The Fallacy of Following Comic Book Print Runs 

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Over the last few days there has been one book that has started heating up online due to print run misinformation. I am talking about the Second Print of Symbiote Spider-man #4 which has been pushed as a desirable book based on it’s low print run. This book was published in July of 2019. This cover depicts a venomized Mysterio character with artwork by Greg Land. Over the past few days this book has been selling for $50 to $80. It has also been reported that this book can be found inside Walmart 3 packs. Walmart 3 packs are comic book bundles sold exclusively at Walmart US Stores featuring Marvel comic book overstock. It has also been reported that the Symbiote Spider-Man #4 has an “estimated print run” of 1588.

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Symbiote Spider-Man #4

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Comichron is the one and only resource online that lists what some people regard as comic book print runs. However, print runs are very rarely if ever reported by publishers and instead of listing print runs Comichron simply lists the number of “estimated comics shipped to North American Comic Shops based on Reports from Diamond Comics Distributors.” There is no resource online that publishes or states how many copies of certain books were published – we only have a resource that posts how many copies of comics were ordered by Comic Book Stores through Diamond Distribution.

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This means that any comic books sold outside of the Diamond Comic Book distribution system are not reported by comichron – it also means that books that do not sell out and are sold after the week of release through Diamond are not reported by Comichron. This means that any books that Marvel sold to Walmart or any other big box retailer are not reported in the comichron numbers. Comichron reports that retailers ordered 1588 copies of Symbiote Spider-Man #4 – Something I want you to think about is – How could Symbiote Spider-Man #4 have an estimated print run of 2000 when hundreds of people have been posting online about finding copies at Walmart?

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Walmart 3 pack

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Comichron is a great resource but it is time to call out people that state these numbers and use this resource in reference to print run numbers. The Comichron numbers are only one side of the comic book distribution picture, sure these orders numbers are the closest we currently have to any comic book print run estimates however these estimates should in no way be considered print runs.

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.No Heroine Banner Final

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What do you think? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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4 comments

  • Good write up. I do think people need to take print run numbers with a grain of salt.

  • Afraid you’ve overlooked something fairly significant with your example.

    August just included the reorders and any reprints of Symbiote Spider-Man #4 — the vast majority of the comic book’s shipments were in July. Look to the previous month and you’ll see that 41,707 copies were shipped — and look to our 2019 year-end chart (https://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2019.html) and you’ll see that for the whole year, Diamond’s shipments to the North American Direct Market totaled 43,363 copies.

    But, yes, “print run” and “copies sold” should not be used interchangeably — which is why Comichron never, ever does it.

    • In case the assumption was that those August numbers reflected the second printing, note that we don’t make that assertion at Comichron. Diamond makes no distinction between variants, and if there were leftover first printings that shipped in August, those would have been included in those numbers.

      This is particularly the case for issues that ship in the last week of the month; the next month’s charts always have a lot of first printings included. Most publishers don’t print exactly to orders, but overprint to a degree in case of damages.

      Needless to say, we advise caution when it comes to approaching these later months’ reports.

  • People are so dumb, all you need to do is look at how many listings there are on ebay to know that print run number is hilariously wrong.

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