Comics sales barely went up last year, as Diamond reported an overall 0.3% rise in comics and GNs in 2016. The figures were part of a presentation at ComicsPRO as reported by Matt Price at Nerdage: Periodical sales were down a tetch in dollars but up a tetch in units:
Diamond Comic Distributors announced that, when combining comics and graphic novels, sales were slightly up for 2016, by .3 percent in dollars and 1.1 percent in units. This is despite the closing of the Hastings chain, which was one of the largest comics vendors. Periodical comics themselves dropped 1.1 percent in dollars, with a 1.02 increase in unit sales. Graphic novels, or book-form comics, made up the difference with a 1.24 percent dollar increase, and 2.1 percent unit increase.
Those were smaller gains after years of larger increases, though estimates from DC Comics later in the meeting indicated that comics across all channels remained a growing, thriving business, with the heart of that business remaining the comic shops that make up what’s called the comic book direct market.
The unit increase is likely due to overshipping, although 2015’s number were up quite a bit because of several Loot Crates as opposed to just one in 2016.
Diamond’s number of accounts (the number of comics shops) was up 2.5%
Obviously these numbers are flat or down…but only a tiny bit which does belie the industry in freefall narrative you’re seeing at times.
The main culprit for the doldrums is Marvel, of course, with their constant renumbering and relaunching and reeventing having lost all effectiveness over time. David Gabriel spent the morning chatting with retailers yesterday, and while it was supposedly confidential Price reports the mood was good:
Quick reaction to Marvel’s overall presentation seemed positive, with Gabriel meeting in small groups with retailers after the official presentation to answer additional questions and provide more details.
Of course, one website did get retailers to reveal more, including the name of Marvel’s fall initiative: Make Mine Marvel! Gabriel really loves to recycle successful slogans doesn’t he? but given the industry’s love of nostalgia, that’s probably a smart move. Marvel’s legacy heroes will also be phased back in, however Marvel will deal with real world politics as it always has, although not quite with the current emphasis.
In other news, retailers were pleased with swag:
— Heroes Landing (@HeroesLanding) February 17, 2017
ComicsPRO continues through tomorrow with more pubisher presentatiosn today and a trip to Diamond’s upgraded Olive Branch facility tomorrow.
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.