A lot has been reported from DC’s press breakfasts but I don’t think anyone directly called out this headline…and what a headline it is. More of DC’s revenue comes from graphic novels and the backlist than periodicals. I’m told this has been true for several years. Of course the powerhouse performance of all-time sellers like Watchmen, Dark Knight and now The Killing Joke fuel that, but so do the powerful Vertigo backlist, the Batman backlist led by Scott Snyder and, increasingly, books like the Earth One series.

Wonder Woman Earth One and Paul Dini’s Dark Night have been big hits so far in 2016. According to Dan DiDio, some of the DCYou titles are picking up in trade, including Prez, which was a surprise because “Generally books that don’t do well in single issues don’t do well in trades, and books that DO do well in single issues do well in trades,” but they’re seeing that pattern broken up more and more.

When the Comichron/ICv2 sales figures for 2015 were released, it actually shows graphic novels outselling periodicals $535 million to $405 million – a pretty huge gap. I haven’t done a breakdown to show where the growth has come from specifically but I”m guessing it’s just overall.

I’m not saying the beloved comics periodical is going away…the pamphlet is not dead, not by a long shot, but it seems to be fair to say that newer readers are happy to experience comics as graphic novels without the serialization factor. Whether this is something that CAN be or SHOULD be reversed is open to question, but for now, the Satisfying Chunk is winning out.

Top photo: Dan Didio and writer Christopher Priest at the DC press breakfast.


  1. The headline is very misleading. DC does not sell more graphic novels than periodicals–that would be a truly staggering number of graphic novels sold.

    DC generates more revenue from graphic novels than from periodicals. This does not speak directly to the number of readers getting the stories in either format.

  2. “More of DC’s revenuse performnes [sic]”

    And we all know how improtent revenuse performnes is to busyniss.

    And isn’t it a bit of a contradiction to say that information is the headline news from the presentation, and also that it’s been true for several years. Seems to me then it should have been headline news several years ago.

  3. A shout out to Rich Johnson (a sometime contributor here) would be nice. He had a lot to do with building DC’s graphic novel line back in the day, and he’s never really been given the credit he deserves for that.

  4. Yes, I would put the moment where more revenue came from graphic novels than comics at perhaps 10 years ago. We know all Diamond’s periodical sales revenue in 2010, for example: $266 million, which nudges somewhere under $300 million when you throw in newsstand and subscriptions. But graphic novel sales would have been between $300-400 million that year. The moment for DC specifically might be different, but I suspect it too is some time ago.

    Certainly DC sells far more periodical units than graphic novels, though, and I expect that to continue for years yet. Industrywide we’re north of 100 million periodical units, as against graphic novel units that are likelier in the 20s.

    In fact, I would speculate that to ever have a year where more graphic novel UNITS are sold than periodicals, that would require fundamental changes in how comics are produced and marketed: you’d need far more OGNs than exist now. (And that would require more publishers to offer advances to creators, rather than the periodical pay-as-you-produce model.)

  5. Yes, “Ricardo,” that may have been why I used the phrase ‘back in the day.’

    His hard work back then isn’t generally known, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to point it out, even after the time that’s passed. But by all means, let’s be mean-spirited about it.

  6. Unfortunately, superhero comics are soap operas, and have little backlist demand, unless a creators is allowed a long run on a title (Morrison, Snyder).

    Due to the emphasis placed on the New 52 during there haven’t been many “Elseworlds” titles produced, or even done-in-one volumes. These are what drive backlist sales, such as The Killing Joke, or Red Son.

    I wonder why the Earth One brand has been so slow to develop, given the success of each volume. Superman: Earth One was published in November 2010. Since then… there have been four series (with two more announced for this year, but no data yet). Nine volumes total. I understand it takes time to produce an original graphic novel (although, really, 144 pages should be finished in a year, given the demands of periodical comics, not two years). There should be a new Earth One volume each quarter.

    I wonder what BookScan says…?

  7. “Whether this is something that CAN be or SHOULD be reversed is open to question..” – I’m not sure what you mean by that. Reversing serialisation so trade readers get to experience serialisation too? Who says graphic novels aren’t a form of serialisation, esp. if it’s a series of TPBs.

    I think the industry should stop focusing on floppies as the only way to read comics, and instead just let readers enjoy comics in whatever format they choose now that we have so many.

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