Last updated on July 15th, 2023
Brian Hibbs has released his annual analysis of 2016’s bookstore comic sales. Based on figures from BookScan, the analysis gives a look at how comic sales are doing among the general public, outside of the world of comic shops.
To quote from last year’s post I wrote about such sales:
Sales figures are drawn from sales of books at various retailers, including: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Costco, General Independents, Hastings, Target, BJ’s, K-Mart, Hudson Group, Meijer, Follett Books, Books-A-Million, CEO Read, Powell’s, Toys “R” Us, Shoprite, SuperValu, Sam’s Club and Walmart. Not tracked in these sales are sales to libraries, schools, comic book shops (see Diamond’s figures for that), book clubs, and most independent bookstores.
There’s also a few other oddities in how sales are tracked (categorization of titles, whether “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” counts as a “comic” or not, etc.), but for the most part, these figures seem reasonably accurate.
Comics Beat has the complete analysis of the figures, so I’ll just comment on a few highlights here.
The top 20 comics sold
The top 20 comics sold at bookstores in 2016 (including number sold):
- 213,235 — GHOSTS
- 212,852 — DRAMA
- 208,033 — DORK DIARIES 10: TALES FROM A
- 188,861 — SMILE
- 166,124 — SISTERS
- 162,118 — KRISTY’S GREAT IDEA: FULL-COLO
- 142,805 — CLAUDIA AND MEAN JANINE
- 130,907 — THE KILLING JOKE
- 126,825 — THE MISADVENTURES OF MAX CRUMB
- 116,560 — THE TRUTH ABOUT STACEY: FULL-C
- 105,510 — MARY ANNE SAVES THE DAY: FULL-
- 99,206 — DANTDM: TRAYAURUS AND THE ENCH
- 97,948 — DORK DIARIES 1: TALES FROM A N
- 87,717 — DORK DIARIES 9: TALES FROM A N
- 84,856 — STAR WARS: THE ORIGINAL TRILOG
- 82,388 — FIRELIGHT
- 77,669 — ROLLER GIRL
- 76,733 — BIG NATE: THUNKA, THUNKA, THUN
- 71,741 — THE WALKING DEAD COMPENDIUM, V
- 66,714 — EL DEAFO
Of interest is that 18 of these 20 books are aimed at younger readers, versus the kid-unfriendly superhero and horror books that dominate the Diamond lists. Here, the only traditional Big Two superhero comic on the list is DC’s (very) old standby “The Killing Joke.”
But the biggest story here is that Raina Telgemeier’s responsible for eight of the 20 books on the above list. As Hibbs put it:
Altogether, Raina’s eight books sell a staggering 1.3 million copies for $14.4 million dollars in sales. To put that in context, that means that nearly 5% of all dollars generated by all graphic novels listed (all 21k of them!) are coming from the pen of one woman: Raina Telgemeier.
Impressive! Granted, sorted by dollar amounts, the top-sellers are all the “usual suspects” (“The Killing Joke,” “Walking Dead”). However, Hibbs notes their much higher cover prices/being special collector-oriented sets.
By my count, 14 of the 20 books above are written by women, including one African-American woman (Rachel Renee Russell of “Dork Diaries”).
The top 10 publishers
Below are the top non-manga graphic novel publishers:
- Simon & Schuster
- Andrews McMeel
- Penguin Random House
- Dark Horse Comics
Scholastic tops the charts for a second year in a row as the top publisher. Meanwhile, IDW makes this list on the strength of election-fueled sales of Congressman John Lewis’ “March.”
Overall, comic sales have risen since 2015. As usual, DC’s top seller is Batman, with a whopping 47 of its 98 books (that charted in the top 750 books ranked) Bat-related.
Meanwhile, Marvel’s top sellers are a bit more diverse. “Civil War” is their top seller, followed by Deadpool and Black Panther books. Deadpool alone makes up 18 of Marvel’s 60 ranked titles; I’m guessing it’s a byproduct of his surprise hit film a year ago. Ms. Marvel ranks as Marvel’s seventh-best-selling book. And, of course, “Star Wars” is ever-popular (making up 15 of the 60 titles).
Archie only has one book in the top 750 titles. Despite all of its relaunch and then-upcoming “Riverdale” hype, the sole book’s a Sonic the Hedgehog volume. As Hibbs notes, maybe things will pick up this year, with “Riverdale” a success?
Manga sales have also picked up in 2016. The top-selling manga volume is “Tokyo Ghoul.”
So overall, it’s a strong time for comics among the general public. Like last year, a diverse range of genres, kid-friendly titles, and titles written by women dominate sales charts. Pretty much the polar opposite of what one sees from Diamond charts.