In this article, we’d like you to join us as we cover a range of comic book industry statistics. We’ll share some numbers behind its success, fun facts about famous superheroes and superheroines, and step into the universe of manga.
Although many see comics as childish fun, the fact remains that comic books are true works of art. Illustrators, writers, and numerous other creative people stand behind every issue. Scroll down for a glimpse of their world and their history!
Top Ten Comic Book Industry Statistics and Facts
- The first comic book marketed under that term was published in the UK in 1897.
- Globally, the comic book industry is worth approximately $7.14 billion.
- The industry witnessed a 37% decline in sales due to COVID-19.
- Japan is the world’s biggest comic book market.
- Comic book industry demographics show that 31.6% of comic-book artists are women.
- Batman’s the most popular comic book character.
- The Japanese manga industry’s sales value is approximately $5.6 billion.
- Totoro is Japan’s most popular anime/manga character.
- The manga industry suffered an 8% decline due to the pandemic.
- 6% of Americans aged 18–34 read comics every month.
How Big Is the Comic Industry?
First, let’s look at the numbers inside the comic book industry and learn more about the market, its size, and some facts you might not know about your childhood favorites.
1. The first comic book was published in the UK in 1897.
(Illustration History) (Book Riot)
It was not an original story but a collection of previously published short comic strips called The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats. This issue’s importance lies in the fact that it was the first book explicitly marketed under the term ‘comic book.’
2. According to comic book sales statistics, the industry witnessed a 37% decline in sales due to COVID-19.
Research including over 100 retailers shows the drop in sales was the most prominent with comic books. However, graphic novel sales statistics reveal that their sales also decreased significantly—by 18%. Consequently, many businesses were pushed into bankruptcy.
3. Comic book industry statistics from 2021 reveal that globally, the industry is worth around €6 billion ($7.14 billion).
Namely, Japan and South Korea alone make up 54% of the global comic book market. They’re also the only countries in the world where over half of the national market’s revenue stems from digital publishing.
4. Comic book industry statistics show that in 2019, graphic novel and comic book sales in North America reached a revenue of $1.21 billion.
(Statista) (Screen Rant)
In fact, before the COVID-19 outbreak, the NA comic book industry was blossoming, reaching its peak two years ago. To grasp the extent of its growth at the time, it’s enough to know that since 2018, its revenue had grown by 11% ($0.12 billion).
5. Japan is the world’s biggest comic book market.
More specifically, it makes up 43% of the worldwide industry and is worth approximately $3.1 billion. According to the most recent comic book industry statistics, Japan, the US, South Korea, and France together account for an astonishing 77% of the global comics market.
The remaining 23% belong to all the other countries’ revenues combined. That adds up to approximately €1.34 billion, or $1.6 billion.
6. Comic book industry trends dubbed the 1938–1956 period the Golden Age of Comic Books.
During this era in American culture, comic book sales went through the roof, and numerous superheroes that have remained popular to this day were created. Captain America, Wonder Woman, and Superman became the center of political and Army recruiting propaganda.
7. Batman is the most popular comic book character, having appeared in 14,358 issues by 2019.
According to comic book readership statistics, second in line of all-time favorites is Superman, with 13,164 issues. Wolverine and Spiderman were right behind with 12,912 and 12,164 issues, respectively.
8. Comic book digital sales statistics reveal that traditional publishing remains in the lead despite digital sales’ rising rates.
(Screen Rant) (Statista)
The only place where this is not the case is Japan. The country’s digital comic market increased by $750 million in 2020, totaling ¥320 billion (approximately $3.12 billion).
9. Comic book reader demographics show that 6% of Americans aged 18–34 read comics on a monthly basis.
However, 48% of the same group have never read a comic book. The same thing goes for 75% of Americans aged 55+, while just 1% of the people in the same category read comic books every month.
10. 31.6% of comic-book artists are women.
Furthermore, comic book industry statistics indicate that 72.8% of these professionals are white. Hispanic artists come in second with 11.7%, while only 8.4% and 3.4% are Asian and African American.
How Big Is the Manga Industry?
Even if you’re not too familiar with manga or anime or simply aren’t a fan, you’ve surely encountered it before. That’s why we’re going to take a look and learn a bit more about the fascinating world of manga statistics.
11. The Japanese manga industry’s sales value is approximately $5.6 billion.
While traditional manga publishers like Kodansha and Shueisha faced obstacles adapting to the new normal, digital manga flourished. Manga sale statistics tell us that countless apps like Piccoma and LINE Manga seemed to satisfy the market needs during the pandemic restrictions.
12. The term manga first appeared in 1798.
(Widewalls) (Book Riot)
The term itself was first used centuries later to refer to a book by Santō Kyōden called Four Seasons (Shiji no Yukikai). However, according to facts about manga, styles remarkably similar to it were used back in 12th-century scrolls depicting animals.
Unsurprisingly, different art techniques found in these early creations were adopted by manga creators. This is mainly the reason why nowadays, many see these scrolls as the foundation of manga.
13. Recent manga stats show that the industry suffered an 8% decline due to the pandemic.
The consequences of the pandemic have been (more or less) devastating for large and small businesses. Still, compared to the 37% loss the comic book industry suffered, manga seems to stand fairly strong.
14. With manga, demographics are key to publishing—content is determined based on age and gender.
If you think about it, this could be one of the reasons for such vast, unyielding popularity. Style, stories, and characters are specially tailored to appeal to different audiences.
Children aged ten or younger generally read Kodomo manga, while teenagers turn to somewhat more serious Shonen or Shoujo manga. Shonen is intended for boys, while Shoujo manga is aimed at female teenagers.
Seinen and Josei are meant for grownups under 40. Seijin (a.k.a. Ero) and Ladies Comics, on the other hand, are aimed at adults but are pornographic.
15. In 2016, 25% of all printed materials in Japan came from the manga industry, as statistics suggest.
These are truly stunning numbers that shed light on why manga comics became almost synonymous with contemporary Japanese culture. Apart from the fact that they target various audiences, they’re easily adaptable to books, TV/anime, and extremely popular video games.
16. The best-selling manga ever has sold 480 million copies so far.
(Widewalls) (Anime News Network)
A Shonen manga called One Piece hit this remarkable number of sales on a global scale. Written by Eiichiro Oda, the comic book speaks of the adventures of a young man whose body becomes rubber-like after he accidentally consumes the so-called Devil Fruit.
Manga sales statistics have confirmed that 400 million copies have been sold in Japan alone. The rest of the copies can be found in 41 countries around the globe.
17. France’s manga sales numbers reach 38% of its total comic book sales.
Europe has a truly vibrant comic book scene. This is especially noticeable in France, where among other kinds of artistic expression, there’s a huge amount of interest in manga.
For example, in 2018, no fewer than 1693 manga volumes were published in this country. Moreover, manga facts indicate that the year before that, the French bought an astonishing 16.6 million of these comics.
18. Totoro is Japan’s most popular anime/manga character.
Recent manga character stats reveal that 34% of people have grown very fond of the character. However, it’s not only popular in Japan. My Neighbor Totoro, released in 1988, was accepted by audiences and critics around the world.
How much is the comic book industry worth?
In 2020, the comic book industry’s worth was estimated at $3,865.7 million. However, the industry’s forecasted to keep growing at a yearly rate of 3.3% by 2026. This means that the global comic book market is expected to reach $4,686.2 million in the next five years.
(MarketWatch) (Comics Beat)
What is the rarest comic book?
Not a lot of people are familiar with Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers. That’s probably because he’s the protagonist of the world’s rarest comic book edition—New Adventure Comics Vol. 1 Issue No. 26.
It was initially published in 1938 when DC Comics was still a young company. There are only nine known original copies of this edition today, according to official data.
What is the highest selling comic book of all time?
Data suggests that this title belongs to X-Men #1, thanks to the astonishing 8,186,500 copies sold. The highest selling manga is considered to be Eiichiro Oda’s creation One Piece, which has so far been sold in roughly 480 million copies.
(Polygon) (Anime News Network)
From the world’s first comic book to the most recent switch to digital comics, here’s everything you need to know before entering the world of this unique form of artistic expression. The comic book industry statistics and facts we’ve covered will give you a gentle push toward discovering your favorite superhero/ine. Or maybe you already have one? Let us know in the comment section!