[PHoto from the FB page of our own Brandon Schatz’s new store Variant Comics in Edmundton, AB]
David Harper of Sktchd is at it again with the survey! This time it’s comics retailers. The respondent base is only 25, so a high margin of error, but it does provide a useful snapshot and lots of on the ground observation from the merchant class. Just to cut to the nut pie chart:
More Readers! Bob Wayne! We did it! We made the pie bigger!
I spoke of new and casual readers earlier, and as you can see in the chart above, they’re coming, and they’re coming worldwide. Over 90 percent shared they have seen an influx of new readers in the past five years, with Brower saying, “I can’t tell you why, but every week we experience someone who is in their very first comic shop.” That’s amazing, and promising for the comic industry even if some shops shared their growth is moderate. But at least they are seeing new readers. Even better? They’re being generated by several disparate sources.
Leef Smith of Mission: Comics & Art in San Francisco shared, “Even though I’ve only had the store for just over a five years, I can already tell that there’s been a large influx of cross-over readers, drawn in especially by Saga, The Walking Dead and webcomics.” Neil Farris of Hijinx Comics in San Jose cited comic movies as another boon to his shop, and he wasn’t the only one. Five in total shared that movies and TV shows have driven new readers into their shops.
Hibbs cited digital as a big driver, saying, “digital appears to be functioning as the ‘new newsstand’, introducing people to the market so they can come buy ‘real’ versions.” To have a retailer say that is huge, as years before, digital was oft cited as a potential harbinger of doom for print comics. Now? It’s additive, as several retailers shared.
The most mentioned reason was simple though: women are reading comics more than ever, or at least at the shops I spoke to.
I remember when Brian Hibbs was the leader of the Nights Watch guarding the wall from the digital wildlings, but now, just like Jon Snow, he found out they are valuable allies after all! And unlike Jon Snow, Hibbs won’t be stabbed by his fellow retailers for saying so.
I’ll also share the female customer chart because it’s pretty interesting:
The 25-50% range is well within the 40-50% range we’ve established in numerous demographic studies, numbers which we went over just a couple of weeks ago at the comics readership panel at SDCC. So yeah. WOMAN BUY COMICS. [sic] And we’re saving the industry, just like I predicted! HAW HAW HAW.
You’ll want to read the whole thing but one other interesting statistic. 42% thought it’s the golden age of comics while 38% thought things were good but could be better. I know things can always be better; I also know that comics retailer love to complain about things, so this is a highly sanguine group on the whole.
And finally this piece of wisdom for EVERYONE to digest:
“Like a marriage or any other long-term relationship, it’s something you need to constantly work at,” Thompson said. “Just because you knew comics two, five or ten years ago doesn’t mean you know them now…but if you’re committed to staying on top of things then it’s a rewarding business that can still thrive in this day and age.”
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.