Quick Hits | Variant covers exploded in 2022 as number of new comic releases increased year over year

Plus: News on ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘Adora and the Distance,’ and more.

The always essential Comichron by comic sales guru John Jackson Miller has a number of charts up about 2022 comics. With distribution scattered amongst numerous players now, it’s harder to pin down sales numbers for many titles, but Miller has been keeping track of the number of new periodical releases, which gives an indication of the health of the overall comics market:

This is counting the number of titles a publisher released in a given year, so Avengers #64, Avengers #65, Amazing Spider-Man #1, etc. would all be individual releases. It doesn’t take into account how many copies of each issue was sold.

Those numbers at the bottom tell the bigger industry story. While releases peaked in 2017 at just under 6,000 releases, they fell substantially in 2020 when the pandemic hit — but they’ve been creeping back toward those pre-pandemic numbers, with 2022 only being about 600 releases behind 2019. The other thing to note is the “other” category. Outside of the top seven publishers shown here, where Image was the only one to put out more releases in 2022 than they did in 2019, the number of comics from everyone else was actually higher in 2022 than in 2019, which shows the growth in the number of smaller publishers out there and the number of titles they’re releasing — I’m thinking about Vault, AfterShock, Mad Cave, etc. here

The other chart that I found interesting was the one tracking graphic novels and variant covers:

You can see here, not surprisingly, that the number of graphic novels and manga released in 2022 is well above the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019 (although they also didn’t take as much of a hit in 2020 as the single issue comic). And then there’s the variant cover releases, which numbered more than 11,000 — doing the math, that means the average comic book had 2.4 variant covers in 2022.

For another perspective, Dean Simons at the Beat looks at the book charts for France, where graphic novels and manga took 18 of the top 50 spots. Chris Arrant at Popverse lists the top titles for 2022 on Webtoon and Tapas. And after looking back at the past, you might also like this column by Rob Salkowitz that looks ahead at 2023.

Creators | The Los Angeles Times has an extensive piece up on Gender Queer creator Maia Kobabe that’s one part creator profile, one part analysis of the backlash the graphic novel has received.

“It’s really hard to imagine yourself as something you’ve never seen,” said Kobabe. “I know this firsthand because I didn’t meet someone who was out as trans or nonbinary until I was in grad school. It’s weird to grow up and be 25 before you meet someone who is like the same gender as you.” Pausing, Kobabe added, “I don’t know if you could imagine that you didn’t meet another man until you were 25. It would be hard to picture what your future would be like.

Passings | ICv2 reports that comics historian and writer Lou Mougin has passed away. Probably best known for his contributions to fan magazines like Amazing Heroes and The Comics Reader, as well as his work with George Olshevsky on a complete index of all the Marvel characters, Mougin also wrote comics, including What If?, Avengers Spotlight, Spaced Out, Airboy and more.

Awards | Marc Bernardin and Ariela Kristantina’s young adult fantasy graphic novel, Adora and the Distance, has won the seventh annual Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity. The graphic novel was originally published digitally by Comixology in 2021 and came to print in 2022 courtesy of Dark Horse.

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