COVID and the last two years provided unprecedented uncertainty for comics retailers. But 2021 was a record year selling comics for many, and the boom is already continuing in 2022.

Phil Boyle at Coliseum of Comics shared some of his comic numbers nitty-gritty. Boyle compared June-Dec. 2019 to June-Dec. 2021 ("Skipping the black hole that was COVID," he says) and:

  • Overall, comic sales were up 46%
  • Image Comics jumped 38%
  • Manga increased 143%
  • Independents (which Coliseum defines as everything not Image, manga, Marvel, or DC) increased 172%
  • DC was down 9%
  • Marvel was down 20%.

"This tells me people want comics," Boyle says. "But they want good comics, not so much the preachy comics Marvel and DC have been offering."

Mike Banks at Samurai Comics shared numbers from the same June-December 2019 to June-December 2021 period, and saw a similar increase in manga… and bumps in the mainstream:

  • Manga up 120%
  • DC up 33%
  • Marvel up 25%

"I didn’t mine young readers/kids books because we have them broken down too far by publisher," Banks says. "That said, that category saw huge increases along the lines of manga, probably 100% or more. This was buoyed by things like Scholastic’s Dog Man, which has one of the highest inventory turns in our stores, beating most graphic novels by Marvel, DC, or Image."

John Robinson at Graham Crackers Comics doesn’t count categories the same way, but comparing the full years 2019 to 2021 there:

  • New DC Comics, up 28%
  • New Marvel Comics were up 19%
  • New independent comics, up 30%
  • Graphic novels, up 36%

"I didn't break out manga in 2019 so I can't give the increase there, but we know it was a significant part of the graphic novel growth," Robinson says. "With multiple manga titles making it on to our top 50 best sellers every single month, when for years they wouldn't even place, at least 10% of our best sellers are manga."

For the top graphic novel franchises in four categories, see:
Top 10 Superhero Graphic Novel Franchises – Fall 2021
Top 10 Author Graphic Novel Franchises – Fall 2021
Top 10 Manga Graphic Novel Franchises – Fall 2021
Top 10 Kids Graphic Novel Franchises – Fall 2021

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