Comics Lowdown: Graphic novel sales are up, floppies are flat

The comics market is growing, but monthly comics are not. Also: A week of great comics articles from NPR!

By the Numbers: The comics market increased by 5% to a total of $1.085 billion in 2016, according to an estimate by Milton Griepp of ICv2 and John Jackson Miller of Comichron. Graphic novels sold in bookstores accounted for almost all the growth, however; they were up 16%, while sales of monthly comics in comic shops, on newsstands, and in digital format remained flat. Griepp saw the graphic novel growth as evidence that the market is expanding, as more women and children find graphic novels, while Miller credited Marvel’s Star Wars comics and DC’s Rebirth event.

Whatever Happened to comiXology? Three years after the largest digital comics service was purchased by Amazon, they still have plenty going on, says comics-biz maven Rob Salkowitz, including using Amazon’s “affinity marketing” (if you liked this, you’ll like that) tools, expanding to foreign audiences, and bringing in new readers via the ComiXology Unlimited, Kindle Unlimited, and Prime Reading programs.

Shannon Wright’s art for the top 100 piece

Radio Comics: NPR did a whole week of comics-related programming this week, and it’s all good stuff. Here’s a rundown:

Retailing: Deb Aoki rounds up a Twitter conversation about the narrow selection carried by most comic shops—even Rob Liefeld joins in, to say his sons prefer anime and manga to U.S. products.

Awards: At their annual conference last weekend, the National Council of La Raza honored cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz with the Ruben Salazar Award for Communications.

Interviews and Profiles

Jason Lutes’s ‘Berlin’

Ich Bin Ein Comic-Buchkünstler Jason Lutes talks about wrapping up Berlin, the comic series he has been working on for the past 23 years.

Storytime with Svet: I talked to Svetlana Chmakova about her comics career, which started out 15 years ago with a webcomic on the old Girl-A-Matic site; she went on to create Dramacon and Nightschool and adapt James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard books into graphic novel form. Her two most recent graphic novels, Brave and Awkward, are set in middle school but have a sort of universal quality to them—and some really original story angles.

Peachy keen: Nao Yazawa, the creator of Wedding Peach, talks about teaching English and manga techniques to visitors to Japan.

Reviews, Roundups, and Commentary

For the Birds: At Good Comics for Kids, Johanna Draper Carlson reviews Audubon, a beautiful graphic biography of the famed painter.

Country Living: Zack Ezer reviews Yeon-Sik Hong’s Uncomfortably Happily, which depicts the life of an urban couple who pull up stakes and move to the country, where they live on the side of a mountain.

Trump Toons: Mark Peters writes about Donald Trump’s appearances in comics.

Don’t Call Me Tovarisch! Viv Groskop reviews Other Russias, a graphic novel that features the unseen people of Russia.

Conventions and Festivals

Comic-Con: Heidi Macdonald looks at security precautions at Comic-Con International in the wake of a near miss at Phoenix Comic Con, where an armed man who thought he was the Punisher was planning to harm “bad” police officers.

Beyond Comic-Con: Couldn’t get a badge? The San Diego Union-Tribune has a helpful guide to activities outside the convention center that are open to the public.

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