How to turn ‘Walking Dead,’ ‘Gotham’ and MCU fans into comic book readers

(CBR) In case you haven”t noticed, people like watching television shows and movies based on comic books.

This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: “The Walking Dead” season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode “Gotham,” making it Fox”s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see “The Flash” pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for “Marvel”s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and nearly 3 million for the third season of “Arrow.”

It”s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch “Teen Titans Go!,” and more than 1 million tune in to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on Nickelodeon.

On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters – “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” – each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it”s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that”s still a lot of people.

Every year it”s predicted that the superhero fad, and the comic book fad, in Hollywood is going to soon end. And yet, this year continues the upward trend of audiences not only responding to the material, but coming out in droves. Studios are packing their slates with adaptations; Warner Bros. is so convinced of demand that is” locked in a slate of movies through 2020.

With so many eyes focused on these characters and stories, the comics industry has never been in a better position to turn viewers into new readers.

It”s happening somewhat, as sales are definitely improving, but the numbers of the comics industry are still a shadow of the productions they inspire. An entire month of comic books and graphic novels in North American specialty stores generated an estimated $50 million in September. Hundreds of comic book and graphic novel titles combined did somewhat better than the colossal flop that was “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” which grossed just $38 million worldwide. Nielsen BookScan recently announced that 5.6 million graphic novels have been sold this year, from January to mid-September. That”s roughly the equivalent of the audience for second episode of this season”s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Yes, there are a lot of apples and oranges getting compared here, and comics don”t need to match or surpass every other entertainment industry”s numbers to be considered successful. It”s not that no one is coming over from the movies and shows, but those people probably would”ve found their way over to comics regardless. Conversely, there”s going to be some people who will never come migrate to comics. But there”s definitely a cross-section of people in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, who would at least be open to picking up a comic now and again if they enjoy these movies and TV shows they spawn.