We’re in the heavy months—Holidaze; tighter spending on self/more for others; DC and Marvel don’t even print during the last week of December . . . So how’d the pamphleteers do? Overall, 2010 sales are down from 2009 sales (year to date), by about 4%. Higher prices (especially on trades) have helped cushion the blow a little, but if we don’t get our sons, daughters, nieces and nephews into comics soon, the art form will either die or, at a minimum, whither.
Marvel sold about 40% of the floppy market, but DC was right on their heels at 37%. That’s the closest they’ve ever come, largely due to Batman, Batman, Batman. Batman: The Return was #1, joined in the top ten by Batman Inc. (rank #2), the final issue of The Return of Bruce Wayne, the final Grant Morrison issue of Batman and Robin (rank #5) and the first Paul Cornell issue of the same (#10). Round that out with two Brightest Days and one Green Lantern, and you only have space for one Marvel title: Avengers (rank #3). Amazing.
Digging deeper in the list, the bottom 20 look more like the usual top 10 (lots of various Avengers titles, two X-books (X-Men #5 and X-Force #2), and both November issues of Amazing Spider-Man. It looks like throwing Avengers on a title is a license to print money, with three more Avengers titles in the top 40, but Avengers Academy—arguably the most innovative of the titles—is struggling in the bottom half of the top 100—all the way down at rank #66. (And the Chaos War Avengers one-off was way down at #88). Which makes you wonder: Are there titles that Marvel could cull out here? Their tactic has always been market saturation—make sure there’s no room on the shelf for anyone else—but is it really paying off? The dilution of Deadpool has brought the character’s main title down to rank #54, and as for Deadpool Corps, the only book that it beat in the top 100 was (gasp) Green Hornet—an indie book that, by all accounts, pretty much sucks. Maybe if they focused on one Wade book, they could make it special. Maybe if they focused on three or four Avengers books, that would be enough. As for DC, they certainly could stand to lose a few Batbooks (Red Robin, Gotham city Sirens, Red Hood Lost Days . . . none of these do well).
In the trade paperback arena, it’s no surprise that the latest Walking Dead volume led the pack, and the first Walking Dead volume brought up the rear at #9. Well-deserved indie sales. Superman: Earth One is still up there (rank #3), along with stalwarts like Morrison’s Batman and Robin Vol. 2, Marvel’s Siege paperback, Chew, and Ex Machina. The surprises for me were Dark Horse’s Serenity: Shepherds Tale and the latest volume of Garth Ennis’ blood-and-nudity fest The Boys. Not that they don’t deserve a spot, I just didn’t know they were so popular . . .