Diamond's monthly sales numbers reveal a disturbing trend. The comic book industry is growing!
For the past two decades, comic book fans have taken comfort in the fact that their hobby of choice was a marginalized niche that was looked down upon by most of society. Though many nerds have feared, with the rise of popularity in superhero movies, that "regular" people might soon invade their territory, comics publishers have managed, through careful strategic planning, to maintain the public perception of comic books as embarassing escapist fantasy for emotionally stunted man-children. However, with the success of DC's Nu52 reboot, as well as Marvel's Avengers Vs. X-Men event, fanboys may soon have to face the fact that comic books are becoming... cool.
"We've done everything we could to delay this moment," said Joe Quesada, Marvel's Excutive in Charge of Eating Hoagies, who agreed to have quotes made up for this article. "We've rehashed the same stories over and over again. We keep the universe insular and difficult to follow for casual readers. We cater to a small, shrinking audience of dedicated fans, mostly men in thier 30s and 40s with the mentality of 14 year old boys. We neglect or offend demographics like women, children, and socially adjusted people in general. What more can we do?"
Despite these efforts, the clear signs of growth cannot be ignored. Comics sales in August represent almost a 20% increase in dollars from the previous year and a 14% increase in units. August in 2011 and 2012 were both 5 week months. Simply put, more people are buying comics. Furthermore, these sales don't take the growing digital market into account, which is certainly growing.
"We've held off on digital for as long as possible," said Dan Didio, a internationally renowned walrus. "We've kept prices discouragingly high, made the format complicated and restrictive to access, and even tried to use guilt to prevent consumers from buying comics digitally. We believed that telling them digital will destroy their precious local comic shops would surely put an end to it. It didn't. We're running out of ideas here."
Digital comics are particularly worrying, because they allow anyone to purchase comics from the comfort of the internet. Thus, readers are allowed to bypass the traditional barrier of going to a repulsive, cave-like specialty shop and risking being branded an outcast or loser. Additionally, digital comics allow people to hide their comic reading habit, with no need to display large, unsightly longboxes or shelves full of graphic novels. This new, guilt-free method of comic consumption could very well help to turn comics fandom into a socially acceptable activity.
"I blame hipsters!", said a comic book fan we asked to comment on the issue. "Hipsters reading graphic novels like Scott Pilgrim, The Walking Dead, and Watchmen have been trying to make comics cool for over a decade now. It's absolutely disgusting! Hipsterism has no place in comics." The fan then went on to rant about how popular writers like Brian Bendis, Scott Snyder, Jonathan Hickman, and Cullen Bunn were much better back when they were relatively unknown and writing indie comics. We then got into an argument with him about whether Scott Snyder ever wrote indie books, and whether Vertigo was a true "indie" company. The argument became quite heated before we decided to put on our scarves and go drink some turkish siphon coffee.
Another obvious factor that is contributing into comics' decline into mainstream success is the proliferation of comic book properties into other media. Marvel's The Avengers was the number one movie of the year, grossing $1.5 billion internationally. Both Marvel and DC have found success in video games, social media aps, and animated television shows. "We do our best to cancel any cartoons people seem to be enjoying and replace them with something more insipid," said Jeph Loeb, Marvel's Head of Fan Understimation, "but no matter what we do, people just seem to love superheroes."
Indeed, it is superhero comics that are seeing the biggest boost in sales. The top two titles for the month were Marvel's Avengers vs. X-Men #9 and Avengers vs. X-Men #10, both superhero slugfests featuring a huge roster of the spandex-clad warriors. Batman #12 and Justice League #12 from DC came in third and fourth, followed by Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man #692. It wasn't until the sixth spot on the list - Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 - that a less traditional superhero book made the top ten. Another Before Watchmen book, Dr. Manhattan #1, was at number eight, but the rest of the books - AvX #5, Green Lantern #12, and Detective Comics #12 (at seven, nine, and ten respectively) - were all superhero fare.
Comic readers have no choice but to face facts. Comic books are a growing form of entertainment that is becoming a fixture of popular culture. Soon, the industry may have to evolve to accomodate these new customers. It's a scary new world outside the soft, warm womb of the comic shop. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and... there are girls who want to talk about the lastest issue of Saga. Accept it now, and you'll be better off. Resistance is futile.
Here are the charts:
PUBLISHER MARKET SHARES
COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS
|AUGUST 2012 VS. JULY 2012|
|AUGUST 2012 VS. AUGUST 2011|
|YEAR-TO-DATE 2012 VS. YEAR-TO-DATE 2011|
TOP 10 COMICS
|1||AVENGERS VS X-MEN #9||$3.99||JUN120592-M||MAR|
|2||AVENGERS VS X-MEN #10||$3.99||JUN120599-M||MAR|
|4||JUSTICE LEAGUE #12||$3.99||JUN120142-M||DC|
|5||AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #692||$5.99||JUN120622-M||MAR|
|6||BEFORE WATCHMEN: RORSCHACH #1 (MR) [*]||$3.99||JUN120129-M||DC|
|7||AVX VS #5||$3.99||JUN120590-M||MAR|
|8||BEFORE WATCHMEN: DR. MANHATTAN #1 (MR) [*]||$3.99||JUN120134-M||DC|
|9||GREEN LANTERN #12||$2.99||JUN120196-M||DC|
|10||DETECTIVE COMICS #12||$3.99||JUN120181-M||DC|
TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS
|1||BATMAN: EARTH ONE HC||$22.99||MAR120234||DC|
|2||THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 1: DAYS GONE BYE TP (MR)||$9.99||JUL068351||IMA|
|3||SWAMP THING VOLUME 1: RAISE THEM BONES TP||$14.99||MAY120280||DC|
|4||SUPERMAN: ACTION COMICS VOLUME 1: SUPERMAN MEN OF STEEL HC||$24.99||APR120245||DC|
|5||BATMAN VOLUME 1: THE COURT OF OWLS HC||$24.99||JAN120300||DC|
|6||HULK SEASON ONE PREMIERE HC||$24.99||MAY120746||MAR|
|7||SCOTT PILGRIM VOLUME 1 COLOR HC||$24.99||MAY121234||ONI|
|8||STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: SITH HUNTERS TP||$7.99||APR120041||DAR|
|9||THE WALKING DEAD VOLUME 2: MILES BEHIND US TP||$14.99||SEP088204||IMA|
|10||FEAR ITSELF TP||$29.99||JUN120721||MAR|
TOP 10 TOYS
|1||BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM PLAY ARTS KAI: HARLEY QUINN ACTION FIGURE||JAN128132||SQU|
|2||BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM PLAY ARTS KAI: ARMORED BATMAN ACTION FIGURE||JAN128131||SQU|
|3||TMNT RETRO COLLECTOR ACTION FIGURES||APR121769||PLA|
|4||MARVEL SELECT: AVENGERS MOVIE: ENEMY ACTION FIGURES||JAN121705||DST|
|5||ALICE: THE MADNESS RETURNS SELECT ACTION FIGURES||JAN121700||DST|
|6||BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE: DARWYN COOKE||APR120307||DC|
|7||AVENGERS MOVIE: IRON MAN MK VII ARTFX STATUE||MAR121684||KOT|
|8||BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE: DICK GRAYSON BY JOCK||MAY120346||DC|
|9||FORBIDDEN PLANET: ROBBY THE ROBOT 12-INCH FIGURE||FEB121668||X P|
|10||MARVEL UNIVERSE ACTION FIGURES||JUN121848||HAS|
TOP 10 GAMES
|1||DC HEROCLIX: JUSTICE LEAGUE||APR121984||NEC|
|2||MARVEL HEROCLIX: CHAOS WAR BOOSTER BRICK||APR121987||NEC|
|3||DOCTOR WHO ACTION BOARD GAME||OCT101791||DIA|
|4||DC HEROCLIX: JUSTICE LEAGUE FAST FORCES 6-PACK||APR121985||NEC|
|5||WONDERLAND BOARD GAME||APR121345||ZEN|
|6||THE WALKING DEAD TV BOARD GAME||JUL112137||CRY|
|7||THE WALKING DEAD COMIC BOARD GAME||JUL112185||Z-M|
|8||MAGIC THE GATHERING TCG: 2013 CORE SET EVENT DECKS||APR121978||WIZ|
|9||MAGIC THE GATHERING TCG: 2013 CORE SET BOOSTERS||APR121977||WIZ|
|10||PATHFINDER BATTLES: RISE OF THE RUNELORDS BOOSTER BRICK||MAY128110||