The Comics Are All Right: Does Increased Economic Confidence Mean Lower Sales? A Year in Stats.
For those who might not be familiar with it, Comichron is an interesting resource for data on estimated and reported sales figures in the comic book industry. Run by John Jackson Miller, the site is a great tool in trying to suss out trends and patterns and while there are flaws, it’s also one of the best resources we have.
With 2016 over and the December estimates up I decided to check out what might be discerned from what Miller has reported and what stands out to me.
Comics Outside the Top 300 Ended the Year Strong
While Miller doesn’t seem to report this stat for most of the year, in August he began to not just report the estimated number of comics in the top 300 shipped, but the total number of comics shipped by Diamond.
Using that data, we can look at how many comics that weren’t in the top 300 that were shipped and it looks like they ended the year rather strong accounting for almost 10%. While the overall sales for Diamond and sales of the top 300 comics looks to have dipped since August 2016, the percent of indie comics that shipped increased.
We also see this trend through the year as the comics not listed in the 300 increases as part of the new comics shipped each month (though there’s clearly volatility in comics ordered).
As the year goes on it looks like shops began to look elsewhere for sales as they began to order more comics not in the top 300 chart. This could reflect the narrative we’ve seen floated by sites and shops that the selling power of the big two has waned and they’re looking to make up for those decreased sales.
The Non-300 is an Impressive Amount of Money
Miller provides a few interesting dollar stats in his monthly reporting. There’s the “Top 300 Comics Shipped (in dollars),” “Top Graphic Novels Shipped (in dollars),” “Top 300 Comics plus Top GNs Shipped (in dollars),” and “All Comics and GNs Shipped (in dollars) and that latter was also previously labelled “Overall Diamond Sales (including all comics, trade,s, and magazines).”
So, I decided to see what those dollars were that weren’t the top 300 comics and top 300 graphic novels. The answer, an impressive amount. But, that amount looks to be trending down. For as much focus as there is on the sales of graphic novels/trade paperbacks and comics, this “gray” area that includes those outside the top 300 and magazines is often overlooked. For 2016 the top 300 graphic novels was relatively flat for the year and the top 300 comics, while all over, increased over the year too. But, that “everything else” while initially seeing an increase looks to start decreasing about 3/4 of the way into the year. Is the problem for local comic shops actually this?
Is it the Confidence in the Economy?
I don’t know where I first came upon this tidbit, or even how true it is, but it’s believed that board game sales and video game sales do well in down economies. You can read up on some of this.
This is one I definitely want to track going into 2017 and go back for data in 2015, but I used the US Economic Index released by Gallup and compared that to the reported sales by Diamond.
While things are a bit all over for the year, we see the Economic Index begin to increase in August and skyrocket in November, this is about the same time we see the sales number dip. Could the recent worries by local comic shops be due to an increased confidence in the economy? Stay tuned as we continue to track this.