First, a discussion regarding the success of Star Wars comics for Marvel is probably in order. See this via Comichron.com
When the first Star Wars movie was adapted by Marvel in 1977, early issues of the comic book released before the movie came out. The first issue appeared in two different first printings, both newsstand editions for Curtis Circulation; one was a special rare variant with a test-marketed price. Beginning with the second issue, first printings were also released as part of Western Publishing’s Whitman bagged comics program.
Once retailers knew they had a blockbuster on their hands, multiple printings were ordered, both by Curtis Circulation and, most consequentially, by Western for special Star Wars three-packs sold by its Whitman program. The result was that early issues of the title were the first comics to exceed 1 million copies per issue in sales since 1960; according to Jim Shooter, “Star Wars saved Marvel.”
No circulation data was required to be published in the first two years of the series’ existence, but Star Wars was certainly the #1 title in the industry in 1977 and 1978; in 1979, when data first appeared, the Whitman factor had played out, and it was likely the #2 title, not far behind Amazing Spider-Man and just ahead of Incredible Hulk.
Sales declined every year after that, though 1984’s sales were very close to those of 1983, when Return of the Jedi came out. By the last full year of the title’s initial run, it was a lower-tier book at Marvel, selling less than a third of the copies of the market-leading Uncanny X-Men.
When Star Wars returned to Marvel in 2015, it repeated its initial feat, with the first issue selling more than a million copies for the first issue. Star Wars‘ return to Marvel wound up adding more than $31 million to the Direct Market in 2015.
Some direct-market only information is available in the monthly reports.
—John Jackson Miller
I’ve addressed the plummeting Star Wars comic book sales on my blog several times. Recently I had a gentleman email a spreadsheet to me, that expands on that information. Here’s what Tyler had to say about the spreadsheet he sent me:
Your comics sales discussion intrigued me as I’ve been meaning to reach out to you the last several weeks to share the spreadsheet I recently finished compiling. I’ve been working on it in my spare time, but I’ve been charting SW comics sales from ‘96 to today. My opinion? It doesn’t paint a good picture. And I can’t for the life of me figure out how Dr Aphrodite is still in print.
Also, when I tweeted some of the conclusions I reached analyzing the data, I was met with the response, “Yeah, but that doesn’t count digital sales!” There seems to be this Great White Hope that comics in general are not in bad shape because digital sales are so great. Truth is, I emceed a panel at a con featuring four working pros. The consensus of the panel was that digital sales are about 1/6 of the sales of paper copies. 1/6.
Anyway, I’m teaching my spreadsheet. Hope you find something interesting in it.
Feel free to share it.
I got all the figures in the spreadsheet from Comichron, but the main gig was putting them all together.
Basically, each tab is a year, each column is a month in that year. On the far left are the series titles. Each column to the right of the title is an issue number-slash-sales of that issue that month.
For example, if the sheet says:
Knights of the Old Republic and the first column next to it says 4/18276, that means in January issue 4 sold 18276 copies.
At the end of each row I total up the number of copies sold over the year of that particular title.
I made some notes in the margins, as it were.
- 2016 80,242 per issue
- 2017 39,692 per issue
- 2018 27,545 per issue
The Force Awakens adaptation average 46,915 per issue
Rogue One‘s adaptation average 32,161 per issue
The Last Jedi adaptation average 20022 per issue (Dark Horse’s reprint of Star Wars: Devil Worlds (1996) outsold the The Last Jedi adaptation…)
The Solo adaptation average 18647 so far. This will go lower as the series winds down.
- Average Marvel Star Wars first issue 2015: 301,656
- Average Marvel Star Wars first issue 2016: 122,866
- Average Marvel Star Wars first issue 2017: 60,034
- Average Marvel Star Wars first issue 2018: 37,026
The co-published Marvel and IDW Star Wars (kids comics) first issue in 2018 sold 30,436 issues to retailers
- In 2016 the average sales of an issue of Marvel Star Wars sold 96,184 copies
- In 2017 the average sales of an is Marvel Star Wars sold 68,401 copies
- In 2018 the average issue of Marvel Star Wars sold 47,931 copies
- In 2016 Marvel Comics released ten Star Wars titles, which sold 4,331,483 copies
- In 2017 Marvel Comics released fifteen Star Wars related titles, which sold 3,877,101
- In 2018 Marvel and IDW combined released THIRTY ONE titles selling 3,395,152
Just some of the observations I gathered from the spreadsheet.
Sound off on what you think it means in the comments section below.
Originally published here.