Variant covers! Event comics! An all-new Spider-Man! No, it’s not 1995 again, but comics are selling like it’s the mid ‘90s. According to figures for 2014 compiled by Comichron and ICv2, combined comic and graphic novel sales have reached their highest point in 20 years. This is good news for people making comics, selling comics, and fans buying comics, too, as more money to go around equals more purchasing options.
In addition to a 7% gain over sales in 2013, market growth appears to be across all quadrants. This is good news for retailers nervous about digital sales taking away from their share of the market. This may also indicate that consumers aren’t just shifting spending habits. Fans are buying more of everything, or just as likely, there are more fans supporting the expanding market.
As we step into the holy mecca of comic retail that is San Diego Comic Con, the business behind comics is a hot topic. Sean Murphy had a very frank discussion on the Off Panel podcast about the changing landscape of the direct market and the realities of being a working artist. Chase Magnett of Comicbook.com explores the different approaches major publishers are employing to garner the attention of the new fans discovering comics. As the SDCC announcements ramp up to their inevitable non-stop PR bonanza, consider this Comics212 piece on how the hype machine may be doing more harm than good.
The last time the comic market was doing this well, it was followed by a spectacular crash resulting in the shuttering of hundreds of comic retailers and many publishers. The success of the the comic market in the early 1990s was also in spite of the same issues that plague the industry today, including stagnant wages and the need to diversify amongst creators and content. Progress is slowly but surely happening, but if the comic market truly wants to see sustainable growth, addressing systemic issues will be a larger milestone than the market crossing $1 billion in sales.