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Women and children conquered The Walking Dead in 2014 graphic novel sales

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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?

12 COMMENTS

  1. Weird, who knew? I guess it makes sense if you really think about it, but it’ll be interesting to see if these demographic figures fare in the long term as well.

  2. Were finally standing on our own two feet. I hate when people claim comics are doing well and cite licensed IPs as proof of that. It’s when we people are coming to the medium itself is when the industry is doing better, where we are more self sustaining.

  3. Wow…. only 11K copies of Ms. Marvel sold in the general book trade?

    Marvel… I know you’ve got a big Spider-Verse mini-series on Web Warriors this month, but how about in the near future (I know… it takes a lot of time to produce a cartoon), you add Ms. Marvel to an episode?

    And then, put a movie into development at Disney Animation.

    How does that $112 Million compare to other bookstore categories?

    As for comics shops… they need to do a much better job of selling books to kids and parents.
    I know they work in a non-returnable Direct Market, but they could test the market via the book trade distributors, which offer partial returnability.

    (Hey, Mr. Hibbs… just a quick question… of those top 20 titles… how many are available right now from DCD? Of the top five publishers, how many of their top titles are currently available?)

    Anyone got library numbers?

  4. Actually on hand in stock? Ten. They “carry” 18 of 20, but only have stock right this second on ten.

    The second question is more work than I want to do for free :)

    Didn’t catch my shout-out to you personally, Torsten?

    -B

  5. This is the stupidest nitpick imaginable to throw in here seeing as Heidi’s take on this is 1200% accurate, but I don’t know if I’d consider HYPERBOLE AND A HALF to be a kids title. It’s most famous strip is about the ins and outs of clinical depression, and I believe she uses the swears quite often, yeah?

  6. So the reign of middle-aged men making comics for middle-aged men is ending! I say this as a middle-aged man who loves and makes comics. And this is good news for everybody: we want different kinds of comics by different kinds of people, and we want to include kids as well. So, all good news!

    And the other good news: aside from Star Wars, these comics are all creator owned. That’s huge! Original work from original creators. Briank K. Vaughn is the only one on the list who got his start at one of the big two, but the rest all began with their own creations, and of course, Saga is a creator owned book. In the traditional publishing world, this is typical, but in comics it is unusual.

    More good news! Most of these books have no connection to the speculator’s market (outside of Saga and the Walking Dead). Nobody is buying multiple copies to inflate sales. Most of these books are not being sealed in airtight CGC coffins. They are being read!

  7. The list of authour’s gross, I’m assuming that’s before the publisher etc take their cut? Or did Alan Moore really take home $2.3 MEEELION last year?

  8. I’m guessing that’s the total gross that the publisher’s took in. With traditional publishers, the artist get’s about 8 to 15 percent of retail. If it’s a writer artist team, they split it. I’m guessing Moore gets even less because it’s DC product. I’m also wondering if the image deal gives you a better cut, since Image typically doesn’t often any kind of advance.

    But the publishers are the ones who make out. There are very few millionaire writers, let alone cartoonists.

  9. Also, I think distributors take something like 50 to 60%. Then there’s the cost of printing and production and the publisher’s overhead. So I’m not sure if “gross” means total retail sales, rather than the publisher’s gross.

  10. So when Marvel comics gets these big numbers, artists and writers do get royalties after sales reach a certain number, but it’s still work for hire. So those numbers mean considerably less for the artists and writers than they do for the creator owned stuff. So Moore and Miller: who knows what they’re really getting for their Marvel and DC work? I’m guessing Miller is making a lot more on Sin City.

  11. Also: those are calculations based on LIST PRICE, but we have NO IDEA what any individual book actually sells FOR. For example, virtually no book sold through Amazon is going to sell at full retail.

    Alan Moore did *not* make $2.3 million from his charting books last year — that calculation was meant as an illustration of how a small number of authors generate most of the sales, nothing more.

    -B

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