Comics Making Print and Digital Coexist
Arts and Culture

Comics Defy Conventional Wisdom: Business Booming After Embracing Digital And Print

The Thunder God, Thor, has changed gender. (Image:

You’ve probably seen, read or heard the reports: Newspapers and other print platforms across the world appear to be taking their collective last gasps as digital platforms continue to tighten their stranglehold.

But there could be one industry embracing both platforms and thriving: comics.

And in this bizarro world, even though a digital comic doesn’t have the same feel as print, both platforms are working symbiotically and business is booming.

According to the New York Times, the comic book industry has become the “ideal place” for print and digital to coexist.

“The market for comics and graphic novels in the U.S. and Canada reached $870 million at retail last year,” according to a new estimate prepared jointly by ICv2, the No. 1 industry source on the business of geek culture, and Comichron.

“The 2013 analysis by ICv2 and Comichron was split between periodical comics (what some call “floppies” or “pamphlets”), graphic novels, and digital download-to-own sales. Graphic novels contributed the largest portion ($415 million) and comic books nearly as much ($365 million), and digital (based on numbers released earlier by ICv2, continued to grow faster than the market at $90 million.”

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It’s a trend that’s been happening over the past couple of years. ICv2 notes that according to the new report, comics periodical sales grew from $300 million in 2011 to $335 million in 2012; graphic novel sales grew from $390 million in 2011 to $400 million in 2012; and combined comics and graphic novel sales grew from $690 million in 2011 to $735 million in 2012.

According to Comichron, the world’s largest public repository of comic-book sales figures, it “is the highest dollar value the market has reached since 1993.”

(All print figures are calculated based on the full retail price of books sold into the market, and do not account for discounting or markup.)

Those numbers could rise significantly now that Marvel is upping the ante by introducing a female Thor and re-introducing a black Captain America, helping the already popular characters appeal to a wider demographic.