NUMBERS GAME: Spotlight on Dark Horse

tsw4The Top 10 (December 2013)

  1. (35) The Star Wars #4 (47,292)
  2. (39) The Star Wars #0 (40,531)
  3. (56) Star Wars #12 (33,093)
  4. (110) Hellboy In Hell #5 (21,026)
  5. (134) Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1 (15,847)
  6. (142) True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #6 (14,762)
  7. (147) Star Wars Legacy II #10 (13,783)
  8. (150) Dawn of the Jedi Force War #2 (13,531)
  9. (156) Terminator Salvation Final Battle #1 (13,022)
  10. (169) Star Wars Dark Times Spark Remains #5 (11,828)

Dark Horse finished 2013 5th in share of overall units and overall dollars, just behind IDW. The Star Wars #1 and Star Wars #1 were their two highest selling comics, and their top 10 shows how much the Star Wars license has meant to the company. The next highest selling Dark Horse title that isn’t associated with Star Wars is True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys #1 which slotted in as the 431st best-selling book of 2013. Dark Horse is probably hoping their Project Black Sky super-hero universe will pick up some of the slack, and they deserve credit for combining a lot of the characters in their stable to form this universe, though it has virtually no hope of matching the Star Wars sales. Dark Horse also has some smaller titles that represent amazing quality, such as The Massive (written by Brian Wood) and Mind MGMT (written and drawn by Matt Kindt). Both are titles that deserve a second look. Hopefully, growing the ‘originals’ line is another way Dark Horse continues to maintain viability in the current marketplace.

+In a galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars estimated sales175,905
Dark Horse Top 300 estimated sales343,071

At the end of 2014, Dark Horse will lose the rights to publish the Star Wars comics to Marvel. I always wondered how much Star Wars meant to Dark Horse, and I think the December numbers provide a pretty nice answer. In December, Dark Horse sold just under 350,000 in comics (top 300). Star Wars accounted for a whopping 51% of that number. And that is simply in comic books. It doesn’t take into account the graphic novel sales they will lose (though Empowered and The Massive were the top Dark Horse graphic novel sellers in December). Dark Horse did a fantastic job introducing the Brian Wood Star Wars series and adapting the original George Lucas draft this year and that has certainly helped propel excellent sales numbers for them. But when looking at the top selling titles of last year, other than the Killjoys #1, every single Dark Horse comic in that list was titled or subtitled Star Wars. Dark Horse is constantly putting out new titles to help mitigate the loss of the Star Wars license, but it will be interesting to see how a company loses 50% of its revenue stream and carries on. It will certainly knock down their market share to a point where rather than competing with IDW, they are more likely to be competing with Dynamite and Boom. It’s also important to note that none of these figures include digital sales.

Hellboy_in_Hell_5Filet Mignola.

Mignola-verse estimated sales – 62,242

Mike Mignola has been involved with Dark Horse a long time. He has managed to spin his Hellboy character into an entire universe, and as of December, it accounted for 18% of Dark Horse comics sales. This is certainly one of the ways that Dark Horse will forge on into 2015, as Hellboy has a rich history and a core group of fans that buy the titles. Though there is only the one series featuring the titular character (Hellboy in Hell), and it is the best selling of the books, the rest of the titles maintain a consistent sales pace in the 8000 copies per month range. These numbers certainly keep them in line with the other non-big 2 publishers.



A second wave of licensed characters…

Mass Effect
Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel
Tomb Raider
Avatar: The Last Airbender

Star Wars certainly isn’t the only license that Dark Horse carries. Many of these characters have been published by Dark Horse for years, including the Aliens and Predator characters. Terminator is currently the top selling of these licensed titles, closely followed in sales by the Conan titles. Tomb Raider will be coming to Dark Horse at the end of February (written by fan favorite Gail Simone), so that should add a bit of a boost to the sales figures. Avatar: The Last Airbender collections formed the highest selling Dark Horse graphic novels for last year, many of which outsold Star Wars and the Mignola titles according to Diamond’s numbers (Amazon numbers aren’t included). Dark Horse has plenty of series going for them, and lots of characters with history. There are also a good number of top creators that do, or have worked for Dark Horse in the past. They are producing many interesting comic books, and maybe people will start looking at more of their line in 2015.


Special thanks to for providing such an amazing resource for sales numbers, month after month.





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