Brian Hibbs has posted his annual Bookscan analysis—charting actual sales of books that report to Nielsen’s Bookscan sales charts. while Bookscan numbers are not allowed to be broadcast, Hibbs uses a leaked list of the top graphic novels of 2014 to chart growth, sales and much more. For you clip’n’save types here’s the actual chart in case it gets removed. As Hibbs notes, these numbers are not etched in stone—Bookscan only covers about 85% of the book markets, comics shops, libraries and bookfairs are not counted. However, it is, as I like to say, a metric, that can be compared year to year. So what does the chart say? Sales were up 17% from 2013, and dollar sales were the highest since Hibbs began charting it, surpassing even the height of the manga boom in 2007. This is real gowth folks.
And it was mostly women and children. Here’s the Top 20 with actual sales. I’ve put an * where the book is aimed at children and a § where its created by a woman:
*§ 176,197 — SISTERS
*§ 152,220 — TALES FROM A NOT SO FABULOUS LIFE
*§ 150,523 — SMILE
*§ 129,679 — HYPERBOLE AND A HALF
*§ 94,152 — DRAMA
* 84,707 — BIG NATE GRT MINDS THINK ALIKE
* 83,639 — STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY
* 78,132 — STAR WARS JEDI ACADEMY RETURN
*§ 74,581 — DORK DIARIES OMG ALL ABOUT ME
§ 72,520 — CANT WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING M
68,064 — WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM 1
* 67,849 — BIG NATE THE CROWD GOES WILD
54,520 — ATTACK ON TITAN 1
§ 53,755 — PERSEPOLIS 1
53,470 — WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM V 2 TP
* 52,872 — BIG NATE I CANT TAKE IT
45,316 — WALKING DEAD V 20 ALL OUT WAR
* 39,446 — BIG NATE GAME ON
* 39,367 — AMULET 6 ESCAPE FROM LUCIEN
§ 38,416 — SAGA V 3
As you can see, only The Walking Dead and Attack on Titan are not for kids or by a woman cartoonist.
NOW do you see why the successful cartoonist Alan and Casey are jealous of is a woman?
Hibbs agreed with Beat voters in selecting Raina Telgemeier as the Person of the Year in comics, and certainly she was THE best selling.
Hibbs also created a list of authors who grossed the most money in the Top 750. These are the James Pattersons and Gillian Flynns of comics:
BROSH, ALLIE — $ 2,592,283.21
BROWN, JEFFREY — $ 2,101,405.29
CHAST, ROZ — $ 2,030,560.00
GAIMAN, NEIL — $ 1,323,505.68
ISAYAMA, HAJIME — $ 4,051,280.52
JOHNS, GEOFF — $ 2,302,619.43
KIBUISHI, KAZU — $ 1,843,591.29
KINNEY, JEFF — $ 1,582,437.00
KIRKMAN, ROBERT — $ 15,108,195.86
KISHIMOTO, MASASHI — $ 1,604,139.14
LOEB, JEPH — $ 1,036,846.42
MARTIN, GEORGE R.R. — $ 1,052,480.75
MILLER, FRANK — $ 1,310,133.02
MOORE, ALAN — $ 2,301,073.23
O’MALLEY, BRYAN LEE — $ 1,862,308.35
PEIRCE, LINCOLN — $ 3,660,581.81
RUSSELL, RACHEL RENEE — $ 3,641,001.54
SATRAPI, MARJANE — $ 1,614,273.80
SNYDER, SCOTT — $ 3,355,701.09
SPIEGELMAN, ART — $ 1,179,610.30
TAKEUCHI, NAOKO — $ 1,286,137.72
TELGEMEIER, RAINA — $ 4,658,759.91
TOBOSO, YANA — $ 1,236,755.00
VAUGHAN, BRIAN K. — $ 2,079,475.60
WAY, DANIEL — $ 1,197,112.87
WILLINGHAM, BILL — $ 1,141,030.87
YANG, GENE LUEN — $ 1,497,658.69
There’s a lot more to parse in Hibbs analysis, such as why losing Star Wars didn’t really hurt Dark Horse n the book market, but I do want to spotlight the most improved player, Marvel. Here’s a clip of the year to year chart for them:
This is very strong growth for Marvel, whose showing in the GN charts given their stature was pretty dismal for a while there. While their book distribution was hampered by some Ike Perlmutter led insistence on carrying no inventory, they’ve obviously found a way around that and are now beginning to sell the way they should, led by the very successful Guardians of the Galaxy line. Still a long way to go, but it’s all going in the right direction and many props to VP David Gabriel for steering the ship.
Five years ago I analyzed the Bookscan numbers with the bold faced proclamation that “Kids/YA material is the fastest growing segment in comics.” Duh and der! I also noted that a book like Jason Shiga’s Meanwhile could sell more than all but a handful of licensed titles without any direct market support. Luckily, in a mere five years, comics shops have gotten way more savvy about selling non Big Two material and are reaping the rewards.
Anyway, that’s a very quick take. What do YOU think?
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.