- Posted by Johanna on August 6, 2010 at 9:00 am
- Category: Graphic Novel News
Earlier this week, the comic business site ICv2 posted their analysis of the market for the first half of 2010. I thought I’d provide some commentary because, as always, it’s important to consider the source of the data. This information comes from their publication Internal Correspondence #72, a trade newsletter aimed at comics and hobby game retailers. It’s provided free to stores in those industries (because ICv2 makes their money selling ads to companies who want to reach that target audience), or it’s available for $10 to others.
Where Are the Graphic Novel Sales?
So this is by retailer consultants, for retailers, and in order to get retailer interest (and thus eyeballs for their advertisers), there’s a need to pitch stories that are realistic but focus on the comic store perspective. Which makes it unsurprising that the lead message is that periodical comic sales are up, graphic novel sales are down. Or as they had it,
Although retailers interviewed by ICv2 for Internal Correspondence #72 reported that market conditions were slightly better in the first half of 2010 than they were in same period in 2009, it has been periodical comics, not graphic novels that have helped inch the comic market out of its recessionary hole. Graphic novel sales in the direct market have declined by double digits every month in 2010 so far with the exception of February, when they posted a 1% gain.
If you’re talking to retailers, then yes, they are going to see fewer graphic novel sales, as customers can easily find those publications elsewhere at cheaper prices. I either buy my collections from Amazon at significant discount (25-40% off), or I get them directly from creators with the bonus of a signature and/or sketch in my copy. Comic shops have a near-exclusive on carrying periodical comics, though, and as the economy has worsened, they seem to have refocused on that core product. As they should. It’s what they know and what they do well.
ICv2 does mention that the Twilight graphic novel is a “breakout hit”, that Scott Pilgrim books “have been selling briskly”, and that “Dark Horse received orders for more than 80,000 copies of Janet Evanovich’s Troublemaker“. Since the print run was 100,000, that puts those numbers in perspective. In this short summary of their findings, ICv2 only mentions those collections with media tie-ins, interestingly, also discussing The Walking Dead in light of the coming TV show and listing IDW’s two adaptations of James Patterson bestsellers. In a time of uncertainty, it makes sense that shoppers and stockers would feel more comfortable with known brands and properties. People are looking for a sure thing, either something that has an established audience to sell to or something they’ve already enjoyed in some other form. It’s less of a gamble. Unfortunately, it can also be less exciting creatively, but that’s where what I’m looking for conflicts with popular interest.
Here’s another key quote:
The other bestselling movie-driven graphic novel in the first half of 2010, Marvel’s Kick-Ass Hardcover, posted sales that were less than 10% of what Watchmen achieved during the same period in 2009.
Are we really surprised that Mark Millar’s wankfest sold a lot less than an established modern classic by Alan Moore that reworked the entire superhero genre? Sometimes they’re reaching for comparisons.
I’m curious to see what the target audience makes of the other area of newsletter coverage, promoted as “In the new Internal Correspondence, ICv2 takes a look at the first halting steps taken by the “Big Two” comic publishers toward “day and date digital distribution” of new comics.” That’s a potential hot potato right there.