! We LOVE comics, and we want you to love them too!

 

Feel free to make any observations about our sales in the comment section below – we’re always interested in questions and feedback.

16 Responses to “ Comix Experience best-sellers 2015 ”

  1. Did Ms. Marvel have any store signings or other thumb-on-the-scale pushes? Even if so, the numbers are impressive. But doing it all on her own is even more so.

  2. All by herself, David.

    -B

  3. Is Brian Vaughn just popular in SF in general?

  4. Fascinating, Brian, thanks for crunching the numbers.

  5. Okay, I knew Monstress existed but it didn’t seem my kind of thing so I didn’t pay any attention to it. But this inspired me to give it a skim at my LCS.

    And it didn’t even develop into a skim. The FIRST PAGE presents me with a naked woman in a slave collar and the dialog informs me she’s 17-years-old and a virgin. No thank you. This may be the best comic of the last 25 years but that just left a baaaad taste in my mouth and I really didn’t want to see any more.

  6. @DanielT
    90% of the time that is probably the right way to respond to a page like that, but if you look at the cover or credits and see that nearly everyone involved in the creation of the comic (75% in fact!) is a woman, should give you some confidence that it is not an exploitative comic. I don’t want to ruin it, because the comic is in fact phenomenal, as well as an important one, and should be experienced.

  7. Those trade lists are beautiful. It’s nice to know that somewhere in comicdom, quality is rewarded.

  8. So is that by $ or by amount of items?

    Does it make a difference?

    Would be interesting to know number, (at least for the top 10) – but I’m a bore about that kind of thing – to give some context

  9. Units.

    -B

  10. It occurs to me that if your GN of the month club is accounting for 10% of a print run and then there are your store sales to add… that’s places you as quite important an individual within non-Marvel and DC circles.

    I wonder if there are maybe another 5 or 6 shops that together account for 75% of all these sales?

    That would be a scary thought!!!

    Do comic companies have an idea from Diamond of who is responsible for ordering what percentage of comics and therefore how easily their fortunes could sour?

    Imagine if you shut down your shops, suddenly 10% less business right there – that’s a sobering responsiblity

  11. I would love to join the Graphic Novel club, but even though I could afford it, I just don’t have the time to read that much of comics anymore. I have most of the books you selected and haven’t had any time to read them.

    I’m really surprised Ms Marvel doesn’t rate higher. I know a LOT of non-comics people who love it. I can tell you with authority it’s huge with Muslim women.

    DC sounds like a bunch of dummies who are out of tricks to temporarily spike sales and are now desperately trying to squeeze blood out of stones.

    As a consumer, I’m never going to argue for prices to go up, but I honestly wouldn’t notice if Image started charging $15 for Vol 1 of their trades. I’m surprised they’ve stuck with it this long.

  12. To answer Iestyn more properly, the Top 10 GNs by dollar at the Mothership are:

    Saga HC
    Saga v4
    Saga v5
    Saga v1
    Incal HC
    Saga v3
    Saga v2
    Sandma v1
    Trees v1
    Sandman: Overture

    Cover price has a huge impact.

    Doing the comics takes more calculation than I have time for (combining multiple covers), but ISLAND #1 zooms to first place under that calculation.

    We’re only selling 8-10% on certain Book Club books where we’re ordering (roughly) 300 copies — not consistently from project to project. We’re more like 0.5%, on the high end, on some general circ books.

    But, yes, the overall premise where a RELATIVELY small number of stores are selling the majority of comics is a true thing.

    -B

  13. Just thinking about this – I was wondering then, if you see a title that’s marginally likely to sell more than a couple of copies, are you more or less likely to order it if it costs say $7 versus $3?

    Put another way, if it costs more, you must be making more profit $’s wise, would that sway you to order something, or

    if it costs more, people are less likely to buy it so you’ll order less?

  14. If something seems risky at all, then my wholesale cost if-I-can’t-sell-it will allllways be in my mind.

    -B

  15. It’s funny, because one of the reasons I’ve seen pegged for the collapse of comics on the newsstand was that cheap books started coming out that were more expensive and therefore carried more of a return when sold.

    I guess this is what happens when you shift ALL of the risk to the retailer, they become price conservative at least and very likely frightened of innovative\ untested product.

    All such a mess really. Maybe their needs to be some innovation around returnability (I know it’s not a word) for certain titles at a percentage of purchased stock within a certain timeframe (or, the bookstore model)

  16. […] in Berlin sitzt, sieht dessen Bestsellerliste deutlich anders aus. Interessant sind auch die Zahlen von Brian Hibbs, der in San Francisco zwei Comicläden führt. Der eine versteht sich eher als Comic-Buchhandlung, […]

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