We’ve been telling you for a while that NPD/Bookscan – a company that track sell through of books in various outlets – has been eager to get more of their comics sales info out there. Bookscan’s Kristen Mclean has been leading the charge on this and she’s got a lot of data points to back her up.
And now the comics business news site ICv2 has struck a deal with NPD/Bookscan to reprint monthly graphic novel bestseller lists in five categories.
The new collaboration will kick off with full year 2017 graphic novel bestseller charts, including the overall top sellers, plus the bestsellers in the Manga, Kids, Superhero, and Author subcategories. ICv2 Pro subscribers will see those same charts with actual sales quantities. Monthly charts will begin with sales in January 2018. “We’re excited to be partnering more closely with ICv2,” said Kristen Mclean, Executive Director, Business Development at The NPD Group. “We believe the sustained growth in Comics and Graphic Novels in the Trade side of the market is an important trend that publishers and retailers need to understand as we all navigate a rapidly changing consumer landscape. ICv2’s 360-degree view will help everyone engage and understand the opportunities; and we are looking forward to working together on this type of insight in the coming year.”
The collab kicked off with the full year bestsellers for 2017.
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Kids Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 Manga
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 ‘Author’ Graphic Novels
Full Year 2017 BookScan – Top 20 ‘Superhero’ Graphic Novels
ICv2 will also be making the ACTUAL NUMBERS available, but to get them you’ll need to sign up for their ICv2 Pro service. Given that a Bookscan subscription is five figures (or more) this is a bargain.
Now normally, I’d be analyzing the heck out of these list – as Brian Hibbs will be doing just that a bit later this month – but out of respect for ICv2’s Milton Griepp and their exclusive, I’ll refrain from reprinting the lists with my own commentary. Click those links!
However, reprinted with ICv2’s permission, I’d like to draw your attention to the Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels of 2017. The vast majority – 17 out of 20 – included female, Asian or African-American members on the creative teams. Of the three that didn’t, two were backlist perennials, and one was Walking Dead.
I’ve made a little chart just to give you visual representation of this.
Roz Chast! Emil Ferris! Jomny Sun! The Legend of Zelda’s “Akira Himekawa” is actually two adorable middle aged Japanese women who are fantastic cartoonists.
And for those keeping score, the only new superhero book to chart is Ta-Nahesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze’s Black Panther.
I made a smaller chart for the kids list just to show the books by women. (Not as much racial diversity here.)
(In case you’re an old like me, Dantdm is one of those YoutTube gaming personalities we don’t understand.)
I’d like to offer these charts as evidence against the flat earthers out there who insist that “forced” diversity is “killing comics” or similar twaddle. Feel free to repost as much as you like. These are simply good books that are of interest to readers.
Nothing more, nothing less.
It IS a more serious issue that the comics periodical is in decline, and has been for quite a while. DC’s decision to launch their YA and middle grade lines as graphic novels is a sign of the times and an acceptance of reality.
And please don’t give me anything about “newsstands.” As I’ve been saying for a decade or so, there are no more newsstands. Unless you count Amazon.
So let’s recap:
• Graphic novels (satisfying chunk) widely available at bookstores and comics shops. And on Amazon.
• Indie bookstores have been amazingly resilient in the age of digital and show no signs of disappearing in the immediate future.
• Comics shops, reliant on Big Two events to keep up interest, have had a hard time retaining readers as older audiences who prefer the periodical format are aging out of the material.
Now, I know this is by no means an awesomely optimistic short-term prognosis – chain bookstores are NOT healthy, Amazon is a looming theat to everything, and losing comics shops would be deadly to many publishers.
However, this is the “fifth disruption” that Griepp has been speaking about. The “comic book” aka periodical/pamphlet/floppy will adapt to this disruption in some way, just as newspaper strips morphed into digital comics (to be collected in profitable print formats, whether via crowdfunding or traditional publishers.) Either as a specialty item or in some other way.
It’s clear that we’re going to see a loss of jobs for some segments of the comics industry, though, including creators. Market contractions weed out less popular formats and styles. So it’s not all going to be fun for the next couple of years.
But, comics as a medium are doing fine, surviving, creating new franchises and moving forward.
And you can quote me on that.
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.