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Marvel Dominated 2019's Comic Book Market

The publisher had seven of the top 10 releases most ordered by comic shops for the year, but it's another story when it comes to collected editions.
Lenil Francis Yu/Marvel Entertainmen
The publisher had seven of the top 10 releases most ordered by comic shops for the year, but it's another story when it comes to collected editions.

2020 is underway, but we’re not finished with 2019 just yet, as Diamond Comic Distributors has released the market breakdown for physical comic book orders from comic stores for the year, demonstrating Marvel’s continued dominance in the periodical space, even if the collected edition and graphic novel market remains difficult for the company.

According to the distributor, Marvel Entertainment was the top comics publisher of 2019 with a 40.2 percent dollar market share and a 44.72 unit share for the year, with seven of the top 10 periodical releases. Jonathan Hickman and Lenil Yu’s X-Men No. 1 was the publisher’s highest-ordered issue of 2019, which is the third-most highly ordered periodical of the year overall. When it comes to collected editions and graphic novels, however, the picture is far less impressive, with Marvel scoring none of the year’s top 10 book releases.

DC made up half of the top 10 collected edition and graphic novel releases of 2019, with Watchmen topping the list more than three decades after its initial collected release. DC scored two of the top 10 periodical releases, including the year’s most ordered title, Detective Comics No. 1000. Overall, the company had a 29.29 percent dollar share and 30.74 unit share of the 2019 comic store market.

Image Comics was the third-largest publisher of the year, with an 8.04 percent dollar share and 7.69 unit share, with one title on the top 10 periodical list — Spawn No. 300, the second-most highly ordered periodical — and four titles on the collected edition and graphic novel list, including the first volumes of Saga, Monstress and Die.

Overall, Diamond reports that the comic store market grew 2.23 percent over 2018 numbers overall, with the rise actually coming from periodical orders, which were up almost 4 percent. Collected edition orders actually dropped almost 2 percent across the year.

Diamond’s accounting doesn’t reflect final sales to customers, only the orders from comic stores and others inside the comic specialty market. The numbers also don’t account for all sales in bookstores, with the majority of publishers’ book editions available from other distributors for collected and graphic novel material. As such, they don’t reveal a complete picture of the comic industry’s health in its entirety, but instead a snapshot of the periodical market specifically and comparative health of publishers more broadly.

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