Marc-Oliver Frisch writes: At first glance, October was a great month for DC Comics. For starters, for the first time in ages, the publisher’s market share, both in dollars and in units, was slightly higher than Marvel’s. More significantly, though, the dollar volume of DC’s October 2007 direct market periodical sales – as usual, not counting reprints, reorders shipping after the initial month of release, Johnny DC titles and magazines – was the second-highest since the beginning of the current statistics in March 2003. (The highest was achieved in May 2006, when they launched 52.) That’s plenty to be happy about, certainly.
However, the performance improvement isn’t due to any general sales increase across the company’s various lines of titles. Rather, DC simply increased their output volume, and quite drastically so. There were a whopping 95 new DC periodicals in October – that’s 15 more than in September, and it’s also the highest number of new DC periodicals ever published in a given month since the beginning of the current charts in March 2003. Marvel, by contrast, had 63 new periodicals out in October. (Again, we’re not counting reprints, reorders shipping after the initial month of release, Johnny DC/Marvel Adventures titles, magazines and the like.)
As long as the books keep selling and the market is willing to carry the product, there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But a closer look at the numbers suggests that the wisdom of flooding the market may be questionable at this time: Despite the good showing where market share and dollar volume are concerned, DC’s average periodical sales were down again in October, the average being the third-lowest of the past year, with average Vertigo sales reaching another new all-time low. The average sales of DC’s WildStorm sublabel saw another increase, meanwhile, thanks to the latest relaunch of their WildStorm Universe line.
Looking at DC’s major releases individually, the worrying trends of the past year continued in October. Barring a significant trend reversal, it seems that the publisher is losing its last title capable of reliably shifting more than 100,000 units every month. And out of the 13 new series debuts or one-shot specials released in October – many of which tied in with current event storylines – only one managed to crack the 50K mark, most of them selling below 25,000 units. Sales of the latest attempt to relaunch the tottering WildStorm Universe line are a far cry from the last one in October 2006, while the first issue of Vertigo’s newest ongoing title, The Vinyl Underground, fell short of 11,000 units, marking the lowest-selling of their more recent launches.
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