Comic book stories are popular. The monster success of Avengers: Endgame and the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as popularity of films in the DC Extended Universe, The CW's Arrowverse, and even non-superhero shows like SYFY's Happy and Deadly Class all make a good case for the comic book genre being one having its moment in entertainment. But it's not just movies and television. Comic books themselves are popular, too, so much so that sales of them are at an all-time high.
According to a new study by ICv2 and Comichron, total sales of comics and graphic novels to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were around $1.095 billion in 2018 -- $80 million dollars more than 2017's number and $10 million more than the previous all-time high of 2016. The study attributes the 2018 increase both gains in book channel and digital sales as well as includes estimates for sales made through crowdfunding sites. John Jackson Miller of Comichron also noted that popular releases also helped bolster numbers for comics shops.
"After a brief downturn in 2017, the market bounced back last year," Miller said. "Popular releases helped right the shop in comics shops, even as other sales avenues made significant gains."
The study also breaks down the various channels for sales of comics and while comics shops are still the primary source of sales for comics and graphic novels despite a slight dip from last year, so-called "book channels" -- chain bookstores, mass merchandisers, major online retailers, and even Scholastic Book Fairs -- were a close second. That particular sales channel saw double digit growth in 2018. Digital channels also saw some growth but remain a fraction of the overall total sales at $100 million.
As for what people are actually buying, graphic novels led sales over individual comic books again in 2018 but saw significant growth -- $635 million of the total $1.095 billion revenue came from graphic novels. Digital comics also saw an increase in sales, part of a shift being seen in the overall market.
"A historic shift is playing out as the market grew, primarily in the book channel, in 2018," ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp told Publishers Weekly in a statement. "While comics stores are still the largest channel, they represented less than half the market for comics and graphic novels in 2018 for the first time in at least three decades."
What do you think? Are you surprised by how the revenues break down? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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