The ABC article on Blokhedz was pretty interesting and a fairly good history of African-Americans (and minority representations in comics like DC's Milestone label), but it is funny to notice how they acknowledge Milestone's poor sales (which were in hte 10s of thousands) but are pushing this book. According to Diamond Distributors Blockhedz had the following sales figures in April with its number 2 issue:
Rank Index Title Cost Number Sold
287 1.36 BLOKHEDZ #2 (Of 4) (RES) (MR) $2.95 1,068
It was the 287th best selling book in April, which isn't bad for an underground new title. It had to be resolicited. Probably due to finances or deadline. Is recommended for mature readers and sold 1.36 copies for every 100 issues of Batman giving it a total of 1,068 sold.
The best selling book for this month was Superman:
Rank Index Title Cost Number Sold
1 294.72 SUPERMAN #204 $2.50 231,411
Superman sold 231,000 copies or 294 per 100 Batman sold. A significant difference, but I would like to point out that in the 70s Superman had an average print run was over 1 million. Comic print runs for good books where often at the 1 mil plus rate.
In fact according to the 1954 senate investigation into the ill effect comics were having on young people:
"The mimimum print order for any one issue of a comic book is apporoximately 300,000, although press runs of 750,000 for a single issue are not uncommom. The publishers' experience has shown that this minimum is neccessary to assure such widespread coverage as will provide the opportinuty for sufficient sales to cover costs and, hopefully, result in profits on that particular issue. With 95,000 to 110,000 newsdealers in the country, a press run of 300,000 would put only 3 copoes of the comic book on the shelves of each dealer if evenly distributed."
As we can see sales figures for comics have declined seriously.
The movement that brought about the comics code authority is not doubt partially responsible, but print runs in the 600k plus were frequent up to the 80s.
After the Direct Market Boom (which allowed for the largest 8mil and second largest 4mil runs to happen) there has been a huge bust.
Partially because the direct market narrow cast the audience. It removed access. Not intentionally. At first, it was a great innovation, but one which caused newstands to diminish the number of books they carried etc.
There were, of course, numerous other factors contributing to declining comic sales and further narrow casting of the audience.
BTW, the Superman and Astounding X-Men (by Joss Whedon) books have sales about twice what a normally high selling book has right now (usually around 100k). Your average book, lets say Daredevil or the Flash sell around 48k.
That is what I call a shrinking market. Oh, but it is up 12% over last year.
Of course last year didn't have two books that sold 200k each. So minus those two books we are down for the year. That month Wolverine #1 sold 150k and Batman sold about 100k. All the top 10 were around 100k. This year top 3 around 200k and rest of top 10 around 100k, but when Joss Whedon stops writing X-men and Jim Lee leaves Superman those sales figures will drop.
Let it also be noted that the Superman and Whedon figures were already inflated by alternate cover sales for each book. Both books had multiple covers which affects the number of issues sold.