The Impact Of Marvel’s Free Comics On Diamond’s Statistics – Is It All About Targets?

Posted by December 12, 2016 Comment

There are lies, damn lies and statistics.

Comics that cost more bring in more money and more dollar share.

Comics that cost less bring in less money and a lower dollar share.

So a comic that costs $2.99 has to sell 150% the amount a comic that sells $3.99 to bring in the same in dollars.

So, while Batman #10 and #11 were the top selling books of November in the North American direct market at $2.99, when it came to making money they were only in eighth and eleventh place. The most revenue raising comic was Civil War II #7 and All-Star Batman #4, both at $4.99

And that also helps us spy anomalies. Marvel SVP – Publishing Tom Brevoort said that Diamond rankings doesn’t take into account free copies of comics that Marvel sends out to retailers. Well, Diamond has told me that they do, but only on the unit share side, not the dollar side – as they are free.

Because, yes, Marvel has been ramping up sending out free copies of selected titles to retailers, based on how much they already ordered. The practice was rife in around 2012 but has now returned with a vengeance. Ostensibly it’s to encourage retailers to find a ceiling of sales that they might not have reached with more conservative numbers, which may encourage them to order more in the future once they have seen exactly how much they could have sold if they had ordered enough. But do it enough and it creates serious statistical anomalies.

Let’s look in this action. I’ve run the comparative dollar and unit amounts below, courtesy of Diamond Comic Distributors.

Avengers #1 and IVX #0. Both $3.99 books. In units they are neck and neck, and tenth and eleventh place.

But in dollars earned, Avengers is in 5th place. And IVX #0? Eleventh. The difference being that Marvel shipped 50% extra copies of IVX #0 out.

So which other overships existed recently and can we find examples? Well, Mosaic #2 and Great Lakes Avengers #2 also had overships to match them to a retailer’s initial order of their first issue.

Well, Mosaic #2 at $3.99 is 93rd on the unit list but 148 on the dollar list. While All-New X-Men #15 at $3.99 is 94th on the unit list but 86th on the dollar list. Which indicates that overship copies pushed it up..

While Doctor Strange And The Sorcerors Supreme #2 at $3.99 is 99th on the unit list (a massive drop from #3 in September, the effect of an #1 and being in the Marvel Collectors Corps box) but 92nd on the dollar list. But Great Lakes Avengers #2 at $3.99 is 100th on the unit list but 147th on the dollar list.

hawkeye2016001_covNow, of course, there are other ways that the difference in placement can be explained. Sometimes Marvel offers discounts that make ordering a $3.99 Marvel book cost the same as ordering a $2.99 book. And while sometimes offers can be made to individual stores, this was not widely available for those issues in question. Indeed – discount was available to retailers on Avengers #1 who exceeded orders of All-New Avengers #10 by 150% or 200%. But it was still much higher up the dollar list than IVX #0.

Both Great Lakes Avengers #2 and Mosaic #2 would not have been on the Top 100 list if not for Marvel matching #1 orders with #2 orders for free.

And this is going to happen more and more. Here’s a non-exhaustive list from Marvel of late – and on the way. Avengers #2 match to #1, Champions #3 match to #2, Nova #1 100% overship, Slapstick #1 100% overship, Guardians of the Galaxy #15 100% overship, Gwenpool Holiday Special Merry Mix Up 100% overship main cover, Hawkeye #1 100% overship, Jessica Jones #3 match to #2, Mosaic #3 match to #2 which was already matched to #1, Invincible Iron Man #2 match to #1, Occupy Avengers #2 match to #1, Gamora #1 100% overship, Mighty Captain Marvel #0 100% overship, Star-Lord #1 100% overship.

And why should anyone care? Because this is how Marvel – or any company – can game the system. If Diamond reports the unit share first – and they do – the all any publisher needs to do to get the PR of a number 1 hit, is send out 150,000 free comics to stores – whether they have ordered them or not.

We pointed this issue out in 2015. And in 2012. And again. And again. This is not a new problem. Just Marvel seems to be taking advantage of it even more now than they did in 2012.

We need better statistics.

TOP 100 COMIC BOOKS
Based on Total Unit Sales of Products Invoiced in November 2016

QTY
RANK
DOLLAR
RANK
INDEX ITEM CODE DESCRIPTION PRICE VENDOR
1 8 100.00 SEP160227 BATMAN #10 $2.99 DC
2 11 96.52 SEP160229 BATMAN #11 $2.99 DC
3 1 96.32 AUG160866 CIVIL WAR II #7 $4.99 MAR
4 2 81.94 SEP160214 ALL STAR BATMAN #4 $4.99 DC
5 10 80.82 SEP160893 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1 $3.99 MAR
6 3 79.50 SEP160946 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN RENEW YOUR VOWS #1 $4.99 MAR
7 4 75.30 SEP160231 BATMAN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 DC
8 9 74.56 SEP160951 VENOM #1 $3.99 MAR
9 16 73.09 SEP160763 WALKING DEAD #160 (MR) $2.99 IMA
10 12 69.63 SEP160882 IVX #0 $4.99 MAR
11 5 67.73 SEP160885 AVENGERS #1 $4.99 MAR
12 21 66.75 SEP160268 JUSTICE LEAGUE #8 $2.99 DC
13 22 64.44 SEP160270 JUSTICE LEAGUE #9 $2.99 DC
14 7 62.84 SEP160389 BATMAN TMNT ADVENTURES #1 [*] $3.99 IDW
15 6 62.23 SEP161107 STAR WARS #25 $4.99 MAR
16 26 59.49 SEP160242 DETECTIVE COMICS #944 $2.99 DC
17 28 58.46 SEP160246 FLASH #10 $2.99 DC
18 18 58.25 SEP160900 UNWORTHY THOR #1 $3.99 MAR
19 30 57.85 SEP160244 DETECTIVE COMICS #945 $2.99 DC
20 31 56.50 SEP160248 FLASH #11 $2.99 DC
21 33 55.38 SEP160287 SUPERMAN #10 $2.99 DC
22 36 52.68 SEP160288 SUPERMAN #11 $2.99 DC
23 19 52.15 SEP160987 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #21 $3.99 MAR
24 37 51.26 SEP160280 SUICIDE SQUAD #6 $2.99 DC
25 40 50.30 SEP160299 WONDER WOMAN #10 $2.99 DC
26 13 49.21 SEP161103 STAR WARS ANNUAL #2 $4.99 MAR
27 42 49.17 SEP160282 SUICIDE SQUAD #7 $2.99 DC
28 24 48.73 SEP160989 CLONE CONSPIRACY #2 $3.99 MAR
29 23 48.60 AUG160965 STAR WARS HAN SOLO #5 $3.99 MAR
30 43 48.55 SEP160301 WONDER WOMAN #11 $2.99 DC
31 45 48.18 SEP160297 TRINITY #3 $2.99 DC
32 15 47.84 SEP160959 GHOST RIDER #1 $4.99 MAR
33 14 47.21 SEP160917 BLACK PANTHER WORLD OF WAKANDA #1 $4.99 MAR
34 47 47.05 SEP160262 HARLEY QUINN #7 $2.99 DC
35 51 46.39 SEP160274 NIGHTWING #8 $2.99 DC
36 27 45.30 SEP160912 THANOS #1 $3.99 MAR
37 53 44.76 SEP160264 HARLEY QUINN #8 $2.99 DC
38 29 44.32 SEP161058 DEATH OF X #3 $3.99 MAR
39 55 43.82 SEP160276 NIGHTWING #9 $2.99 DC
40 56 43.74 SEP160293 TEEN TITANS #2 $2.99 DC
41 58 43.43 SEP160295 TITANS #5 $2.99 DC
42 17 43.16 SEP161025 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 MAR
43 32 42.41 SEP161017 SPIDER-MAN DEADPOOL #11 $3.99 MAR
44 65 41.86 SEP160210 ACTION COMICS #967 $2.99 DC
45 34 41.63 SEP161061 DEATH OF X #4 $3.99 MAR
46 20 41.15 SEP160290 SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 DC
47 39 41.14 SEP161005 CHAMPIONS #2 $3.99 MAR
48 66 40.47 SEP160212 ACTION COMICS #968 $2.99 DC
49 35 40.12 SEP160907 CAPTAIN AMERICA STEVE ROGERS #7 $3.99 MAR
50 72 38.30 SEP160254 GREEN LANTERNS #10 $2.99 DC
51 76 37.38 SEP160258 HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #8 $2.99 DC
52 75 37.17 SEP160749 SAGA #40 (MR) $2.99 IMA
53 77 36.97 SEP160256 GREEN LANTERNS #11 $2.99 DC
54 46 36.07 SEP161084 OLD MAN LOGAN #13 $3.99 MAR
55 82 35.97 SEP160260 HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #9 $2.99 DC
56 48 35.94 SEP161038 BLACK PANTHER #8 $3.99 MAR
57 83 35.86 SEP160250 GREEN ARROW #10 $2.99 DC
58 49 35.59 SEP161105 STAR WARS POE DAMERON #8 $3.99 MAR
59 50 35.21 SEP161085 OLD MAN LOGAN #14 $3.99 MAR
60 87 34.39 SEP160252 GREEN ARROW #11 $2.99 DC
61 52 34.31 SEP160743 REBORN #2 (MR) $3.99 IMA
62 89 34.17 SEP160221 BATMAN BEYOND #2 $2.99 DC
63 59 34.13 SEP160925 AVENGERS #1.1 $3.99 MAR
64 41 33.90 SEP160201 MOTHER PANIC #1 (MR) [*] $3.99 DC
65 57 33.27 SEP160997 INFAMOUS IRON MAN #2 $3.99 MAR
66 90 32.93 SEP160217 AQUAMAN #10 $2.99 DC
67 54 32.89 FEB160136 JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #10 $3.99 DC
68 60 32.84 AUG160883 SPIDER-MAN #9 $3.99 MAR
69 61 32.68 SEP161086 DEADPOOL BACK IN BLACK #3 $3.99 MAR
70 62 32.58 SEP161053 DOCTOR STRANGE #14 $3.99 MAR
71 63 32.48 SEP161015 MIGHTY THOR #13 $3.99 MAR
72 64 31.95 SEP161083 DEADPOOL #22 $3.99 MAR
73 71 31.76 SEP160932 OCCUPY AVENGERS #1 $3.99 MAR
74 94 31.52 SEP160219 AQUAMAN #11 $2.99 DC
75 95 30.86 SEP160284 SUPERGIRL #3 $2.99 DC
76 97 30.75 SEP160238 DEATHSTROKE #6 $2.99 DC
77 67 30.56 SEP161068 UNCANNY X-MEN #15 $3.99 MAR
78 69 30.52 SEP161040 JESSICA JONES #2 $3.99 MAR
79 98 30.39 SEP160278 RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #4 $2.99 DC
80 99 29.60 SEP160240 DEATHSTROKE #7 $2.99 DC
81 70 29.31 SEP161075 ALL NEW WOLVERINE #14 $3.99 MAR
82 44 29.24 SEP161069 UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 MAR
83 101 29.12 SEP160223 BATGIRL #5 $2.99 DC
84 74 28.66 SEP160937 ULTIMATES 2 #1 $3.99 MAR
85 73 28.64 SEP161057 EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #16 $3.99 MAR
86 78 28.05 SEP161043 DAREDEVIL #13 $3.99 MAR
87 80 27.67 SEP161088 DEADPOOL BACK IN BLACK #4 $3.99 MAR
88 81 27.67 SEP161110 STAR WARS FORCE AWAKENS ADAPTATION #6 $3.99 MAR
89 126 27.46 SEP162040 HARBINGER RENEGADE #1 [*] $3.99 VAL
90 105 27.41 SEP160225 BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #4 $2.99 DC
91 84 27.17 SEP161016 UNCANNY AVENGERS #16 $3.99 MAR
92 85 26.93 SEP161045 MOON KNIGHT #8 $3.99 MAR
93 148 26.28 SEP161030 MOSAIC #2 $3.99 MAR
94 86 26.19 SEP161064 ALL NEW X-MEN #15 $3.99 MAR
95 38 25.33 SEP160618 AD AFTER DEATH BOOK 01 $5.99 IMA
96 79 24.93 SEP160206 DOOM PATROL #3 (MR) [*] $3.99 DC
97 111 24.87 SEP160291 SUPERWOMAN #4 $2.99 DC
98 68 24.51 SEP161065 ALL NEW X-MEN ANNUAL #1 $4.99 MAR
99 92 24.28 SEP161054 DOCTOR STRANGE SORCERERS SUPREME #2 $3.99 MAR
100 147 24.21 SEP161012 GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #2 $3.99 MAR
(Last Updated December 21, 2016 6:19 am )