Updated on December 10, 2021
Here’s an addendum to the previous post about how “mainstream” superheroes are: Diamond sales. Diamond, the monopoly distributor to comic book stores, offers general rankings for comic book store sales of both floppy single-issue comics and trade paperbacks.
For 2011, the top 10 ranking single-issue comics:
- Justice League #1
- Batman #1
- Action Comics #1
- Justice League #2
- Batman #2
- Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160
- Green Lantern #1
- Justice League #3
- Action Comics #2
- Detective Comics #1
Between the “New 52” reboot and comic book shops being superhero books’ main lifeblood, not a surprise DC and Marvel dominate the top 10… or, looking down the list, the top *100.* Still, given this was a major reboot by DC, the individual sales figures aren’t overly typical. JL #1 sold at least 360,000 copies, while Batman #1 and Action #1 sold 250,000 copies, making them colossal hits by single-issue comic standards. Yes, those are extremely high numbers for single-issue comics; usually, anything above 100,000 is deemed a major hit.
By comparison, “Cat Fancy” magazine’s circulation numbers are (on average) 233,500 a month. Yes, despite his massive popularity in other media (and a highly devoted fan base), Batman’s lucky to even match or (for issue #1 above) narrowly beat a typical magazine aimed at cat owners. (Catwoman would be thrilled…)
While superheroes dominate single-issue comic sales, the story’s vastly different for the top 10 trade paperbacks:
- The Walking Dead, vol. 1
- The Walking Dead, vol. 14
- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III Century #2: 1969
- The Walking Dead, vol. 15
- The Walking Dead, vol. 2
- Fables, vol. 15
- Batman: Noel (deluxe hardcover)
- The Walking Dead, vol. 3
- The Walking Dead, vol. 13
- Morning Glories, vol. 1
Only one superhero book in the top 10 (a Batman story). Rankings #11-20 show more superhero books (“Dark Knight Returns” at #11, “Batman: Hush” at #12, “Batman: Year One” at #19, and “Blackest Night” at #20), for a total of 5 out of 20 trade paperbacks being superheroes (and near-exclusively Batman).
Thus, based on the above, and the previous comics post, it seems that the only place superheroes dominate comics as a genre saleswise is the single-issue “floppy” comic. And even that’s not exactly as huge a sales presence as it once was.
I’d add digital comics’ sales to all of this, but they refuse to release sales numbers (which doesn’t sound encouraging). That, and I suspect similar patterns are probably present, i.e. lots of single-issue sales going to superheroes, but digital trades largely being of non-superhero material.