We did it! We hit a billion! It’s been a slow and steady climb, and took a lot of hard work from the whole team, as chronicled by both ICv2’s Milton Griepp and Comichron’s John Jackson Miller, but we made it.
Griepp and Miller have just released their third annual sales chart for annual revenues, and combined sales in all channels just topped $1 bilion, up from $935 million in 2014. That’s a 10% rise:
“The audience for comics and graphic novels continues to broaden,“ Griepp said. “The increase in sales reflects not only the increased awareness of comics properties from other media, we’re also seeing rapid growth in new audiences for comics, including kids and women.”
“Sales of comics in print formats have finally eclipsed the $850 million modern-era high from 1993,” Miller said. “That 1993 total was $1.4 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, though, so there’s still some ways to go to reach a new inflation-adjusted high for the last 50 years. But the book channel in particular is helping us make progress toward it.”
Graphic novels in the book channel represented the biggest area of growth, although every other area of print sales (except newsstand) grew in 2015 as well. Print grew over $100 million to $940 million in 2015, up 13% over 2014.
Sales of graphic novels through the book channel grew 23% to $350 million, after growing 16% in 2014, while graphic novel growth in the comic store channel was in the mid-single digits.
Sales of comic books in comic stores were up solidly to $385 million, roughly 8% over 2014 sales.
Digital sales declined around 10% in 2015, back to 2013 levels. This was the only area of decline among all the segments of the market, reflecting trends specific to digital, and in some cases specific to digital comics.
As presented above and in the accompanying infographic, the analysis by Comichron and ICv2 was divided up between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales.
All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup. Digital sales do not include subscription or “all you can read” services.
This is the third joint market size analysis from ICv2 and Comichron; the first was for 2013 sales.
Just for comparison, Miller and Griepp estimate the total sales for comics and GNs in 2002 as $300-330 million. That’s sort of the early days of the movie/library/book store revolution, so as you can see, all of that did a lot of good!
Will sales rise to be more than $1 billion in 2016? That’s a bit trickier to guess. If DC and Marvel can relaunch their asses off and Marvel can raise prices to $5 for their whole line, maybe. If kids and YA graphic novels continue to grow, as they have in recent years, I’d expect to see a rise.
Although periodical comics remain a month to month thing, the manga comeback, more channels (however tenuous) and the continued growth of graphic novels seem to me to be a good trade off. We might not see 10% growth in 2016 but I feel the comics market will stabilize. Future growth sees likely, but who can predict where the current fractionalization of culture will take us? For all I know, in the future people will run around trying to find successive pages of comics at local landmarks and have no time to go to comics shops.
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.