Diamond has released the sales figures for comics for the year, and there weren’t a huge number of surprises. Marvel sold a lot of comics, DC sold slightly less comics, Image still sells Walking Dead trades like they’re the cure for CancerAIDS.
But there was an especially surprising piece of news from Diamond. Overall comic book sales are up, and they’re up by double digits.
Sales for the year were up a total of 14.72%. In December, in fact, comics saw nearly 20% more spent on them than December 2011, although part of that can be chalked up to Amazing Spider-Man #700 and its extortionate eight-dollar price point.
So, what happened? Here are a few guesses:
All Those Hit Movies And TV Shows Probably Piqued Some Interest
Let’s see here, The Walking Dead is the second biggest show on television, period. Arrow is one of the CW’s top-rated shows. The Avengers and Batman both cleaned up at the multiplex. Maybe the boost to the comic industry is a little less than surprising.
This is a double-sided coin, as well: One of the year’s biggest surprise sellers was My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and IDW and Boom! both do well with licensed books.
Digital, Digital, Digital
It’s pretty safe to argue that digital distribution is the best thing to happen to comics in about a decade. It’s not killing comics shops, unlike every other medium’s switch to digital distribution. And it makes access as simple as “I liked that Batman movie! Let’s spend a few bucks on some Batman comics on my iPad!” for non-comics readers.
In fact, we’ve gotten so many requests for a “beginner’s guide to comics” that we’ll be putting together an official one pretty soon. Interest is undeniably high, and if the industry is adding readers, that’s all to the good.
Pure and simple, 2012 was a great year for comic books. DC’s New 52 matured a bit and showed some incredible creative strength. Marvel NOW! is by and large a success creatively speaking, with several must-read books arriving. Smaller publishers also had a banner creative year as well. If it’s easy to find high quality work, then it makes it more likely people will keep reading.
Variety Also Talks
There’s also an enormous variety of books on the stands, marketed to pretty much everybody. Want some hard SF? Here’s The Massive, or Manhattan Projects. Noir? Here’s The Creep and Fatale, or Darwyn Cooke’s Parker adaptations.
In short, there’s a much wider variety available, helping people who may not be into superheroes find something they like… and stick with it.
In short, comics are easier to buy, there’s more variety, and there’s more interest. If that means more and better books, then we’ll take it.