The Future of Comics

By | Thursday, April 07, 2022 Leave a Comment
Brian Hibbs just released his annual BookScan study, and there are some absolutely amazing numbers to sift through. They've got more than a few people excited, and it's great news for comics folks. I noticed something early in Hibbs' analysis that I thought he was going to gloss over, so as I kept reading, I was thinking on how best to call it out here. But to his credit, he did indeed circle back to the point I wanted to highlight. In light of all the incredible numbers, I'm still a little concerned this will be missed though, so I'm going to take a moment to reiterate possibly one of the most significant elements of this entire report to help ensure it doesn't get lost among the potentially self-congratulatory numbers...
I have to be certain to make this point as clearly as I can: the market for who is buying comics is changing, and it is changing for the wider and the better. The eight year old who is inhaling Dav Pilkey in 2021 is going to be the comics-literate adult of 2034 (or whatever), which is going to change what comics readers in the ‘30s will want or expect from comics. The kids reading comics in 1965 totally imagined what the 1980’s comics scene could and would be, which is why we’re where we are today, but the shape of the Western industry in the future is absolutely what today’s children read and see.

Ignore this at your deadliest of perils: the future is always shaped by the present, even if that isn’t what you personally want.
(Emphasis in the original.)

As he points, the highest-ranking book from either Marvel or DC is Teen Titans: Beast Boy coming in at #164. The highest Marvel book -- the publisher that has largely dominated direct market sales for decades? -- Infinity Gauntlet comes in at #892.

A lot "comics" discussion continues to revolve around DC and Marvel. Especially with Marvel movies and TV shows (generally) doing so well, and the superhero genre even more broadly remaining pretty popular. But relative to comics as an actual medium, those stories are not what's selling. The future of comics is going to be made up of people who grew up reading Dav Pilkey and Raina Telgemeier and Kohei Horikoshi. I know more than a few people who've been trying to make this point for years, but it bears repeating again in light of the 2021 sales figures hammering that point home with hundreds more data points.
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