We’ve often commented that a scientifically conducted reader survey of comics readership — age, sex, race, income — would be a very useful thing, especially now that there are more comics than ever, all with smaller readerships. Maybe it would show how that whole forty-year-old virgin thing is going. Well according to this press release, maybe they are now 65-year-old virgins. Simba Information has released the second edition of its ”Overview of the U.S. Comic Book and Graphic Novel Market” report and used the finding that 1 in 4 comics reader is over the age of 65 as their attention-grabbing headline.
The burgeoning market for comics has been driven recently by a series of successful film adaptations, most notably Warner Bros.’ ”The Dark Knight”, which stands as one of the highest-grossing films of all time. Yet, as ”Overview of the U.S. Comic Book and Graphic Novel Market 2009-2010” clearly shows, the industry remains misunderstood at best.
“Despite notable efforts from many in the industry, comics and graphic novels continue to be repeatedly mislabeled as just another children’s book category,” said Warren Pawlowski, online publishing manager for Simba Information and an analyst within the company’s Trade Books Group. “With nearly a quarter of the comic reading audience beyond the age of retirement, there is a misconception that needs to be corrected.”
Well now, we know you are all scratching your heads at that. Are a quarter of all comics readers REALLY stopping at the Androids Dungeon on their way to the Country Kitchen buffet? Unfortunately, it will cost you a mere $1295 to read the whole report, and we don’t know too many people who are going to do that. Perhaps if every Beat reader contributed a dollar we could start a fund. As Esther Inglis-Arkell points out in her own commentary, the idea that comics are for kids isn’t one that’s native to the industry, (cf. Skottie Young et al), so this report is obviously aimed at people who don’t know much about the comics biz but are dying to sink a lot of money into finding out so they can get their share of that pot ‘o’ comics gold. A commenter at Comics Alliance suggests that the report confused comic STRIP readers with comic BOOK readers, which is the only thing that makes any sense; surely Torsten will stop by in five minutes with his own theory.
It does suggest that an entire readership is being under-served. Perhaps some enterprising comics publisher should look up that Matlock comic book license, for instance.
At any rate, as we wrote last year, actual valid information would give us something to argue about for hours, perhaps even days.
BTW we couldn’t even find a picture of a geezer reading a comic book, but we did find this famous photo of then NYC mayor Fiorello LaGuardia reading the Sunday funnies on the radio to entertain the children who once read comics. He would be really old if he were still alive so hopefully this counts.
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.