A lot of people pointed out that Marvel and DC failed to chart in ICv2’s monthly BookScan chart for February. Instead Image and Manga crushed it with mega franchises The Walking Dead, Saga, Bleach, Naruto and Attack on Titan. Locke and Key and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children also appeared, along with Dark Horse and Boom’s perennials, Adventure Time and Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Although I used the sensational headline, the real news is that classic manga and Image are crushing it, not that Marvel and DC didn’t make it. Yes it’s a bit of a surprise to not see Watchman and The Dark Knight in that list, but it is perhaps more of a sign of health to see book that were published this century selling well. Of course we don’t see the actual numbers, so they could be puny. Perhaps I can use my magic Bookscan powers to peek at this at some point.

Still, it’s interesting to speculate on where the next backlist success is coming from. DC’s Batman franchise under Scott Snyder is going strong, as is Fables, although it’s ending eventually. Vertigo is in a rebuilding phase. With Marvel stopping and starting so many franchises and their generally weak backlist, it’s more of a big question mark.

I think more of a story here is manga making a little bit of a comeback, even if it is with legacy titles. The one big newish success story is Attack on Titan, a big hit for Kodansha, and proof that a manga series can still break through.

And of course, Walking Dead, Saga and kids comics. But you knew that already.


  1. Watchmen charts in January, when many colleges teach it in the curriculum.

    DC doesn’t have a strong backlist post-New 52, aside from Batman.
    Everything else is a superhero series, and superhero series have as long a shelf life in bookstores as soap opera DVD box sets.

    Unlike 1985, DC is not publishing a variety of interesting, stand-alone titles. That’s partly due to the nature of the market (less competition then) and partly due to Vertigo’s new contracts.
    Yet, DC could replicate 1985: Why aren’t there more “Earth One” series to bolster the strong sales of Batman and Superman? (A new title each quarter, then every other month, then monthly…) Where are the Elseworld titles which midwifed the “52-niverses” in 2006? Where are the weird C-list characters which spawned Animal Man, Sandman, Doom Patrol, and the Vertigo line?
    Where’s the crazy experimentation which the Internet and digital comics could support?

  2. I think a more complete lesson from ATTACK ON TITAN is that a manga series can break through if it’s supported by an anime series. The books launched in 2012 to no noticeable market impact, then the cartoon comes out in 2013 and soon after the manga shows up on the BookScan charts, to the point where by the end of 2013 the first volume sold over 28,000 in BookScan markets.

    What was the last manga to have a significant sales presence without having an anime series?

  3. Perhaps I, Vampire could have had some long term staying power as a backlist item out of the initial batch of Nu52, if it was supported/cultivated right. Azarello’s Wonder Woman, even more so. For Marvel, I think Hawkeye is going to last for a while. :-)

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