MARKET MAVEN: Marvel & DC Split the Pie In December’s Comic Book Market

Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary source of comic book distribution in North America, released the final statistics for the month of December to close out 2014.

In a rare split, Marvel Comics and DC Comics each led in one aspect. Where Marvel carried the day in overall dollar share, DC led the way in unit share. This shouldn’t come as a serious surprise, given that DC shipped 102 comics and 36 graphic novels compared to Marvel’s 77 comics and 24 graphic novels, but it does make for an interesting point. While DC shipped and sold more units, Marvel made more money, almost certainly a result of top 10 finishes for titles at a $4.99 price point.

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS

RANK

DESCRIPTION

PRICE

ITEM CODE

VENDOR

1

BATMAN #37

$3.99

OCT140293-M

DC

2

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11

$3.99

OCT140829-M

MAR

3

S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

$4.99

OCT140813-M

MAR

4

BATMAN ANNUAL #3

$4.99

OCT140297

DC

5

THOR #3

$3.99

OCT140862-M

MAR

6

JUSTICE LEAGUE #37

$3.99

OCT140223-M

DC

7

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1

$4.99

OCT140824-M

MAR

8

AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #7

$3.99

OCT140781-M

MAR

9

AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #9

$4.99

OCT140787-M

MAR

10

AVENGERS AND X-MEN: AXIS #8

$3.99

OCT140784-M

MAR

While the Big Two publishers dominated the overall landscape, the picture still looks good for rising publisher Image Comics. While their output decreased from November, which saw the company ship 74 titles (only two less than Marvel for that month) to 52 in the month of December, the dollar and unit shares slipped less than 1% in either area. Having nearly the same segment of the market cornered despite lowering output by nearly a third is something which shows how lean a machine that company has truly become.

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER

DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS

32.07%

34.10%

DC COMICS

31.76%

36.17%

IMAGE COMICS

9.89%

10.40%

IDW PUBLISHING

6.10%

4.17%

DARK HORSE COMICS

3.47%

2.95%

BOOM! STUDIOS

2.66%

2.82%

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

2.58%

2.26%

EAGLEMOSS PUBLICATIONS

1.22%

0.22%

ARCHIE COMICS

0.88%

0.91%

AVATAR PRESS

0.86%

0.74%

OTHER NON-TOP 10

8.50%

5.25%

The larger picture shows that the overall comic book market is still dominated by super hero titles. DC and Marvel combine for nearly 64% of ever dollar spent on comic books and over 70% of all comics sold. What’s more, that segment remains relatively unchanged from the year before. DC is somewhat more equal to Marvel at this point, but Image shows a significant rise in the comic book market from December 2013, jumping over 2%. What this means is that Image is not necessarily stealing readers and dollars from the Big Two, but consolidating the independent readership under their banner.

That consolidation is definitely a trend we’ll be keeping an eye on, so be sure to check back in on our next installment of Market Maven.

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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