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Top Entertainment/Character Properties Drive Comics Sales Above $1 Billion

Pow! Retail sales of comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada grew 10% in 2015, passing $1 billion for the first time in decades, driven by top entertainment/character properties including Star Wars.

The new market size analysis comes from comic book data specialist Comichron and online retail trade magazine ICv2 just before giant Comic-Con International opens next week in San Diego.

“The audience for comics and graphic novels continues to broaden,” said Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2. “The increase in sales reflects not only the increased awareness of comics properties from other media, we’re also seeing rapid growth in new audiences for comics, including kids and women.”

While retail sales of licensed products based on comic book/strips grew less than 1% in 2015, according to the TLL Annual Licensing Business Survey, comic books and graphic novels as a product category have enjoyed greater growth because of the increasingly interdependent and complementary relationship between comics and movies and TV. In this cycle, comics beget movie or TV franchises which then boost interest in character origins and the comics.

In fact, many of the top selling comic book and graphic titles of 2015 were related to top entertainment/character properties from Disney-owned Star Wars and Marvel, and Warner Bros.-owned DC Entertainment, as well adult-skewing TV favorites The Walking Dead and Orphan Black.

Top 10 Comic Books of 2015
Data Source: Diamond Comic Distributors.
Rank Title Publisher
1 Star Wars #1 Marvel Comics
2 Secret Wars #1 Marvel Comics
3 Bravest Warriors: Tales from Holo John #1 Boom! Studios
4 Orphan Black #1 IDW Publishing
5 Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1 DC Comics
6 Star Wars Vader Down #1 Marvel Comics
7 Darth Vader #1 Marvel Comics
8 Spider-Gwen #1 Marvel Comics
9 Invincible Iron Man #1 Marvel Comics
10 Princess Leia #1 Marvel Comics

According to Diamond Comic Distributors, which tracks sales specifically in the comic book specialty store channel, sales growth for comic books and graphic novels was 7.2% in 2015, more modest that the Comichron/ICv2 estimate but healthy nonetheless. It said comic book sales were up 9.0%, with graphic novels sales rising 3.1%.

Comichron/ICv2 attributed much of 2015 growth to the sale of graphic novels in the book store channel, which grew 23% to $350 million, after growing 16% in 2014.

Top 10 Graphic Novels & Trade Paperbacks of 2015
Data Source: Diamond Comic Distributors.
Rank Title Publisher
1 Saga Volume 4 TP (MR) Image Comics
2 Saga Volume 1 TP (MR) Image Comics
3 Saga Volume 5 TP (MR) Image Comics
4 Civil War TP Marvel Comics
5 The Walking Dead Vol. 23: Whispers Into Screams TP Image Comics
6 Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition HC DC Comics
7 Saga Volume 2 TP (MR) Image Comics
8 The Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye TP Image Comics
9 Saga Volume 3 TP (MR) Image Comics
10 Star Wars Volume 1: Skywalker Strikes TP Marvel Comics


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