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News Forbes: Surprising new data shows comic readers are leaving superheroes behind

GreyHorace

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Forbes: Surprising new data shows comic readers are leaving superheroes behind

A day after New York Comic Con put an exclamation mark on the media dominance that superheroes exert over today’s entertainment and popular culture, data was shared in a private industry conference indicating that a massive shift in the comics publishing industry has reached a tipping point. For the first time that anyone can remember, superheroes are being outsold in their native medium – American comic books and graphic novels – by other kinds of content, notably kid-oriented fare and Japanese (or Japanese-inspired) manga.
Typically, increases in the overall market are driven by the comic industry’s two largest companies, Marvel (owned by Disney), and DC (a part of AT&T’s WarnerMedia group), which both publish corporate-owned superhero comics almost exclusively and together account for about 80% of all comics sold through the direct market.
But for the last several years, the trade book channel has become an increasingly significant driver of revenue, gaining double-digit year over year increases as comic store sales have declined. ICv2 estimates that bookstore sales accounted for $465M in 2018, compared to $510M in the direct market. When you add in the digital and other channels, direct market sales fell under 50% of the total for the first time since comic shops overtook newsstand distribution in the early 1980s.

While comic shops tend to focus on longtime fans - often older readers who grew up on and collect superhero comics – mass-market bookstores sell to everyone, including younger readers and those outside of traditional comics fandom. Consequently, the books that are selling in bookstores are, generally, not superhero-oriented. According to Bookscan data shared at the conference, kid-oriented comics and graphic novels account for a whopping 41% of sell-through at bookstores; manga is 28%. Superhero content is less than 10%, down 9.6% year-over-year.
That trend away from capes and cowls is also starting to be reflected even within the more insular comic store market with the arrival of a more diverse audience with different tastes. ICv2 notes a massive shift in the past two years, with kid-oriented titles for readers age 6-18 up 20% in comic store sales and 39% in bookstores, manga up 41% in comics stores and 5% in bookstores, while superhero graphic novels (typically collections of previously-issued periodicals) fell 10% in bookstores and 15% in comic shops.
Also Clownfish TV covered this on their channel:


I'm honestly not surprised at this news. When the entire American comic industry is propped up by one genre (superheroes) dominated by two companies (DC and Marvel), how could it not be losing badly to kid comics and manga? Indie comics barely register on the big market unless they're a surprise success like Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim.
 

-Arcadia-

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“Surprising”

I would be interested to hear non-political reasons, but when you start endlessly preaching your politics and ideas to comic fans, there’s a pretty defined result.

It doesn’t even have to be crazy, incendiary stuff. If I wrote Spider-Man, and couldn’t stop going on and on about Orange Man Good, instead of writing Spider-Man stories, my readers would give me the finger, and rightfully so. That it is that divisive and negative, is just the icing on the cake.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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“Surprising”

I would be interested to hear non-political reasons, but when you start endlessly preaching your politics and ideas to comic fans, there’s a pretty defined result.

It doesn’t even have to be crazy, incendiary stuff. If I wrote Spider-Man, and couldn’t stop going on and on about Orange Man Good, instead of writing Spider-Man stories, my readers would give me the finger, and rightfully so. That it is that divisive and negative, is just the icing on the cake.
You think it doesn't have to do with the fact people want newer things? Sure comic book characters change writers every other year but do you really want to see Peter go thru puberty again for the 30th time?
 

GreyHorace

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This must be insulting. Western comics losing to shonen holy shit.
It's a foregone conclusion because kids read manga. If they wanted to read about Batman or Spider-Man what book are you going to give them? There's over decades of continuity they have to sift through in order to get to the stuff worth reading. In manga you can start a series like One Piece or Naruto and just continue on from there.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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It's a foregone conclusion because kids read manga. If they wanted to read about Batman or Spider-Man what book are you going to give them? There's over decades of continuity they have to sift through in order to get to the stuff worth reading. In manga you can start a series like One Piece or Naruto and just continue on from there.
Sort off agree. OP will never end though but I get what you are saying.
 

-Arcadia-

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You think it doesn't have to do with the fact people want newer things? Sure comic book characters change writers every other year but do you really want to see Peter go thru puberty again for the 30th time?
Could be. There is, however, a very big overlap between comic book woes, and the beginning of pumping a certain modern ideology into them. If anything, with the Marvel movie fervor, these things should be at their peak, and yet...
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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If anything, with the Marvel movie fervor, these things should be at their peak, and yet...
But that's wrong. All the people that like the movies hate comics and most likely shit talked nerds that read em in school. It reminds me of early 90s gaming before it became mainstream. They are a completely different demographic.
 

-Arcadia-

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But that's wrong. All the people that like the movies hate comics and most likely shit talked nerds that read em in school. It reminds me of early 90s gaming before it became mainstream. They are a completely different demographic.
Hah, true. I would expect there to be some cross-pollination, though. You can’t ask for better promotion than the hottest movie franchise in existence, yet sales are on a downward trend, or struggling with dips.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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Hah, true. I would expect there to be some cross-pollination, though. You can’t ask for better promotion than the hottest movie franchise in existence, yet sales are on a downward trend, or struggling with dips.
If anything movie based media/merch outside comics could be selling better. Thor shirts for girls, the switch game maybe?
 

-Arcadia-

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If anything movie based media/merch outside comics could be selling better. Thor shirts for girls, the switch game maybe?
I wouldn’t know anything about those, unfortunately.

It’s so fundamentally weird talking in our ‘serious voices’ outside of the shitposting threads. :messenger_tears_of_joy:
 
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GreyHorace

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Hah, true. I would expect there to be some cross-pollination, though. You can’t ask for better promotion than the hottest movie franchise in existence, yet sales are on a downward trend, or struggling with dips.
When a manga gets an anime adaptation, sales go up.

When an American superhero comic gets a hit movie, it barely sells on print.

This logic does not compute.
 

brap

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Hah, true. I would expect there to be some cross-pollination, though. You can’t ask for better promotion than the hottest movie franchise in existence, yet sales are on a downward trend, or struggling with dips.
Aren't the characters in the comic books different compared to the movies? Does a fan of Marvel Movie #731 really wanna see some black girl as Iron Man? Fuck no they want Robert Downy Junior. Emphasis on the junior.
And jesus CHRIST I just looked at some spiderman comics and this mf really is still fighting kingpin, vulture man, rhino, carnage, and all those motherfuckers. This is like the same shit I read as a kid. I wouldn't buy any of these comics.
 

-Arcadia-

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When a manga gets an anime adaptation, sales go up.

When an American superhero comic gets a hit movie, it barely sells on print.

This logic does not compute.
Are you agreeing with me, or disagreeing with me? I’m so confused. : P

But yeah, I agree (I think). I don’t follow manga or anime, so I wouldn’t know how that goes, but there is a general logic of rising tide raises all ships, when it comes to products sharing a brand.
 

SLoWMoTIoN

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When a manga gets an anime adaptation, sales go up.

When an American superhero comic gets a hit movie, it barely sells on print.

This logic does not compute.
Sometimes it will actually kill off the manga though.
 

GreyHorace

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Are you agreeing with me, or disagreeing with me? I’m so confused. : P

But yeah, I agree (I think). I don’t follow manga or anime, so I wouldn’t know how that goes, but there is a general logic of rising tide raises all ships, when it comes to products sharing a brand.
I'm stating a general fact. Even with the MCU, Marvel can barely sell their comics. You'd think when Iron Man came out in 2008 and then all the movies started coming out, Marvel would be raking it in. But nope, they're pratically on life support.
 

Stilton Disco

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But that's wrong. All the people that like the movies hate comics and most likely shit talked nerds that read em in school. It reminds me of early 90s gaming before it became mainstream. They are a completely different demographic.
I want to directly contradict this with a couple of anecdotes.

My wife and several of her friends started buying comics based soley on watching Marvel phase 1. Every single one has got bored of them or sick of their overt politicising since then.

Same with my young nieces and nephews more recently, who asked me if I had any superhero comics, avidly read the boxes of old 90's and early 2000's Igave them, but after being given modern trade paperbacks for their birthdays either never asked for them again or switched to reading Manga within the year.

Marvel and DC had a massive opportunity to expand, and squandered it. Sure, they'd never reach the mainstream appeal of the movies, but to argue that comics are still totally stigmatised when every other area of entertainment has embraced the genre is daft and missing the wood for the trees.

There was decades and decades of back story when I started reading comics that never hindered my enjoyment too, so I dont buy that excuse either.

The fact is the new stories, almost all new characters and constant preaching of unpopular extremist political ideology, is utterly unenjoyable tripe, and they have no one to blame for their failure but themselves.
 

DiscoJer

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Shouldn't superhero comics be kid orientated fare? I think Western society got a lot dumber when adults kept reading them in their late teens and 20s (and 30s and 40s)

And on the flip side, is this that odd? When I read comics in the 1970s, probably half of what DC offered were horror (or "mystery"). And there were a number of fantasy titles as well. And war comics were a staple until the 1980s.
 
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MilkyJoe

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Are you telling me that comic book fans are not buying into SJW comic stories? Frankly I'm shocked, shocked I tell you!
 

crowbrow

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Im not surprised. Western fantasy media seems to be infected with this overly politicised identity politics nonsense. It's tiresome and takes the magic away from the stories. Before when you read these stories you were taken into these magical worlds and interesting characters, now it seems diversity representation and the popular sjw concept of the month preceeds any other concern. Even Zoe Quinn is making comics ffs. At least the japanese still have their focus where it can create some sort or relateness or immersion.

And it's also not because of politics alone. I mean i love stories that have political undertones. Like, for example, i love Alan Moore comics more than any others and they're highly political but they're not this superficial nonsense religious-like cult that identity politics has become. They actually have depth and they deal with important subjects.