No surprise Star Wars #1 Bestselling Comic Book of the Year drives Comic Book & Graphic Novel Sales Up Over 7%!
It’s been a great year for the comic book industry. Diamond Comic Distributors announced the winners of its 2015 Diamond Gem Awards, selected exclusively by comic book specialty retailers and recognized within the industry as the pinnacle of sales achievement for publishers, industry executives, and creators. First the numbers then let’s get to the bottom line.
“The Gem Awards give retailers an opportunity to recognize and congratulate the suppliers, titles, and products that served to help grow their businesses in 2015,” said Diamond President & CEO Steve Geppi. “Our suppliers produced and published an enormous amount of top-quality titles and products that really supported retailers and the entire industry, and we thank all of the retailers who took the time from their busy schedules to vote and acknowledge those efforts.”
How does Diamond calculate the charts? I’m glad you asked. It all starts at the comic book shop.
Data for Diamond’s sales charts — which includes the monthly market shares and all top product charts — are compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors from sales made to thousands of comic book specialty shops located in North America and around the world. Additional sales made to online merchants and other specialty stores may be included as well.
Star Wars returned to Marvel Comics in January with the million-selling Star Wars #1 from Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, kicking off a blockbuster year of Star Wars success that climaxed with Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattering box office records worldwide, earning Marvel not only the best-selling comic book published in 2015 but the best-selling single issue in over two decades with Star Wars #1, based on total unit sales to comic book specialty retailers, according to Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of comics, graphic novels, and pop-culture merchandise.
Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by John Cassaday, Star Wars #1 debuted in January, 2015 and each subsequent issue has consistently been a monthly top five bestselling title for Marvel Comics. The entire Star Wars comic book publishing line was a success in 2015, with Star Wars: Vader Down #1 (#6), Darth Vader #1 (#9), and Princess Leia #1 (#10) joining Star Wars #1 in the Top-10.
Overall, comic books and graphic novels continued their positive trends, with 2015’s annual sales increasing 7.17% over the previous year; comic book sales specifically were up 8.99%, while graphic novel sales rose by 3.14%. Over 98 million comic books were sold to comic book specialty stores in 2015, an increase of 6 million units over 2014, with just over 8 million graphic novels units shipped.
Marvel Comics finished the year as the comic book specialty market’s top publisher, leading in both Dollar and Unit Market Shares, with a 38.74% Dollar Market Share and a 41.82% Unit Market Share. Marvel Comics had seven of the year’s top ten comics; in addition to the four Star Wars titles, Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic’s Secret Wars #1, Spider-Gwen #1 (a spin-off from Spider-Verse), and Invincible Iron Man #1 (the launch title for the All-New All-Different Marvel relaunch) were among the top ten. On the year, Marvel had 78 titles placed in the top 100 best-selling comics.
DC Entertainment was the comic book specialty market’s number two publisher in 2015 with a 25.75% Dollar Market Share and a 27.35%
Unit Market Share. DC Entertainment’s top comic book, Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, John Romita., Jr., and Klaus Janson charted at #5 for the year, while perennial graphic novel bestseller, Batman: The Killing Joke HC, charted as the #5 graphic novel for the year. Several issues of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman run and the Convergence main issues from Jeff King contributed to a strong showing for DC among the top 100 comics for the year.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ science fiction epic, Saga from Image Comics dominated the top ten graphic novels chart and solidified Image Comics as the year’s third largest comic book publisher, with a 9.93% Dollar Market Share and a 10.70% Unit Market Share. Image Comics took seven of the top ten graphic novel spots, including all five collections of Saga as well as two volumes from Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series. The best-selling comic book for the year from Image was another Brian K. Vaughn bestseller, We Stand on Guard #1, at #124 for the year.
IDW Publishing’s was the comic book specialty market’s fourth largest publisher, propelled by its licensed titles such as My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others. The company’s Dollar Market Share was 5.59% for the year. Based upon the hit BBC America show, Orphan Black #1 was IDW’s top-selling comic book landing at #4 for the year.
Dark Horse Comics’ creator-owned titles helped the company to be the fifth leading comic book publisher to the comic book specialty market in 2015 with a 3.79% Dollar Market Share. Dark Horse’s top comic book for the year was Fight Club 2 #1 at #129, a sequel to the cult-classic movie penned by writer Chuck Palahniuk. So, why is any of this important? Well, the recent dust up about the latest example of missing female characters in pop culture merchandising aside (side eye at Hasbro #wheresrey) As a consumer and critic of comics it’s great that there is such an upsurge and interest in comic books and the trend shows no sign of stopping. There is an entire ecosystem that is fueled by the simple act of walking into your locally owned and operated comic book store and picking up your monthly titles. Here is a terrific example of what I’m talking about. As reported recently Philadelphia’s Amalgam Comics & Coffee Shop, is the first and only comic book shop owned by a black woman. The only one of it’s kind on the east coast. There’s a great article about proprietor Ariell Johnson at the DREAMCHASEHER website. These are small business owners that benefit directly from increased interest in comics in particular and Geek culture in general. With the success of titles like Image comics Paper Girls it also shows that content created by and for women and girls sells big and hopefully that opens the door for more economic empowerment and societal agency. So do the patriotic thing, BUY COMICS! It’s a good time to be a comic book geek. Find out where your local comic book store is and pick up a few titles.
What were some of your favorite titles this year? Sound off below.
art credits- Marvel Comics /DC Entertainment /Image Comics/Philly.com