The steep recession that hit the United States and much of the developed world in the fourth quarter of 2008 tamped down sales of graphic novels and especially manga during the crucial holiday season according to an analysis of Q4 conditions in ICv2 Insider’s Guide #63.  Retailers from every section of the country reported a rough retail environment, and though graphic novels fared better than almost any other bookstore category, sales slowed in Q4 after three quarters of steady growth.  While the Q4 slowdown was not enough to reverse the gains made earlier in the year, it meant that the graphic novel market entered 2009 on an uncertain note.


Alan Moore’s Watchmen and a handful of Batman titles that were buoyed by the Q4 release of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight on DVD managed to go against the grain and maintain solid sales through the end of the year.  With 900,000 volumes of Watchmen printed in 2008, it is now clear that the combination of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic post-modern deconstruction of the superhero genre and Zack Snyder’s attempt to film what many believed was an unfilmable book has resulted in the graphic novel sales event of a generation.  But even with Watchmen’s record-setting performance, Batman was judged by ICv2 to be the #1 Superhero property of 2008 simply because of the huge number of graphic novel releases featuring the Caped Crusader, many of which did extraordinarily well in the wake of the The Dark Knight movie  (see “Top Ten Superhero Properties of 2008.”


While sales of the top tier of manga titles remained strong, lesser manga properties bore the brunt of the first downturn in manga sales in the new century, and as the ICv2 Guide reported, publishers have responded by cutting back substantially on the number of releases for slated for 2009. In the new Guide ICv2 breaks down the top manga properties of 2008 by category (shojo and shonen) to provide another perspective on changing market patterns.


For the “Top 25 Manga Properties of 2008,” see the “Top 25 Manga Properties of 2008.”


For the “Top Ten Fiction & Reality Graphic Novels of 2008,” see “Top Ten Fiction & Reality GNs 2008.”


For information on the release of ICv2 Insider’s Guide #63, and information on how to get the ICv2 Insider's Guide, with all its year-end sales charts, see “ICv2 Releases 'ICv2 Insider’s Guide #63'.”