The comic book industry has been a staple of pop culture for decades, and has only grown as its characters get adapted into other pieces of media. While the industry has obviously endured some challenges in recent years (especially now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic), a new report indicates that comic sales have hit an interesting high. Trade news sites ICv2 and Comichron (via Publisher's Weekly) have estimated that combined sales of graphic novels and periodical comics in the U.S. and Canada totaled roughly $1.21 billion last year. This is an 11% increase over total comics and graphic sales in 2018.
Graphic novels are credited for contributing to a lot of this increase, in particular continued growth in sales of children's graphic novels, sold via the bookstore channel, which includes chain bookstores, online retailers, mass-market stores, and Scholastic Book Fairs. Sales of periodical comics also increased by around %5.
"The massive shift to graphic novels as the preferred format for comics continued in 2019, bringing sales in the book channel above the comic store channel in North America for the first time in the history of the medium," ICv2 CEO Milton Griepp said of the findings.
This report was compiled through data from several distributors, including NPD BookScan and Diamond Comics Distributors. The print figures are based on the full retail price of the books sold, while digital sales left out subscription-based services.
In 2019, North American sales of the graphic novel format were about $765 million, while sales of periodical comics were about $355 million, with sales of digital comics at about $90 million. Sales made through different retail channels totaled roughly $570 million via the bookstore channel (bookstores generally do not sell periodical comics); about $525 million in sales were via direct market comics shops (which sell both periodical comics and book format comics); and about $25 million in sales came via “other channels,” which includes newsstands and crowdfunding.
It's safe to assume that 2020 will have wildly different sales numbers, as the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the industry in recent months.
"The comics industry has displayed resilience during many difficult times over the decades," Comichron founder Jonathan Miller said. "While the pandemic may prove its biggest test yet, 2019 provided the business with a strong base."
"Demand for comics content remains high and retailers have been finding inventive ways to fill that demand," Griepp added.
What do you think of the comic industry showing such an increase in 2019? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.