Robot 6

When’s the last time a non-Big Two comic topped the sales charts?

The Walking Dead #100 has already been trumpeted as the bestselling comic, in initial orders, since 1997, so it comes as absolutely no surprise that those 383,612 copies were more than enough to lead Diamond Comic Distributors’ Top 10 list for July. It’s the first time in its nearly nine-year run that the horror series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard has topped the chart.

However, it also marks another milestone: It’s the first time in almost a decade that a comic published by a company other than Marvel or DC has claimed the top spot in the direct market. That honor, in November 2002, went to another Image title, Masters of the Universe #1, by Val Staples and Emiliano Santalucia. Of course, that comic sold about 270,000 fewer copies than the 100th issue of The Walking Dead, according to the invaluable Comichron archives.

Before that, though, the now-defunct Dreamwave Productions had a pretty good run, with its Transformers series leading the monthly sales charts for a full half of 2002.

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It’s interesting that you have to go back almost 10 years to find a non-Marvel/DC comic that topped the sales charts … and even in those instances, they are licensed properties (He-Man, Transformers). I wonder when the last time was a creator-owned, non-licensed book topped the charts? I’m sure that happened sometime in the 1990s with the original Image wave, but have there been any since then?

Spawn #100, in July 2000, appears to be the last time a creator-owned book topped the charts.

Other than Spawn, I don’t remember any of that happening. I remember the comics existing, but not, you know, topping the charts. Weird.

hurray for 10 million variant covers! Apparently, that trick still works. The 90s are alive and well.

I think there was an issue of the Darkness that topped the chart sometime in the late 90s. I’m forgetting the specific issue (but not #1).

Please note that the 383,612 figure will absolutely NOT be what Diamond reports next week. As we saw with the Justice League announcements, what the publishers report from their end is apples and oranges. Diamond’s figure will be much lower: it doesn’t include overseas orders, newsstand draws, or various other special markets sales — and it’s only July. As such, Comichron will not revise its 21st Centrury list…

http://www.comichron.com/vitalstatistics/topcomics2000s.html

…until January, when Diamond has reported end-of-year sales.

And, yes, Darkness #11 had preorders of 357,000 copies in December 1997:

http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/1997/1997-12.html

Whoa, on that 1997 chart, there are MULTIPLE manga whose single issue sales were above 10,000 copies. And this was BEFORE the so-called “manga boom”! It seems like 10k+ sales on an entire volume (at a much less attractive price point, from the publisher’s perspective) are pretty rare these days, and yet 32-page B&W floppies were selling that regularly in 1997? Kind of unreal.

I think what you’re seeing there is an echo of comics shops having developed, to a great degree, the market for U.S. manga in the 1980s with the 32-page translations. The bookstore market for full-sized manga hasn’t really taken over yet, so there’s still life in the small-chunk model then.

Also, when the shift to the full-sized manga happens and bookstore availability flourished, my guess is they weren’t as comfortable a fit for retailers who were used to buying comics as non-returnable magazines. Comics shops had never done particularly well with newsstand digest-sized comics, either. TPBs were another story, thankfully.

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