It’s my FAVORITE day of the year, when Brian Hibbs posts the year-end sales from bookstores via the BookScan chart. Now we know these numbers are significantly low, but as I always say, they present a metric.
The huge takeaway? Well, we all knew THE WALKING DEAD was a juggernaut—sales in this franchise would have made it the #3 publisher all by itself—but after that it’s kids’ comics all the way, led by the maybe-comics of Dork Diaries, but following by Big Nate, Ninjago, Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath, DRAMA, and so on.The #1 comics for Dark Horse, BOOM!, and IDW were all kids’ comics—AVATAR, ADVENTURE TIME, and MY LITTLE PONY, respectively.
Scholastic, Pantheon, and Andrews McMeel all sold way more books than Marvel. Hibbs has some strong words for Marvel’s lackluster bookstore sales:
I think it is very difficult to look at Marvel’s backlist business as anything other than an abject, deeply embarrassing failure, especially when you consider that there was a film that grossed a billion-and-a-half dollars, and was not only also a critical hit, but a near perfect encapsulation of what’s awesome about comic books serving as the greatest advertisement for their comics that one could possibly imagine, and Marvel’s best-selling comic in BookScan is… “Kick Ass 2.”
The book of the year for me? Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath, a series I have never seen covered in the comics press by a known comics creator (she also draws the webcomic DIGGER) that outsold every comic from a “comics” publisher except THE DARK KNIGHT by Frank Miller. I never knew this existed until I visited my family and saw my 7-year-old female cousins reading it.
I’ll have some more breakdowns of the numbers in a future post, but for now the message—which you already know if you’ve been reading The Beat for any length of time—is that kids’ comics are the biggest growth area for the medium right now, and this strong new generation of comics readers is a wave the medium should be able to surf successfully for years to come.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.