Its total sales rose 10% in the first six months of 2015 over the same period in 2014, Diamond Comics Distributors announced during its annual Retailer Appreciation Lunch at San Diego Comic-Con.

Compared to 2014, Diamond's comics periodical sales were up 16.5%, graphic novel sales increased 5.9% and toys, 15%. Diamond’s customer count rose 3.7%, showing small but continuing growth in the number of individual comics stores.The figures were announced by Diamond CEO Steve Geppi who added "The growth in the comics industry has been nothing but spectacular.”

Geppi also spoke about changes in Diamond's executive management. Cindy Fournier, v-p of operations, is stepping down, and her role will be taken over by John Wurzer, most recently v-p of purchasing. Tim Lenaghan will take over as executive director of purchasing. Fournier has been instrumental in developing the infrastructure that allows Diamond to deliver thousands of comics weekly to shops worldwide, and her role was saluted by Geppi. "Cindy has played an amazing role at Diamond and the industry. We owe Cindy a great deal of thanks for her work," he said.

The remainder of the lunch was a parade of comics publishers discussing some stats and previewing new material. Marvel's senior v-p of sales David Gabriel remarked that the publisher has sold more than 4.5 million Star Wars comics since January 2015. Valiant Entertainment's sales managers were pleased to report that its new series Book of Death, which encompasses its superhero properties, has seen more than 70,000 orders ahead of its release next week. Boom! Studios' v-p of publishing Filip Sablik, remarked that its trade paperback of the summer camp-cum-supernatural comic Lumberjanes Vol. One is going on its fourth printing, having sold more than 60,000 copies of the book so far. Volume Two is coming in the fall, Sablik said, " and I promise that printing is much, much bigger."

Prior to the lunch, the retailer organization ComicsPRO announced the debut of Local Comic Shop Day this year, to coincide with Small Business Saturday on November 28, the day after "Black Friday." The event hopes to showcase exclusive material by sponsoring publishers that’s designed to bring customers into stores. Inspired by other retail promotions like Free Comic Book Day and Independent Bookstore Day, it's "a great way to differentiate your shop from big box stores and chains and draw attention to what’s going on in local comics shops,” according to Joe Field, a ComicsPRO board member and owner of Flying Colors in Concord, CA. “It’s also a good way to kick-off the holiday shopping season and gifting.”

Additional reporting by Heidi MacDonald