Is Marvel Up the Creek in 2012?

Diamond has put out its year-end sales lists, and we’ve gleaned a few insights.

The biggest one being that while comics in general have a problem, Marvel is potentially in very, very, serious trouble.

Sure, they had the dominant market share and dollar share, but they also spent the last third of the year as number two. And 2012 doesn’t look good: out of the top twenty best selling comics of the year…sixteen of them were from DC, and the general trend is of people sticking with the New 52 on the sales charts.

On the trade paperback front, where a lot of comics companies make their money, they literally have one trade in the top 50, and it’s “Kick-Ass”. We’ve mentioned Marvel’s cheapness on this front before, but all you have to do is realize Image couldn’t print “Walking Dead” trades fast enough (6 of the top ten trades of 2011 are “Walking Dead” collections), and that Marvel had not one, but TWO, hit movies starring two beloved characters with lots of back issues to realize money is being left on the table.

Worse, Marvel’s embrace of what obviously made DC the most money, digital comics, has been a stingy two-pat bro hug, not the full-on squeeze DC used. Marvel’s day-and-date strategy has been a complete and total mess; the release schedule is spotty and confusing (good luck finding any #1 they’re putting out, unless it’s a four buck crossover issue), and the back catalogue they’re releasing is utterly baffling. What’s with all the stuff from 1999?

It’s true that DC’s lead has been narrowing with each month as readers get comfortable with the New 52 and decide which books they want and which are being dropped. On the other hand, it’s also true that Marvel’s graphic novel distribution is weak compared to everyone else’s, and it had a rough fall in 2011. Something tells us 2012 is not going to do it any favors.

[ check out the data for yourself at Comics Alliance ]

image courtesy Marvel Comics