Updated on March 19, 2023
Comic shop direct distributor Diamond’s released their figures for the top 500 single-issue “floppy” comic sales (and also top 500 trade paperbacks) at direct market venues (read: comic shops). While the crushing dominance of DC and Marvel in this list isn’t surprising (as I noted before, single-issue comics seem to be the only area where superheroes dominate in comic sales), what is surprising is that the number one comic isn’t a superhero title at all, but “The Walking Dead” #100. “Dead” already dominates in trade paperback sales, but I’m a bit surprised to see them top the single-issue charts, as I figured the fans would rather have trade paperbacks.
Also of interest is that the next 15 comics are all Marvel titles, either tied to “Marvel Now” or the “Avengers vs. X-Men” crossover. DC doesn’t show up until #17 with (predictably) “Batman,” a title that didn’t need any “New 52” revamps to stay a strong seller. Obviously the big wave of DC reboot interest from 2011 has died down. Still, most of the top 50 selling comics are either Avengers, Batman, X-Men, or Justice League books. The only other non-Marvel or DC book cracking the top 100 besides “Dead” is “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” #1, which sold extremely well in November, and did well enough to come in at #90 overall for the year.
On the trade paperback side, “The Walking Dead” took 7 of the top 10 sales slots, and doing extremely well in the top 25. DC’s top selling trade paperbacks are largely not tied to the “New 52” at all—“Batman: Earth One” is their best selling trade. Perennials like “Watchmen” and pre-“New 52” titles also tended to dominate for DC, while Marvel doesn’t show up until #31 (“Thanos Quest”). Marvel and DC combined still took two-thirds of trade paperback sales at comic shops, however.
The above applies, of course, to comic book shops. For general public-appealing venues (bookstores, etc.), I’d assume that non-superhero genres, including “The Walking Dead” and the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books dominated sales.
Diamond also notes that comic sales are up by 15% and trade paperback sales by 14% over 2011 in the direct market. I wonder how much of that is lapsed readers coming back for the “New 52″/”Marvel Now” (since DC’s reboot-du-jour likely didn’t gain much in the way of truly new-to-comics readership), and how much is due to “Walking Dead” fans. I’d hope the latter had some role, since it’d mean variety in genres as a source of increased sales.
As for 2013, I’ll presume that, barring the “Walking Dead” comic or related TV show’s popularities waning, or the public finally tiring of zombies, “The Walking Dead” will dominate this year as well. Since “My Little Pony” should release a trade paperback this year, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that make a strong showing (again, assuming MLP/the “brony” craze doesn’t wane).