Quick Hits | 2021 comic sales topped $2 billion

Last year was the best year ever for comic sales, according to a new report. Plus: News on Oni/Lion Forge, Substack, Zestworld, Henry Barajas, Kieron Gillen and more.

Comics sales | Milton Griepp of ICV2.com and John Jackson Miller of Comichron.com have released their annual assessment of the comics and graphic novel market for last year, noting that sales grew 62% in 2021 over the prior year in the U.S. and Canada to approximately $2.075 billion. They were also up 70% when compared to pre-pandemic 2019.

“Publishers made more selling comics content than in any year in the history of the business, even when adjusted for inflation,” Miller said of the 2021 estimates. “The biggest year in the modern era, 1993, saw sales of around $1.6 billion in 2021 dollars — and the pricier product mix puts 2021 ahead of what the colossal circulations of the early 1950s brought in, also adjusted for inflation.”

You can read their report on Comichron or on ICv2.

Publishers | The Beat is reporting that James Lucas Jones and Charlie Chu are no longer with Oni Press. Jones served as both editor-in-chief and then publisher during his 18 years with the 25-year-old company, while Chu was vice president of creative and business development, and had been with them since 2010.

Oni merged with Lion Forge back in 2019 to form the Oni Press Lion Forge Publishing Group, which is owned by Polarity LTD. They have not made any announcements about the changes or who is now running the ship at Oni, besides the somewhat vague statement given to The Beat. Earlier this month Jones was interviewed by Publisher’s Weekly for an extensive piece about the publisher, its future and the fact that they planned to add staff, so the timing here is odd.

Digital comics | Substack, which hosts several incentivized newsletters by comic creators , announced layoffs this week affecting about 14% of their staff. The move comes as the start-up tries to reach a profitable status without relying on outside investors or fudnraising. “Our goal is to make Substack robust even in the toughest market conditions, and to set the company up for long-term success without relying on raising money — or, at least, doing so only on our time and our terms,” CEO Chris Best said.

Digital comics | Speaking of newsletter-based comics, TechCrunch has a profile up on Zestworld, the comics-specific newsletter platform.

Gil Thorp

Comic strips | Henry Barajas, writer of Helm Greycastle, has been named the new writer of Gil Thorp, joining artist Rod Whigham on the comic strip.

Comic characters | Following the announcement that Archie was introducing a new character named Jake Chang, Reed Beebe looks back at Fu Chang, the original Archie character that inspired the updated character. And there was a lot that needed updating.

Passings | John Kelly shares an obituary for Simon Deitch, the underground cartoonist whose work appeared in East Village Other, Gothic Blimp Works, Tales of Sex and Death, Skull Comics and Thrilling Murder Comics, among many others. Deitch passed away June 21.

Interviews | Judgment Day writer Kieron Gillen talks to Entertainment Weekly about what it takes to create a Marvel crossover event worth reading.

Interviews | Them profiles ace colorist Tamra Bonvillain. “Every now and then I get people that’ll tell me ‘I didn’t pay much attention to coloring until I looked at yours or someone else’s work,’ and that feels good. That’s what I can change, on that small level.”

Lists | NPR has updated their annual list of their favorite books, just in time for your summer reading pleasure. It includes several graphic novels, including The Third Person by Emma Grove, Jonathan Case’s Little Monarchs and Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo. The how-to book How to Take Over The World by Ryan North also appears on the list.

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