As we pass into 2017, we look back on the Top Five major events in the comics business that had a big impact or have the potential to have long-term effects.

#1 – North American Comics and Graphic Novel Sales Pass $1 Billion
This really happened in 2015, but the numbers came out in 2016, revealing that for the first time, the retail market for comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada passed $1 billion (see "Comic and Graphic Novel Sales Top $1 Billion").  That was a 10% jump over 2014, with sales of graphic novels through the book channel pacing all other formats and channels with a 23% growth rate.  Comic store sales were also up solidly.

#2 – DC Bottoms and Comes Back
Sales on DCs hit a low ebb in 2016 (see "How Low Can DC Go?"), and the company responded with Rebirth, another line-wide relaunch, which had the desired impact (see "Dramatic Shift in DC Sales").  DC had the top market share in comic stores for three months running, and it looks like the strategy of cutting the number of titles and releasing the most popular titles more frequently is working (see "Comparing DC's 'Rebirth' and 'New 52'").

#3 – Hastings Declares Bankruptcy and Closes All Stores
Although it wasn’t as damaging as the shutdown of Borders a few years back, the bankruptcy and liquidation of the Hastings stores (see "Hastings Closing All Stores"), a regional superstore chain, took out the company that had gone the furthest down the path of trying to sell comics in a direct market style through in a chain environment.  While the reasons behind the shutdown do not appear to be directly related to the company’s expansion into comics, the closure sets up a firmer line between the book chain and direct market channels than existed before it happened.

#4 – March Wins National Book Award
March:  Book Three, the third volume of Congressman John Lewis’ graphic memoir, won the National Book Award, the first time a book in the comics medium has won the award (see "'March' Wins National Book Award").  March won in the Young People’s Literature category, where it was one of five finalists.  While not as prestigious as the Pulitzer, which Art Spiegelman’s Maus won in 1992, the National Book Award is another in a long line of steps toward legitimacy for the comics medium.  It gives this series another big push, especially in schools and libraries, and alerts readers, parents, and retailers that the comics medium can address serious topics in a literarily important way.

#5 – Another Publisher Makes a Play for Mid-Sized Status
After trying a variety of strategies over the past few years as it got its footing, Lion Forge started making bigger plays in 2016, bringing on a staff of experienced executives with the skills necessary to grow the company at a more rapid pace.  It announced a new CEO, Vice President Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Director of Marketing and Product Development, Executive Editor, Senior Editor, and Sales and Marketing Manager around San Diego Comic-Con (see "Lion Forge Staffs Up"); added another Senior Editor in September (see "Lion Forge Adds Senior Editor for Roar"); and acquired a smaller publisher in October (see "Lion Forge Acquires Magnetic Press").  It will be interesting to see where this company goes in 2017.

For the top events in another geek field, check out our Top Five 2016 Hobby Games Business Events.