Comic book brands are tough to track. It’s gotten to be good mathematical exercise, just keeping up with how many spinoffs Batman, Green Lantern, Superman and X-Men generate. Right now, Justice League is the #1 selling single comic book in America, according to Diamond. But how much money does the Justice League attract, overall?
To answer that question, we consulted Diamond Comics Distributors data on the 1000 best-selling comic books and 1000 best-selling graphic novels/trade paperbacks of 2011, expertly collected and redistributed through the Comics Chronicles. We multiplied price per unit by units sold, and totaled up the various comic book and trade paperbacks/graphic novel sales by brand.
|Birds of Prey||$1,281,860.00|
We kept things simple. Even though Batman is a part of the Justice League, “Batman” and “Justice League” are two distinct brands, and people who follow one won’t necessarily follow the other. When two brands shared a title, we assigned “star billing” to the one that came first: Superman/Batman, Wolverine and the X-Men. These weren’t a significant percentage of the total.
And what about megacrossovers? We considered Flashpoint a Flash series– it’s right there in the name, and the story follows Flash’s viewpoint pretty closely, compared to most megacrossover stories. But we didn’t assign Blackest Night or Fear Itself to any one brand. If we had assigned them to the most likely candidates, respectively Green Lantern and Thor, it would’ve solidified but not changed Green Lantern’s #5 position, putting him (and all his ring-waving compatriots, collectively) at $11,157,552.00 even. Fear Itself would’ve bumped Thor’s ranking up significantly, to $7,969,306.00, putting him just behind GL and ahead of the JLA. He’d probably say something here about the mortal inability to comprehend true greatness. This is why nobody talks numbers around Thor.
It’s a challenge to divide up the Bat-brands and X-brands fairly. Some might lump Nightwing, Red Robin and every character whose name starts with “Bat” into the Bat-camp, while X-Force and X-Factor… oh, I don’t need to spell it out for you. And despite his… diverse career, Wolverine still has his roots in the X-Men, too. (Did he join the Fantastic Four recently? I forget.)
For the avid monthly buyer, the only real surprise in the top ten is The Walking Dead, though it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Still a relatively weak performer in monthly format, TWD cleans up in trade paperback, and will probably keep doing well for as long as the AMC series is on the air. The only other example of the “TPB factor” in the top 25 is Fables.
Don’t count out Batwoman and Aquaman, who didn’t publish much this year, and seem likely to crack the top 25 next time out. And remember that Diamond, while a near-monopoly in some areas, doesn’t always represent the entire comics marketplace. There’s always room for quibbles over methodology in a study like this. Still, the next time somebody argues that the Avengers are still “the new X-Men” in the comic book shop, now you have your informed reply.