DC Comics beat out archrival, Marvel, in comic book sales in November for the third consecutive month.
Although Marvel produces nearly twice as many periodicals each month, DC Comics had 34.69 percent of the dollar share market in November and 39.66 percent of the unit share market, beating Marvel's respective 33.3 percent and 37.84 percent, according to numbers released by Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. DC also had the bestselling comic book for November, Justice League #3, and four of the top five bestselling titles overall.
Image Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse and Dynamite Entertainment trailed behind the two major publishers.
DC's strong sales this quarter are largely attributed to the New 52 launch in September. The company announced this summer that their fifty-two comic book titles would be rebooted. Story lines of characters from Superman to Swamp Thing would be changed and retold, costumes would be reinvented and female characters would be empowered as the New 52 comics gained a fresh start with issue No. 1.
The whole aspect of comics needed a shot in the arm, John Rood, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at DC Entertainment, told the International Business Times. There were new stories to be told about the characters, new renderings of classic characters, new marketing and sales practices. Everything needed a shot in the arm.
The company sought to bring in new readers while sparking the interest of past customers who had followed certain titles, but stopped purchasing comics as they grew older. The publisher acknowledged it would be significantly easier for new readers to become interested in the stories by starting at issue No. 1 rather than hundreds of episodes into a series.
We did more than just change Superman's costume and renumber the entire line. We took a huge risk and it's paying off, said Jim Lee, DC Entertainment Co-Publisher and artist of Justice League.
In the first six weeks of the reboot, over 5 million copies of DC Comics were sold as new and old customers flooded stores to buy the New 52 titles. Before September the bestselling titles at DC may have sold 100,000 issues in a good month. Three months since the reboot the top five comic book titles are consistently selling well over 100,000, including Animal Man, Swamp Thing and, the top seller, Justice League.
Retailers were really afraid of what we were undertaking. We joke in our halls that the sentiment started as '[the reboot] isn't going to happen, it won't happen, it won't last, it won't work...' John Rood said. We take the challenge seriously.
Comic book store owners were concerned that while there may be interest in initial publications, sales would trail off following the first few issues. However, in the third month since the reboot, sales continue to grow for the New 52.
It was successful, said Jeff Ayers, manager at Forbidden Planet, a popular comic book store in New York City. But I want to see where we are in a year.
Ayers told IBTimes that the most popular titles continue to sell out in a frenzy each Wednesday at his comic book store. He claims the reboot has brought over 200 new customers, but despite the success so far, the future for certain titles remains uncertain.
[DC Comics] needs to keep up the quality, Ayers told IBTimes. Otherwise people will stop being curious.
The company, however, is confident readership for the New 52 will continue to grow.
In fact, since the reboot, the comic book industry as a whole has been growing in 2011, a stark difference from other publishing industries. Since last year, comic books overall are up 4.06% in dollars and 7.01% in units.
There's an additive notion to comic books, Rood told IBTimes. Where else in print, across magazines, newspapers, books, are they considering growth in both platforms, when same day is introduced. What is staggering about this particular category is that both aspects of this business, [digital and print], grew.
DC has promoted digital sales by releasing copies of their comic books online the same days as issues are released in stores (and for the same price). The sales data released Friday from Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. only includes print titles sold in comic book shops, excluding digital distribution and non-comic book store distributors, which means sales might be even higher than the numbers demonstrate.
It's not about the short term, Rood said, emphasizing that the New 52 will bring long-term growth for DC Comics. This was an entire redirection for the brand.