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ICV2 2014 Conference: White Paper: The Comics Customer: Who Is Reading All Those Comics?


While most comics fans started New York Comic Con on Thursday, the die-hard industry insiders and watchers began their “con crush” on Wednesday. ICV2.com once again hosted their annual conference at the Javits Center, choosing the theme: The New Comics Customer.

As is the tradition, each conference is inaugurated with an industry white paper. Milton Griepp, CEO of ICV2, collates a huge chunk of industry data and translates those numbers into words and pictures.

The following are my photos from the presentation, along with my commentary.
This website was a sponsor of the conference, and Heidi MacDonald was gracious to comp me a pass, although I’ve paid to attend all of the previous ICV2 conferences in the past.


If you want to know what goes on in comics retailing, you should visit this site! ICV2.com! (Home of the Top 300!)
OOOooohhhh…. How much? Who many? When? Which? Why? Classic questions that have bedeviled mankind ever since they started telling stories by painting comics on cave walls!
Note that newsstand sales account for $25 Million. Also, that in comics shops, comic books outsell graphic novels 2:1 in dollars.

You should see the nice doily Jim Lee tatted from all those “digital strings”!

Oooh… almost a constant slope on the current trend! Will we hit One. Million. Dollars. by 2015?  2014?

Note that the decrease in manga brings the total down. But 2% fewer titles than last year? Hmm…
What are the trends for the current year?

…and the invisible categories: libraries and book fairs?

(See that elephant over there? The one that says:
*the male:female ratio of readers skews female.
*women read more books than men
*80% of fiction is read by women)

The background is here.
(To which the elephant pipes up and mentions that most book clubs and book blogs are run by women.)
Books and merchandise.

…and then time taken for a few questions.


  1. Really interesting stuff. Thanks for posting. One question off hand about your analysis:

    After the “Number of Titles Released Per Year” slide, you write “Note that the decrease in manga brings the total down.” But the 2013 vs. 2012 output is down for *all* tracked categories except for the “Fiction/Reality” category, not just manga. So in what way is the released-title decline to be thought of specifically associated with a decline in released manga instead of, say, some other force that affected more publishing categories?

  2. I’m personally tempted to call ICV2’s report its “More Than Just White (Guy) Paper.” As a 50-something black (male) comics geek, one of the most interesting developments I’ve noticed in the comics store in recent years is the increased diversity. When I first started collecting back in the ’70s, visiting the few comic stores that existed in Northern California, I was one of the few black kids in there. As the years went by, that still held — and forget about girls/women coming in. That’s definitely no longer the case — folks of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are coming into stores. And young women are very much a presence as well. And it seems that Marvel and DC are both catching on to this with some of their newer titles and gender/racial fiddling with older characters (for however long it lasts). That’s a refreshing development, IMHO.

  3. Interesting analysis, but once again, there are more elephants in the room. Or outside the room, and trumpeting outside the collective comic consciousness.
    1. The NEW customers are defined as young adult males, kids and women. That seems to describe the current customers. Interesting. Just sell more to the same people, then?
    2. The data tells us kids are not entering comic stores: 92% of Manga and 88% of Graphic Novels are sold to kids in book stores.
    I can tell you anecdotally about Brittle Hill, my creator-owned comic book series targeted to young adults: our direct sales at regional conventions, plus direct sales to the public at (even) farmers markets outpace comic shop sales by about 50:1 (!!!)
    If you are serious about selling comic books, you go where the people are. Don’t ask them to enter a comic store, we know that won’t happen.
    We are selling copies of Brittle Hill directly to people from the age of 6 to 80. Older people are potential customers: they buy gifts for younger readers.

  4. Was anything revealed about the source of the Digital estimate? Those numbers have previously been held close-to-chest.

  5. Alan Spinney bring us a good point. The increase in conventions suggests that convention sales might be an important part of total sales. Most of these sales (I assume) are through comic stores so they just count as comic store sales. But a lot of publishers sell at conventions (including self-publishers). Are those sales collectively large enough to be important?

    Also, what about Kickstarter and other crowdfunded comics sales? These are direct sales from publishers. Since 2011, I have purchased comics in various formats 26 times via Kickstarter. I have no idea how common this is with comics fans or what the total sales through these channels is, but it seems worth thinking about.

  6. There was a decrease of 58 total from 2012 to 2013. 30 of those were manga titles.
    Personally, I think there was an increase in titles.
    But I’ll delve deeper into that later… I’ll number crunch titles via Books In Print and see…

    There are many new retail segments out there…
    The library market (public, university, school, special) is important.
    Kickstarter (and other online funds) is significant.
    Cons are always a source, but aside from economic impact, how is it calculated?

    I don’t know how you tally that influence. I’ll leave that to wiser (and/or crazier) souls.

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