The numbers are in from comic book distributor Diamond for 2017 and thanks to Comichron we have a good look at how the comic book industry did last year.
Overall, the industry was down 10% from last year, this includes the sale of all comic books, graphic novels, trade paperbacks and magazines. This was all valued at about $522.25 million. There were 89.44 million copies of comic books told, which is also down 10%, which included 79.74 million of those being in the top 300 comic books.
The big winner once again overall was Marvel Comics with 38.30% of the market shares with DC Comics in second place at 33.93%. Image comics came in third place overall with 10.12%. The number one comic sold in 2017 also belonged to Marvel Comics which was their fall event book Marvel Legacy #1 which sold an estimated 305,427 copies.
Here is the list of top ten books of 2017:
1. Marvel Legacy #1
2. Dark Knights Metal #1
3. Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #1
4. Secret Empire #0
5. Secret Empire #1
6. Dark Nights Metal #3
7. Dark Nights Metal #2
8. Doomsday Clock #2
9. Dark Nights Metal #4
10. Phoenix Resurrection Return Jean Grey #1
One interesting note is that is an issue of a comic book had different pricing depending on the variant of the issue, they are considered different titles and counted separately. If counted together, Doomsday Clock #1 would have been at 3rd overall with 261,246 copies and Batman #21 would have been fifth with 228,658 copies. This would give DC Comics 6 books in the top 10 and Marvel 4 books.
When looking at the charts, it’s interesting to see that if you count those two titles (so we drop Phoenix out of the top 10), there is only one title that is not an event book, which is Marvel Comics’ Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #1. But of course that was a first issue with a ton of variants, the second issue of that series barely made it on the list at number 250 with 55,653 copies. As a matter of fact, if you want to find a title that is not an event book or special number you have to go all the way down number 31 which is DC Comics’ Batman #25.
Speaking of the Dark Knight, something I found alarming for DC Comics is their lack of diversity in their top books. You have to travel all the way down to number 118 on the list to get to a DC Comics book that does not include Batman and that would be Action Comics #987, which happens to be a part of the Oz Effect story (this issue also had lenticular covers). It seems that DC Comics needs to do some work in elevating the popularity of their other great heroes, like Superman maybe? But let’s see how DC Comics does post Rebirth, especially with that New Age of Heroes initiative which will give us The Terrifics, Damage, The Immortal Men and others.
Marvel Comics has continued their trend of reboots #1’s and variants which let’s be honest has worked for sales, they disappear from popularity with the following second and third issue. Recently they have lost a lot of talent to DC Comics, like Jeff Lemire going back to DC Comics to write The Terrifics and Brian Michael Bendis who is now officially part of the DC Comics team. It will be interesting to see how they do this year, especially with their promise they made when they launched their Legacy line that promised to bring back, “dozens of its most believed heroes, villains, teams and artifacts in bold stories that will begin the next chapter of the Marvel Universe”. Since that not much has changed, longtime Marvel Comics fans were just teased with lenticular covers reminding them of the amazing characters and stories they used to have.
As a comic book fan, it’s always disappointing to see the that the lack of diversity in comics in the Top 250 books. There are so many other great titles out there that don’t feature Batman and Spider-Man. I understand that sometimes it could be difficult to navigate through all the titles and pick out what to read. One suggestion is to pay attention to the different writers and artists, sometimes they have creator own titles over at Image Comics and AfterShock that are really good. Or sometimes they just write on a more obscure character, Tom King, for example, has a critically acclaimed run on Marvel’s Vision and is currently the writer for Batman. In August DC Comics released his new 12 issues series, Mister Miracle which has been on a lot of sites Top 10 list for 2017. Most writers have multiple titles either with the same publisher or somewhere else, creators like readers are also looking for different projects to work on other than the mainstream titles.
Hopefully, this year will be a better year for comics books, although the trends say otherwise. We have the continuing Doomsday Clock event at DC Comics as well as at some point a title by Brian Michael Bendis. Over at Marvel we have the Infinity Countdown event to complement their film Avengers: Infinity War.
What titles are you reading? What would you like publishers to do differently? Let us know in the comments below!
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