The Comic Big Two Isn’t What You Think
Brian Hibbs’ yearly BookScan analysis is always worth reading for the insight it gives into how comics (mostly in the form of graphic novels and collections) sell in the wider book market (even with the caveats that this data doesn’t cover the entire market, only those that choose to report, and the data providers have their own restrictions, even more this year). The 2019 analysis ends with this particular pie chart that I found striking.
The “comic big two” was traditionally DC and Marvel, since the industry was considered, over the past three decades, to be based in the direct market (comic shop retailers). Since the mid-2000s, though, it’s been realized that there are so many more potential audiences and markets and material that can sell surprisingly well.
The comic big two is obviously now Scholastic, with their Graphix line (which publishes both Dog Man and Raina Telgemeier, which are multi-million bestsellers) and their captive market of school book fairs, and Viz Media, the biggest US manga publisher. Together, they’re a third of the market.
Keep that in mind when people complain about the comic market being in danger — it’s not. The traditional young adult (now older) white male customer and their comic shop hangout and their interest in superhero comics may be dying, but there is so much more happening in the bigger world. When you actually make comics for everyone, they sell.