There are some who have taking last month’s comic book sales numbers, compared them to last year’s September numbers, and have declared as a result that the New 52 is a failure, because DC Comics sold fewer copies and had a smaller market share.
This strikes me as wrong in so many ways, and here are a few of them.
September 2011 was launch month, with big proper mainstream media attention when almost all of DC’s books were returnable. Launches almost always give better figures than continuing books. October will be the same, last year that had all the reorders for the first month, and took DC to half marketshare.
I think it’s unfair to compare with launch month. But let’s look a few months before that.
The numbers on books had started to rise before the New 52 as publicity for the relaunch began to kick in. As we noted at the time, DC numbers were shifting up in the month’s before that fateful September. If you compare numbers with, say January 2011, when Bleeding Cool first ran rumours about the relaunch, you get a very different story.
That month, DC had a dollar marketshare of 26.38% compared to Marvel’s 39.06%. And on the product marketshare, DC had 31.8% compared to Marvel’s 42.37%. The overall market was shrinking. DC’s performance in March was pretty much the same. There was a slight lift in April but by May, DC had 26.68% share of dollars spent and record low of 28.37% share of product sales. This was DC’s status quo. And then DC officially announced the relaunch. And, along with Flashpoint, numbers started to rise in anticipation, until DC were able, in October of the same year, to take over half the market in product sales for themselves. So now, they have fallen back a little. Marvel has regained ground and the top spot in one of the charts.
But without the relaunch, those February numbers would have got worse and worse. Potentially dragging down the rest of the direct market with them. Instead the relaunch revitalised the market. Yes it is down on one year ago. But on eighteen months ago? It’s a bloody miracle.